Last month I participated in the Women’s March in Toronto. I took Hannah with me, as I felt it was important for her to see and be involved in creating positive change for the future. What I wasn’t expecting was to get an awesome parenting tip!
I got to chatting with an American woman who has been living in Canada for the past 25 years. I love talking to people with different cultural backgrounds because you always learn so much about them, and about what you ‘think’ is normal based on how you grew up.
Anyways, besides the point, we got chatting about languages and travel. Over the years she had traveled and lived in other countries, as have I. We were talking about the value of knowing other languages and teaching those to our children.
This is where I felt a bit convicted.
As a first generation Canadian, my parents taught us German growing up, sent us to German school on Saturday mornings and spoke with us in German. I never loved speaking it, or learning it because as a young child the only people I ever saw who spoke it were old. So I thought it was an old person language. However, when I traveled to Germany, I realized how German I truly am and being able to converse with people was awesome!
Holding a University degree in French, on the other hand, I felt convicted again that I wasn’t sharing my love of languages or my language skills with my kids.
I told my fellow-marcher, that I wasn’t comfortable conversing with my kids. It just didn’t seem natural and I know that I’m no longer fluent. That’s when she told me that her husband would read to their children in German when they were little.
She told me that her kids might not have understood the language, but they liked the story and they chose books or stories that were translations of books that the kids knew in English. She said her children picked up the accent, and later, when they went to learn the language they found that it wasn’t as difficult as learning from scratch.
What an awesome idea!
This is something that I can totally do with my kids!
We are so fortunate to have access to so many books from the Toronto Public Library in German and French so I quickly went online and ordered a bunch.
The funny thing is, I thought that I would have to ‘encourage’ my kids to listen to me read in another language to them, but actually they love it. Hannah is always pulling the French and German books out to read. She likes hearing the words and looking at the pictures.
While I’m not sure what to expect, I feel like even just exposing the girls to other languages will help them, if not in learning languages, but at least in knowing there is a much bigger world out there!
And for that, I think I will always be grateful for the woman, who marched beside me and gave me this great piece of advice. Hopefully one day, when Hannah is older and asks why I read her those books, I will share this story with her.