Before I start I just have to say that this is kind of a vulnerable post. It’s a topic that is fracturing my entire self-concept and leaves me feeling very open to criticism. I don’t know why I’m writing it at all, except that I spend so much time thinking about it. So anyway.
A few weeks ago, an article titled Are We Different People in Different Languages? was circulating Facebook amongst various of my international friends. It’s a brilliant article on creative writing and multilingualism, and I recommend it if you’re interested in either of those subjects. But the discussion online was centred mostly on the title of the article.… Read more
This is a post for some random interesting stuff from Malta. Such as the language. What Maltese sounded like to me was a mixture of Arabic and Italian. Which in fact it more or less is! It originally descended from the version of Arabic being spoken in Sicily around the turn of the previous millennium (9th to 12th centuries A.D.), and it’s still considered by linguists to be a variety of Arabic, although it’s written in Latin characters (with some lovely funky additions like an H with an extra bar) and only perhaps a third of the current vocabulary descends from Arabic.… Read more
When we decided to make a long-term move to the Netherlands, one of the things we had to think about was what to do for the kids’ education. Our family default has historically been homeschooling, and we’ve had a rocking good time all over the world doing that. I can’t take credit for the thoughtful, well-read, interesting, articulate people my children are; they have largely accomplished that on their own. But I like to think I’ve put the fewest possible barriers in their way. I’ve tried not to dampen any of their natural passion for learning, and they’ve spent many hours at the library, and many more outside, catching frogs, swimming at the beach, climbing trees, and playing in the dirt.… Read more
Last night we had the good fortune to be invited to dinner by Estela, a friend of ours who is Filipina. There was a Filipino restaurant we used to eat at occasionally in Utah, but it’s been a long time since we had real Filipino food. Estela is an amazing cook, and she prepared several classic Filipino dishes for us. We started out with two kinds of lumpia, or egg rolls. The first ones were “fresh” (i.e. unfried) lumpia, which are like a very thin, light crepe wrapped around julienne carrots, palm hearts, and curly lettuce.
Fresh lumpia usually have peanuts in them, but Estela’s were peanut-free, so my enjoyment of them was multiplied by all the peanut-laced lumpia that I had drooled over in the Philippines and been unable to eat.… Read more
Having done a very similar thing myself, I enjoyed reading Jennifer Wilson’s account of how she took her family to the Czech Republic in search of her ancestors. I loved all the little details of their acceptance into her ancestral village, and how she and her suburban American family learned a different way of living and seeing the world. However, the book lacked a certain internal consistency and completeness.… Read more
Foreign language is pretty important to our family, because we love to travel and learn about other cultures. So I am always thinking of new ways to help my children (and myself) learn and retain languages better. One of the most visited pages on this blog is my ten tips on teaching children a foreign language.
Our most important focus language right now is Italian. Tony and I are fairly conversant. We keep it up by listening to Italian pop music all day long. The children have had quite a bit of exposure too. They are a little shy about speaking, but their passive vocabulary is pretty good.… Read more
A strange and mysterious script has been discovered on white boards and documents throughout this house. So far, the cryptic writing has not been deciphered. However, yesterday I received a clue as to its origins. In fact, I witnessed a shadowy character actually writing in what I now have cause to believe may be a metamorphosed dialect of Orkin, my children’s invented private language. Figure 1 (see above) is my subsequent secret photograph of the writing in question.
If you have ever lived in a country covered in Arabic graffiti, you might initially come to the same conclusion I did: Orkin must be a derivative of Arabic.… Read more
Someone wrote me this week asking how I teach my children Italian. Even before we moved abroad, I had given this question a lot of thought. Our Casteluzzo Academy curriculum (at our homeschool), includes some very ambitious language goals. But what really matters with language study for children are the little everyday details. Here are 10 tips on how to make the most of language learning whether your children are seventeen months or seventeen years old.
1. Start right away. It is never to early to learn a foreign language. My children are three and five, and we’ve been exposing them to foreign languages since birth.… Read more
Once while out on an evening walk, Tony and I decided to cut through the cobblestone stillness of our little town square. At that time of day, with the bells striking and mists curling up around the church tower, the town resembles nothing more than an Italian Brigadoon, about to disappear again into a hundred-year enchantment. However, on this particular evening it just so happened that the entire square was full of chairs, and a stage had been erected on one end. A local acting troupe was performing a play to the rapt attention of what must have been half our little village.… Read more
Sorry you didn’t hear from me yesterday. But I have a good excuse. We came home from Church at mid-day, opened our front door, and were nearly bowled over by the heavy scent of gasoline emanating from our apartment. I took a deep gulp of fresh outside air and dashed heroically into the house to see if I had left the gas stove on. I hadn’t, and we don’t really have any other ways to leak gas into our house. So we went upstairs to talk to our landlord. He was not at home, but when his wife phoned him, he confessed that he had indeed spilled gasoline that morning as he was filling up his car in the garage.… Read more