My name is Megan. I'm from the US (Chicago) but I've lived in Iraq for seven years. I speak English and Arabic and a little Assyrian. Assyrian is a language that is related to Arabic and Hebrew, and it is spoken by the Christian community in Iraq.
We haven't heard from you in a while, so I wanted to ask a question! Now that you're both a little older and in junior high, have you thought about what you want to do in the future? How will your languages help you with those plans?
I didn't grow up bilingual, and learning Arabic happened almost by accident! In college I studied linguistics, which led to learning Arabic, then studying abroad, then working in Iraq, and finally meeting my husband who is Iraqi. I became fluent with his help. I'm very glad I had the chance to learn two languages and cultures. Now we speak English, Arabic, and Assyrian with our son. (He's too little to ask a question, but he says hi )
When we move back to the US, I would like to teach children who are learning English (like your dad does/did), and maybe work on children's books and literacy materials in Arabic and Assyrian, because there aren't very many. So your goals can always change, but since you grew up bilingual, you might have even more options than I did!
Megan, thank you for your question! I asked them to respond in writing and this is what they said...
I want to do something that uses both English and Japanese. And I like music, so maybe something that's related to this, too?
[Lulu plays the piano and the guitar and has mentioned a wish to be a singer-songwriter...but she's kind of shy about performing. In fact, she seems to have a flair for writing poetry and song lyrics, and I encourage her to try writing her own songs...but she doesn't give this much effort at the moment. We shall see...]
Roy I think being bilingual is useful because if you can't find a job you still have your special powers so you could be a teacher or interpreter or even an interpreter for a famous person. If I become a soccer player, I can communicate with different fans, teammates, coaches, and more. So I think it's good to be bilingual.
[Roy loves to play soccer, and he's pretty good, but he isn't (yet) devoted to it in the way he'd have to be to play this game at higher levels. He just entered junior high school and is now eager to join the soccer team.]
I think both of my kids realized, from a young age, that their bilingual ability was a real strength for them, not just from me telling them so, but also through the experiences I sought out for them, like hosting English-speaking homestay guests from different parts of the world and arranging for volunteer opportunities where they could use their English ability to help others. Whatever our mix of languages, and circumstances, it's important that we find ways for our children to personally experience the value of their bilingual or multilingual ability.
Megan, cheers from all of us, in Japan, to all of you, in Iraq!
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Marisa: "Victory moment:" My almost 4-year-old daughter told me yesterday in the ml (rough translation): "mom, there's something wrong with the cartoons, can you fix it, please?"... she was accidentally watching TV in the ML! So I gladly obliged
Jan 18, 2020 4:15:02 GMT 9
Amy: Awww bless her, Marisa!!! That was so cute!! <3
Jan 18, 2020 5:25:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Marisa, give that little minority language lover a big hug from me!
Jan 18, 2020 8:04:49 GMT 9
Mayken: We're at Harry Potter Book Night at the English bookshop in Paris. The activities are all in French but my daughter teamed up for the treasure hunt with a girl who also speaks ouf ml German!
Feb 8, 2020 3:50:49 GMT 9
Amy: Was stunned to hear eldest had an anglophone (ml) accent when she began to read in the ML this afternoon!! Didn't last more than a paragraph until her brain switched language, but chuffed mum here!!
Mar 7, 2020 23:05:49 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter found the secret stash of ml books I'd bought at the closure sale of the ml book store two months ago and hidden away for later. Guess it's a good time for new books now, right?
Mar 18, 2020 5:29:38 GMT 9
Caro C.: My baby (16mo) perfectly knows what "hi5" means and readily shows her hand even when we are not showing our hand first. It feels like the first minor blossom of the bilingual seed.
Jun 1, 2020 13:05:36 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice, Caro! Give her a high-five from me! And I look forward to hearing about many more happy developments to come!
Jun 8, 2020 15:12:21 GMT 9