Challenge #8: Make This the Highest Priority You Can May 22, 2015 12:14:43 GMT 9
Post by Adam Beck on May 22, 2015 12:14:43 GMT 9
If responsibility for nurturing the minority language falls mainly on your own small shoulders, let me suggest a simple (and rhyming ) principle for the bilingual journey:
The results you reap will generally be in proportion to the priority you keep.
In other words, the higher the priority, the more mindful and proactive the effort will be, which will foster stronger language development over time.
This is similar, of course, to our other priorities, whether involving work or personal activities or relationships: the more importance we place on a certain aspect of our lives, the more progress we'll likely see as time passes.
However, the act of raising bilingual children is rather different in these respects...
1. This is a long process that often stretches for the full length of childhood.
2. It demands daily attention so that the minority language can make steady progress (particularly alongside the majority language, which develops relentlessly once the child attends a majority language school).
3. It bears a sense of urgency that other priorities (like writing a book, for instance) may lack because language development has a biological dimension that, when heeded, can produce stronger results. (The first few formative years of a child's life can be crucial for fostering a firm foundation in the minority language for active communication throughout childhood.)
In my view, when a parent's goal is high--native-like proficiency in the target language, perhaps in literacy as well--the priority must be high, too...or disappointment may result. But however high our aim (and that's completely up to each parent), our sense of priority should be just as high.
On a scale of 1 to 10, a "9-10 priority" would mean that the parent holds a high goal and places great importance on this aspect of the family's identity, making the bilingual quest one of the highest priorities on a daily basis. (To those who fear this could undermine other aspects of the family's experience, keep in mind the message of this blog post: This Might Be the Very Best Thing About Raising Bilingual Kids (And It’s Probably Not What You Expect).)
In my case, for example, I would peg my priority at "9" or "9.5": both my goal and my sense of priority are quite high, but it's also true that I could do more...if I chose not to pursue some of my other priorities to the same degree. (We all have finite hours and a finite amount of energy so trade-offs for our time and attention must always be made.)
So, at last, here's my challenge to you...
How would you rate the bilingual journey as a priority in your life? On a scale of 1 to 10, how high is this priority? And are you satisfied with the situation? If not, can you make your quest a higher priority and place it more firmly in the center of your lifestyle? (Let me stress: This isn't a contest and no value judgments are being made. It's only important that you make your quest the highest priority you can, given your personal goal and particular circumstances.)
I look forward to seeing your responses to the poll above and your thoughts below.