My children are my living, breathing Multiliteracy Project. My monolingual husband, Kevin, and I decided to raise our children bilingual in English and French. I speak to them in my non-native French and their father along with almost everyone else in their world speaks to them in English. Our four-year-old daughter, Soleil and two-year-old son, Geo, speak mainly English with occasional French words mixed in here and there. With time, I hope to see their French language production increase. I am constantly trying to find creative ways to encourage them to speak French.
For the most part, my daughter and son understand what I say and read to them in French. Sometimes I add gestures or visuals to help them understand. Before they could express themselves verbally, my husband and I taught them the most useful American Sign Language (ASL) gestures, which they used before learning how to speak. I taught the signs along with the French words, Kevin taught them with the English words. Soleil and Geo remember all the signs and we continue to use them from time to time.
Music helps me teach my children French in a fun way. From the time they were infants I started adding songs to daily occurrences. A couple of the baby songs have stuck and the words sung in the little ditties are among the words they are saying in French. We have added an additional layer of music as a nighttime ritual. The nightly lullaby I’d sing them in French was always well received, so I decided to turn on short playlists of French music for them to hear as they fall asleep.
Bedtime stories are a very important part of how I plan to raise multiliterate children. Every evening, we read French stories. It is exciting to start hearing both children finish sentence for me in French. I feel that story time not only helps my children, but it also helps me up-skill my French. There are many words that I learn from their stories. It’s amazing how rich the vocabulary is in children’s books. It’s no wonder that reading aloud to children is the best way to ensure that your child will develop proper literacy skills. I believe that the only thing better for your child’s literacy development than reading aloud to them is to read aloud to them in another language.
Technology provides yet another dimension to Soleil and Geo’s language learning. From interactive websites to our favorite YouTube channel, we spend some time every day interacting with content produced by native speakers of French. One of their favorite videos is of a classroom where the students are learning the emotions in French. The first time they saw it, they watched the elementary student acting out the emotions with much interest. They also laughed out loud. Then, they asked to see it again and again. By the third time, they started acting out the emotions along with the student. When I learned that the video was created in an Accelerative Integrated Method (AIM) Language classroom, I knew that I needed to find out more about the program. Four weeks later, I was off to Toronto, Ontario to observe two AIM Language classrooms and to attend a two-day workshop taught by expert AIM teacher, Sylvia Duckworth. In my attempt to encourage Soleil and Geo to speak French, I need to find and use whatever works most efficiently. In the search for the best ways to encourage French speech, it has become apparent that whenever fun and games are involved, speaking is bound to occur. Just goes to show that learning should be fun! AIM Language provides interactive engagement for students and I know my children (and students) will benefit from the integration of this ingenious teaching technique. I will write more about my remarkable four-day learning experience in my next blog post about my professional Multiliteracy Project.
In an effort to promote World Language education in my home and country, I am working on a website called Sunny Earth Academy (sunnyearthacademy.org). The site encourages global participation for the creation and sharing of free, engaging language learning resources in French, Spanish and English. The concept of the website is that students or learners of any age create and share their free language learning files or other sharable resources. Sunny Earth Academy will provide the links in an organized manner for all to use. The website is set to launch before the New Year. The hope is that it grows over time and helps other parents like myself who are trying to raise multiliterate children.
My children are my living, breathing Multiliteracy Project. I want to provide them with the multiliterate advantage. This includes being literate in at least two languages. It also means having proficient skills in computer literacy, information literacy, and physical literacy and in other currently emerging literacy areas. Literacy is great…Multiliteracy is better!