Update on machine translation services

Intel discuss their translation services

Intel doesn’t develop its own machine translation systems. We utilize  commercially available technology or technology  to create  our capability.

They see the following areas developing the use of these machine translation services.

Social Media is going to grow tremendously and machine  translation capability, in terms of supporting a global audience, is going to  become more and more important.

The other area is the phone environment. I see a lot of growing focus in that  area. This is not only from a commercial point of view, but also from the point  of view of government and the military.  A lot of the initial research on  all of this technology has been done by the U.S. military and the intelligence  community. The intelligence community had developed some mobile technology for  the field, where an English-speaking agent can go in and have a conversation  with an Arabic-speaking Iraqi. As long as they kept to some basic, simple  sentences, they could have a real-time conversation in the field with this  technology.

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/mobile-apps/making-a-mobile-translation-app-0396747#qSVG93aDBesgvtzH.99

I think that these systems will be integrated into all areas of translation as time and the development of these apps improves.

Suffolk: Judge left frustrated as translator’s absence delays justice

Is this fair to the victim? is this fair to companies that could do a better job? Is this fair to the judge?  When will the government intervene?

A JUDGE has expressed his frustration with a court interpreter system after a hearing had to be adjourned when a translator failed to attend a Suffolk court.

Ipswich Crown Court judge David Goodin said he was “astounded” at the non-attendance of a Bengali interpreter who had been booked by the court to act as translator for a 27-year-old man accused of attempting to rape a woman in an alleyway in Newmarket in August.

“Astonishingly and disgracefully for justice, no interpreter has appeared and in these circumstances we can’t make any progress with the case today,” said the judge. “This is yet another example of interpreters failing to appear.”

Judge Goodin was forced to adjourn the plea and direction hearing until today after court staff were unable to ascertain the whereabouts of the translator.

The case is the latest example of problems courts around the country have had in getting interpreters since Applied Language Solutions took over a Government contract in January.

Earlier this year the Ministry of Justice accepted there had been problems with the court interpreter system in the first few weeks of the contract but claimed the situation had improved.

Before Ipswich Crown Court yesterday was Jakir Hussain, of Bahram Close, Newmarket, who is accused of attempting to rape a 24-year-old woman in an alleyway between the High Street and Rowley Drive in August.

http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/suffolk_judge_left_frustrated_as_translator_s_absence_delays_justice_1_1734842

Even translators make errors

Even translators make errors !

A sign erected in Swansea that was supposed to read: “No entry for heavy goods vehicles. Residential site only”.

Instead, the message read: “I’m not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated”.

and then …

A Welsh language road sign in the Vale of Glamorgan urges drivers to “follow the
entertainment” rather than take a diversion.

and also…

The signs put up in Rhoose by Network Rail contractors also use the non-existent
word “acses” to mean access.

The full story here.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-20183909

Poetry for teachers of EAL children

I missed blogging on poetry day as I was not sure which poem to blog so as usual time has gone by and here we are nearly a month from it but I was reminded today thanks to my blog about Tamil poems being translated into English and a comment from Usha Rajagopalan. In her comment to me she suggested looking at a link where four poems had been published I duly followed and enjoyed the poems so much I thought I would just put my favourite below.Great because I am ahead now for poetry week !

A great poetry resource for English teachers teaching Tamil children and others in their class as the use of nature in such an appealing way should capture their imaginations. So may things to look at the rhythm, the words, the length of each line, the genre, cultural references,the pictures it creates in ones mind etc.

Kuyil Paattu 2

In the trilling and warbling of birds in the forest,
In the music of the wind as it rustles through the leaves,
In the laughter of the rippling river and cascading falls,
In the ever-swelling waves of the blue ocean,
In the passionate lyrics of girls deeply in love,
In songs that drip with honey, in notes that melt the heart.
In the singsong of farmers as they draw water,
In the ancient chants of women as they grind corn,
In the country notes of those who powder limestone,
In the catchy little ditties of women working in farms,
In the tinkling of bangles on maidens’ arms,
In a circle as they dance clapping their hands,
In the notes of the flute and the veenai and
In instruments that men strum or blow air through.
In the melody that is heard all day long,
In the teeming city and in nature’s wilderness,
In all these notes I have lost myself.

This was pipped to the top but I loved the sentiments of Show mercy to the Enemy.

Show Mercy to the Enemy

Show mercy to the enemy, kindly heart. Show mercy to the enemy!
In the thick of smoke, there is fire. We have seen this on earth, kindly heart,

We have seen this on earth. In the midst of enmity, God dwells as love. God dwells as love, kindly heart, God dwells as love.

A lucent pearl can be found nestled within An oyster shell, don’t you know, kindly heart? Growing in the midst of refuse, can’t the Madhavi creeper Bloom in profusion, kindly heart?

When falsehood creeps into the mind, Can the mind be at peace, kindly heart? If a little poison is added to pure honey, Can it still be called honey, kindly heart?

Planning to live and grow, to think of decay, Is it fair to life, kindly heart? To subdue another is to take one’s own life. Haven’t you heard this, kindly heart?
He came like one of the Kauravas, To take part in the war, kindly heart. Didn’t Kannan also stand, whip in hand At the helm of Arjun’s chariot, kindly heart?

Even the tiger that threatens to devour us, You can win over with love, kindly heart. When Ma Parashakti appears as a tiger, Bow to her, kindly heart, bow to her.

” renewed focus on language skills at school is needed” John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce

Sometimes when engaged purely in Education it is easier to forget the wider world and the wider implications of why were are teaching a particular subject.  I was always aware being a secondary teacher that my students would possibly be working in Design, Programming,Engineering or Architectural type areas, not least because as well as teaching GCSE, A Level there was always NVQ teaching of skills that was part of my teaching role.  However for some they never think beyond the next exam and in primary often thought only about primary tests and not about the whole child and their future prospects.

With that in mind I thought that this information may be of use for those looking outside the box for reasons that languages should be taught and bilingualism and multilingualism should be embraced.

This is current from the Norfolk Chamber of Trade and shares the benefits to businesses about the importance of communicating with exporters in their language. Here is the link to the article:

http://www.norfolkchamber.co.uk/export/export-news/boost-exports-further-improving-businesses-language-skills-and-international

I am pleased that the Primary Languages Classroom Awards supports language developement to enable or children to be able to function on the world’s stage. Below is the article in full.

A survey of over 8,000 businesses released by the British Chambers of Commerce, shows that exporting activity continues to increase. However, the findings also suggest that providing firms with more training in foreign languages, and increasing their exposure to international companies would encourage more business owners to export. Economic growth relies upon British businesses being able to export more, so the British Chambers of Commerce is calling for more support for firms to help them trade internationally.

Language skills are vital to exporting

Knowledge of other languages is an important skill for exporters. 61% of non-exporters that are likely to consider trading internationally consider a lack of language skills as a barrier to doing so.

However, of those business owners that claim some language knowledge, very few can speak well enough to conduct deals in international markets. French is the most commonly spoken language, with 73% of business owners claiming some knowledge. However, only four percent are able to converse fluently enough in French to conduct business deals. This number drops significantly for those languages spoken in the fastest growing markets. In 2012, the IMF projects that the Chinese economy will grow by 9.5%, but just four percent of business owners claim any knowledge of the language, with less than one percent confident they could converse fluently.

Re-establishing foreign languages as core subjects within the UK national curriculum and in workplace training would mean that the next generation of business owners are ‘born global’ with language skills. The BCC is calling for the National Curriculum to be revised so that studying a foreign language is compulsory until AS level. Businesses could also be helped in training staff in new languages, if the government offered additional financial incentives such as tax credits for small and medium-sized businesses that make a significant investment in language training.

Businesses with stronger international connections are more likely to export

Businesses that do export are more likely to have stronger social connections with overseas markets. When asked what led them to export, the top three reasons cited by current exporters were:  collaboration with overseas partners (71%); a chance enquiry from outside the UK (57%); and previous work experience abroad (52%). Those business owners that have lived abroad are more likely to export. 11% of current exporters have lived aboard for five years or more.

The BCC believes that creating opportunities for employees to work in overseas companies could help expose firms to more international opportunities. For example, an international business exchange programme, perhaps modeled on the well-known academic Erasmus scheme would allow employees to complete placements in companies abroad, and bring back their experience to their employer. A scheme that covered BRIC economies, as well as Europe, would mean that businesses could take advantage of fast growing markets as well as the eurozone.

Commenting on the findings of the report, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

“Exporting is good for Britain, so it is right that we should encourage current and future business owners to develop the necessary skills to trade overseas. We’re encouraged to see the percentage of firms exporting in our survey has increased from 22% in January 2011 to 32% in January 2012. Exports are equivalent to nearly 30% of UK GDP[1], but more can be done to help businesses take the first step to exporting. Encouraging companies to boost foreign language skills with incentives like tax credits is just one way of making sure we continue to export best of British products and services around the world. A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.

“We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets. Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”

 

How would you feel if you could not communicate?

I empathise with this totally. I often hear people being disparaging about translations, interpretations and the irony is that whether using human or machine translations/interpretations or not they miss the point that communication is happening at the right level and at the right time. This at the end of the day is the most important thing for children and adults in classroom situations. For frontline officers in council offices, general offices, police, health authorities if you are the person at the desk and do not speak the language you immediately feel small and helpless. At this point help for both parties is required. This reminds me did you hear R2 a few weeks ago when John Foxwell from EMASUK talked about their hand held translator – wouldn’t it be good in these situations?

http://www.emasuk.com/page/eal/207/products–i-can-talk-to–brand-new

It’s not just a challenge for monolingual teachers but for bilingual teachers- USA

This article is really interesting because it highlights the problems that both  bilingual and monolingual colleagues experience, but saying that it all boils down to the same thing how can we teach our children in the best way possible. The same thing that we all want to know so that each and every child in our charge is receiving the best education we can give them.

How many Authorities in the UK have asked a parent who speaks Polish, Urdu etc to support the bilingual children and then elevated them to a position as a Teaching Assistant assuming they know how to teach the child? I have also sadly observed that in some cases the teacher then leaves the TA and the children to their own devices almost as relief because the language is a communication barrier. Is thsi really giving both the teachers and children the best! What do you think?

Here is an extract from the news article:

“Before, I felt like I was kind of in survival mode,” she explained, “just trying to get them through. It’s not just a challenge for monolingual teachers but for bilingual teachers. Just because you speak the language of a child doesn’t mean you know the strategies or best practices for teaching” them.

The rest of the article is below:

In a recent Op-Ed for the Washington Post, New America Foundation’s Maggie Severns urged states to rethink teacher preparation in light of our country’s ongoing shift to a minority-majority nation. As Severns explains, immigrant youths and the children of immigrants are among the lowest-performing groups of students in U.S. public schools, AND they will account for virtually all growth in the workforce over the next 40 years.

Severns lauds the work in Illinois, where teachers are being given special training to meet the needs of bilingual learners, something preschool teacher Christina Gomez appreciates:

“Before, I felt like I was kind of in survival mode,” she explained, “just trying to get them through. It’s not just a challenge for monolingual teachers but for bilingual teachers. Just because you speak the language of a child doesn’t mean you know the strategies or best practices for teaching” them.

This is an essential issue, and it’s great that Severns has raised it. I’ve spent all year in two DC-area schools, both of which have Spanish-immersion programs, and I’ve seen first-hand not just the challenges of supporting the needs of children who don’t yet speak English, but also the benefits of having all children learn in a biliterate environment. Different students possess different strengths and weaknesses in different settings. Brain-based research is starting to demonstrate that the benefits of being bilingual go a lot deeper than knowing another language. And the schools — and states — that are ahead of the curve are acting accordingly.

But what else can we do? We might start by heeding the advice of University of Texas professor Angela Valenzuela, a founding member of the Forum for Education & Democracy (an organization for which I served as National Director) and a leading scholar on education policy. I recall asking Dr. Valenzuela what specific policy changes she’d like to see, and here is some of what she recommended.

1.   Ensure more appropriate assessment for special education students and bilingual learners (BLLs) by underwriting efforts to develop, validate, and disseminate more appropriate assessments in the content areas for these students, and by ensuring that the law and regulations encourage assessments that are based on professional testing standards for these groups. This would include helping to develop and requiring the use of tests that are language-accessible for BLLs and appropriate for special education students, and evaluating their gains at all points along the achievement continuum. Additionally, assessments for placement for bilingual learners must occur before we devise assessment criteria for outcomes.  In order to do this, consistency in bilingual learner classification must occur.  We need a measurement classification that is sensitive to the within-group variability of bilingual learners.  This means that an initial assessment of bilingual learners must be conducted to gauge their command of both English and their native languages, mastery levels across core content areas. And we must improve monitoring of bilingual learner student progress, by establishing effective and valid methods of data collection that enables schools to monitor bilingual learners’ progress at all points of their education.  This includes tracking fluent English-proficient (FEP)-classified students to ensure that they do not require programs or services later in their academic careers.  Appropriate instructional strategies that address areas in need of improvement must be quickly addressed long before testing occurs.

2.   Strengthen supports for bilingual and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students. Under Title III of ESEA, schools and districts are accountable for the academic achievement of bilingual learners and for enabling these students to reach English-language proficiency. However, these students face a unique set of challenges compared to other students. For example, it is difficult to generate advanced conceptual understanding from bilingual learners and LEP students when they are being tested or taught in a language in which they are not proficient. The federal government can encourage teachers, schools, and districts to provide equal education opportunities for these students by:

  • Investing in the development of fully-qualified bilingual teachers who are sensitive to language barriers and cultural differences among students and able to effectively teach bilingual and LEP students;
  • Aligning Title II and III by requiring that state local education agencies (LEA’s) demonstrate how their second language acquisition programs meet the academic and linguistic needs of bilingual learners;
  • Lifting the cap on the amount of money appropriated for preservice preparation of bilingual and English-as-a-second-language teacher candidates, combined with restoring fellowship opportunities (Title VII) for graduate study in those same areas provided in earlier versions of ESEA;
  • Encouraging states and localities to increase the pool of highly qualified bilingual teachers and personnel with expertise in working with BLLs;
  • Supporting high-quality, research-based professional development opportunities for BLL/LEP teachers;
  • Providing all staff with continuous professional development in effective practices, particularly as they apply to bilingual learners.  Teacher candidates, and those already in the profession, should be provided financial support to complete higher education coursework in ESL methodology, or equivalent professional development in sheltered instruction in the subject areas.  For those teachers already in the profession, meeting this goal should be fulfilled by the end of their second year in the classroom.
  • Supporting early school intervention programs that help prevent bilingual students from falling behind academically, and
  • Prohibiting districts and schools from testing bilingual student exclusively in English until they have become proficient in the English language.

What I appreciate about Dr. Valenzuela is her sensitivity to the ways in which we need to view bilingualism as a strength, not a weakness. That’s why she prefers the term “bilingual learner” to the more commonly used English-language learner, or ELL. The former describes the central aspiration we should have for all students. The latter describes the central deficit we see in some.

Perhaps that sounds like mere semantics; but I agree with Angela — it’s a crucial distinction, and one we should all become more attuned to if we hope to create a society worthy of, and prepared to take advantage of, its own rich diversity.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-chaltain/transforming-schools-to-m_b_1562607.html

Welsh v English Which path do I choose for Secondary School ? – Wales

This is an interesting story about the path of twins and their choice at secondary school after engaging in a Welsh Primary Education, which path to choose?

Has anyone else out there been in this position?  I have been promoting Welsh via the Primary Language Awards and the Welsh category as having been born in South Wales I wanted to promote the language, this years winners can be seen at www.languageawards.com.

AN EDUCATION guidance document has prompted some controversy after revealing  concerns over the progression of Welsh language skills for Welsh medium pupils.

The document – called Promoting linguistic progression between Key Stages 2  and 3 – has been distributed by the Welsh Government to local education  authorities and the head teachers and governing bodies of Welsh medium primary  and secondary schools.

It reveals there has been concern within the Welsh Government at the failure  of some children undergoing Welsh medium education to progress their language  skills after making the transition from primary to secondary schools.

It states: “Despite a growing number of learners being taught through the  medium of Welsh in our primary schools, the lack of linguistic progression  across the educational stages from Key Stage 2 onwards has been of concern to  educators in Wales for a number of years and there has been considerable  discussion on how best to try to respond to the situation.”

The document goes on to offer advice about how to overcome the doubts of  parents who worry whether Welsh medium education will place their child at a  disadvantage. It advocates running “workshops for Years 5 and 6 learners {aged 9  to 11} to raise their awareness of the value of Welsh medium education”.

The document states: “This is best undertaken by means of fun activities that  underline the economic, cultural and social benefits of being bilingual in  contemporary Wales.

“During the project, a number of fun activities were created for use with  Years 5 and 6 learners to raise their awareness of the benefits of bilingual  skills, including the social, educational and economic benefits.

“One example is to have two dolls that are similar in appearance, and present  a story about the dolls to the learners. They are twins who have been brought up  as Welsh speakers. Both had a Welsh medium education at primary school. One went  on to receive a Welsh medium education at secondary school, but the other  followed her friends and chose an English medium education. One went to college  in Wales while the other went to college in England. One of them retained her  Welsh while the other lost the language after spending years working in  London.

“By coincidence, years later both applied for the same job – a senior job  with a good salary in an area of Wales with a high number of Welsh speakers. The  learners are told that one twin has bilingual skills, and is therefore able to  speak to everyone, in either English or Welsh. The other twin can only speak  English. There is a discussion on the importance of giving customers a choice of  language and on the rights of Welsh speakers. Learners are asked to choose which  candidate should be given the job. In all cases, without exception, the learners  chose the twin with bilingual skills. The result of the exercise is that the  learners themselves realise the benefits of having bilingual skills.”

A source in the education sector said the document had caused some  controversy since it was issued earlier this year because some educationalists  believed it clearly proposed “strategies to discourage English-medium education  between Key Stages 2 & 3”.

The source said: “I think the document speaks for itself. The strategies for  discouraging English medium secondary education – particularly those aimed at  children like the dolls example – are, I think, highly questionable.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We want to address the decrease in  numbers of pupils who continue to study Welsh first language and subjects  through the medium of Welsh on transfer from KS2 to KS3. That is the focus of  this document.

“It highlights the advantages of learners progressing from primary through to  secondary education in the language which they’ve been using throughout their  education. It also provides guidance for local authorities and schools on how to  support and encourage progression. Linguistic progression is a key part of our  Welsh medium education strategy.”

The document also recommends a DVD to be shown to parents called Symud  Ymlaen/ Moving On. The DVD states: “Employers now seek robust bilingual skills – having a Welsh medium education is an effective way of improving skills and  confidence in the language. More jobs require bilingual skills today than ever  before.

“Being bilingual gives young people the opportunity to experience two  different cultures and two worlds of experience. Two languages – twice the  choice!”

A National Assembly briefing paper about the current Assembly term, which we  have seen, suggests a Welsh medium education Bill may be necessary to compel  local authorities to implement the Welsh Government’s Welsh medium education  strategy, which has targets that 30% of Year 2 learners and 23% of Year 9  learners should be assessed in Welsh first language by 2020.

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2012/05/31/document-sparks-fears-for-pupils-welsh-language-skills-91466-31080648/#ixzz1wWgzPVDm

Parents eye view of Bilingualism in reality – Sweden

Often as teachers we have little contact with parents, or even if we do they do not tell us how they feel about bilingualism and I wonder if sometimes they feel that they have no one to talk to either, and actually worry that they are doing ‘it’ wrong.  This is why I thought I would share this with you from Sweden where a mother explains how she notices her child becoming a confident bilingual speaker and expresses a little about how she feels.

http://www.thelocal.se/41118/20120529/ is the direct link to it or read it below. It is a great insight into the reality of bilingualism from the parenst perspective and the fact that she writes : ‘Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves. With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.’ shows the teacher at work even as a mum.

The other day, I noticed a new dynamic in our family. Actually, if I look back, the change has been gradual, but I never really thought too much about it until last week when the kids came home from school.

After two years here in Sweden, Swedish is now our kids’ dominant language. This is how I found out.
Erik and Gabrielle were in the backyard, taking advantage of the year’s first streak of warm weather to jump themselves silly on our trampoline. And since it’s just the three of us, we’re all speaking English.
Then, Gabrielle says she’s thirsty, so I go inside and get a pitcher and some glasses. As I return to the back door, I pause and listen. They are speaking Swedish.
I walk back out with the water and call them over. They switch back to English. I’m curious, so I decide to test it: will they switch if I leave again? I walk inside again but stay by the door listening to the conversation.
I wish I could report that they meandered off into deep thoughts or were showering each other with compliments.  Actually, they started arguing.
“I want the tupp glas,” whined Gabrielle. She couldn’t come up with the English word rooster immediately, so she switched over to Swedish; tupp glas,” instead of rooster glass”. And Erik followed her.
I tested my theory a few times over the week, and the conversations followed the same pattern. And it never happened the opposite way; not once during a Swedish conversation did they spontaneously switch over to English.
I don’t mind this change at all. I want our kids to feel at home here in Sweden, and that feeling of connection is related, in part, to strong Swedish skills.
But this new development in our kids’ language raised a question that I hadn’t considered in a long time: what are my goals for our kids’ language growth?
As an idealist new parent, my goal was lofty and vague: they should be bilingual. I should have known better. Personal experience as well as education research suggests that bilingualism exists on a continuum.
It’s a practice that must constantly be maintained, and it can vary greatly among individuals. Bilingualism was a good starting point, but as an achievable goal, it ranked somewhere near my (broken) New Year’s resolutions like “eat healthier” and “write a novel”: good intentions, mediocre results… at best.
When we moved to Sweden, my goal was to keep the kids on par with grade-level Americans in speech, reading and writing… in case we decide to move back at some point.
Actually, I didn’t articulate this goal so clearly to myself, but now I can see this was my underlying expectation. But now I wasn’t sure if this was realistic.
Everything I had read in and out of education classes emphasized that successful bilingualism should be a conscious process, constantly reevaluated and fine-tuned.
Taking a page out of the guidelines for successful New Year’s resolutions, I set out to create some goals that were process-based (as opposed to result-based) and measurable.
But where to start?
While pondering, I realized there’s also some outside pressure related to this goal: home language classes.
Recently, I was told that, starting in 6th grade, my son’s home language teacher was going to give him his English grade, and it would be based on native, grade-level assessment. Now, my son has a very nice home language teacher, but how is this man expected to teach him the nuances of grade level English during one 45-minute class per week?
And as the primary English influence in their lives, the task of getting Erik and Gabrielle on par with their American counterparts would mostly be mine.
Was I up to this daily task? Just the thought of getting Erik’s hilariously phonetical spelling, governed by Swedish letter sounds, up to speed was enough to steer me in another direction. “Hapj brfdaj”? Where do I even start with that?
I had already done my reading, so I decided to do some research of a different kind: I asked my friends, two of which are managing three languages at home.
And despite the fact that I only have five native English-speaking friends here, their answers reached all ends of the spectrum.
Three had goals for their kids; two did not. A different two were satisfied with their kids’ progress in English—interestingly, friends’ satisfaction levels were not correlated to their kids’ skill levels.
Despite the range, I could identify with them all. Here are a few, insightful observations:
“It’s the little details that get fuzzy,” said one friend, “like saying ‘I’ll hop over it’ instead of ‘I’ll skip it.’ My kids don’t hear it’s wrong, and after a while, I don’t either.”
As my friend says this, I wonder if it is even possible for me to give my kids the native ear for the language. Surrounded by Swedish-influenced English mistakes, this seemed to be an uphill battle.
After being here for a few years, another friend had relaxed her expectations.
“I don’t want language to be a source of anxiety for the kids,” she said.
“Now, my goal is to help them develop a base so that, given a transition period, they could adapt to their next English situation.”
One friend found her kids’ difficulties with English was a source of frustration.
“It’s like the communication between me and my kids comes through a filter. When I hear other kids their age back home speaking English, I feel like I’m missing something of my own kids’ true personalities.”
But my goal-free friend who keeps up three languages in her home was much more sanguine:
“They’ll be fine,” she says.
And she should know: she grew up in a Spanish-speaking country, but spoke English around the house with her American mom. Then, she went to college in the US, directly into classes with the other native speakers.
“I won’t lie—my first semester was really difficult. All I did was study, but by the next semester, I was fine.”
Now, she supports both Spanish and English here in Sweden.
“For a long time, my son answered me in Swedish. But a few weeks ago, we spent some time with a Spanish exchange student. Now, he’s switched back to Spanish with me.”
In other words, relax. Don’t worry too much about the future. Det löser sig.
Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves.
With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.
With all this in mind, I made some process-oriented, measurable goals—things that we’ll do every day to work on English. Because, regardless of any larger goals I decide on, the reality is that I have little control over the end result; that’s up to the kids. It’s the process that’s in my hands.
Research and personal experience suggest that there is no one correct approach; in the end, we are all experimenting, and we have a lot to learn from each other.