Episode 19: A joint language learning journey: A father and his daughter learn Chinese together

Episode 19

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Nick Jaworski an American blogger, international traveler and education enthusiast living in Chicago with his wife and daughter.  Nick speaks exclusively in Chinese with his 2-year old daughter although he is not a native speaker and is learning along with her! In addition, she’s learning Turkish from her mother, English from the community and Spanish at a weekly language class.

Episode #19 Quick Guide

On this episode, Nick discusses with us:

  • His family’s language journey including the languages spoken at home, Turkish, Chinese, English & Spanish;
  • His background as a foreign language teacher, teacher trainer and school leader for almost ten years;
  • The advantages he believes languages will provide his daughter;
  • How his daughter is managing all the languages around her;
  • How he is learning Chinese along with her which I find fascinating and so encouraging;
  • How he leverages the internet to look up words and native pronunciations with tools like MDBG;
  • His strategy to reach out to Chinese speakers to verify and learn more complex grammar structures;
  • The challenges they have faced on their language journey including how difficult it can be to connect with family members who do not speak the languages spoken by his daughter;
  • How he reassures his family that the language they share, English, will come quickly once she starts going to pre-school;
  • How he tries to expand his own vocabulary in Chinese and expose his daughter to other Chinese resources;
  • The different structures for Chinese and Turkish and how that plays into the family dynamics;
  • How it can be difficult to find work life balance and how that can impact language learning;
  • The incredible feeling he experiences when he hears his daughter say new words in Chinese;
  • How his daughter, and children in general, are able to connect linguistic information they are obtaining and identify it in other context;
  • What he is looking forward to in the next few months once she becomes more conversational and starts asking more and more questions;
  • His shock to hear myths about language learning after returning to the United States;
  • His experience and take aways from working in language learning programs overseas;
  • The difference in expectations for language learning across cultures;
  • The importance of staying committed to language learning;
  • Some of the common struggles that parents face to get their children to continuously use the minority language once they are introduced to the community language in an academic setting or around peers;
  • His ideas on how to provide extra resource and support in the minority language;
  • The importance of making language learning exciting;

Once we hop on the Autobahn at Bilingual Avenue, Nick shares –

  • Favorite resources:
  • Best advice received: Have a language plan with your family and emphasizing reading;
  • What has held him back: Getting over the fact that others may find it strange that he communicates exclusively with his daughter in Chinese even if others around are not able to speak the language;
  • Great family habit: Reading & Play;
  • Favorite Books: Books from China Sprout, Who Stole the Dumpling?
  • Best Advice to others: Be confident that you have made the right choice. There are a million success stories out there, find the inspiration.

Summary of resources Nick shared on the show –


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