On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I answer a question from a listener who is wondering if she should try to establish a support network for her language journey. I talk about my thoughts on the value of building a network with other parents and provide some ideas on how parents may be able to find other multilingual families.
Episode #54- Transcript
Hey there and welcome to another Question and Answer edition of the Bilingual Avenue podcast. We are up to 89 countries tuning into the podcast which is awesome! A shout out to our listeners worldwide, it’s really exciting to see that the Bilingual Avenue message is reaching so many corners of the world!
Today, I’m answering another email that came in from a fellow multilingual parent like yourself! Remember that I want to hear from you. If you have any concerns you would like covered on the podcast just send me a note at bilingualavenue.com/contact
Let me read you the message I received that we’ll be addressing this week:
My husband and I love your podcast. We have a question that you might be able to help us with. On a previous episode, you mentioned the benefits of having a good support network. Could you share any advice on how to establish a support network with other bilingual families? We just don’t know where to start.
Thank you Esther for writing in your concern and for allowing me to share it with the Bilingual Avenue community.
Let me share my thoughts first on the value that I see in building a support network and then share some of my ideas on how to build that network.
Alright so let’s talk value:
I’m always a big supporter of finding support on the parenting journey in general, not just the language journey. I was lucky to find a group of moms when my daughter was only two month olds and we all had newborns around the same age. That group was so helpful to me and continues to be to this day. We have been through a lot together. We share advice and best practices often and it just makes the parenting journey more fun.
Spending time with other parents can have a lot of benefits. It can help you see how other parents are dealing with some of the same issues you are facing. They can help you bounce ideas and concerns off each other. You can feel validated to have the support from others who understand the ups and downs of being a parent.
When you are raising multilingual children, it is just as important to find a network of support. You will find that there are some things that your monolingual peers may not understand quite as well as your multilingual peers. Let’s say for examples myths about multilingualism. We’ve talked about these quite a bit on the show before. When you are connected to other parents raising multilingual kids, you can come to them and address any myths that are creeping up and may be impacting your experience with your children.
Just like a network of parents can help you with the challenges, it can also be really fun and rewarding to share stories to others who get it. A multilingual parent will know exactly how excited you may feel when your child learns to say a word in two languages or when they start translating or when they turn to one parent and speak in one language and turn to the other and speak in the other. They will be there to cheer you up but they will also be there to celebrate with you!
If you are able to find other adults in your support network that speak your target language, they can provide an excellent resource for exposure for your kids. If they have kids, even better! You can organize play dates where your children can not only have fun with each other but develop their language skills as well.
Ultimately, where I really see the value in finding or creating a support network is that it can serve as a motivation and as accountability partner to keep you going on the language journey!
Now let’s switch gears and talk about some ideas as to how you can find a support network. Some of you live in communities where it is very simple for you to find other parents that are working on your target language near you. While some of you are in communities where you may be the only one! So what I’d like to do is share some ideas on how to find a group. They may not all work in your situation but I’ll try to be as broad as I can so that it will at least get you thinking about how you may find a group.
The first thing is that you can start a support network if you know of any multilingual families near you. They don’t have to necessarily speak your target language because you will still probably find plenty of synergies with other multilingual families. So if you know of others in your community that are on a language journey, reach out to them!
If you are lucky enough to have others who speak your target language, that’s a no brainer. Reach out and especially if they are parents, they will likely jump at the opportunity to connect with you as well.
If you don’t personally know anyone in your community, you can also check out websites like meetup.com to see if there are other existing groups in your city or one nearby that you can try to join. If there are cultural associations in your neighborhood, check them out. Often times they either have a parenting group or they would be happy to put you in touch with other families.
Even after trying these different options, if you still can’t find other members in your communities, turn to one of the greatest resources of this day and age, the internet. Facebook for example, has many many groups for multilingual families. You can find groups on there by geographic area by language by culture, etc. One large group in particular that is very active is one called Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children. I’ll have the link to the Facebook page. You can find that at bilingualavenue.com/episode54. This group has over 10,000 members with just about every language represented there. Moms and dads are often on there asking many questions and providing support to each other. If you are not able to connect with others in person the Facebook groups can be an option.
The last idea I’d like to provide for you is checking out one of the many multilingual and multicultural blogs out there. The downside to a blog is that you are not always able to connect with other readers of the blog but you can find ways to connect with the actual blogger. You will get to read about his or her experiences on their language journey and likely draw some support that way.
Like I said, there are many blogs out there and I couldn’t possibly list them all but I can direct you to a great resource multiculturalkidblogs.com I will also be linking this website on the show notes page so you can just check out the link there. The reason why I point multiculturalkidblogs.com is that this is a blog dedicated to raising world citizens that has contributors from some wonderful blogs. If you go to the Multicultural Kid Blogs home page, you can click on the About Us section and then follow that to MKB Member Blogs. There, you will find all the contributors to the site and there are many, believe me. They are listed by categories so for example, you can check and click on multilingualism, multicultural parenting, multicultural kids books, etc. You will likely find some great blogs and resources to help you on your language journey!
Those are just some of my ideas, if you are listening and have any other ideas that have worked for you, let me know. Send me a note and I’ll share it with the Bilingual Avenue community.
Now I just want to leave you with one last thought.
If you don’t yet have a support network of parents yet but are interested in creating one, don’t be shy. Some of us are extroverts and it is really easy to strike up a conversation and connect with others while some of us are introverts and feel less comfortable with that idea.
But here’s the beautiful thing about being a parent. The rules change when you have children and many of the social norms among parents are more forgiving. If you go up to a fellow parent and reach out to connect they will likely jump at the opportunity. I’ve said before on the show that many multilingual parents feel that they are alone in their journey so believe if you reach out to another multilingual family they will likely love the idea of getting together for a chat, give it a try!
Alright well that’s all for today! If you want to catch a transcript of today’s question, check it out at bilingualavenue.com/episode54
May you have fun travel son your language journey. Hope to see you again on the avenue.
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