Part of Raising Multilingual Children Series via The Piri-Piri Lexicon
Multilingual Families are really like any other families, full of love and understanding, with their share of problems and joys, but at the end of the day, we do realize that our family can find additional ways to add to the fun in our lives. I created a list of 7 top ways we are rocking it!
1. JOKES We can definitely say jokes in different languages and understand them!! But what about making our own?? Isn't funny that some words in one language mean something completely different in another one?? Or what about the words that sound like something else in another language?? Not so long ago, when we went to the book fair, we went to the booth of train transportation and the lady said to me: "Please, take a train". I reply saying: "Yes we did, we came in the train!" Both of my children look at me and started to laugh, they said: "Mom! She means to take one of those train erasers from the table!"
2. TRAVELS Going and exploring new places is something that totally is fun! Finding the right place to eat, or buying the same stuff for less than the regular tourist is so good! You can bargain and more! But the most fun part is being able to make friends and socialize with them can really give you a precious perspective for visiting a new place and make friends for life.
3. GAMES AND SPORTS Being able to understand the rules and nuances of another culture speaking the language gives you prime access to enjoy games and sports from another perspective! You can find a new hobby and join a league with ease! What about joining a club?? Yes, some cultures are very specific with their favorite games and sports!! That is the case of Shogi. A Japanese game that is similar to chess, but that holds Japanese characters to strategize, makes it difficult to play without being able to speak Japanese.
4. BOOKS AND LITERATURE As a family of readers, we are so thankful for good quality translations, but there is not doubt, that much can be lost in translation. I have been able to read books of Gabriel García Marquez, in Spanish, in English, and in French, and I can tell you that a lot of the theme that the writer writes in the original language, is totally hard to translate. So, isn't wonderful to be able to pick and read books in their original versions? What about having access to publications from other countries?
5. SECRET LANGUAGES Having another language as a family is like having an additional way to bond, at so many different levels! When our children feel lost at words on their feelings we can resource to another language to named and label those feelings in effective ways! Even ourselves! I can tell you that when I am emotional, my tendency is to start speaking Spanish! We can also have the sense of kinship when we don't want 'outsiders' to hear a reproach or a complaint. What about using the favorite language for mom or dad to get something out of them? The fun part is using it to build a family culture as unique as we feel it.
6. MEDIA FUN Yes!! Music, tv shows, movies, the internet. The ability to being able to navigate many languages effortlessly gives the multilingual family access to so much more! I can tell you that at my place we hear and learn from music, shows, and apps from many places in the world, and that can give you prime seat to local trends, fashion, advice and more! Many times, you can be the first one to find out about something because you speak the language and can watch the movie before they work in the subtitles!! Also, as parents, we can be more cautious about stuff that we can understand!! Do you know how difficult is to find the Moomin movie in English??
7. FUN OF AN ACTIVE AND HEALTHY BRAIN Yes, this one is really fun, which means that our constant code-switching is helping cognitive functions in our brain all the time! With no effort! Which means longer mental health for multi-linguals and more time to enjoy with our loved ones! Many studies had shown that people who speak several languages have an improved multitasking and cognitive ability, delayed onsets on dementia and Alzheimers. (New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html) This can be especially useful in social situations, like family gatherings, where perhaps many languages are being used at the same time and we just need to navigate the environment to have a fun and positive experience!