Gus on the Go was born out of the desire for the both of us at Team Gus to raise our children to be multi-lingual. While there are studies that show that bi-lingual kids are smarter, we created Gus on the Go as a way to help us preserve our respective family heritage and not for the sake of giving them a leg up in life. I (Alice) don’t worry for a second that my kids will be able to speak English, but I worry that they will never be able to speak Cantonese well enough to have meaningful conversations with their grandparents. Cantonese is technically my first language, but I lost it quickly when I began attending pre-school. I recently asked my mom why she didn’t push us harder to only speak Cantonese at home. My mom quickly and angrily reminded me that all of us unruly kids collectively refused to speak Cantonese simply because it was too hard. Oops.
Unfortunately my healthy desire for defiance as a kid left my Cantonese speaking ability at just about the level of a 3 year old. This means my 2 year old’s Cantonese will quickly surpass that of mine. I am thankful that my kids’ Cantonese language learning won’t stop because of my toddler-sized vocabulary. Fortunately, my husband’s Cantonese is more than adequate to get them to a conversational level. However, our biggest challenge is going to be keeping the kids interested in a language that no one else outside of our family speaks.
I’m not quite sure I have a real game plan beyond the next couple years, but right now we try to fill our kids’ home environment with as much Cantonese as possible. The family members that come to help me take care of the kids speak to them in Cantonese (which is easily the biggest language benefit of all). About half of any of their TV time is in Cantonese. At night, we listen to Cantonese music and Cantonese bedtime stories for kids. And Gus on the Go is naturally their go-to language app. 😉
As of now, my 2 year old only speaks Cantonese and it makes me so happy. In fact, when he occasionally throws out a word in English, he has a heavy Cantonese accent. LOVE IT! However, I know our challenges will begin soon as we just started my 2 year old at an English speaking daycare. He’s already picked up a few English phrases here and there as well as his numbers, colors and letters in English. Time will tell if we can stay persistent in teaching our kids Cantonese. So stay tuned!
The other half of Team Gus (Yono) has a different set of challenges altogether in his pursuit for his multi-lingual family. He aims to teach not only two but three languages to his son. His wife is in charge of imparting German, while he will work on speaking both English and Hebrew to his son.
Yono is most worried about his son learning Hebrew as that is the language, to which he will get the least amount of exposure. Upon learning of his wife’s pregnancy, Yono’s second thought (after “woohoo!”) was “How are we going to raise this kid with 3 languages?” He immediately scoured the net soaking up as much information as possible. He read articles and helpful blogs, such as Babel Kid, Multitongue Kids, and Bringing Up Baby Bilingual. He then contacted friends and family to send him children books, CDs and DVDs in English, German, and Hebrew.
So here at Team Gus, we created our family language diagrams to help us keep track of our progress in raising multi-lingual children. We’d love to hear from you about the challenges you face and resources you have found helpful!