Monthly Archives: February 2013

Feat No 7: “I’ m singing in the “… home, morning, classroom, bath, entrance or exit of your school, celebrations, and anywhere else you can teach while having fun!!!

I have always considered myself a “Show Woman” type of teacher, meaning that I am very, correction, extremely enthusiastic and expressive when teaching. I enjoy making the lesson fun along with educative and also encouraging. I like turning something small into a big deal for our students; a huge achievement!

I am like that as a mother, too. I sometimes tend to overdo it, like Ms Frizzle from Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus, literally even dressing up according to the event or activity, but I love doing so.

What has been an essential tool for these in-house and school events are songs: Rhymes, traditional children’s songs, course book songs, songs from educational DVDs, songs from several audio storybooks, even songs from our own childhood.

Both my children and students are proof that songs have helped our lessons grandly throughout the eight years of being a mother and seventeen years of being an English language teacher:

* Our students, who are non-native speakers, have learnt words and phrases unbelievably fast and easily just by singing to these educationally fun rhythms

* Our students, who are native speakers, have realized the exact meaning or articulation of a word while singing

* My children have not just experienced everything above mentioned, but have also expressed an opinion on a song. I will never forget when I was singing the lullaby:

Hush-a-bye baby, on the tree top,

When the wind blows the cradle will rock,

When the bough breaks the cradle will fall….

And all of a sudden, four years after listening to this exact lullaby from beginning to end, Maggie, shocked, gets up from her bedtime pose and asks me to change the ending of the song on the spot. That it is not proper to sing the lullaby as it is. So from then on, to this day, …

… In mommy’s arms,

Maggie & Nicholas shall sleep …

is the new ending to that all-time classic. And Nicholas, being three-and-a-half today, has yet to hear Maggie’s forbidden version of the lullaby!

* Our students and my children practised and improved their skills in colours, numbers, letters, pronunciation and so many other topics.

* Under our family roof, this does not just apply to English, but to all three languages the children speak. And yet again, we have invested in providing them with equal language opportunities even in the audio sector.

* Children’ s interest and love in learning a language increases vertically through songs and the younger they are the more frequently you can use them during a lesson. I learnt this very well in my early years of teaching when I was responsible for the English Language at a private Nursery / Kindergarten in Greece for 7 years. They were aged three and a half to five and a half, were learning English as a Second language and were among the most productive projects I have ever done. Educational children’s songs were among my basic and best tools. We had even managed to put on plays including English songs. Some parents had even congratulated us as they felt their children spoke and sang the English performance better than their native language Greek play.

* In order for the songs to produce results, the teachers must have fun too while performing them! While enjoying them. While teaching them. While reenacting them and even reinventing them!

* There is another aspect to songs. Music itself. Being a former dancer (ballet – jazz – tap) I know the majestic essence of classical music. In our former school, The Loras English Academy, we tried something. In the hallways of the school, we would play classical music at a very low volume during lesson time. Teachers, students and parents gave us nothing but excellent feedback. During the breaks we would pause it.

* This is also applied at our home just before bedtime. After having studied two books on young children and pleasant sleep solutions (New Toddler Taming, by Dr Christopher Green and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley) and doing my best to adjust all this information to our family’s schedule and personality, we listen to classical music before the children fall asleep; at a very low volume. This even helps us parents calm down so as not to transmit any of our hyperactivity or stress on to our children.

* Music and songs have been used by us as English teachers with older students as well. Productivity in the classroom at its best, as excellently described by Vicky Loras through her blog post Born in The USA. Carefully selected lyrics from popular contemporary adult songs offer several teaching and learning opportunities.

I am very happy that I even remember songs I learned at school in Canada when I was a child. I sing them to both Maggie and Nicholas and they love them a lot. Not just as songs but also because they find it amazing that Mom used to be a child, too!

And while we listen to classical music, bedtime would not be complete without a story book!

Feat No 8 will take you to Story Land, books and all their wonders… in – house and at school!

Loras Academy 2(1)

Maggie singing at The Loras English Academy Summer Celebration 2007

References:

Green, C. (2006). New Toddler Taming. London, UK: Vermilion.

Pantley, E. (2005). The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers. USA: McGraw-Hill.

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Feat No 6: From the Past to the Present and a step into the Future; Sibling Language Code

As our family is today, German is the language that has strong allies on its side: the German-speaking environment and the professional consistency of school. To add to that, Maggie’s friends are mainly German-speaking. And the cherry on top is the fact that Maggie is not only enjoying and prospering in this educational system but has also obtained great confidence with her German language development. So she uses it. Proudly. Daily.

And as Nicholas grows older they might even change their preferred language of communication, from English to German.

This is something that we noticed had happened to us, the Loras sisters.

Growing up in Canada we communicated with each other in English. Then moving to Greece, we preferred Greek as teenagers. Becoming adults and working in our own English school all day with other English teachers, we returned to our initial English-speaking family code. Now, in Switzerland, English is used as strongly as if we were in Canada by Vicky and myself. But we communicate in Greek with our younger sister, Christine who still lives in Greece. She, too, being an English teacher, though!

What I have noticed is that:

* Maggie has always used English when playing alone; recently, at a lower percentage but it has made its bold occurrence, sometimes plays alone in German, as well.

* Nicholas plays alone in English only for the time being.

* Together they play only in English.

* They have never played together in Greek.

* Maggie has never played alone in Greek.

* However, both she and Nicholas have no problem playing in Greek if a Greek speaking person is involved like their father, their giagia, my younger sister or anyone else when we visit Greece.

* While speaking in Greek or German specifically, Maggie may encounter unknown words. I have noticed that English is her main language foundation and based on that she learns the Greek or German equivalent.

* They can both sing songs in all three languages but also in unknown to them languages with great ease… A few days ago, Maggie taught Nicholas the chorus of a song and then they both sang it to me and for me:

” Mamacita mamacita buena…” . I am still laughing!

Speaking of songs, for children though, Feat No 7 will disclose why I consider them miracle makers when teaching the English language, or any language for that matter. Both to our children and our students.

Thank you and feel free to enjoy the song.

The Loras sisters in Canada

The Loras trio in Canada

Feat No 5: So far English is at a winning distance from Greek and German…but will it endure?

Maggie and Nicholas communicate with each other in English. This alone is a victory for this language compared to Greek and German as it is the preferred language of our children.

It is literally their mother tongue. And I have been trying to spend as much time with them as possible since they were each born. We also have a whole school of resources for them and they are being used by their mother and their aunt who are actually real English language teachers.

So the English language has been strongly active in our home both naturally and professionally.

While Nicholas is still at preschool age, this method is working as beautifully for him as it has for Maggie. However, Maggie is growing…physically and mentally. How do we maintain such a successful development of the English language from now on when her questions, activities and dialogues are becoming more mature?

This is most probably the right time to actually place Maggie in a group at our own language school. Along with other children of the same age whose native language is English, following a structured curriculum throughout the school year will be exactly the right way to stabilize, build and then excellently materialize the development of her English language.

Even if The Loras English Network did not exist, we would have to find a solution similar to this.

Being an English teacher in our own home has been successful so far but if I attempt to raise the standards of our in-house education, we both sometimes end up behaving…as if we were at home; because that is where we exactly are.

Put the mother in a classroom and the child in a group and the behavioural pattern changes quite a bit. As Maggie and I have been in this situation several times in the past, we are confident it will work. In this new picture, Eugenia is concentrating on the actual lesson and not emptying the dishwasher while spelling out a word to Maggie, who in turn is concentrating on the lesson and not trying to keep her sock on her foot while Nicholas is under the table trying to pull it off. Fun moments, but they cannot last forever.

And while Maggie and Nicholas are arguing over the sock in English, a Feat from our own past will make us wonder if they will continue using this language as their Sibling Code. To be continued in Feat No 6.

Time for us to take it to the classroom, too!

Time for us to take it to the classroom, as well!

Feta…sorry, Feat No 4: Maggie’s Greek School Project; The end? Or a new beginning?

Year One went by very well for Maggie and her first year in Greek School. Here I must mention that according to the Greek educational system, children attend the 1st class of primary school at the age of six. That is why Maggie was in the 1st class of Greek school while she was in Kindergarten of Swiss school.

Maggie could handle the workload and had a wonderful and experienced Greek teacher. She had even managed to create a very nice friendship with two girls in her class, even though they met just once a week.

However, Saturdays were like weekdays for Maggie:

She had to wake up very early so as to catch the train from Zug to Zurich. She continued to like Greek School.

We would then have to take two short tram rides before eventually reaching a Swiss Public school that is being used by the Greek community of Zurich for these lessons. She still liked it.

The lessons started at 9.00 am and ended at 12.30 pm, with two breaks for snacks and playtime.

After the lessons it was really time for lunch; Maggie was so hungry when it was pick-up time that we would always have lunch in Zurich and then catch the train back to Zug. No complaints.

She was tired and admitted to being so, but was still a fan of Greek School.

In other words, Maggie’s weekends were always short. They included just Sunday and that day was mainly used by her body and brain to recover from the exhausting full week she had had.

We had also found a very pleasant way of doing her Greek homework. She would do it – and still does it – with the great help of my younger sister, Christine, in Greece via Skype. This took a big burden off of her as she would finish her homework effortlessly.

This school year, however, is a different story.

Last year started catching up on Maggie …and along with it, all the exhaustion, too.

She is in the 2nd Class, year-wise but still in the 1st Class, book-wise. It is not possible to complete the curricula of a full school year only through Saturday lessons. Of course, this was never an issue for us. What is important and we have discussed this with Maggie as well, is to maintain and learn the Greek language as best she can. No deadlines, no pressure.

The homework at Greek school became much more. At the same time, Swiss school required homework on behalf of Maggie this year, too.

The problem was not only the quantity but also the quality of the homework in each school. Maggie realized this difference early enough to start expressing dissatisfaction with Greek School. The Swiss educational system, in some ways reminding us of the Canadian educational system does not involve heavy copying of letters, words and phrases. It does not involve learning off by heart. It does not involve doing light work at school and the heavy work at home. It is actually the opposite.

So two factors alone led Maggie to start crying before the first lesson of Greek School right after Christmas. Exhaustion from the whole Greek School excursion and Disagreement with the learning techniques. And she was absolutely right. We had to listen to her.

The Christmas holidays were almost over. Maggie had already successfully completed her homework for the upcoming lesson; again with the invaluable help and accompaniment of her dear aunt Christine. She loved her Greek School teacher and she loved her two friends there. She even got a surprise every Saturday for all her efforts and achievement. She was an excellent student at Greek School. And she was proud of that …but she started crying. A lot! Just two days before we started again.

We had to find a solution for her. One that she agreed with, that she was happy with, that would allow her to maintain this beautiful language she had already acquired.

And we tried out a private Greek School, again in Zurich. So far, that is the closest available city with such provisions. But this School has lessons for just one and a half hours every Saturday and the homework is much more interesting and lighter. We do not have to wake up so early either. Maggie can enjoy her Saturday morning sleep that is so important and go to Greek school after lunch … Just for a while this time. Additionally, the format of the lesson and the homework are more like that of her German and English lessons which she so much enjoys.

English Lessons? Feat No 5 will fill you in on that!

Maggie loves her new Greek School so much now that she not only goes – and leaves – happily but she also does extra Greek activity books that we have a whole shelf of here at home. With her own initiative! With great pleasure!

She now enjoys her longer weekend and we are happy to see her do so while still learning the Greek language. She is actually learning more this way.

Maggie’s sigh of relief was a sigh of relief for us as well. And at the same time, another deep breath, as this new private school involves extra monthly financing on our family’s behalf. We have explained this, too, to Maggie and she voluntarily asked to give up her Saturday surprises. Just for proposing that … we maintained her Saturday surprises.

2015 addition to this blog post: Please feel free to read Feat No 15 on how we have now set up our very own Greek Language Workshops here is Zug, for our own children and anyone else interested!

“…this is the way we go to Greek School, so early on Saturday morning…”

Feat No 3: Multilingual Nicholas…with an extra teacher this time; Maggie

Our loud little Hercules, Nicholas, is almost three and half years old. Today and for the past two weeks, he has made great progress in his speech and we are very happy to be able to communicate with him.

It took him half a year longer than Maggie.

Nicholas started his first couple of months bilingually, using the method we had used for Maggie. Each of us had a specific language in which we communicated with the children. Kind reminder: we were still in Greece then, where we had the luxury of our families’ population and diversity and Feat No 1 was applicable even to Nicholas.

Upon arrival in Switzerland, Feat No 2 focused on Maggie. But a Feat No 3 had to be initiated for Nicholas. If we were a factory, things would have been much easier. You repeat everything in exactly the same way. But we are not a factory. We are a family. And we do not just have two children. We have Maggie and Nicholas.

Why was a different Feat to be accomplished? And what was posing an obstacle? Or what was making things easier? What was forgotten? What had changed?

* Nicholas being multilingual almost since birth. He had not yet spoken in any language when introduced to German.

* Not much exposure to German as he was an infant and was not attending school like Maggie was. He was included in German Day for DVDs and children’s programmes and he even got a taste of this, new to us all, language when Maggie had playdates. Once a week, we would invite a child from school that Maggie had chosen to play with at our home. This helped her socialize and increase her contact with German. Nicholas would benefit from this, too.

* Not much exposure to Greek either, though. Thomas was and still is the Greek-speaking parent, but when we first arrived to Zug, he worked long hours. His absence, besides other things, decreased the children’s exposure to Greek. Maggie was at an age that she could attend Greek school, however. Nicholas was not! Again Greek Day existed consistently and the phone calls and visits to and from Greece somewhat helped him grandly, we later on discovered.

* Nicholas has an older sister who knows these languages. Maggie is his teacher. His best teacher. Their main language of communication has been English from the start. This is the language – so far – that Maggie has chosen to communicate with Nicholas. (P.S. Maggie has taught him a whole lot more than just languages.)

* My patience and endurance had to work overtime. I was much more tired than when we just had Maggie. I had more things to do in the same 24-hour adventure as there were two human beings I was responsible for. And when I mentioned “strongly vocal” and “loud” to describe Nicholas, I was not joking. And neither was he. When his toddlerdom reached the age of two, he was as persistent and insistent as the-toddler-next-door, but distinctly LOUD! CAN YOU HEAR HOW LOUD HE WAS? SO LOUD that when he insisted on seeing yesterday’s dvd (which was in a specific language) the following day (which was intended for another language) … I gave in. I could not but give in. It requires great strength and effort to find a pleasant way to turn things around and sometimes I just could not do it. So I would allow Nicholas to watch the DVD of his preference in his bedroom for a few days but I would follow the proper language scheme with Maggie. And then gratefully, conscientious Eugenia would scold defeated Eugenia and make her get her act together. I made sure I slept well, had some nice cups of coffee, got into my best, most pleasant mood and almost magically put Nicholas’ language days on track again. It was not Nicholas’ fault for being a toddler but it was definitely my fault for behaving like one.

* Then Nicholas was two and a half and said just a few words in English and even fewer in Greek. However, he understood both languages very well and also some German when spoken to by adults and children of our new environment. German really had to start becoming a properly proportioned part of his life. Beyond that, it would do all of us good if Nicholas started socializing with more children, other adults and in a different environment besides our home. That is why we decided to sign him up for a morning preschool three or four times a week. Great idea. Oops! What had I forgotten? That Maggie was fully integrated in a German-speaking school. And that it was the best move. And what does Eugenia go ahead and do? I sign Nicholas up for a private bilingual (German/English) programme. Here, my educational experience saved the day. In less than six days, besides the language issue, I put together some pieces of this specific preschool educational system puzzle and discovered…that there were many pieces missing in what they were doing. We immediately removed Nicholas from those facilities, paying dearly for this decision, literally in Swiss francs, but for the benefit of Nicholas. And along with changing preschool we had the super chance to rectify and also change language strategy. We signed him up for a monolingual Swiss preschool to receive the immersion necessary for his language development.

This was the kick-off for his intense and rapid progress! Maggie was Nicholas’ interpreter. Only she could fully understand him. When Maggie was not around and I had to understand what Nicholas was saying we both really tried. Hard! He would repeat and repeat his sentence until he was absolutely sure I understood every single thing he had said. There were times that after a few attempts I still could not but would fake it and reply: Ok Nicholas! But he knew; and insisted and then I really had to try.

But then, when sometimes even his trusty Maggie would not be able to understand him, he realized that he had to say it right. He was growing and so were his thoughts. It was as if he made a deal with himself and decided to really make a statement. Not with volume increases. Not with gestures. Not with his right-hand-man (sister, in this case), Maggie. But in his own words.

Every day and every week, he made a bigger and bigger statement. And in the proper language to each person. And even started singing German songs he learnt at preschool. He started being eloquent half a year later than Maggie but is using the same beautiful expressions and special vocabulary as Maggie. What a teacher she is!

Here we must also congratulate and thank his preschool teacher who is so talented and pleasant that when we go to pick Nicholas up, the Hercules in him comes out. He physically attempts not to be taken home from school and gravity is as real as can be when trying to lift him up.

Another special thank you is awarded to Maggie and Nicholas’ caregiver at home when mom and dad are on the go. She is a really wonderful, patient and loving young lady studying to be a primary school teacher. We are sure she will be a great one. She patiently tried to understand what Nicholas was saying, even in times when his speech was like a paintbrush dipped in too many colours.

And a huge thank you to the English-speaking Grandpa, my father, who helped us last year for six whole months. He contributed not only to Nicholas’ language development but taught him how to take care of himself, be tidy …oh, and strong!

In the meantime, Maggie was really starting to get tired… Tired of Greek. But that is Feat No 4.

hugs3

Maggie and Nicholas Feat…ing in 2013

Feat No 2: Bilingual Maggie turns Multilingual and then there’s Nicholas…Multilingual from scratch

Today was German Day, as shown on our Family Calendar. It used to be just English Day and Greek Day. But then, as I mentioned in my first post, bilingual Maggie, who was four and a half and strongly vocal Nicholas, who was two and half months, moved to Zug in Switzerland. Not alone of course, but not with everyone, either.

So the Big Plan had changed. And so had the participants. And the environment. The whole environment: Another country, with a new language none of us knew, a new home, a new member in the family, no grandparents and just one aunt this time. Vicky.

Again, I was stressed about Maggie, as I was in the 1st Feat. Maggie was about to start school which for any child and family is a whole Volume in itself. And she had a new brother; Another Volume. And she moved house; and country; two more volumes.

I decided to tackle the Language Issue and through that I was determined to smoothly deal with the other issues at the same time. In English. I would deal with everything in English. And Thomas would deal with everything in Greek. And Vicky would continue as usual in English. Why would we spoil a successful recipe? And we would do this not just for Maggie but also for Nicholas. So far, so good. But while I was still pregnant to Nicholas, I had to start preparing for the move. Before the Game Plan changed. It was more challenging than ever.

Raising Multilingual Children was my next choice of books, written by Tracy Tokuhama-Espinosa, a distinguished educator and mother of three.

I had to study this very well as we were about to add a new language to Maggie’s life. I studied and revised, chose and adapted, skipped and adjusted until the last three months before giving birth, both Nicholas and I were sleeping only three hours a day. I had to be very strong in the language department so as to be able to deal confidently with all the other issues that would arise when moving.

I was assured through this book that Maggie’s age was just right and Nicholas’ even better. Nicholas was in The First Window of Opportunity and Maggie in The Second, according to the book; when learning a language, consistently, was guaranteed to be fruitful.

All we had to do was find ways of being consistent. Without all that Greek around anymore. And with all that German around now.

* Well, we will just have to make appointments with Pappou and Giagia on Skype. And we did.

* Keep to English and Greek Day when DVDs and Children’s Channels were concerned, but also add German Day. Through some practical investigation, we discovered the safe educational channels for children in German and also made an investment in German DVDs. There had to be as wide a selection of German ones as there were English and Greek. And they had to be just as fun and interesting as the rest, so as to make this new addition another productive pleasure.

* We had to invest in German books as soon as possible. We were lucky in that department as our local library often sells perfectly maintained books that they do not need anymore, at prices as cheap as fifty cents or one Swiss franc. We bought a car load upon our arrival. Things started looking and feeling better.

* Schools? Do we send them to an International school that is bilingual and this way we are sure they will not forget but also progress in English? That is what many expats do. But, Eugenia, you and Vicky ARE your children’s English Language Teachers. Do it consistently, even professionally and there is no need to deprive them of the full integration offered through the Swiss Public Schools. Yes, I was convinced that this was the best way. (Besides the book on Multilingualism, I cannot begin to describe to you how well I studied the Canton – our Province – and all its aspects). Maggie is now in the First Class of Primary School as if she were a native speaker and at the proper age. Here I must express our tremendous appreciation towards the educational system and also Maggie’s spectacular teachers. We are forever grateful to them.

* And now the tricky part! What about their Greek? Thomas was still the Greek-speaking parent and we did make several phone calls to Greece. Also, the first two years we all made several trips back and forth to Greece. Our families and us. (This also helped in making the transition to a new country easier for the children.) We had already found out that a large Greek community resides in Zurich and there we found quite a few options for once-a-week Greek language lessons. Another investment, mainly in time and endurance. Now every Monday, Maggie does her Greek homework with our sister Christine via Skype.

But we all took a deep breath, smiled and did it. All of it! And we are still doing it. And sometimes it is so difficult to smile when doing all these things. But at the end of the day, we end up smiling. Even if we are already sleeping deeply from exhaustion when doing so.

We had our general plan set out now. We have made and are still making great investments in time, energy, money. We are sacrificing extra free time and sometimes even depriving ourselves of material things so as to be able to support this very important mission. A mission with two structures:

  1. To maintain Maggie’s two languages and reinforce her new third language, while simultaneously developing them all.
  2. To help Nicholas be properly multilingual from scratch. Being even more patient than with Maggie in the language development department. Trying not to forget what was successful with your first child. Trying to maintain a clear head and a lot of will power while raising two children now. But that is Feat No 3.

Thank you.

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Maggie, four and a half years old and Nicholas, a newborn

References:

Tokuhama-Espinosa, T. (2001). Raising Multilingual Children. Westport, USA: Bergin & Garvey.

Feat No 1: Bilingual Maggie… and how it worked

On March 15, 2005 Maggie was born. Not just my first child, but my very first full-time student.

During my seventeen years of teaching, I have been fully or partially responsible for teaching English as a foreign language to over 2,500 students – from 2 years of age to their parents’ age.
Therefore, bilingualism should not have been such a stressful issue for me. Up until then, I could teach English to any age and any level with great joy, but great confidence as well. And I was honoured by being considered a role model in many cases by several young students who have made us very proud upon becoming adults. I will take this opportunity to thank each and every child and teenager that made our lives so special. We thank you!

What was different in this case was the fact that I was going to be a Parent And Language Teacher all at the same time. I was worried that it would be too great a challenge to deal with properly. The book that I studied intensely and provided me with the professional and experienced guidance needed for such a productive task, is Growing up with two languages, written by Una Cunningham-Andersson and Staffan Andersson. Both professional teachers and with four children of their own. And in this, I trusted.

So we raised bilingual Maggie based on this book and our humble instincts. And it worked perfectly. After several and severe readings and revisions, choosing the ways that best suit our personalities and our family, adjusting and adapting these tips to our family environment, Maggie had none of the problems I feared or guessed she would have.

We chose the One person, One language Method. I spoke to her in English and my husband, Thomas, spoke to her in Greek. We remained consistent to this plan from day one. Our families, too, being very cooperative, became part of this consistency plan. My sister, Vicky, spoke to her in English and my younger sister, Christine, in Greek. My father became the English-speaking Grandpa and my mother, the Greek-speaking giagia (1). My husband’s family enthusiastically became part of the Big Plan, too. His father was the Greek-speaking pappou (2) and as for Thomas’ sisters…his eldest sister, being an English Language teacher herself, spoke to her naturally in English and his younger sister, Caroline, in Greek. We were very lucky to have such a supportive team on our side. We were very lucky to have family members who trusted in our choices of raising Maggie. That played an extremely important and decisive role, too.

Beyond the speaking, there are other skills in language learning that needed to be treated in the same consistent manner.
*Our library became as rich in English books as it is in Greek books.
*Our collections of CDs with songs and stories are fairly divided language-wise.
*Her Teachers/Babysitters, Jahnavi and Elpida were each responsible for one language and we are very grateful to them both for being with Maggie in her early years. While mom was just next door having lessons with her own students in English, Maggie was in The Loras English Academy playroom, playing and learning in each teacher’s native language.
* My opinion of television is quite conservative and to some extent, strict. I really do not trust what might come up next on the screen. That is why we usually have two time zones during the day of extremely carefully chosen children’s channels and educational DVDs. And what scheme did we have to follow for this? English Day, to watch English language programmes and Greek Day, for the second language entertainment; these days alternating one after the other.

Consistently. Year after year. So productively. So smoothly.

Even the small issues that might come up and stress a parent… I had been prepared for by this excellent book.
When Maggie was 2, she was not saying as much as her monolingual (in Greek) peers. The other children were talking to us in paragraphs and Maggie was just saying words and short phrases. And patiently we waited and at the age of about 3, she not only spoke eloquently in both languages but knew in which language she was spoken to and answered in that same language. With beautiful expressions and even special vocabulary, Maggie just progressed and progressed.

Another issue I was warned about through this treasure of a book was that we parents should not feel embarrassed using the language our role requires. We were living in Ioannina, Greece at the time and I had to speak to Maggie in English wherever we were, whomever we were with. Even if I was considered a snob, or a show-off or a real piece of work for our society, I remained loyal to this role.
PLAYTIME with the word CHILD: Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me, we used to say when we were children. So there was no way I was going to be childish and shy about the way I was raising my child, because of other people’s childish behaviour towards us. My child is more important than that.
And then Maggie turned four and a half. We were going to move to Switzerland. Specifically, Zug; a German-speaking Canton. Along with newly-born, Nicholas…
Feat No 2!

Congratulations and a huge thank you to Una Cunningham-Andersson, Senior Lecturer in English language and linguistics at Dalarna, University in Falun, Sweden and Staffan Andersson, Teacher of Computing. Both authors of the book Growing up with two languages and parents of four children.

And a Huge Thank You to our family and friends who supported us throughout Feat No 1 and trusted us in Feat No 2.

Thank you.

Maggie, two and a half years old

Maggie, two and a half years old

Notes:
1. giagia = the Greek word for grandmother
2. pappou(s) = the Greek word for grandfather

References:
Cunningham-Andersson. U., & Andersson, S. (2005). Growing up with two languages. A practical guide. Great Britain.