Read-along time: Growing Up Global

It’s time for our read-along to begin! I hope others have been reading the book as well and I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, even if you haven’t been reading along.

Expat Parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

I have so far only read the Introduction and Chapter 1: Be a Friend, so I can truly limit myself to commenting on only these two.

I’m enjoying the book so far, but I do have to point out that this book is very much aimed at an American audience (as in USA, not American continent). I’ve been reading the Kindle Edition bought from the US Amazon site, so I’m not sure if the UK version has any differences. There are many references to the United States and how cultural differences are perceived there (such as references to the way Muslims are viewed post 9/11) and some of the resources presented are specifically for the US. This book was clearly meant for an American audience with a more or less ethnically  and linguistically homogeneous background. This seems natural considering the author is American and this book is very much based on her experience and aimed at those who can not easily travel overseas to have first hand contact with other cultures.

That said, most of the information and tips can be interpreted and applied elsewhere as well.

The introduction tells us what brought the author to want to write this book (you can find out more about that on the book’s website as well, here: Growing up Global), basically to help parents raise children with a global perspective, whether or not they can travel overseas.

The book is structured like a recipe to make a friend – a global friend – and that’s clear in the Chapter’s names. It is also strongly based on the Golden Rule – one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself – which exists in most world religions in one form or another. (I will not argue here any quibbles I may have with the Golden Rule, but let me just say, I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to assume others would like to be treated the way we would like to be treated. But that would be a philosophical question, and I do think as a general principle the Golden Rule does have it’s merits and is simple enough for a child to understand.)

In the first Chapter there is a list of “10 things to do now”, which you can also find on the book’s website here, which I find is very useful. Many of these tips I already have incorporated into our daily life already, such as having a World Map over Sprout 1’s bed (we chose the Peters World Map because the representation of the size of countries is more accurate than the more widely used Mercator Map).

Peters World Map

Peters World Map

We also have some of her recommended books (that’s a surprise, huh!) such as Children Just Like Me, a Unicef publication by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley  and, Sue Copsey.

Children Just Like Me

Children Just Like Me, by Anabel Kindersley, Barnabas Kindersley and, Sue Copsey

The part about exposing children to other languages and cultures is almost a given for expats. However, it has made be thought quite a bit. While my children have constant contact with many different languages and cultures, do to the very international community they are living in here in Brussels, I do find they don’t have enough (in my opinion) contact with the national culture.

I find we don’t have many Belgian friends. Acquaintances yes, but friends – not so much. While I do find language to be one of the barriers (my French is fluent, but nothing compared with a native speaker and sadly I have yet to learn Flemish),  I do find cultural differences to be the biggest obstacle. It seems to me people are a bit weary of making “international” friendships. I don’t really blame them;  it does seem people are coming and going constantly, which leads to inevitable good byes, so investment in a friendship may feel high risk. Or maybe it’s just me and I have to find a way to better integrate into Belgian culture. I would love to know how others have been handling this, especially if you’re here for the long run like we are.

Homa Sabet Tavangar, an Iranian growing up in the US herself, shares her own stories of hidden prejudice towards others, as well as prejudice from others, which I personally found I could relate to. As much as we don’t want to be prejudiced, it sometimes does seep in without us even being aware, or wanting to acknowledge!

I’m really looking forward to the rest of the book, especially the hands-on suggestions promised in the next chapters.

The next installation of our read-along will be on Wednesday, 17 April. Get reading!

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing up Global

Expat parenting book read-along: Growing Up Global

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar

Life off-line has kept me away from the blog this past week. I’ve been busy preparing things for the BCT’s Nearly New Sale, plus we had a quick trip to the Emergency room with Sprout 1 (nothing serious, just a cut on the head after falling off a chair with a book in his hand and landing head first against our side-table), and now the snow. OMG the SNOW! Our balcony was covered almost to the height of Sprout 1’s waist (he’s almost 4)! Beautiful, really, BUT WHERE IS SPRING? Ok, rant over.

I’m back now and I have lots of things planned here! Can’t wait to get it all ready.

First up, our Expat parenting book read-along. The winner of the poll (with 50% of votes) was Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavengar.

This book has 9 chapters, plus and Introduction and Conclusion. I’m thinking of doing one Chapter per week, plus one for the Conclusion, which means this series will run for 10 weeks. I’ll include the Introduction with Chapter 1: Be a Friend.

I propose “meeting up” on Wednesdays, when I’ll post about the book and you can feel free to join in in the comments. To give those who wish to read-along time to get the book and start reading, the read-along will begin on April 3rd.

I have the Kindle Edition, even though I don’t actually own a kindle, because I like reading on my iPad or iPhone (great for those times when I keep my kids company to fall asleep at night). You can get the Kindle app for other smart-phones and tablets as well.

What are you waiting for? Let’s start reading!

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book directly via these links, a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, or the above link but for the Kindle edition. However, if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop stocking this book, please pay them a visit if you would like to buy it!

 

Expat parenting book read-along

I’m an avid book reader, both fiction and non-fiction, and as such, I have a collection of more parenting books than I (or my husband) would care to admit. It’s just how I work – I have questions, I read up on them. And read. And read. You get my point.

Anyhow, I thought it would be a nice idea to share relevant books I’m reading with you, my dear readers, and I would love to invite you to read along with me. Or, if you haven’t the time or inclination, maybe you’d just like to read the Cliffs Notes* version?

Obviously, you don’t have to be an expat yourself to join in, I just figured “multicultural, multilingual parenting book read-along” would be too big, so there you have it.

Expat parenting book read-along

So this is how it would work: Today I’m going to propose three books and I would love for you to help me choose one for our read-along. I will give those of you who would like to actually read-along 3 or 4 weeks to buy the book and read the first part. Would this be enough? Too much? I would then post about it every week or every fortnight (I just love that word) until we’re done, and you can join in in the comments if you’re so inclined.

These are my first suggestions, but if you have another in mind, please do share in the comments.

Here are the nominees, in alphabetical order:

Book 1 – Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global - Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

Growing Up Global: Raising Children to be at Home in the World, by Homa Sabet Tavangar

From Amazon’s book description:

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, how do we prepare our children to succeed and to become happy, informed global citizens? A mother of three, Homa Sabet Tavangar has spent her career helping governments develop globally oriented programs and advising businesses on how to thrive abroad. In Growing Up Global, Tavangar shares with all of us her “parenting toolbox” to help give our children a vital global perspective. (…) Growing Up Global is a book that parents, grandparents, and teachers can turn to again and again for inspiration and motivation as they strive to open the minds of children everywhere.

Book 2 – Growing up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven, by Xiao-lei Wang

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

Growing Up with Three Languages: Birth to Eleven

From Amazon’s book description:

This book is for parents who live in a foreign country and intend to raise their children in their own heritage language(s). It offers helpful suggestions for this challenging situation and providesuseful strategies in the daily interactions between parents and children.

Book 3 – Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reke

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by David C. Pollock and Ruth van Reken

From Amazon’s book description:

Filled with real-life anecdotes, Third Culture Kids examines the nature of the TCK experience and its effect on maturing, developing a sense of identity and adjusting to one s passport country upon return. For many third culture kids, this book will be their first opportunity to discover that they share a common heritage with countless others around the world. Highlighting dramatic changes brought about by instant communication and new mobility patterns, the new edition shows how the TCK experience is becoming increasingly common and valuable. The authors also expand the coverage to include cross-cultural kids, children of bi-racial or bi-cultural parents, immigrants and international adoptees all of this bringing hidden diversity to our world and challenging our old notions of identity and home .

So, are you in?

*From Wikipedia: CliffsNotes (formerly Cliffs Notes, originally Cliff’s Notes and often, erroneously, CliffNotes) are a series of student study guides available primarily in the United States. The guides present and explain literary and other works in pamphlet form or online. Detractors of the study guides claim they let students bypass reading the assigned literature. The company claims to promote the reading of the original work, and does not view the study guides as a substitute for that reading.

Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book via this link a small amount of the purchase price eventually makes its way to me. So if you would use Amazon anyway to get your books, please use my aStore, but if you are lucky enough to have a local, independent bookshop please pay them a visit if you would like to buy these books!

Babel Kid

All you have to do is step out onto just about any street in Brussels and you’ll easily hear a few different languages in just a matter of minutes. When you look at the expat community, you won’t have a hard time finding people fluent in 4 or more languages, which personally always leaves me in awe. It was a no-brainer for us, living in such a multicultural hub like Brussels, that our kids were going to be multilingual.

We are a multilingual family. I am native bilingual in English and Portuguese, and I’m becoming fluent in French as well. I understand a few others, both spoken and written, but can’t really speak them. My husband R is native Portuguese, and is fluent in English, French and Spanish, and has limited knowledge of a few more. Right from the start, we settled on the “one parent one language” approach for bringing up our Sprouts to be bilingual. I speak (almost) exclusively in English, R speaks (almost) exclusively in Portuguese. Since we have Portuguese as a common language, and since it’s the one the Sprouts have least access to, we use it as our family language. What this looks like in action is me speaking English to the kids, them speaking English to me and we all speak Portuguese with R. Dinner-table conversation is, for the most part, in Portuguese. Notice there’s no French or Flemish here. That’s because it’s neither of our native languages, and therefore, we’re really not in a place to pass it on correctly. The Sprouts will pick up French, and eventually Flemish, from their environment.

Older Sprout is now just over 3 and a half years old, an age considered to be a real turning point in multilingualism. It’s the age when children are truly able to separate languages, having a big enough working vocabulary in their native tongues. It’s truly wonderful to hear him now, and to see the intentional “work” we have been doing show it’s fruits. It’s also nice to be able to show doubting family and friends that indeed children are capable of learning multiple languages from birth, and no it doesn’t confuse or delay them.

At just over 3 and a half, Sprout 1’s dominant language is clearly (American) English. He is perfectly fluent (for a kid his age, anyway) and capable of having entire conversations without resorting to words in any other language. His accent is clearly American. His second language at the moment is Portuguese. He’s fluent, but many times uses English grammar rules and conjugates some verbs as if they were English. Funny enough, I remember doing this myself as a kid, more out of laziness than anything else really. He also, oddly, has a strong American accent in Portuguese. I can’t really explain why, because I don’t and he learns Portuguese from Dad anyway, but the truth is it’s there. I have to real perception of his level of French. He doesn’t speak it to us, other than a word that slips in here or there. We know he speaks it at school because his teachers say he does and seem to understand him. I’ve overheard him speaking with friends who don’t share one of his other languages as well. Hilariously, he seems to think he can just grab a word in Portuguese and use the French rasping r sounds and call it a French word. He’ll sometimes try with an English word as well. Cracks me up!!! Sometimes he’ll slip in a word in a language other than the one he’s using and crack up saying “did you hear that Mommy? I made a mistake! I sad (blank) instead of (blank)!”. Cracks me up.

I expect his language dominance to change to French over time, although it does sadden me a bit. I’m ever so curious to know what language my sons will be speaking between themselves! I always spoke in English with my sister, even though we only ever spoke Portuguese to our parents.

It’s funny hearing him speak about languages as well, and he likes making up his own. He’s very aware of others speaking different languages, of languages spoken in different countries and even within a country. He frequently asks questions about why so and so speaks such and such language. It’s really something I don’t think he would be so aware of anywhere else. And we don’t even speak that many languages! I know other kids who speak 2 different languages to their parents, have another language their parents speak between themselves which they pick up passively, learn another at crèche, and then yet another in school! Wow!

How about you? I’d love to hear from other multilingual families and how you handle the dynamics of speaking different languages!

Fans of Flanders

This post was originally written for the Fans of Flanders website, where you can find me and many other great contributing bloggers. Go check them out!