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SoulTravelers3 interview,part 1-How to learn the Chinese in a non-Chinese country.

Several years ago, I knew our life will change a lot as the internet developing so fast, I notice the reality when Jeffery from IFTF interviewed me, I was one of the active Chinese users of the social media at the moment. I began made many friends through the twitter and facebook.  The most exciting part is to meet them in real. I think we can meet and know someone from a virtual world is the core value of the socal media. Especially when I met someone from  soultravelers3. Just like I read a book, I can experience what they experienced. Now it is the chance to know their story for you. Please check the interview as below.

took in Xi’an, the Chinese character is 福, means fortune.

1) We know your lovely daughter can speak Spanish and Chinese and English. for a normal person from western countries, it is quite difficult to learn the Chinese, but how did you make it? and why?

We are firm believers in MIT Linguist Pinker’s quote  “One free lunch in the world is to learn another language in early childhood.”

I’ve written a lot about language learning and our process on our blog and a 3 part  series  about how to raise a multilingual child(even if the parents are monolingual).

Learning more than one language is rare in the USA and interestingly more so around the world than we expected. Many people take languages in school, but can’t really use them, except in places where they view it as extremely important like Scandinavia, Holland, Malaysia, India etc. I am a perfect example as I was  A student in Spanish, French and Latin, but can’t speak any of them. One learns languages best through immersion and using them.

It’s easiest to get languages early when young and many studies show that learning  languages young has many life long benefits like it helps with maths, task-switching capacities, creativity and even prevents cognitive decline in old age.  It broadens ones world in many, many ways. Travel to different countries where no one speaks your language/s helps a child to understand the importance of learning more than one language.

We started language education in the womb and luckily we had friends who were native speakers in Spanish and Mandarin. We’ve found dipping into foreign schools ( in
Spain, Penang and China) great for both immersion as well as friendships as we tend to return to these bases over years.

We think it is important to learn the dominant languages of the planet in childhood, just as we think learning at least one instrument is important as a foundation. Not only is language really the only way to know a culture, thus teaches us more about world peace and other perspectives, but enhances one’s life in many ways. Both music and languages teach about code breaking and really most everything in life is about code breaking in one way or another ( reading, math etc) and taking on these years-long disciplines in childhood teaches one a work ethic, joy of learning, about process, problem solving and the value of having mastery.

This reminds me of a favorite song by Bobby McFerrin that says: “no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace, for
those who have been trained by it”. A bright child who tends to get things easily, especially needs to be challenged and both languages and two musical instruments have helped us in that way.

Mandarin is a difficult language ( especially reading and writing) even for Chinese kids who are fluent and raised in it ( they spend more years learning it than English speaking kids do in learning theirs). Chinese culture is ancient, fascinating, wise and complex. china is in a blossoming time and will continue to be due to demographics during my child’s entire life, so it was a logical choice for us. When we met friends who were fluent in Mandarin when she was a baby, it just clicked and made sense to take advantage of that.

Even before having a child, it was always my goal to raise a multilingual child and one trained deeply in music. I think these disciplines add to life and can be passed down for generations if the value and importance  of them are also passed on. Being monolingual parents and not musically trained, we were at a disadvantage, but she will change that now in our lineage as she sees first hand the advantages and disadvantages of having these skills or not. Being the best at these in the family has allowed her to lead from a very early age and translate amongst different people.

Our daughter Mozart was quite fluent in Mandarin at two, but we found it very difficult to maintain all 3 languages, so we dropped Mandarin for a while. Spanish is probably a more important language for an American to learn and is much easier to do there ( and in Spain) so we focused on those for a while.

Once she was fluent as a native in Spanish and we saw how enriching that experience was in Spain, we decided to put the focus on Mandarin and Asia. She would like to learn many languages and many instruments, but we’ve put a limit on them in childhood to get them deeply and not split her energy in too many ways.

No one can learn all the languages on this planet, so we’re focused on the most popular and she is interested in learning French next ( which should be a lot easier than written Mandarin and very easy due to her fluency in Spanish). That will allow her to speak to most people on this planet and hopefully have more compassion for other people and ways of  thinking.

We see learning languages as a way to greater peace on our planet, for her and hopefully for the people she touches in her life. It was very obvious to us that knowing Spanish in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries and knowing Mandarin in China made her experience so much deeper. Part of our fun in China was the surprised and happy reaction from locals when they realized they could talk to her.  Makes one wish we could all speak all the beautiful languages of our planet!

To be continued.

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One Response to “SoulTravelers3 interview,part 1-How to learn the Chinese in a non-Chinese country.”

  1. How lucky for us that we met you Winser on Twitter, for you made our trip to China so special!

    Funny, but I could tell you had a pure heart online and it was wonderful to see it in person.

    As unlikely as it was that we should meet, I don’t think it was an accident, for you felt like an old friend from the start.

    It is a small world after all and we seem to meet the people we are destined to meet..one way or another! ;)

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