Speaking two or more languages is the art of Bilingualism. As single people, it never dawned on us that our lives would include the difficult and often embarrassing task of learning another's languages. Let alone teaching our son how to speak both, often at the same time.
We expanded our family when our son was born, not knowing how to approach the subject of languages and what it would mean for our relationship. We decided that we wanted our son to have a natural experience with the native language from each of us. Ana generally speaks Portuguese to him, and Scott generally speaks English; not quite two years old yet, he already speaks and communicates in both. Often simultaneously. Questions constantly sprang up, "How bilingual would he be?" "Who would teach which?" "What would his - first - language be?"
Our answer was a truly Brazilian Portuguese saying, "Tamo Junto," loosely meaning in English, "We are in this together." The questions began to melt away, worrying whether the chicken or the egg came first evaporated. As parents, our best-case scenario is raising our children together in a happy and safe environment. Meanwhile, understanding this isn't the reality for every family.
When we wrote and illustrated our LivoLingo book A-Z Creatures, we set out to learn together. Together to us isn't limited to the stereotypical "Mom, Dad, and Baby," together to our family is every healthy dynamic between two people whose goal is to learn together.
As a Husband and Wife, we read together. We read various books that we're interested in, Ana reads in English (as her first language is Portuguese), and Scott reads in Portuguese (as his first language is English). We listen to each other and make subtle course corrections in our speech to help each other speak our second languages in a more natural accent, adjusted for the dialects where we live within our language regions.
"The use of a foreign language in the home is one of the chief factors in producing mental retardation," wrote professor F.J. Goodenough in 1926. Perhaps this professor wasn't indeed good enough, as we have seen the opposite effect. Our son began his journey into words early as we engaged him in two languages, with our constant use of multiple words for the same items. We believe that an expanded vocabulary helps everyone. We believe that understanding and adapting to new cultures requires at least a basic grasp of the new language. Throughout our travels around the globe, we have experienced that even trying out your new language at a restaurant positively impacts the people you are conversing with.
Respect is gained through the attempt at understanding, and with each of our books, we hope to help you experience this and expand your minds together.
- Ana & Scott Luscombe
"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini