Couple of days ago I have received a very encouraging e-mail from one of you guys. Michelle (Misa) addresses the hot topic of how I teach my daughter Czech and since many of you share a similar story I thought this message would be encouraging to you as well:
CZ: Ahoj, pred nedavnem jsem od jednoho z vas obdrzela velmi povzbuzujici email a to ohledne zhave diskuze uceni me dcery cesky. Michelle (Misa) me nadsene vyzyvala k tomu, abych pokracovala s tim, co delam, a ze me na konci teto dlouhe a nekdy velmi klikate cesty ceka velka odmena:
Subject: regarding your experiment with bilingual upbringing
Please don’t stop! I would like to share my experiences as a child of Czech parents in the US. We emigrated when I was only three years old. At first my father insisted that we all use only English until we were all fluent. This was quite difficult for the adults (mother, father, and grandmother) but they managed it. Once everyone was sufficiently conversant in English however the only language the adults spoke at home was Czech. As the years went by my older sister and I would respond more and more with English. It was to the point that my mother insisted that we knew no Czech and could not speak it. SHE WAS VERY WRONG. Once I became an adult I married an Army officer and we were posted to Germany. I took advantage of the opportunity and went to visit my other grandmother as often as I could. The Czech all came flowing back very quickly with little problems. It was mainly the new euphemisms and slang and some adult vocabulary that I was missing. That was easily remedied with a little coaching. My Czech will never be flawless but I was very comfortable back ‘home’ in Prague. I even took the Army language exam for Czech and passed with near native fluency even though it included military terminology.
I have many Czech traits that I still cherish and some that are a bit frustrating at times. As a newlywed I stood in the kitchen one day and could not for the life of me remember that English word for that pointy orange vegetable (carrot)! I am also guilty of the Czech way of writing in steam of consciousness sentences which are considered run-on sentences in English. I flunked the UGA literacy exam and had to retake it as a result of this. Lol At times I still wish my children Dobrou Chut. My writing in Czech is abysmal but I can read Czech just fine although slowly. We have always celebrated Christmas two ways and my tree has almost always been full of chocolates! The children know about fasting to see the golden piggy. My second son has expressed an interest in learning Czech. I have always felt that my children were cheated of a part of their heritage because I did not speak to them in Czech. I remind myself that I had no one to speak with and my Czech was not good enough to carry on in isolation. I have a few videos and have found some on Youtube that they enjoy immensely.
In summation please do not stop your efforts with your daughter and know that she is learning and will continue to learn her mommy’s native tongue. It will give her a connection to her heritage that, like me, she will hopefully cherish as an adult.