My Resources to Help Teach Russian to my Children in the US
My dream is to raise bilingual kids who understand my Russian culture and roots and where I come from. It might be a very selfish goal but I am truthful here and this goal is concrete enough to motivate me every day to make it my reality.
My kids are still little and I relish every new word they learn in Russian, every new Russian book, cartoon or tradition that the enjoy and not question or fight with me for. My 4 year old would equally enjoy ng Frozen in English and in Russian. It’s a win for me.
But there is a long way ahead of me and I definitely can not credit myself for achieving what I have already. I would not even be considering this effort if not for the people and resources around me that make it possible.
I am lucky enough to live in California, that probably has the second largest russian speaking community in the US: there are Russian stores, Russian daycare, Story time in Russian in the local library, schools and private teachers who tutor kids in Russian, and lots of Russian speaking families with kids in the area. All these great resource are at my fingertips and I use them all. They make my life easier and my goal more attainable. My kids love their daycare where they get to speak Russian and learn about Russian culture, books, how to read and write in Russian, Russian games and much more – all in Russian.
Another thing about the place I live in is an amazing diversity: people from various countries, religions, races, values, social status, etc. – all bring in a sense of acceptance, support and pride to being different. I have friends who moved to the US 50 years ago and they chose not to speak their native language to their kids because there was a stigma attached to it, it was another obstacle for their kids to overcome, it was a detriment in their eyes at that time. Right now I am lucky that I do not have that obstacle in my way. Speaking another language is not weird or shameful in my community, it is welcome and celebrated.
In this modern world technology brought many things to us, and not all of them are good, but I am so grateful for a lot of them, as they help me on my road to raising bilingual and multicultural children:
Skype – the hours upon hours that my parents, relatives and friends spent talking to me and my kids in Russian is absolutely an asset in keeping me connected, keeping my kids close to their Russian family, even when they are far away.
Online resources – movies, cartoons, books, song, TV shows, news, blogs – I can access everything instantly and be aware of all the current trends, events and fads that are happening in the ru.net – an amazing source of engaging materials for the kids that are offered by wonderul Russian-speaking bloggers, moms, educators and schools online – I sometimes wish I had 48 hours in a day just to try them all with my kids.
Online communities – whether it’s Facebook, Odnoklassniki, Google+ – you can take your pick and find like-minded people who will support you , challenge you, inspire you, and tell you that the world is not perfect but if you are putting your best foot forward and engage with you kids, communicate with them and share your language and your knowledge with them, you are very likely to achieve a wonderful result. I am enjoying being part of multiculturalkidblogs.com group and recommend it to all who are on a multilingual/multicultural journey with their kids – you will love it.
For me this journey I am on with my kids would be a lot harder without all of these people and resources. Even when I do not teach I consider myself a teacher, it’s in my bones. I cherish everything I have and always what to share it with others, who are searching, doubting and considering to quit on their multilingual journey.
Several years ago a friend of mine and I started a company that provides Russian language materials to adults and kids to help support them on this journey. Every time a new book comes out, a new student or teacher gets in touch with me, I feel like I am sharing the wealth of knowledge, support and experience that other have gifted me and spreading the notion that speaking Russian is totally achievable and can be so much fun for you and your kids. My hope is that someday for somebody I can be the person who made their multilingual journey possible.