Homeschooling Overseas Life Random Musings

Language Learning…a lesson on HUMILITY

March 19, 2015

Growing up, my mother often told me the story about her U.S. Citizenship interview. As a 5 year old, I tagged along. I was born in America, but my parents were Korean immigrants.

The interviewer asked her, “Who was the first President of the United States?”

Her English was very limited and she didn’t understand what he said, so I loudly whispered to her, “George Washington!” She said that the interviewer thought my assistance was cute, and he officially let her pass. At the time, my mom was probably about my age.

As a child, I never thought about how much my parents sacrificed in order to give us a better life in America. It must have been so difficult to have left everything to move to a new country where they struggled to speak and understand the language. Often, they relied on my sisters and I to help translate basic things for them.

And now here I am today, experiencing a small measure of their struggle long ago. We are now the ones in a foreign country and my grasp of the language is super basic. After settling in, we took a language course as a family for about 6 months. Now I am taking class with my 3 boys, while my husband moved on to an advanced class. Honestly, the kids probably could have continued on with my husband, but logistically this wasn’t feasible.

I have heard that kids are like sponges when it comes to language learning and so far, that seems to be true for my boys. It is really fun to see how quickly my kids are grasping the language! They are beginning to master the vocabulary and grammar. On the flip side, I am quite the opposite and I struggle to keep up in class. If my husband isn’t home, I have to ask my kids for help with my homework. When I am out in public and I don’t understand someone speaking, I look to the kids to help translate.

Overall, language learning has been a very humbling experience. The other day we had about 2 hours of homework, but I had no clue where to begin. My husband gave me a pep talk and offered to tutor me. We spent the next hour and a half reviewing and then I was able to do the homework (mostly) by myself. But today in class we had a mini quiz. There were 20 questions and while each child got a few wrong, I got 16 incorrect!

Can you guess what my husband and I will be doing this weekend?

I am so proud of how successful my husband and boys have been in their language learning. I am praying for a miracle concerning my abilities…but until then, I am thankful that I have my 3 personal translators with me most of the time. 😉



  • Reply
    March 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    I remember being so ashamed that my parents couldn’t speak English even we all came here at the same time…I now know all too well how our brains are not what they used to be at 7 years old.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2015 at 12:18 pm

      yeah Na, it is sad what we put our parents through:(

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Haha just tell them, “all those parts of my brain were used up trying to keep you guys alive as babies, so you’ll have to give me some grace with language learning.” 😉

    • Reply
      April 9, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      ha Christine! it’s true! i feel like my brain is fried.

  • Reply
    Kaye Smith
    April 7, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    I think you all are doing great. Regarding the language learning, my daughter, a teacher, tells me that children learn language much faster than adults because they are using a different part of their brain to learn than adults do. So, don’t be so hard on yourself:)

    • Reply
      April 9, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Thanks Kaye! That is encouraging:)

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