The Never-Ending Task of Teaching Your Children to be Bi-Lingual

Raising two bi-lingual daughters has been an interesting and rewarding challenge for our family. My wife is Russian, and we met in St. Petersburg, and spoke mainly Russian together during the 14 years that I lived there. Our daughters, Vanessa and Adriana, were also born in St. Petersburg, and accordingly spent the first years of their lives in a Russian-speaking environment. Vanessa, our oldest daughter, even had the opportunity to attend a pre-school in St. Petersburg for a year.

In the spring of 2014, however, my wife was accepted to graduate school in the United States, and so we moved to Minnesota in July of that year. At that point Vanessa was 4 years and 2 months old, while Adriana was 2 years and 3 months old.

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Why Cross-Cultural Training?

Last summer our friends from Russia came to visit us with their two daughters and the goal of immersing these adorable, well-mannered, stylish girls in English. We had found a promising summer camp for the girls, Dasha and Anya, and figured everything was under control. However, after the first day at camp, the two sisters came home with stories about being pushed, kicked and yelled at by other children. We hadn’t anticipated that at all!

At that time, I was too busy to go to the camp and talk to the teachers in person, and so we hoped everything would simply get better after the other children got used to “the foreigners.” But things did not get better. Once the girls came home with bruises, we immediately took action. I observed them from the distance to figure out what was going on and then talked to the teacher, who had no clue why the cute girls were not being accepted by “the gang.”

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