As I typed out the title of this posting I could not help but form a smirk on my face. Here’s the deal. The further I delve into the work of identity construction in my doctoral program, the more I realize that individuals take on multiple identities depending on the context they are in, including several other elements that come into play. Even in the previous sentence I wrote there are several words I would have to define to explain exactly what I mean about identity construction and how it happens to possibly relate to living a trilingual life. Herein lie my dilemmas as a bloguera/academic writer: almost everything that makes up academia has made me question the most general observation or statement about language acquisition.
I guess what I am trying to explain is that no matter how I attempt to shape our lives so that Sabrina learns three languages, she will always be negotiating her identity, just as we all do. What’s amazing is that many of us don’t even realize that we do this. At least I didn’t prior to studying the concept of identity. Sure I was conscious of the way I acted differently with family, friends, or colleagues, but if we were all aware of the little nuances that influence how we think, what we say, essentially who we are at a particular point of time, we would realize that learning multiple languages is not black and white. This is part of the reason I always question any language program, whether it’s for kids or adults.
Speaking of language programs, now that my bebita is 7-months-old, I have decided that most of her language learning is probably going to occur at home until she enters kindergarten. Most of the “day care” settings I would like her to participate in are mostly for children who are there full-time or nearly full-time. I learned that there is what they call a “mothers day out” and then there are “day care” settings, both of which have a different ambience. If there is a “mothers day out” with a Spanish or French immersion component, then I have not found it. That being said, my new plan is to continue exposing her to Spanish at home and create a time during the week to listen to French. Somehow, I have a feeling that I will constantly be adjusting our little plan as she gets older and as our lives change.
In fact, there are times when I ask myself, “Wouldn’t my life be a lot easier if I just spoke in English all the time?” When I start to think about language and how I want to expose my daughter to it as she grows I start to consider everything that is tied to acquiring multiple languages. I guess this is one of the reasons I am pursuing a PhD. I guess it only makes sense that I question and consider the multiple elements ties to learning languages. Its conflicting internal struggles like these that remind me of one of my favorite quotes, “Give me the bliss of the ignorant or give me the strength to bear the knowledge.” This quote rings true to my heart with various topics in life, but for some reason when it comes to language I just cannot seem to stop questioning how it functions.