Google+ Mommy Moments with Abby: Husband Take Over!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Husband Take Over!

Hello Blogosphere.  My name is Eric Billings (husband of the proprietor of this blog) and I have been asked to provide a post of some relevance to help my very busy wife during this holiday season.  At first, I was perplexed by the offer seeing as this is a blog about being a mother, which, to many individuals’ amazement, is an occupation for which I have not much experience.  However, after much consultation with my much more experienced wife, I feel that I have gained a base understanding of the position, thus allowing me to extol, upon ye faithful readers, the virtues of a subject that is near and dear to my heart.  I hope you find it helpful and enjoyable.
In the ever-changing 21st century world, our children face a myriad of challenges ranging from, but not limited to, obtaining a proper education, living a healthy lifestyle, charting a course through an evermore interconnected society, and avoiding the peer pressure pitfalls that may lead them to make poor decisions.  As parents, we want to not only help our children avoid the bad aspects of life, but we also want to help to expose them to every opportunity and allow them to grow into the fine adult that they want to be.  Our public school system does an excellent job of helping us in this quest by addressing many of the important educational subjects that will allow our children to reach their full potential.  However, in the area of language studies, I would argue that public schools could do more in this increasingly flat world in which we live.  This is where we come in as parents as it is ultimately our responsibility to see that our children our given the best chance to succeed.

With the rise and subsequent fall of the United Kingdom and our own rise in the 20th century, English has become the new lingua franca.  It is almost impossible to find an urbanized area that maintains contact with the outside world (here's looking at you North Korea) in which English is not spoken.  As a result, language studies in America have taken a back seat to other subject matter such as math, science, and computer studies.  While these more popular topics of study are very significant in the 21st century global economy, it is also important that we not sit on our laurels in expectation that English will forever be the primary global language.  After all, there is a reason that we use the term lingua franca for the primary global language when English is now the language of choice. 

Our public education system has been quick to recognize the importance of learning Spanish due to our proximity to Latin America and the large influx of Hispanic immigrants that enter this country every year.  However, while it is true that Spanish is indeed an important language for the business service and natural resource industries, it is not the only language that will be important to the US in the years to come.  The emergence of China as the world’s heir apparent to super power status, the modernization, democratization, and security concerns arising from the Middle East, and Russia’s resurgence as a purveyor of oil and gas to Europe are just a few of the examples which illustrate the need to expose our children to a wide range of languages. 

I personally have a background in both Spanish and Arabic which I try to integrate into the day-to-day activities of my children.  Currently I am working on brushing up my Arabic so I thought it might be useful to see some of the sites, products, and software that I utilize to help me and my children in this learning experience. 

Applicable to All Languages

This is a great site that allows individuals seeking to learn a new language from all across the word to interact in both a voice and text format.  The best way to learn a new language is through use and practice and what better way than to do it with a native speaker!

This site allows you access to a variety of base level courses that you can use to help learn a new language.  Additionally, it allows you access to other users from across the globe that can help you with your language skills.

This is the BBC’s language learning site.  It offers audio and video courses in a wide range of languages.  Additionally, if you want to practice you can always go to the main BBC news page and select the language that you want the news to be reported in and read away to your heart’s delight.

Rosetta Stone
This is a software package that walks you through the basics of learning a new language.  You will learn common phrases and enough vocabulary to get around if you were to travel abroad. 

Pros:  It is useful to hear how the words are pronounced and provides you with grammatical structures that would be difficult to obtain without the aid of a native speaker.  You are also able to work on perfecting your speech since it comes with voice recognition software.

Cons:  The downside is that you MUST have an English/(language of choice) dictionary otherwise you will only be able to make out some of what they are saying since they do not define the words for you.  They say that the software models the natural way of learning a language but fail to tell you that the only reason that works is because there is always someone there to correct or help you when you need it growing up.

Arabic Only

This is an Arabic-English store that sells everything from bilingual games to books and educational videos.  There are also items that are in Arabic only like the Tareq wa Shireen video series which I recommend if you want a very child friendly way to introduce your child to the basics of the Arabic language. 

This is the Defense Language Institute and it provides a limited but useful repository or Arabic software that can be used to test your abilities.

This is a beginner’s textbook in Arabic and is very useful for those seeking to delve into the language for the first time. 

This is another standard beginner’s textbook that may appeal more than Ahlan wa Sahlan.  Just make sure to get the answer key as well. 

Arabic-English Dictionary
There are two that I recommend.  If you want to translate something from Arabic into English then I think the best resource you can find is the Hans Wehr dictionary.  It is set up according to root letters, so it takes a little while to get used to, but it is the best resource on the market.  If you are trying to translate something from English into Arabic then I recommend the Concise Oxford English-Arabic Dictionary.  There are some gaps in it, but they are few and far between.

Hopefully, this information will help you get on your way to helping your child learn a new language!


  1. Oh Abby, your dear hubby is very gifted man. He should be writing with you all the time. Great job hubby! I enjoyed the read!

  2. I so do agree. We speak english and spanish fluently in our home, and also my oldest daughter is studying french as well. I just wonder how many languages our brains can hold? LOL

  3. @bohohippiemom They hold a lot from my understanding and the earlier we start the easier, since we hold more access to our brains early on. We lose what we don't develop.

    @Diane- I'm trying he's a busy guy:)

    @Mom Blog Society- he is an excellent writer! Hopefully, I can learn a thing or two from him and improve myself!


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