Ready to wake up your heritage language?
Lena knew the time had come to do what she’d been musing about for a while: learn her father tongue.
As a child, she’d heard her father speak Swiss German when his friends came round every Saturday evening to play cards.
If her mother wasn’t there, father and daughter would talk in Swiss German, in the soft, soothing sounds of their secret language.
But when she started school, she began answering her father in English.
And then one day, he stopped speaking Swiss German to her.
When did she realise she had lost something?
When she visited Switzerland and her cousins were eager to practise their English but she couldn’t talk with her grandparents, aunts and uncles?
When her father died too young 20 years ago?
When older relatives occasionally write a letter to her mother that neither can read?
Lena feels some part of her is missing.
And she needs to find it before time runs out.
So on her next visit to Switzerland she wants to get closer to her aunts, uncles and great-aunts.
To get to hear their stories, she’ll have to talk to her older relatives in the special language she once shared with her father.
After all, Lena’s in her 50s and everyone knows that’s too old to learn a language, right?
Next time we’ll see what Lena’s been doing to wake up the Swiss German that’s been slumbering in her for over 40 years.
Need guidance in getting your heritage language unstuck? I can help.
© Christina Wielgolawski