The Quest for a Multilingual Family

Why one local family is teaching their children three languages

Jae Rin Park, who lives in Monroe, is working with her husband to teach their two children Korean, Spanish and American Sign Language, in addition to English. “I was born (in the United States) and my parents tried to teach me (Korean and English) until my first grade teacher told my parents to stop teaching me Korean because I couldn’t speak English well,” said Park. “They stopped for a year and then tried again, but by then I was a second grader who couldn’t understand the need to learn and they thought I wouldn’t need to learn Korean, not knowing that later I would desire to learn Korean.”


Heritage, family, and the regret of not learning another language when she was young drives Park to teach her children multiple languages early in their lives. “My goal is to have my children be as bilingual as possible (Korean, English), but I also hope that they can be multilingual,” said Park. “From birth, I introduced American Sign Language (ASL), Korean, and Spanish.”


Park feels learning a different language should be fun and integrates different languages into daily life as much as possible. She suggests making up games, reading books, watching cartoons or regular shows, and listening to music in that language. Park also has enrolled her oldest son in Korean school during the summer and uses visits from family to encourage her children’s language development.


“If possible, a visit to a country where they can experience the language and a different culture is also a great way to help them learn and get them excited about it,” said Park. “Although (my oldest son) has only been to Korea once, this summer my husband will be taking him for a couple weeks to visit family. We hope to make this a tradition and hope to have him stay longer next time to expose him more to a full immersion environment.”