I have to admit up front, I'm not qualified to address this subject, because I personally have not successfully learned a second language. My husband and I were in a language learning (LL) situation for a few months, and then were re-directed. So I'm going to share a few ideas, most of which were shared with me before we began, and then I really need you more experienced ladies to pitch in and give us your thoughts!

As we approached LL, it looked like an impossible mountain to me. How in the world was I supposed to learn to cook, shop, clean, and live in a new place, at the same time as settling into and setting up a new house, and also meet the needs of my children, all while learning a foreign language for the first time? Surely I couldn't possibly do it all?!!

And that, dear ladies, is the only real answer I have for you: YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL.

You have to choose what the priorities are and then let the rest go. Language learning is only for a season. It's okay, for a season, to let some things go. Otherwise LL is what will suffer, because you just can't do it all! Sit down with your husband and pray together and discuss what are the priorities to focus on during LL time.

Here are a few ideas along that line -

1) Keep housework as simple as possible. Lower your expectations. This is not the time for gourmet American meals made from scratch with all local ingredients. This is the time for hot dogs and tuna sandwiches - or whatever simple foods you can get where you live. Find nearby street vendors where you can buy lunch or supper several times a week. Let the house-cleaning go to the minimum. Don't worry about home decorating and really settling in. If you're not able to do it before LL starts, then wait. There will be time later.

2) Be willing to "switch roles" with your hubby. If you are both in full-time LL and not in ministry yet, then you need to be realistic about household and child-care responsibilities. It will not work for you to do it all and him to do nothing. He will learn the language and you will not. Discuss how you can take turns taking care of the children while the other one has study time. Divide up the housework so that you are both doing a share.

3) Get help. This will look different depending on where you live and what your situation is, but I highly recommend getting local help, and ideally someone that has worked for expats before. A cook, a nanny, a cleaning lady, a gardener: I'm not saying you have to hire three or four individuals, but do seriously consider what kind of help is available. Surely paying for help is worth the reduced stress and more effective language learning time.

4) Consider and prioritize your children's needs. They are adjusting to a lot of big changes, including all the stress in Dad and Mom's lives. Be sure to give them the love, security and attention that they need. But also consider what you can put on hold with your children. Are you homeschooling? Maybe this is a year to just do the basics and let some of the extras wait til next year. Consider doing video school or online school that will not require as much involvement from you.

5) Take breaks. We need to be focused on the essentials and let the other things go, but be sure to schedule in some necessary breaks. Make Sunday a "special food day" after eating simple meals all week. Do a holiday craft with your children on a Saturday morning. Find the things that refresh you, and do them on a regular basis.


So now it's your turn! Can we hear from some of you that have been through the language learning season? What worked for you? How did you balance it all? Please share in the comments below!

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