There's a lot more I want to write about the subject, but I don't have the patience to sit here in this freezing den. Let this suffice for now. I'd like your comments.
On Shabbat I read an article in the Jerusalem Post about the difficulties young English-speaking immigrants have, because they're not taught Hebrew properly.
First of all, I'll quote a friend who make aliyah (moved to Israel) about twenty years ago:
"Anyone who thinks that it's easy to come with with young kids hasn't tried it."
The time, whether a few weeks, months or years, it takes for a kid to learn Hebrew well is Hell for all. But not all the blame should be on the Israeli establishment.
- Attitude is crucial. When parents stress to kids that they want them to continue native-tongue functioning in the "old language," the child won't work as hard to learn the new one.
- Put away all the old movies, cartoons, etc and get Hebrew only versions.
- Even before aliyah, train your children, and yourselves, to memorize: poems, songs, famous speeches. This talent/skill is needed to learn a new language.
- Attitude: Make it clear to all in the family that language skills are the key to a happy life. Work together to perfect Hebrew.
Anyone can learn a foreign language. You don't have to be a genius. The more languages a child is exposed to at a young age, the easier it will be later to learn additional languages.