Winning the War on Lingala

In October, we sat down with the kids and told them it was their job to learn to speak English. In America, in order to get a job, you have to go to school and learn English. When they spoke only English, we would give them a bicycle, and they would begin to get an allowance.

Palmer immediately looked excited and started speaking in English phrases. Addie looked very disappointed.

Over the last few months, Palmer has been speaking increasing amounts of English, but on a daily basis, his sister, who didn’t care to speak English regardless of bribery, would engage him in a conversation and he would reply in Lingala.

Finally, the night we returned from the beach, we told them that their days of speaking Lingala were over. We had been patient, but if they wanted to be a part of our family, English is the language our family speaks.They had been a family unto themselves, and the core of that was language. I lived with Addie for almost 5 months without ever having a conversation with her. She only needed Palmer because he spoke Lingala. Lingala was tearing our family apart.

After several days of time-outs and reprimands, the shackles of Lingala were broken and our kids started to speak in English, even to each other.

The first day they went an entire day without Lingala was yesterday. So this morning, there was $8 for Palmer waiting at his breakfast plate, and $6 for Addie.  And in the 15 short minutes it wasn’t raining after church today, we let them have their bicycles. Here are a few snapshots of the event.

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We’re so thankful to have our kids now fervently working to communicate with us!


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