Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability Now inviting offers, from publishers worldwide, for foreign language rights.

Don’t miss the companion post to this one!

19 Things You Need to Succeed At Raising a Bilingual Child

While there are certain things that you really need for the bilingual journey, did you know there are also plenty of things you DON’T need to raise bilingual kids? Here are 18 of them. (Animated GIFs courtesy of GIPHY.)

FISTFULS OF MONEY

EXPENSIVE TOYS

GOOD TABLE MANNERS

HANDCUFFS

PERFECT TEETH

PANCAKE SANDALS

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Don’t miss the companion post to this one!

18 Things You DON’T Need to Succeed At Raising a Bilingual Child

The first thing you need, of course, is a child. Without a child, I’m afraid it will be difficult to succeed at this goal. (And sorry, a puppy won’t work, no matter how cute it is.)

So, assuming you have a child, here are 19 more things you need to nurture that charming tot’s bilingual (or multilingual) ability over the years of childhood. (Animated GIFs courtesy of GIPHY.)

COMMITMENT

ENTHUSIASM

BOOKS

CONVERSATION

PLAYFULNESS

LAUGHTER

LOVE

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Please Help My Kids and Me Learn Spanish!

NOTE: This post begins with a description of our efforts to date to learn Spanish. Then Jennifer Brunk, founder of the marvelous site Spanish Playground, kindly provides her expert advice by making a range of suggestions for strengthening our actions and our progress—suggestions that could be quite useful for other families, too. Finally, I would love to hear your suggestions as well so please feel free to leave a comment below with further ideas or resources for learning Spanish. Thank you! :mrgreen:

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that my children are currently 13 and 10 and that their majority language is Japanese and their minority language is English. At this point, their ability in each of these languages is comparable to their monolingual peers. In other words, they essentially have two native languages and can use both freely to communicate or to read and write.

What you may not know—since I haven’t yet mentioned this much—is that my kids are now working on a third language, too…but the circumstances of this additional minority language, Spanish, are vastly different from their acquisition of English.

While supporting their English side has been a huge priority for me ever since they were born, and my background as a native speaker and a longtime English teacher of bilingual children has helped me nurture satisfying progress in this language, I’m afraid I’m not doing nearly as well when it comes to Spanish.

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Foreign Language Rights Now Available for Translations of This Popular Book on Raising Bilingual Children

Since its release in April 2016, the original English edition of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids has earned passionate praise from both parents and experts in the field and generated strong sales around the world in both paperback and digital versions.

Bilingual Adventures, the publishing imprint behind the book, is now inviting offers, from publishers worldwide, for the foreign language rights to this popular book on a topic of immense interest in today’s global community.

Details on the contents of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, as well as numerous reviews, can be found on this page at Bilingual Monkeys.

Specifics on the publishing rights currently available, along with a chance to view the first 45 pages of this 310-page book, are noted on this page at Pubmatch.

Publishers and others interested in the opportunity of producing new language editions of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability are encouraged to contact the author, Adam Beck, at this email address: adam[at]bilingualmonkeys.com

A Little Monkey Business

Toward the tail end of summer, my 10-year-old son and I went to the small park near our house with my camera, a tripod, and a handful of props. It was a hot afternoon and we spent the next couple of hours improvising silly scenes on video, which I thought we might somehow edit together into an entertaining little film. (At least entertaining to us, if no one else. :mrgreen: )

Well, our film is finally complete and we’d like to share it with you! While the film itself includes no language—just sounds and music—I want to stress that, behind the scenes, a lot of language was being used. Through the hours of filming in the park and editing at home, Roy and I were engaged intensively in our minority language.

This little film—like the earlier film I made with both Roy and Lulu—is a good example of a short-term project that can promote language exposure in a fun and effective way. Along with productive habits and routines—like talking to your children a lot in the target language and reading aloud to them each day—I also encourage you to pursue short-term projects, which can take many forms.

A previous post on this topic offers some suggestions, as it shares one family’s inspiring project that featured a stuffed alligator making travels to countries around the world. (Really! That friendly alligator even visited us in Hiroshima, Japan!)

If you haven’t seen this post, I recommend it highly…

How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success on Their Bilingual Journey

A Little Monkey Business

Our new film is called “A Little Monkey Business” and it runs four minutes. As I mentioned, the whole thing was improvised and then pieced together when we edited the footage. This time I was curious to see what might be produced without planning for a particular outcome. In this way, the final result was a fun surprise and I think it also demonstrates that you don’t really need to “overthink” a project like this when you want to make a little film. Just grab some props, start shooting, and once you have a lot of silly footage, you can edit together your favorite scenes. Video projects are not only a fun way to engage your children in the target language, they can also become special keepsakes for a lifetime. (I may even show this one at Roy’s wedding!)

We hope you like it! And if you do, I know he’d love to read your comments below…which also means you’d be motivating him to use his minority language yet again!

View this video at Bilingual Monkeys TV, my YouTube channel.
(Music is courtesy of https://www.bensound.com.)

This Is Embarrassing, But It’s a Story That Could Benefit Your Bilingual Journey (And Your Teeth)

I went to the dentist again today. Lately, I spend more time with him than I do with my wife.

If you and I bumped into each other at a party for cool parents, and I laughed gaily at your witty remarks, you might think my teeth are just fine.

Maybe even kind of nice, if the light was low.

But that’s not what my dentist thinks.

He thinks the old fillings in my back teeth, top and bottom, need to be blasted out and replaced with shiny new ones. He says bacteria have crawled beneath the old fillings and are now eating away inside there like a horde of fire ants.

Okay, I added that part about the fire ants, but the upshot is the same: multiple, painful visits to the dentist to jackhammer off the old fillings, drill practically into my brain to clean out the cavities, and cement silver nuggets in the gaping holes.

You’re probably thinking: Well, whiner, if you had brushed your teeth more often, you wouldn’t have gotten all those fillings in the first place.

But here’s the thing: I’ve always had a good habit of brushing my teeth, even from a young age. I’m certainly not like a friend I had in college who lived in a dorm room down the hall from mine. Once I dropped by his room (this is a true story) and he was searching everywhere for something.

It turned out to be his toothbrush.

And you know where he finally found it?

Underneath his bed.

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Top 10 Most-Commented-On Articles at Bilingual Monkeys

In the five years since this blog began, there have been a total of 2,936 comments.

Since comments are one measure of a blog post’s popularity among readers—and since I was curious to study this myself—today I offer a list of the 10 articles that have generated the most comments (excluding the giveaways).

Along with the articles themselves, I highly recommend reading the comments, too. The truth is, I’ve learned a tremendous amount over the years from these comments and through my exchanges with others, and this has helped both broaden and sharpen my thinking on the subject of raising bilingual and multilingual children. (The same is true of my forum, The Bilingual Zoo, which now has 791 threads and 5,442 posts.)

And, of course, feel free to add your comments to this blog, too. I try my best to respond helpfully to each one. :mrgreen:

1. 143 comments
My Best Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids
50 tips, running over 6,000 words, with a free PDF of the whole thing, and a set of videos, too.

2. 127 comments
What to Do When Your Bilingual Child Won’t Speak Your Language
Activating a child’s passive language ability requires addressing the two “core conditions” of exposure and need.

3. 89 comments
What Language Should I Speak in Public with My Bilingual Child?
Be careful that your use of the majority language doesn’t undermine your greater goal for your child’s development in the minority language.

4. 54 comments
What’s the Best Language Strategy for Raising Bilingual Children?
There are various approaches to raising bilingual children. Which one is best for your family?

5. 48 comments
Warning to New Parents Who Dream of Raising a Bilingual Child
Raising a bilingual child often demands more time, energy, and expense than many new parents originally imagine.

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The other day my kids and I went to our local sports center to play ping-pong. After I smashed balls at them for an hour, we watched a few minutes of a basketball tournament for junior high school boys and girls. And one of the girls’ teams had this unusual name…

The Attack Kangaroos

Isn’t that cool (and kind of crazy)?

Well, as we rode our bikes home, I began to wonder what sort of names would suit a team made up of bilingual or multilingual kids. Here are the cool (and kind of crazy) names that I came up with…

Bilingual LightningBilingual Lightning

Mighty MultilingualsMighty Multilinguals

Lingo FightersLingo Fighters

Click for 4 more team names →

The Basic Formula for Bilingual Success

One of the most rewarding things about running The Bilingual Zoo, the friendly (and free) forum I opened in 2014, is the opportunity to follow the progress made by parents and children over time. It’s always a thrill for me when a thread begun by a parent, concerned over a child’s language development, is updated after six months or a year with happy news of stronger progress. This happens regularly, and the latest example is Stefania’s thread, which she updated the other day.

Not only are these successes gratifying to me personally, they also continually reaffirm for me, professionally, what I consider to be the basic formula for bilingual success.

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 Raising Bilingual Kids Is a Vital Part of Our Efforts, From Babies to Teens

Let’s begin with two examples. These examples involve parenting in general, but I think they’ll make this important principle very clear. Then I’ll go on to offer further examples that connect more directly to the challenge of parenting children in more than one language.

Example #1: When my daughter was still a baby, but starting to crawl about, my wife and I made a mission—as all sensible parents do—of “babyproofing” our home in order to prevent accidental injuries. We did things like adding covers to outlets, attaching foam guards to sharp table corners, and installing safety gates at the top and bottom of our staircase. If you’ve already experienced this phase with your kids, I’m sure you undertook similar proactive steps in your house.

Example #2: When Lulu entered junior high school, (which I shared in the recent post The Most Important Point on Our Long Bilingual Journey), we bought her a nice new desk, hoping this would encourage good study habits for the tougher academic challenge she was now starting. However, for the first couple of weeks, she barely used it at all. Despite our repeated appeals, she continued to sit on the floor and do her homework at the low Japanese-style table in our living room, a long-running habit from her elementary school years. Finally, since our pleas weren’t adequately altering her behavior, I began removing the table itself before she returned home from school each day and placing it in a different room for the evening, out of sight. Without that table present, she was essentially “forced” to develop the new habit of sitting down at her desk.

As these two examples demonstrate—one from early childhood, one from later childhood—a key principle for parenting in general, and parenting bilingual and multilingual children in particular, is the idea of intentionally shaping (and reshaping) the space of the home to promote the aims we seek.

When Lulu was a baby, our aim was to keep her safe and we did so by pursuing measures to reshape the space in order to minimize the risk of accident.

More recently, as a 13-year-old, she needed help with the aim of creating a new study habit, and since continuing to nag her about this wasn’t working—not for us nor for her—simply reshaping the space to remove the distraction, without having to say another word about it, proved far more effective.

The crucial point, then, when it comes to our bilingual or multilingual aim, is that we must remain mindful and proactive, throughout childhood, about shaping and reshaping the home environment in strategic ways so that we can fortify the process of language development. In other words, the more effectively you shape the space, the more effectively you’ll nurture progress in the minority language (or languages).

Here’s the next round of examples, more specific to our bilingual aim.

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Are You Making Effective Choices and Decisions For Your Bilingual Journey? (And For Your Life?)

In July, I made the long trip from Japan to the U.S., solo, to see my parents, siblings, and friends. Among these friends was a family I had never met before but had been in touch with for several years as a result of this blog. In fact, this was the first bilingual family that I met in person outside the Hiroshima area. (If you’re curious, you can read about—and see photos of—my previous meetings with Jonathan’s family, Mei’s family, and Nikoya’s family.)

After visiting my mother in Memphis, Tennessee, I went on to my hometown of Quincy, Illinois, where my father lives. And it just so happens that Nellie and her family live in the countryside less than 30 minutes away!

Nellie is originally from Hungary and has had to be extremely resourceful to provide her two adorable children with exposure to Hungarian amid the dominating English environment of the American Midwest. One very creative example of this is the project she undertook with her kids that we shared in the post How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success on Their Bilingual Journey.

But along with the continuing progress Nellie has made with her bilingual aim, I was also impressed with the intentional efforts that she and her husband are pursuing to strengthen their children’s mindfulness, from a young age, when it comes to making choices and decisions. In the full day I spent with them, I heard a number of reminders addressed to the eight-year-old girl and five-year-old boy, at times when the kids were on the verge of an unhelpful or potentially perilous action. Often posed as questions—“Is that a good decision?”—these reminders wisely sought to elevate the children’s awareness of their own choices.

After bidding farewell to this lovely family, I spent the rest of my trip mulling the idea of personal choices and decisions in connection to my own life. And when I returned to Hiroshima, I quickly had an encounter with my 10-year-old son that made it clear to me how profoundly important this subject is, both for the bilingual journey and for our lives as a whole.

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