What Happened to My New Book Featuring the Success Stories of Bilingual and Multilingual Families?

Exactly a year ago I was in Europe, traveling to nine countries and staying with 10 families. It was a fantastic trip, lasting nearly six weeks, and I was able to interview 15 parents for a new book I’m writing that features the “success stories” of bilingual and multilingual families.

If you missed the posts I made about my trip when they first appeared, here’s the first one, which includes the links to the four posts that followed…

Reflections on My Five Weeks in Europe, Part 1: Gratitude

After I returned to Japan, I then interviewed roughly 20 more parents in other parts of the world, via Skype. This interviewing was mostly completed by the end of last year (a few more interviews have taken place since then). In January I then began the process of transcribing the interviews and, based on the transcripts, writing the stories of the individual families.

This process is simple to describe, but it’s been extremely time-consuming in practice. In fact, after I transcribed the first few interviews myself—each hour-long interview produces a transcript of 15~20 pages—it became very clear that I’d fall far behind in the actual writing if I continued trying to create the transcripts, too. So, after a few failed attempts at using automated transcription services that are available online, I hired someone to do the transcription work for me so I could start writing at a better pace.

Let me pause here to make a loud shout-out to all those who have lent their support, through Patreon, to cover a very helpful percentage of my expenses related to this book project. I’m very grateful to you!

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My Bilingual Kids Are Now Teens and This Is the Key to Our Success

I took my daughter to the doctor this morning. Yesterday at school, during P.E. class, she felt a painful twinge in her left leg—probably a pulled muscle. It doesn’t seem to be anything serious, and will likely heal on its own in a few days, but the school wanted us to have it checked.

Naturally, I don’t wish for my children to injure themselves, but I must confess: it was a welcome chance for us to spend a little time together. Not only were we at the doctor’s office for nearly an hour, I then drove her to school afterward, which took another 20 minutes.

The truth is, now that both of my kids are teens—Lulu is 16, in her first year of high school, and Roy is 13, in his second year of junior high—our time together is quite limited. They’re both so busy with long days of school, team sports after school (Lulu plays tennis and Roy plays soccer), mounds of homework, and—when they have a little spare time—activities with friends.

There just aren’t many available moments for Daddy anymore. (Cue the sad violins.)

Of course, I knew this was inevitable, and I accept that our lives must continue to evolve as they grow increasingly independent. Yet I do sometimes feel wistful for their younger years, when the days could contain substantial amounts of time together.

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Exciting news! My first bilingual language learning resource is now available worldwide in paperback or an e-book version! In fact, 28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables was a team effort and it was an honor and a joy to work closely with three bilingual professionals on this project. I wrote the English text for the stories, then Delia Berlin (originally from Argentina and a writer in the U.S., including bilingual picture books for kids) translated the stories into Spanish with support from Marisa Martinez Mira (originally from Spain and a professor of Spanish at a U.S. university). Finally, Graciela Portillo (a voice artist who grew up in the U.S. and now lives in Guatemala) made the professional audio narrations in both languages. We hope the book and accompanying audio files can help empower the success of your language learning adventures!

28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables

What is 28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables?

28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables is a language learning resource (not a picture book) designed to fuel the improvement of learners of Spanish or English. Engaging and effective for children, teens, and adults, with easy access to online audio files offering professional narration in both languages. A useful, flexible resource for self-study, homeschooling, or classroom use, it includes ideas for learners, parents, and teachers to make the most of this book in order to advance their language learning aims.

The book, available in paperback or an e-book version, consists of familiar stories crafted in short, simple texts on dual English and Spanish pages that can benefit a wide range of ages and learning situations:

*Children, monolingual or bilingual, who are developing their language and literacy ability in Spanish and/or English, whether at home or at school.

*Teens and adults who are language learners of Spanish or English, whether studying on their own or in a classroom.

With these enjoyable, text-only stories, learners can focus fully on the target language to strengthen their language skills. This format also offers parents and teachers the flexibility to follow up with their own questions or exercises, if they wish, which can be targeted to the particular needs of their children or students.

28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables

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ADAM’S NOTE: I’m very pleased to share this guest post by Mark Fielding, a lively writer who details the first few years of his family’s bilingual journey with engaging humor and keen insight. I often say that the more “obsessed” we parents can be in our efforts to promote our children’s minority language side, the more success we’ll surely experience over the childhood years. And this is clearly the case with Mark, whose proactive efforts are already generating such rewarding progress for his family. I loudly applaud your “obsessive” spirit, Mark, and I thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us all. :mrgreen:

Mark and his family

Mark Fielding was born and raised in the UK. Although he has lived most of his adult life in France, he met his French wife on the sunny south coast of England. In search of adventure they moved to Paris in the spring of 2008. Their daughter Alice was born in the City of Lights in 2016. His job as a business English teacher took him down every street in the French capital and helped sow the seeds for life in a bilingual family. In 2017 a chance of a lifetime arose and the Fieldings moved to the French Alps. Luca was born in 2018. Mark is an insatiable reader, devouring the works of the great Stoics, modern day titans and the classics of adult and children’s literature. He writes at Apocalypse Daddy.

Prologue

Alice looked like my dad. She was seven seconds old and lay on my wife Bénédicte’s stomach, staring at me through cloudy eyes. That was a relief; not the cloudy eyes, the looking like my Dad. Definitely a Fielding, unquestionably half-English. Béné leaned over and kissed Alice’s mushy head and whispered, “Bonjour ma Belle,” into her left ear. I leaned over, my life having changed forever, and said, “Hello Alice, welcome to the world,” into her right ear.

And our bilingual journey began.

In reality our bilingual journey had begun several months earlier when I had started reading Charles Dickens into Béné’s stomach. After a little too much of Great Expectations my wife said, “You can read her children’s books, you know?”

It was true, I could have, but I thought I needed to get ahead of the game. I knew English was the minority language and Alice would be playing catch up with that pesky majority language soon enough. Reading aloud would buy me a little time, accelerate the minority language base ahead of its faster, more readily accessible and successful friend Majority Language. Alice had ticked off On the Road, Wuthering Heights, The Colour Purple and 1984 by her third trimester.

So much for great expectations.

Alice was born on Saturday, and by Monday she had heard no fewer than 35 different French voices from over 50 doctors, nurses, mid-wives, family and friends. No amount of Faulkner or Fitzgerald could possibly make up for the French accents of Marie-Jose, Emilie Dutronc and the rest of the caring medical staff at the Franco-Britannique hospital in Paris.

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The Dad Train: Raising Bilingual Children

The other day I had the pleasure of speaking to Scott Davison at The Dad Train for a podcast episode about Raising Bilingual Children. We had a great conversation and I hope all you dads (and moms) out there enjoy it!

Raising Bilingual Children, with Adam Beck – Episode 18

And if you’re in the mood for more interviews that I’ve taken part in previously, here are those links, too…

Podcast Interviews

Raising a Bilingual Child – Episode 37
Preschool and Beyond, with host Mike Dlott

Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability – Episode 125
Bilingual Avenue, with host Marianna Du Bosq

How to Raise Happy Bilingual Children – Episode 5
Bilingual Kids Rock, with host Olena Centeno

Culture Clash! Something’s Different Here – Episode 12
(I’m the second of three speakers in this podcast episode.)
The Thoughtful Travel Podcast, with host Amanda Kendle

Traveling with Kids is Good for Everyone – Episode 19
(I’m the third of three speakers in this podcast episode.)
The Thoughtful Travel Podcast, with host Amanda Kendle

Video Interviews

Meet Adam Beck, Author of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability
Miss Panda Chinese, with host Amanda Hsiung Blodgett

Boost Your Bilingualism – Episode 5 of the BilingualWe Series
PuraVida Moms, with hosts Christa Jimenez and Heather Robertson

Bonus Interview!

Adam Beck Goes Bonkers, Reveals “Crazy Secret” for Bilingual Success
My kids interview me on video at Bilingual Monkeys!

HaBilNet

I’m so pleased to tell you that there’s a new organization which is quickly proving to be an empowering source of support for bilingual and multilingual families around the world.

HaBilNet stands for the Harmonious Bilingualism Network and as the homepage states:

“HaBilNet promotes and carries out research on harmonious bilingual development. Through HaBilNet you can gain access to research-based sources that will help your family develop bilingualism in harmonious ways.”

Annick De HouwerHaBilNet is the brainchild of Dr. Annick De Houwer, an international authority on child bilingualism and the author of highly recommended books that include Bilingual First Language Acquisition and An Introduction to Bilingual Development. I’ve known Annick for several years and she was kind enough to take part in these three previous posts at Bilingual Monkeys…

Interview with Prominent Researcher Annick De Houwer on Bilingual Acquisition in Children

Expert Annick De Houwer Responds to Readers’ Questions on Bilingual Children

Take This Quiz on Bilingual Acquisition in Children! How Many Will You Get Right? (based on information from Bilingual First Language Acquisition)

During my travels through Europe last fall, as I was researching the new book I’m now writing on the “success stories” of bilingual and multilingual families, I had the happy chance to finally meet Annick in person. Over lunch she told me about her vision of HaBilNet and asked me to be a part of its work as an Active Member, a role which I was honored to accept. In this role I have the opportunity to serve as a HaBilNet consultant and lend support to families through its online consultation service. Supporting families in this personal way has always been among the greatest joys of my work and the chance to now do so alongside Annick and her team is such a blessing.

Let me warmly introduce HaBilNet today through a brief interview, conducted via email, with Annick De Houwer. Beyond this article, I encourage you to visit the HaBilNet website and explore how its work could benefit your family’s bilingual or multilingual aim.

Annick, could you please tell us a little about yourself?

Hi everybody at Bilingual Monkeys! I was raised monolingually at home with Dutch as generally spoken in Flanders, Belgium. Once I was three I came into contact with other languages. That chance came when my family moved to Pakistan for a few years. There was a Dutch school in Karachi where they spoke a very different kind of Dutch than I had heard at home. I also heard people speak Urdu and English. I have heard different languages and very different kinds of Dutch ever since. When I was 16 I wondered how it was possible that I was able to fluently speak Dutch and English. Eventually that interest brought me to the formal study of how young children learn more than a single language. I figured that in order to truly understand something you have to go to its earliest beginnings. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the language acquisition of a Dutch-English bilingual two- to three-year-old. She was part of a bilingual family. A few months after getting my doctoral degree I started my own Dutch-English bilingual family. A shorter version of my dissertation was published as a book with one of academia’s most prestigious publishers, Cambridge University Press, and launched my career as a scholar. Now 30 years hence, I feel I understand a great deal more about early bilingual acquisition than I did then but I’m still learning every day! You can find out a bit more about me here.

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Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book

While it’s vital to provide ample language exposure to our children through continuous efforts like talking to them a lot and reading to them a lot, another productive option for language input involves short-term projects. Over the years I’ve shared a variety of ideas for creative projects—projects pursued by myself or other parents—that can give a significant boost to your bilingual journey by engaging your kids in fun, effective activities that make use of the target language. These projects with kids have included making creative videos, producing a podcast, publishing a book, and even blogging about a stuffed animal that was sent on a trip around the world.

This year, because local schools were closed for several months as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, my 13-year-old son and I took up a new project together. And in fact, our pet was involved, too. She’s a bearded dragon and her name is Fifa. Here she is sitting on the kitchen table…

Fifa, the inspiration for Bearded Dragon Daydreams

In a way, Fifa actually played the most important role in this project because she inspired the whole thing. You see, as bearded dragons tend to do, Fifa spends quite a lot of time just sitting quietly and staring off into space. So Roy and I were wondering: Just what is Fifa daydreaming about all the time? And from that question came the idea of creating a coloring book of imaginative daydream scenes. With the support of an illustrator friend, we then developed the book, day by day and page by page, over the course of about three months—and all this interaction was in English, our minority language.

The final result, recently released, is Bearded Dragon Daydreams, a fun-filled coloring book for all ages that consists of 30 illustrations plus two “challenge pages” for creating your own bearded dragon daydreams.

Download free sample pages from the book for coloring—and promoting language exposure (any language!)—with your kids.

Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book

Get a copy of the book at Amazon, Amazon UK, other global Amazon sites, and other online booksellers.

Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book

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Chameleon Reader

If only Chameleon Reader had been around when I was teaching bilingual kids, and when my own kids were small! It would have been such a fun and effective way to nurture their ability in our minority language!

Full disclosure: Over the past eight years, since I began this blog, I’ve regularly gotten requests to review books and products and services with some connection to raising bilingual kids. And in many cases, I’ve received free “review copies” of these things, which is also true of Chameleon Reader. However, I only blog about resources that I can genuinely recommend and Chameleon Reader is honestly the single most useful and flexible product I’ve ever seen for supporting parents and teachers in their efforts to nurture language development in children. (And I have no financial stake in saying so.)

At the same time, I do have a couple of minor quibbles with the version of the product that I tried out at home—and I’ll mention these, too—but the fact remains that Chameleon Reader is such an incredibly clever and helpful device that such quibbles do nothing to detract from my full (even overflowing) enthusiasm for it.

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Dylan's Birthday Present

There aren’t too many children’s books out there in the world about children who are bilingual or multilingual, but Victor Santos has just published an appealing new picture book called Dylan’s Birthday Present. And it not only features multilingual kids, it features a multilingual chicken! I interviewed Victor, by email, about his new book, actually the first book in a series about bilingual and multilingual kids. :mrgreen:

Victor, tell us about your new series of children’s books.

The new series is called Little Polyglot Adventures and the main purpose of the books is to make children ages 4-8 aware of the value of different languages and different cultures in a fun, visually-appealing, and at times, humorous way.

Book #1 in the series is already out and available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian, in both monolingual and bilingual versions. We intend to release it in dozens of other languages in the upcoming months. Book #1 is called Dylan’s Birthday Present and it’s the story of a multilingual and multicultural boy named Dylan who receives a very unusual present for his birthday, only to lose it shortly after. Together with his best friend Emma, a sweet bilingual girl who speaks English and Zulu and whose parents come from South Africa, Dylan sets out to find his lost birthday present. During their search, the two friends learn about the value of speaking other languages, the value of friendship, and the value of appreciating one’s own and as well as others’ cultural and linguistic background. In the book, kids will learn new words (including their actual pronunciation) in three different languages and feel like little polyglots themselves.

Book #2 is already written and is currently being illustrated. The tentative release date for the second book in the series is currently October 2020.

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Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book is now available worldwide at Amazon, Amazon UK, the other global Amazon sites, and other booksellers!

Conditions in Japan have improved quite a lot through the month of May. New cases of COVID-19 infections have dropped to around 20 a day, nationwide, with no new cases in the Hiroshima area in the past couple of weeks. As a result, local schools will reopen next week and my kids will resume their school routine after nearly three months at home.

The whole city has its fingers crossed.

In a post I made in early April, I described a creative project that I’ve been working on with my son (in the minority language, of course!) during this lengthy break from school: a coloring book called “Bearded Dragon Daydreams.” (It’s illustrated by a friend.) The idea was inspired, in fact, by Fifa, our own lovable bearded dragon, who’s often staring into space and seems to be daydreaming of exciting adventures.

Here she’s obviously daydreaming of bungee jumping…

Fifa, our bearded dragon

So here’s the exciting news: The book is now basically finished and we’ve been waiting to see a proof copy, to check what the actual book looks like. Well, I’m happy to report that the proof copy came in the mail today and it looks great!

Here’s the cover…

Bearded Dragon Daydreams Coloring Book

This means that the book is nearly ready for the world and will be available very soon. I think you’ll find that it’s not only a fun-filled coloring book, it can be used in various ways to engage children in the target language (any target language!) at the same time. In fact, I’ve included a page of useful ideas to help parents make the most of the book as a productive language tool.

My son and I (and Fifa, too) look forward to sharing “Bearded Dragon Daydreams” with you in June!

Bilingual Kid Talk: Tips for Success

UPDATE: The live chat went well, and was recorded, so you can catch it on video anytime!

Video of Bilingual Kid Talk: Tips for Success

Friends, come join me and Tiara Harris of Chocolate Sushi Roll for the very first episode of “Bilingual Kid Talk”! If this first live chat works well enough, we’ll be back monthly for more episodes, talking about raising bilingual kids and responding to questions from out there in the world! (We did do a trial run the other day, which went pretty smoothly, but since it’s live, anything could happen, especially when you mix in some monkeys!)

We’ll start at 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 24—that’s Japan time. Here’s the same time on May 24 in various places around the world…

Los Angeles: 5 a.m
Chicago: 7 a.m.
New York: 8 a.m.
Rio de Janeiro: 9 a.m.
London: 1 p.m.
Paris: 2 p.m.
Moscow: 3 p.m.
Beijing: 8 p.m.
Sydney: 10 p.m.

Or check the time in your city here.

To join us, just head to my YouTube channel at that time and you should see the window for the live chat right there…

https://www.youtube.com/c/bilingualmonkeys

Hope to see you soon! :mrgreen: