The article below appeared in the latest print issue of GetHiroshima Magazine.
The article below appeared in the latest print issue of GetHiroshima Magazine.
Want to get a surprise package from me and my kids, all the way from Hiroshima, Japan?
Your package could include trinkets like this…
And treats like this…
The contents of your package may vary a bit from these things, but it will include at least 10 fun items for your family. And all you have to do is be a winner in this special contest! (There can be up to 3 winners.)
Before I share my big news for this year, let me point you toward an important article I posted last January. This article is still just as relevant today, and in fact, will always be relevant for the aim of raising bilingual children. So if you missed it last year, be sure to take a look now…
To kick off the year, I have three things to tell you…
My daughter will enter junior high school in the spring. (The school year in Japan runs from April to March.) It’s like her years in elementary school just blinked by and Lulu is no longer the little girl I’ve featured at this blog for the past five years—she’s becoming a young woman.
In terms of our bilingual journey, this change will mark a challenging new stage. The fact is, the junior high school in our area is twice as far from our home as the elementary school. So, on top of a long school day, club activities after school, and heavier loads of homework, she’ll have to leave the house even earlier in the morning. All of this means that the daily routines I’ve been able to maintain over the past six years of elementary school, in order to advance her (and her younger brother’s) progress in the minority language, will have to be reshaped in creative ways to fit this new reality. Things like reading aloud, which I’ve always done at breakfast, and daily homework after school in the minority language—two central routines of our journey to date—will be tested, and yet I’m determined to do what I realistically can through the busier teen years, too.
And, as always, I’ll report on our experiences at this blog—both the successes and the struggles—with an eye toward offering ideas and inspiration for your own journey.
As of today, the total number of posts at this blog—begun on September 1, 2012 with The Ten Commandments (of Raising a Bilingual Child)—has reached 325.
In 2016, 51 posts were made and 11 of these were guest posts. (If you’re interested in guest posting at Bilingual Monkeys in the future, see this page.)
The 10 most-seen posts at this blog for 2016—in terms of the number of page views—are listed below, from 10 to 1. (However, it’s important to note that posts made later in the year naturally had less time to accrue page views so had a disadvantage in this ranking.)
If you missed any of these articles the first time around, take a look to see why they were among the most popular posts of this year…
10. Guest Post: Regrets Over My Monolingual Childhood Have Fueled My Passion For Raising Bilingual Kids
Chontelle Bonfiglio shares the touching story of her monolingual past, and the bilingual future she is determined to create for her own two kids.
9. How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success on Their Bilingual Journey
A wonderful project, pursued by a family in the U.S., that brought them closer to the world and boosted their bilingual aim.
8. Movie Project with My Kids: “Purple Monster in the Woods” (Watch Now!)
Short-term projects—like this little movie I created with my kids—can be a productive way of enhancing exposure to the minority language.
7. A Powerful Perspective on Raising Bilingual Children: The Great “Iceberg” of Bilingualism
Is your “iceberg” forming as you hope?
6. Nobody’s Perfect at Raising Bilingual Children
To raise a bilingual child, the important thing isn’t perfection, it’s perseverance.
5. Guest Post: Yes, You Will Have Haters. Keep Speaking to Your Kids In the Minority Language Anyway.
Sam Zerin shares his personal struggles, as well as helpful suggestions, on the challenge of speaking the minority language in public.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that one of my best weapons for promoting exposure to the minority language is my endless urge to say dumb things to my students and my kids.
It’s true, and I detailed this idea in one of the most popular posts at this site: Why Saying a Lot of Dumb Things to Your Bilingual Kids Is So Valuable to Their Language Development. The truth is, the more you make a habit of saying dumb things—and generating playful conversations that can engage your children in the target language—the more exposure you’ll create in that language and the more effective that input will be. Do this regularly, over the course of childhood, and such efforts at “imaginary talk” can have a powerful impact not only on the progress made in your children’s language development but also on the joy you experience together in your relationship.
Here’s a very clear example, from last Sunday. Let me try to recreate the conversation, while adding little notes of explanation, as needed.
See this photo? It shows a store in Hiroshima that sells used clothing; it’s called King Family.
So on Sunday morning, before Lulu and Roy have come to the kitchen table for breakfast, my wife shows me a flyer, touting a big sale at King Family, and says she wants to go. I grunt in agreement (I don’t like shopping for clothes) and she leaves the room to start a load of laundry.
Moments later, my kids sit down at the table with me and begin to eat their breakfast.
Let’s pick up the conversation from there…
Since my book about raising bilingual children was released in the spring, I’ve been interviewed a number of times. These videotaped conversations—connecting me, in Hiroshima, Japan, to kindred spirits in other parts of the world—have been a real joy for me and I’ve been grateful for the invitations to speak about this subject.
The truth is, I’m generally not a big talker, but when the subject is bilingual children, which I have a boundless passion for, I’m afraid it’s hard to get me to stop!
Amanda Hsiung Blodgett, popularly known as Miss Panda Chinese, learned that recently when we spoke for almost an hour about a range of issues related to raising bilingual kids. It was a very lively discussion (watch out for my annoying puppet, Princess Pup!) and I’m happy to now share it with you.
This is a video I just had to share. It had me laughing a lot, until the very end…when it moved me so deeply, it made me cry. It’s well worth three minutes of your busy life…
Warm thanks to Mayken Brünings for first sharing it with me!
When Alexandra Nicoletti, the creative force behind the new UK-based company Lil’ollo, contacted me not long ago, I quickly discovered that she and her team are creating some of the loveliest products available for bilingual children and their families. And not only are the Lil’ollo products well-designed and well-made, but Alex is producing items that are uniquely special, too.
Would you like a beautiful map of the world that can actually be personalized with the names of family members and their locations, to show your children their multicultural heritage?
Lil’ollo will make one for you!
Just through communicating with Alex via email, and eyeing her work in photos and video, I was already impressed and pleased to share Lil’ollo with others. And then, when she also sent us a box of samples so my children and I could see the products first-hand, it became crystal clear that Lil’ollo is creating resources that are both highly appealing for families with bilingual children and as high in quality as any of the best products for children you’ll find in the marketplace.
Ultimately, of course, my recommendations at this blog are not at all swayed by receiving product samples or any other sorts of incentives. I share only my honest opinion, in every case, and my honest opinion is that Alex is doing the world a real service by creating lovely resources that can help promote the bilingual and bicultural development of children everywhere.
For families on a bilingual or multilingual journey—and for schools nurturing multiple languages in their students—these are resources that provide colorful, playful support. I wholeheartedly recommend Lil’ollo and look forward to following Alex’s appealing and meaningful work.
Filipa Pinto is a cheerful wife and mother of two beautiful trilingual toddlers (French, Spanish, and English). She was born in Portugal and raised in France. She moved to Perth, Australia to pursue her Masters degree at the university where she met her husband-to-be, who was also an international student. He is from Peru.
Filipa is the owner of Le Toboggan, an online bookshop that specializes in international children’s literature. She runs French and Spanish workshops for kids, and is also an international trade consultant.
My husband and I use the “one person, one language” method to raise our children. We live in Australia and English is the community language. We never speak English with the children inside or outside our home.
I speak French to the children and my husband speaks Spanish to them. Between the two of us, we use Spanish. We’re lucky in a sense because I’m fluent in Spanish and my husband can speak French so we can speak freely to the children without having to translate for each other’s benefit.
My friend died this week. He was no older than me, but I’m afraid he was unable to overcome personal difficulties that damaged his health and finally ended his life.
I don’t wish to dwell on his troubles, though. Instead, I want to celebrate his great kindness and generosity. The warm, amiable spirit he extended to the world was a blessing to the lives of so many.
Though he and I gradually lost touch over the years, the fact that our paths crossed early after I moved to Hiroshima—two decades ago—has, in some important ways, led to the life I now live today. His friendly introductions, and his faith in my work, opened doors and presented opportunities that have rippled far beyond our time together. I wish I could thank him once more.
For me, the best of this man is not only his example as a genuinely goodhearted human being. In fact, his positive impact on others spotlights a huge truth worth holding firmly in mind:
Every intersection of our lives can ultimately have a far-reaching and lost-lasting influence on the lives of others, near and far, today and tomorrow, and for years to come. Our kindness matters, our generosity matters, and it ripples out into the world while we’re here, and even after we’re gone.
ADAM’S NOTE: Have you gotten sidetracked from your bilingual quest? In this encouraging guest post, Keli Garcia Allen offers helpful advice for when you lose your rhythm and aren’t using the target language actively enough with your kids. Thank you for today’s dose of inspiration, Keli!
Meanwhile, Keli is also involved in an exciting new app project: “Spanish Safari, an iOS game expertly designed to teach Spanish to children 5-9 years old.” If Spanish is your target language, or you’d like to lend your support to a worthy project, please see the crowdfunding campaign for Spanish Safari, now taking place at IndieGogo.
As any parent raising multilingual children well knows, teaching kids multiple languages takes hard work and dedication. It can be a frustrating, but extremely rewarding journey. The ways in which parents work to ensure that their children learn two or more languages are varied and can involve “one parent, one language” (OPOL), “minority language at home” (ml@h), or even completely bilingual households. Once parents make these choices, however, it isn’t smooth sailing from there. Often, our language plans can be completely derailed! So, what do you do? Simply give up? Of course not! In this article I’ll share a few tips and tricks to reboot your language use and get you back on track to achieving your language goals.