Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability How I Lost My Ear

“Bilingual Lives” is a series of profiles of interesting people who are leading bilingual (or multilingual) lives, both personally and professionally. This series was inspired by the memory of my mother, who began a bilingual life that she later regretted not being able to sustain into her adult years. If you would like your life and work to be featured in this series, please contact me.

Bilingual Lives: Ana Cristina Gluck, Author and Publisher of Multilingual Books for Children

Have you ever thought about writing a children’s book?

I think this idea has crossed the minds of many people, particularly parents who read a lot of picture books to their own kids.

And some of these parents, of course, are seeking to raise bilingual children and so the book they imagine writing would be in their mother tongue, to help their kids—and other kids in the world—learn that language and appreciate that culture.

Well, one parent who has fulfilled that wish is Ana Cristina Gluck, a mother of two who is originally from Brazil and now lives in the United States. Ana Cristina, who has a background in graphic design and marketing, wrote the children’s book Minha Familia, in Portuguese, and this book has gone on to earn dozens of five-star reviews at Amazon from grateful parents.

In fact, that book is only one part of Ana Cristina’s larger success because she has created her own publishing company, ABC Multicultural, that produces a variety of children’s books in multiple languages. To date, ABC Multicultural has published 14 titles in languages that include Portuguese, English—and coming soon—German, Italian, French, and Spanish. (And if you enter the giveaway below, you’ll have the chance to win any 3 books of your choice!)

ABC Multicultural

Recently, I spoke to Ana Cristina via Skype about her experience as a writer and publisher, then followed up by email to pursue the interview below. Indie publishing is certainly a challenge (as I know personally!), but Ana Cristina’s proactive spirit is enabling ABC Multicultural to produce high-quality books on a regular basis and positively impact the lives of families all over the world.

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This has been a tough year for me and my family. My mother passed away in March, then my father passed away in May. Because I’ll be returning to the U.S. again this month for my father’s memorial service—and because I need a break from blogging at this time—I won’t be making any new posts in June.

Actually, right now I’m making a short film about my father’s life for his memorial service. I’m bringing together photos that span from his boyhood to his old age, along with photos of his art work, and combining these images with recordings of him singing several of his original folk songs.

Making this film—watching his whole life unfold from beginning to end, in 10 minutes, and hearing his voice still ring out with vigor—has been a remarkable experience: so beautiful and so sad. Human life, no matter how you count the time, passes too quickly and lasts too briefly.

So I’ll be back in July and at that point, too, I’ll have a better idea about how to move forward from here with my work to support families with bilingual and multilingual children.

In the meantime, you’ll find all the many resources I offer for parents at this one handy page.

And speaking of support, I’d love yours, too. The best way to lend support to my work is by reading my books and sharing your impressions with others. I put my whole heart into writing them and people all over the world have responded to them so positively. If you haven’t read them yet, I think you’ll find them well worth your time and the modest expense. (Really, these books don’t cost much but they provide substantial value to the reader and are the main way I can sustain my blog and forum as free sites.)

So if you’d like to give a little something back, getting copies of my books, for yourself or for a friend, and telling others about them, is the very best way to do it.

Thank you, friends, and I hope June is a fun and productive month for you and your family. :mrgreen:

If you’re feeling discouraged or frustrated about your bilingual or multilingual aim for your kids, this video can help. It offers a fresh, empowering perspective that comes from a chapter of my popular book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids.

Remember, you can always find friendly support, too, at The Bilingual Zoo, the web’s liveliest community for parents raising bilingual and multilingual children.

View this video at Bilingual Monkeys TV and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Learn more about the book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability.

Al Beck

Just weeks after my mother passed away, my father has now left this world, too. Al Beck, an artist and teacher whose passion for art and education was widely influential, died at 11:15 p.m. on May 16.

He was 87 years old.

In late March, I hurried back to the U.S. to see my mother and say goodbye. She passed away the day after I arrived at my sister’s house.

During that trip, I also traveled to see my father, who was living in a nursing home three hours away. (My parents divorced when I was a teen and the last time they saw each other was nearly 20 years ago, at my wedding.)

In fact, the day my sister and I drove to see him was April 4, his birthday. When we got there, we found him celebrating with the president of the college where he had been an art professor for many years. There were balloons, gifts, and cake and my father was in a spirited mood.

On his sweater was a child’s badge and ribbon with the words: “Birthday Boy.”

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Breakthroughs-for-Bilingual-Children-top

My daughter will be 14 in June. My son turned 11 in March. If you’ve been following this blog over the years—when I made my first post in September of 2012, they were just 8 and 5—you know that they’ve had very different inclinations when it comes to reading in English, our minority language.

While both have become competent readers through a variety of long-running efforts—which include reading aloud from birth; flooding our home with books, magazines, and comic books in the target language; maintaining a daily homework routine; and making persistent use of the strategy I call captive reading—it’s also true that Roy’s progress has been stronger because, ever since he was small, he has been reading by himself more eagerly than Lulu. In fact, I detailed this important aspect of our bilingual journey in an article I wrote not long ago…

My Bilingual Daughter Is 13. My Bilingual Son is 10. So Why Is Their Level in the Minority Language Basically the Same?

Fundamental shift in motivation

With Roy, because he has long been a more natural bookworm, I’ve mostly just had to continue feeding his desire to read by providing a steady stream of suitable material. (Naturally, this still takes some regular time and energy on my part to find engaging resources.)

Lulu, on the other hand, because she has always preferred active play, has been more difficult to motivate when it comes to independent reading. However, over the past two weeks a fundamental shift in this area has been taking place and I now see that the previous breakthroughs I’ve documented at this blog (see Big Breakthrough with My Bilingual Daughter? and, again, My Bilingual Daughter Is 13. My Bilingual Son is 10. So Why Is Their Level in the Minority Language Basically the Same?) have been steps leading to the manifestation of this moment, alongside her growing maturity.

Here’s what happened…

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Want to strengthen your daily efforts, and your long-term success, at raising bilingual or multilingual children? The challenges at The Bilingual Zoo are designed to do just that by offering ideas and inspiration for a range of key actions that can produce very positive results.

(And you don’t have to be a member of The Bilingual Zoo community to take part—access to our forum is open to everyone—but since membership is free, why not?)

The latest challenge involves what’s probably the most important action of all when it comes to nurturing a child’s language development…

Challenge #13: Talk, Talk, Talk to Your Child

Challenge #13: Talk, Talk, Talk to Your Child

My son and I at a baseball game when he was just a little guy. (He’s now a big guy of 11.)

And here are the other 12 challenges at the Take a Challenge board…

Challenge #1: Read to Your Children Every Day

Challenge #2: Play Background Music Regularly

Challenge #3: Maintain an Effective Homework Routine

Challenge #4: Make Use of Captive Reading

Challenge #5: Read More Poetry

Challenge #6: Do Something Playful and Quirky

Challenge #7: Write About Your Bilingual Journey

Challenge #8: Make This the Highest Priority You Can

Challenge #9: Make Good Use of Inspiring Quotes

Challenge #10: Travel to Your Minority Language Country

Challenge #11: Make Videos of Your Kids

Challenge #12: Mindfully Shape the Space in Your Home

I hope to see you at The Bilingual Zoo, and I hope you find these challenges helpful and encouraging for your bilingual or multilingual goal! :mrgreen:

In this video, I describe important research on success rates for raising bilingual children then explain the implications of this research for parents. The information I share goes right to the heart of successfully nurturing a child’s bilingual (or multilingual) ability and can be found in my widely-praised book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids.

View this video at Bilingual Monkeys TV and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Get more information about Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability.

“Bilingual Lives” is a series of profiles of interesting people who are leading bilingual (or multilingual) lives, both personally and professionally. This series was inspired by the memory of my mother, who began a bilingual life that she later regretted not being able to sustain into her adult years. If you would like your life and work to be featured in this series, please contact me.

Bilingual Lives: Delia Berlin, Author of Bilingual Picture Books

Ever wonder about the value of bilingual books for kids?

Delia Berlin, an author of bilingual picture books who grew up in Argentina and Brazil yet has lived in the United States through her adult years, wrote a very insightful guest post on this subject…

A Writer’s Perspective on the Value of Bilingual Books for Children, Families, and Schools

Honestly, Delia’s post had me looking at the value of bilingual books in a broader light and because I felt she made her points so persuasively, so eloquently, I became eager to view the books she had written. Delia then kindly sent me several of her titles and I found them full of great warmth, gentle humor, and graceful writing. (Be sure to enter the giveaway below for a chance to win one of her books!)

So when I decided to launch this new series, to celebrate bilingual lives, it seemed to me that Delia—who has led a very active bilingual life, both personally and professionally—would make an inspiring example for others. I thank her for agreeing to be featured in this way and I hope you enjoy the story she has lived—and the stories she has written—as much as I have.

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7 Interviews with Adam Beck, Author of "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability"

This post brings together seven interviews that I’ve given about raising bilingual and multilingual children (and other matters that may surprise you) through podcasts and video.

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!

My Mother Has Passed Away

April 12, 2018

Katrine Aho

My mother, Katrine Aho, has passed away. She died at 7:54 p.m. on March 26.

As sad as her passing is, I’m very glad and grateful that I was able to return from Japan to the U.S. to see her one last time and say goodbye. In fact, I was nearly too late because I had planned to leave Japan on March 30, but then her condition worsened so quickly that I was urged to come sooner.

By the time I got there, on the evening of March 25, it was clear that she had little time left. Her eyes opened just once, when she realized I had arrived, and her voice was already a faint whisper. I sat by her side, held her hand, spoke to her softly, and choked my way through the letters my wife and children had written to her.

And I was with her when she died the next day at the age of 82.

I know 82 isn’t young, and I know my mother had lived a full and productive life, but the truth is, her health had been quite good…until she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last spring. The prognosis for this type of cancer is very poor—many patients live less than a few months—but my mother gamely underwent chemotherapy and this helped extend her life by nearly a year.

My one real regret—and this is the heartache I’ve felt ever since I settled in Japan and had children—was that my mother and my kids had so little time together in this world. While I did all that I could from afar to create a close and continuing relationship between them (as I described in the posts 3 Good Ways to Boost a Bilingual Child’s Language Ability and Loving Bond with Grandparents; Bilingual Children and Distant Grandparents: What We’ve Done; and Bilingual Kids and Grandparents: Make the Most of This Opportunity), the hard reality is that the several visits we made to the U.S. to see her in person amounted to less than a month in total.

I know she wanted to spend more time with them (Lulu, in fact, was her only granddaughter), but the circumstances—the tremendous distance and cost, as well as work and school on our end—made this so painfully difficult.

And now she’s gone. And now there are no more chances. The finality of this fact is crushingly sad.

At the same time, there’s heartfelt joy that, despite the shortcomings of our situation, my children and my mother were able to know one another as well as they did. My mother was a very sweet, very talented person and a special, loving presence in my kids’ lives. I have no doubt that they will remember her, far into the future, with deep fondness.

And it’s true, as well, that they shared the bond of bilingual childhoods. A few years ago, I interviewed her about her bilingual past (see “I Spoke Both Finnish and English”: I Interview My Mother on Her Bilingual Childhood) and she mentioned being thrilled that her grandchildren seemed to have the bright bilingual future that she eventually lost as she grew up.

I loved my mother, and I always, always will. I feel profoundly blessed that I had the chance, before she passed on, to tell her this in person and thank her for all that she did for me and for my family. This post, with the pictures and videos below, is my small way of celebrating her life and sharing the great goodness that she gave this world.

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Breaking news! This week I was interviewed about raising bilingual children at the popular podcast Preschool and Beyond. The host is Mike Dlott and we had a great discussion. I hope you enjoy it!

And I highly recommend the many other episodes at this podcast, too—it’s a goldmine of practical information about parenting issues.

Listen to the Raising a Bilingual Child podcast episode at the Discovery Child Development Center website.

Listen to the Raising a Bilingual Child podcast episode at the Discovery Child Development Center website.

Or listen to the Raising a Bilingual Child podcast episode at iTunes.

Or listen to the Raising a Bilingual Child podcast episode at iTunes.