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

Read the First 11 Pages of My Fun New Book for Children and Adults

How I Lost My Ear is the new novel from author Adam Beck and illustrator Simon Farrow. A rollicking adventure for all ages (7~107!), this humorous, high-spirited story makes a lively read-aloud book, too.

Read the first 11 pages of the story right now! Just click the link below to download this excerpt in a free PDF file…

Download the first 11 pages from the book.

Learn more about the book.


Friends, I have some really exciting news! My new novel, How I Lost My Ear, is now available worldwide!

I actually started writing this book 10 years ago, before I began Bilingual Monkeys and wrote the book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability. So it was a really long project and I’m so happy and relieved that I’ve finally crawled across the finish line! :mrgreen: In fact, the story itself was basically completed a year ago but then the process of illustrating it took all of 2017…because there are 136 illustrations! The illustrator is the British artist Simon Farrow and he did an incredible job. His illustrations are wonderful!

So I’m thrilled with how the book turned out and I’m eager to share it with you! It’s a really fun story: a humorous, high-spirited adventure that can appeal to all ages (7~107)!

For all the details (and a peek at the illustrations, too), please see this page…

Of course, this book is fiction and different from my non-fiction book about raising bilingual kids, but both books will now serve the same purpose in helping me sustain and strengthen my work at Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo and keep these popular resources free for everyone.

So, as with Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, when you lend your support to the success of How I Lost My Ear, this can benefit us both as well as many others out in the world.

Friends, please read it, please review it, and please share it through social media and word-of-mouth. Your help is so important and so appreciated. (I’d love your personal feedback, too.)

Many, many thanks! And happy reading! :mrgreen:


12 Inspiring Real-Life Stories of Bilingual and Multilingual Families

In the post Do This One Simple Thing and I Guarantee You Greater Success On Your Bilingual Journey, I talked at length about how establishing and sustaining a habit of writing about your experience on a regular basis can be an especially powerful way of fortifying your efforts and your progress on this bilingual or multilingual quest. (While also producing a valuable written record of your family’s experience for the future.)

In that post, I wrote…

When it comes to my personal efforts to raise bilingual children, this writing routine is the single most powerful part of the whole equation, the very foundation of my experience which gives greater fuel to all the other actions I take, day after day after day. In fact, this central aspect of my bilingual journey has been the bedrock for these profound benefits:

I’m able to reflect deeply and continuously on the subject of raising bilingual children in general, and on my own children (and students) in particular.

I’m able to remain conscious and proactive in my daily efforts, despite the many other elements of my life competing for my time and attention.

I’m able to effectively address my challenges as they arise, overcoming the inevitable struggles and frustrations with persistence and playfulness.

These, you see, are the very qualities needed to maximize success at raising bilingual children and they’re available to us all, in abundance, by pursuing this one simple action. But even when the payoff for just a little time and energy is so great, I suspect there are many parents who don’t really seize this opportunity.

Then I go on to say…

You simply sit down with your notebook or mobile phone or computer and quietly pour out your thoughts and feelings about raising bilingual children (in any language you prefer): your hopes and dreams, your ideas and plans, your challenges and struggles, your frustrations and disappointments, your successes and joys.

You write about your bilingual journey, on an ongoing basis (let’s say at least once a week), throughout the childhood years. And if you do—in whatever form you choose—I guarantee that you will strengthen those key qualities I’ve described, which, in turn, will strengthen your children’s language development.

Please don’t misunderstand—I’m not suggesting that you have to write about your bilingual journey in order to experience success and achieve the bilingual aim you hold for your children. But I think it’s fair to say that making a regular habit of writing about your experience has the potential to empower your daily efforts and enable your children to reach even greater heights of bilingual ability during childhood.

So today I’d like to point you to some specific examples of parents who are pursuing this very idea right now, and their commitment to regularly writing about their experience is clearly benefiting their bilingual or multilingual aim. In fact, their willingness to share their experience with the world, in real time, is also benefiting other parents as well, who can gain ideas and encouragement from their stories.

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

My daughter is 13, in her first year of junior high school.

My son is 10 and in 5th grade.

Both attend local Japanese schools and have grown up under virtually identical circumstances when it comes to sources of input in English, our minority language.

And yet, in my personal observations of their language skills, as well as their performance when practicing for a standardized English test widely used in Japan (the Eiken test, where their level is now at the second highest on a seven-level scale), their ability is basically the same.

How can that be if their upbringing has been so similar and a substantial gap of three years exists between the two? Shouldn’t Lulu’s level now be demonstrably higher than Roy’s?

In fact (and here’s a big hint as to the reason), Roy’s sense of spelling is actually stronger than Lulu’s at this point. Lulu continues to make spelling errors that are typically seen in children who are several years younger. In other words, the gap of three years in age no longer exists in terms of language ability because Roy’s level is higher than a typical monolingual child of his age while Lulu’s level (at least her literacy level) is a bit lower than a typical 13-year-old.

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How the Minority Language Can Flower in Your Bilingual Child

Ten years have now passed since Lulu’s bilingual ability began to flower.

The new year has begun on a really lively note at The Bilingual Zoo forum. In fact, nearly 200 posts have already been made to the forum boards in little more than two weeks. I admit, it can be hard for me to keep up with all the action there! (I read every single post but I’m only able to respond to some of them.)

During this flurry of activity, I’ve again noticed a key principle of language development that I’d like to emphasize in this post. The truth is, while managing The Bilingual Zoo takes daily effort, it’s also enormously gratifying to me when parents share their breakthroughs: how their children are now making stronger progress and using the minority language more actively than before.

This has been the case with a couple of our “zookeepers” since the start of the year—happy updates from Sam in this thread and from Nellie in this thread—and, in both instances, I think their experiences highlight the principle I’d like to articulate today.

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My Kids Scream at Me Not to Lick Poisonous Mushrooms

Blame it on our fancy new couch.

This one here…

Our fancy new couch

In fact, I had been planning to write a more meaty post about the process of bilingual development…but when our new couch arrived on Wednesday afternoon, I got completely distracted.

You’re probably thinking I was sprawled out on this fancy couch for the rest of the week, nibbling crackers and caviar, but I swear that isn’t true. You see, when the new sofa was delivered, our old couch was taken away at the same time, to be discarded.

This one here…

Our old couch

I know, by comparison, it’s a pretty sorry-looking little couch, but the thing is, I was more attached to it than I thought…because it was full of stains.


Stains on our old couch

Now I realize that stains aren’t usually a very positive feature in a sofa, but these stains were actually a kind of time capsule of the past 10 years of my children’s lives. (They’re now 13 and 10.) The old couch may have been far less fancy than the new one (fancy furniture + small kids = large frustrations), but my children spent a big part of their early years sitting on it, lying on it, jumping on it, fighting on it, crying on it, spilling things on it, drooling on it, sweating on it, even bleeding on it.

So when the delivery men hauled it away and shut the door, leaving me alone with our fancy new couch, I slumped down on it and sighed. Then, with a few sniffles (I confess), I shuffled into my little home office and began gazing wistfully at old photos and videos on my computer.

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My Resolution This Year Is to Be Bilingual

A rollicking adventure for all ages, How I Lost My Ear is the captivating new novel from author Adam Beck and illustrator Simon Farrow.


The 10 Most Popular Posts at Bilingual Monkeys in 2017

I know I’m a bit early with this post—since we still have over a month until the year ends—but I plan to take December off and so I’ll share this list today.

It’s been a good year, but it’s also true that I’m getting weary and I need a little break from blogging. I’ll continue sending out my weekly newsletter, though, as well as mingling with my fellow “keepers” of bilingual and multilingual kids at my forum, The Bilingual Zoo.

Not only could I use more rest—lately, my body has been signaling for a slow-down by awarding me with various ailments (see Parents of Bilingual Kids, Take Time to Relax and Recharge Your Energy!)—it’s also true that I now need more time to focus on finally completing a big project that has been many years in the making…

My first novel!

This novel, which tells a fun, lively tale for all ages, will be available early next year. Titled How I Lost My Ear, it’s a rollicking adventure involving a book-loving boy, a marching band, a moody grandmother with beautiful blond curls, a long-lost hero and his three-legged moose, a dancing bear, a poisonous spider, a baby-snatching owl, a shaggy yak of a man and his snapping turtle, a herd of 144 spitting llamas—and a very large, very hungry ogre.

With wonderful illustrations by the brilliant Simon Farrow, it’s a book that I’m excited to share with you very soon.

Illustration from "How I Lost My Ear"

The 10 Most Popular Posts

Now, without further ado, here are the 10 most popular posts of 2017, ranked, from 10 to 1, by the total number of page views and shares on social media. (Many thanks for sharing my work with the world!)

10. “A Little Monkey Business”: Another Fun, Productive Project for Language Exposure
This short film, improvised by my son and me, is a lively example of a short-term project that can promote language exposure.

9. Guest Post: Engaging Your Incredible Bilingual Child in the Minority Language
Trilingual speech-language pathologist Ana Paula Mumy offers another insightful guest post, from her personal perspective as a parent.

8. How I Got My Bilingual Daughter to Eagerly Do Her Homework in the Minority Language
This playful idea can help promote motivation in children and engagement in the target language.

7. This Key Principle for Raising Bilingual Kids Is a Vital Part of Our Efforts, From Babies to Teens
The home environment should be mindfully, proactively shaped (and reshaped), on an ongoing basis, to effectively support our bilingual aim.

6. This Is Embarrassing, But It’s a Story That Could Benefit Your Bilingual Journey (And Your Teeth)
There are two kinds of daily habits and these habits gradually lead, over time, to two kinds of longer-term outcomes: satisfying outcomes and dissatisfying outcomes.

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Burning Questions About Raising Bilingual and Multilingual Children

Questions about the process of raising bilingual and multilingual children—about approaches, tactics, resources, and many more aspects of this experience—are only natural. After all, this is a long journey, with continuous challenges, both large and small, and issues involving effective choices and productive efforts go to the heart of realizing greater success and joy over the childhood years.

This is essentially why I began this blog, Bilingual Monkeys, in 2012: My hope, in sharing my experience of working with bilingual and multilingual children for over 20 years, as a teacher and parent, has been to help answer the range of questions that parents often have and thus provide encouraging guidance that can make a positive difference in their bilingual or multilingual journey with their kids.

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Christmas Giveaway at Bilingual Monkeys

Want to win a cute, colorful charm for Christmas? There will be 5 lucky winners of these handmade charms, sent directly from our house in Hiroshima, Japan.

I stumbled across these charms the other day during a family trip. In fact, we spent a long while looking at the many delightful little creatures made by a local artist and this discovery turned out to be one of the day’s highlights for us all. So I asked my bilingual kids (now 13 and 10) to help me pick out 5 charms for this giveaway, then endow each one with “bilingual powers” by holding them tightly in their hands.

Maybe one of these charms from my family could help strengthen your mindfulness and your efforts each day, and ultimately, your long-term success? Or maybe you just want one ’cause they’re so darn cute?
FULL DISCLOSURE: My son was the hand model for these photos. I had to pay him a cookie.

Dolphin charm

Whale charm

Elephant charm

Giraffe charm

Snake charm


Here are the winners, picked randomly by my kids…

DOLPHIN: Tiara in the U.S.

WHALE: Laura in Puerto Rico

ELEPHANT: Jennifer in the U.S.

GIRAFFE: Angela in Italy

SNAKE: Magali in England

Congratulations! And many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway. (I wish I had enough charms for all of you!) Happy, language-filled holidays from me and my kids! :mrgreen:

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