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

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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This Christmas, Give the Gift of Greater Success and Joy on the Bilingual Journey

Get the book at Amazon.
(And see 50 five-star reviews from parents.)

Get the book at the Book Depository.
(And get free shipping to countries worldwide.)

Contact me to place a bulk order.
(Get a discount on every copy by ordering a larger number of books, for distributing or reselling.)

Learn more about the book.

Sales of this book help keep our online community going and growing! Thank you for your support (including your reviews, which I really appreciate)! And warm wishes to you all! :mrgreen:

13 Top-Secret Research Studies on Bilingual Acquisition in Children

Shhh… Just this morning I was handed a plain cream-colored folder from “Code Switcher,” my informant at the shadowy U.N. agency known as Bilingualism Research and Tracking Systems (BRATS). When I opened the folder (and got a painful papercut in the process), I was stunned to discover that BRATS is now investigating a range of provocative—some would say, even potentially dangerous—research questions involving bilingual acquisition in the world’s children. After I temporarily excused myself to bandage the papercut, “Code Switcher” urged me, in the interest of public safety, to divulge these top-secret research studies through this blog. I sneezed several times (I caught a cold last weekend), then quickly agreed.

13 Top-Secret Research Studies on Bilingual Acquisition in Children 1

13 Top-Secret Research Studies on Bilingual Acquisition in Children 2

13 Top-Secret Research Studies on Bilingual Acquisition in Children 3

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The Top 20 Languages in the World

According to Ethnologue, the foremost reference on living languages, there are 7,099 languages spoken in the world today and just 23 of these languages account for more than half of our global population of 7.6 billion people. (See the authoritative Worldometers for remarkable live statistics on our planet’s population.)

Among these 23 languages are Malay (#23, with 60.8 million first-language speakers), Persian (#22, with 61.9 million first-language speakers), and Italian (#21, with 63.4 million first-language speakers).

Below are the top 20 languages, by number of first-language speakers, ordered from #20 to #1. Make your best guess then click on the green “plus” sign to reveal each one. If you get a good score, feel free to boast in a comment below!

#20, with 68 million first-language speakers
Tamil (India)

#19, with 68.1 million first-language speakers
Vietnamese (Vietnam)

#18, with 69.1 million first-language speakers
Urdu (Pakistan)

#17, with 71.1 million first-language speakers
Turkish (Turkey)

#16, with 71.8 million first-language speakers
Marathi (India)

#15, with 74.2 million first-language speakers
Telugu (India)

#14, with 76.1 million first-language speakers
French (Countries include France, Canada, Belgium, and many others)

#13, with 76.8 million first-language speakers
German (Countries include Germany, Austria, Switzerland)

#12, with 77.2 million first-language speakers
Korean (South Korea, North Korea)

#11, with 84.4 million first-language speakers
Javanese (Indonesia)

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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.)







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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.)








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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]

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