In July 2014, I opened the gates to The Bilingual Zoo, an online forum, so that the worldwide community which has grown around Bilingual Monkeys could actively provide mutual support and encouragement through their collective experiences and ideas. I’m happy to say that The Bilingual Zoo has since become a very friendly and lively site and a source of ongoing support for many “keepers” of bilingual kids as they navigate the challenges of their bilingual journey.
As of today, there are…
*477 registered members and large numbers of unregistered visitors
Access to The Bilingual Zoo—including full membership—is free and will always be free because I want the site to be useful to everyone, regardless of personal circumstances. At the same time, since maintaining the site does cost money (with rising traffic, the amount in fees for the forum platform alone will probably approach $300 US this year), I encourage both members and regular visitors to make a modest annual contribution, if they can, to help ease this burden: The suggested donation—welcomed, but not required—is $12 US, an amount equal to just $1 a month.
The “top 20” threads
Because The Bilingual Zoo has become so active, with the content continuing to grow almost daily, this means that finding specific information can now be a bit tricky. Browsing, of course, is still a fruitful option since it’s possible not only to locate the sort of threads you had in mind, you may also uncover useful information that hadn’t yet occurred to you.
At the same time, a targeted search can be made by using the “Search” function on the left side of the menu bar. For instance, if you’re looking for posts related to a certain target language, location in the world, or parenting issue, you need only enter your keyword(s) in the topmost search box and the site will provide a list of posts with the keyword(s) highlighted in yellow. By entering additional search criteria, you can also try limiting the scope of your search further.
For more tips on searching the forum, see this “Help” page at the site.
Today, though, I thought it might be helpful to compile a curated list of the “top 20” threads, based on the number of posts they’ve generated to date. Although I’ve excluded certain boards or threads in order to focus on content that I think would be of interest more broadly, I encourage you to browse the whole site, if you haven’t before. One board that I didn’t include in this list is Introduce Yourself, which offers a fascinating glimpse into the world’s bilingual families and their challenges.
So, without further ado, here are today’s “top 20” threads at The Bilingual Zoo.
1. Embarrassment over speaking a “foreign language” in public 48 posts
A wealth of wise, worldwide advice when it comes to speaking the minority language around others.
2. Challenge #3: Maintain an Effective Homework Routine 39 posts
Why is a regular homework routine so vital for advancing the minority language?
3. Challenge #1: Read to Your Children Every Day 37 posts
Are you taking full advantage of this very powerful way of promoting language development?
4. Switching languages with partner 29 posts
How should a parent go about changing the language used with a partner to bolster the minority language?
5. Reading in the minority language 25 posts
How can parents nurture their children’s reading ability in the minority language?
6. Would you enroll in a bilingual school if…? 24 posts
One mother weighs the pros and cons of her children attending a dual-language school.
7. Do I need to make a change in what we read and how? 22 posts
What if a small child insists on hearing the same books over and over (and over) again?
8. Persistence pays off! 22 posts
The encouraging story of one mother’s challenges, efforts, and successes.
9. Games to encourage talking 20 posts
What kinds of games can prompt more speaking in the minority language?
10. Reading routine havoc 20 posts
What can you do when you experience difficulties in your daily read-aloud routine?
11. Challenge #8: Make This the Highest Priority You Can 18 posts
How high a priority is your bilingual aim, really?
12. Which language does a bilingual child start speaking? 17 posts
Should this mother be concerned if her son has begun speaking the majority language first?
13. Minority language routine 17 posts
What do parents do to boost minority language exposure on a daily basis?
14. Majority language activities 17 posts
How freely should you engage in outside activities with your child in the majority language?
15. How to get siblings to speak the minority language to each other 17 posts
Are there ways to encourage communication in the minority language between siblings?
16. Is this weird? 17 posts
Is it strange, even harmful, if the two parents are speaking different languages to each other in front of the child?
17. Cultural context of the books 17 posts
How do parents feel about “cultural context” in children’s books and the use of “gore” in traditional tales?
18. Dinner time at a bilingual home 15 posts
How do families handle multiple languages during mealtimes together?
19. Need suggestions and encouragement 15 posts
What if an older child understands the minority language but isn’t actively speaking it?
20. “I hate writing” 15 posts
What can you do to get bilingual children writing more in the minority language?
Again, you’re warmly invited to join us there! (Note: Zookeeper uniforms are optional; monkey costumes for your children are optional, too.)