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Creative Ideas

Meeting the King’s Family and Enriching My Bilingual Children’s Language Exposure

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

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Story Exchange, a Great Way to Get Bilingual Kids Writing

I recently tried a new activity that worked so well, I want to share the full details with you. In fact, below you’ll even find scans of the actual stories produced by my kids and their grandmother. I hit upon this idea while reflecting on the serial stories I’ve written, as a form of captive reading, that feature my children in starring roles in order to strengthen their engagement in the minority language (for us, that’s English). Let’s call this

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The Larger Arc of Captive Reading—and Our Lives As Human Beings

For nearly a decade, I’ve pursued a strategy I call “captive reading” and this tactic has made a tremendous contribution to my children’s language and literacy development. At this point, as my children are getting a bit older (they’re now 12 and 9) and their ability in the minority language has reached a fairly advanced level, I’ve now taken what is probably the final step in my captive reading efforts, one I’ll try to sustain through the rest of their

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Why Saying a Lot of Dumb Things to Your Bilingual Kids Is So Valuable to Their Language Development

Saying dumb things to your bilingual children can actually be very smart. At dinner the other day I was asking my fifth-grade daughter about her weekly afterschool club at the local elementary school my kids attend. (These club activities are an option from the fourth grade so my third-grade son will be able to take part soon.) The conversation started off something like this… ME: How was dodgeball club today? LULU: Fun. ME: I’m glad you had fun. (Lulu silently

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How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success on Their Bilingual Journey

Along with our persistent efforts each day to provide exposure in the minority language, another way to boost input and engagement is through the use of short-term projects. For example, my kids and I created a series of silly interviews that I’ve shared at this site: video of my son, video of my daughter, and video of me. Other examples might include activities like making a short film; creating a picture book or comic book; writing and performing a short

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WARNING: Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Read This Blog Post About Raising Bilingual Children

What?! Why are you reading this blog post? I warned you not to, but you’re still reading! For your own safety, please stop reading now, before it’s too late! I mean it! You mustn’t read this blog post! It’s much too dangerous! It contains dreadful secrets you don’t want to know! This is your last warning! If you continue reading this blog post, I won’t be held responsible for the terrifying consequences!

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50 Activities with Animals to Engage Your Bilingual Kids in the Minority Language

I suppose you’ve noticed: Animals often appear in my posts, and I’m not just talking about my two monkeys. In fact, in my last post, Adam’s Fables for Raising Bilingual Kids, I used animals to create little analogies about issues involving bilingualism and children. I even made an earlier post, called Bilingual Kids and the Animal Kingdom, where I shared my life-long love of animals and offered a list of links to many of the posts where animals make an

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Another Fun Idea to Get Your Bilingual Kids Eagerly Using the Minority Language

One of the challenges I’m now facing involves my kids and their use of the majority language: Japanese has become the “default language” for their communication with each other. In other words, they’ll switch to English (our minority language) when I’m interacting with them, but otherwise they generally speak together in Japanese. It wasn’t always like this. In fact, up until the time both of them entered our local elementary school, English was more often used as the shared language.

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Are Your Bilingual Kids Writing Letters in the Minority Language?

I’ll admit it: my kids have a love-hate relationship with writing letters. They love receiving them, but they hate writing them. I wish this wasn’t the case—it would make my life a lot easier if I didn’t have to expend so much energy getting them to produce these letters for grandparents and others—but I suppose it isn’t realistic to think that the average child under the age of ten would be any more enthusiastic about it. I mean, they love

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A Terrific Way to Get Your Bilingual Kids Talking (and Build a Closer Bond)

Okay, so I’m sitting at dinner, across from my nine-year-old daughter. It’s just me and her because my wife and my son have already eaten. On Mondays, Lulu has a dance class after school, and because I’m the designated driver, we always get home well after 7 p.m. Too often, I’m afraid, I don’t take full advantage of these opportunities to talk to her, just the two of us having dinner together. The truth is, by the time we get

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The Funniest Activity I’ve Ever Done with My Bilingual Kids and Students

This might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s honestly not: the activity I’ll share with you today often gets my bilingual kids and students laughing like mad chipmunks. And it hits the funny bone of a wide range of ages, too, from first graders to teens. (I’ve even done this activity when I was teaching at local universities, and these college students learning English as a second language—who were normally so shy and passive—would soon be seized by fits of

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