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Elementary School

Use Coloring Books to Promote Language Exposure for Your Bilingual Kids

While it’s vital to provide ample language exposure to our children through continuous efforts like talking to them a lot and reading to them a lot, another productive option for language input involves short-term projects. Over the years I’ve shared a variety of ideas for creative projects—projects pursued by myself or other parents—that can give a significant boost to your bilingual journey by engaging your kids in fun, effective activities that make use of the target language. These projects with

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Chameleon Reader: The One Product I Wish I Could Gift to Every Parent and Teacher of Bilingual or Multilingual Children

If only Chameleon Reader had been around when I was teaching bilingual kids, and when my own kids were small! It would have been such a fun and effective way to nurture their ability in our minority language! Full disclosure: Over the past eight years, since I began this blog, I’ve regularly gotten requests to review books and products and services with some connection to raising bilingual kids. And in many cases, I’ve received free “review copies” of these things,

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Play This Great Indoor Game with Your Kids (And Get Them Eagerly Reading, Too)

The other day at The Bilingual Zoo, one mother (thanks, Judit!) described a game she was playing with her young son in the house and how much fun it was for them both. And, at the same time, how it got him reading eagerly in their target language. Reading about her experience, I fondly recalled the times I played this game with my own kids when they were small. And I thought: “Yeah, they’re now teenagers, but I bet they

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This Is the Bottom Line for Success at Raising Bilingual Kids

Two threads of my life, both of them months in the making, have suddenly come together with the same message. The first thread involves my 15-year-old daughter and an English speech contest (recitation contest) that took place on Saturday. This event was the culmination of a long process that began in the spring, when her English teacher at school encouraged her to take part. When Lulu, now in her third and last year of junior high at a public school

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NEW! The Perfect Book for Parents Raising Bilingual Kids

Just in time for Christmas! I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL! is the perfect book for parents—especially new parents and parents of younger kids—who dream of raising bilingual or multilingual children. Written by Adam Beck, author of the popular guide Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, this playful book is a unique “picture book for adults” with delightful illustrations by Pavel Goldaev. Narrated by a lively baby, the book emphasizes the most important information parents need for realizing joyful success on a

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Reflections on My Five Weeks in Europe, Part 4: The Sweet Joy of Playing with Small Children

The adorable three-year-old girl was sitting on the stairs, telling me all about her “babies”—her dolls and stuffed animals that were adorned with band-aids (“plasters” she called them, in the British English she spoke) because, she said, they were ill or had gotten injured. And at that moment, in my very first homestay of the trip, I flashed on my own daughter when she was the same small, incredibly-cute age and I suddenly missed that time terribly. A large lump

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Reflections on My Five Weeks in Europe, Part 3: Lunch with Simon Farrow

Another special highlight from my trip was the opportunity to meet in person, for the very first time, the artist who worked so hard on the illustrations for my novel, How I Lost My Ear, a funny, action-packed epic for older children and adults that was published in January 2018. In fact, before we met, I had spoken to him only once, over Skype, and that was just briefly. Otherwise, we communicated through email: many, many, many messages over the

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How Translation Tasks Can Be Doubly Productive for Your Bilingual Kids

As my children get older (my daughter is now 15 and my son is 12), I’m trying to increase the amount of opportunities they have to engage in translation activities: in effect, stretching their ability in two languages simultaneously and deepening their grasp of the more subtle differences between them. I wish we had more time for writing because this is now the area where more practice is needed, and I’ve found that translation tasks are very effective toward this

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Guest Post: Raising Bilingual Kids in Challenging Conditions Can Ignite a Parent’s Creativity

I have always liked the scene in the Disney movie “Big Hero 6” where, in a moment when the younger brother was feeling hopeless and out of ideas for a big project, the older brother carried him on his shoulders and turned him upside down to shake him and move him around their bedroom, encouraging him to look at things from another angle. Every now and then I feel like I need that kind of shaking up to reset and

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Guest Post: Bilingual Ability Is Always a Positive Thing

Like all of you, I’m doing the best I can to ensure that my daughter (the little fairy above) grows to enjoy the benefits of speaking more than one language, and hopefully she’ll do the same with her own children in the future. At the moment she’s three years old and is a lovely, funny little girl and (at least so far) seems very interested in languages. My own interest in bilingualism/multilingualism is both personal and professional. I did my

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This Key Strategy Can Empower Your Child’s Bilingual Ability Throughout the Childhood Years—and Even for a Whole Lifetime

In the recent post Make the Most of the “Golden Years” of Your Minority Language Influence, I introduced the challenging new stage of my family’s bilingual journey. Now that my kids—Lulu, nearly 15, and Roy, 12—are both in junior high school and are leading busy, increasingly independent lives in Japanese, I’m afraid my presence in their days, and the English exposure that goes along with it, is far more limited than it was when they were younger. In fact, the

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