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Ideas

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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Can This Difficult Time Also Be an Opportunity for Your Family?

What a surreal six weeks since my last post. The swift, worldwide spread of the coronavirus has abruptly upended the lives we had grown so accustomed to living—and has even stirred deep pangs of existential anxiety about survival itself. (Full disclosure: I have a congenital heart condition—which I only found out about two years ago—and though I’m still reasonably healthy, this probably puts me at a higher risk of more serious illness.) Still, as trying as this time is, in

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Reflections on My Five Weeks in Europe, Part 5: Back to Japan, and Back to Our Key Habits and Routines

One of the core principles for successfully raising bilingual or multilingual children (key question #6 in 45 Key Questions Every Parent Raising a Bilingual Child Should Ask) is this: Effective habits and routines that can provide the child with ample exposure in the target language, and create regular opportunities for him or her to use this language actively, must be made and sustained—and reshaped, as necessary—over the years of childhood. In our case, for example, some of my long-running habits and

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Guest Post: My Son and I Create a Storytelling Podcast That Advances His Bilingual Ability in a Really Fun Way

Last year, my 6-year-old son, Josh, began listening to an English language story podcast called What If World. The stories on this podcast are fun, creative, and super imaginative. Josh enjoyed them so much, he could listen to episode after episode. Because I’m committed to raising a bilingual, Hindi-speaking child, I decided that I needed to find something similar for him to listen to in Hindi. So I looked for Hindi story podcasts online and on apps like Saavn, an

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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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Try This Really Fun and Effective Activity with an Early-Reading Child or Language Learner

Over the years, I’ve amassed big piles of papers that hold teaching materials, creative writing, and ideas for future blog posts, books, and other projects. From time to time I’ll sift through these piles in an attempt to file the papers I want to keep and discard the ones I no longer need. But the truth is, I never seem to get all the way to the bottom of these stacks and so the piles begin rising again as I

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Fantastic Bilingual Book Project for Children and Parents

Two years ago, I shared a creative project that was carried out by Nellie Robertson and her two children. They live in the U.S. and Nellie is originally from Hungary, which means that English is their majority language and Hungarian is their minority language. The project took place over the course of a full year and involved a stuffed alligator named Alfonzo, who they sent on a worldwide trip to enjoy “homestays” with a number of families (including mine!) who

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5 Key Ways to Fortify Your Home Environment for Bilingual Success

We’re moving next week! Honestly, I feel like I finally have some happy news to share after delivering so much sad news this year. (See My Mother Has Passed Away and My Father Has Passed Away, Too.) We live in Hiroshima, Japan and we continue to rent instead of trying to buy. (Not only are the homes here generally too expensive for what you get, their value actually declines so buying a home isn’t the same sort of investment that

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At The Bilingual Zoo: There Are Now 13 Challenges That Can Strengthen Your Success at Raising Bilingual Children

Want to strengthen your daily efforts, and your long-term success, at raising bilingual or multilingual children? The challenges at The Bilingual Zoo are designed to do just that by offering ideas and inspiration for a range of key actions that can produce very positive results. (And you don’t have to be a member of The Bilingual Zoo community to take part—access to our forum is open to everyone—but since membership is free, why not?) The latest challenge involves what’s probably

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