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Guest Post: Losing Your Second Language? 4 Tips to Reboot Your Bilingual Journey

As any parent raising multilingual children well knows, teaching kids multiple languages takes hard work and dedication. It can be a frustrating, but extremely rewarding journey. The ways in which parents work to ensure that their children learn two or more languages are varied and can involve “one parent, one language” (OPOL), “minority language at home” (ml@h), or even completely bilingual households. Once parents make these choices, however, it isn’t smooth sailing from there. Often, our language plans can be

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Guest Post: Yes, You Will Have Haters. Keep Speaking to Your Kids In the Minority Language Anyway.

Like many American Jews of the past few generations, my mother’s parents spoke Yiddish when they didn’t want the kids to know what they were talking about. They wanted their kids to assimilate and become full-fledged Americans, and that meant speaking English, not Yiddish: that so-called “dying” language that symbolized Jewish life in the Old World, before Hitler came along and destroyed it all. And so, my mother, like so many other American Jews, never learned her parents’ native language.

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Want Stronger Success at Raising Bilingual Children? Repeat After Me: Shannon Shorter!

Two years ago, a professional basketball team was born in Hiroshima: the Hiroshima Dragonflies. They aren’t the best team in the Japanese National Basketball League, but we enjoy watching their games from time to time at the local sports center. The other day we saw an exciting game (which they lost 86 to 85!), and came away impressed with one of the players in particular: Not only is he a great player, he also has a great name! Shannon Shorter.

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Recommended Resources: “Think Bilingual”, an Innovative Language-Learning App for Kids

About a year and a half ago, our bilingual journey became a trilingual journey when my kids began learning Spanish alongside Japanese and English. While their level in Spanish is still quite low compared to their native fluency in Japanese and English, they’ve made steady progress with the help of twice-monthly lessons from a friendly woman in Hiroshima who’s originally from Spain and small, daily doses of exposure to Spanish from workbooks and apps. Although I suppose some exposure could

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Recommended Resources: Inspiring Podcasts About Raising Bilingual Children

One of the most challenging aspects of raising a bilingual child is that parenting itself keeps us so busy it can be hard to find the time and energy to read books and blogs on a regular basis to continually stretch our knowledge of the subject and strengthen the effectiveness of our actions. If only there was some way we could continue to learn from others—other parents and professionals—while simply going about our daily routine of childcare, household chores, drives

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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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18 Ways to Get Bilingual Kids Using the Minority Language More in Your Car

In my last post, I shared a trip that we took to an old silver mining town in Japan, offering a number of photos and an important message about raising bilingual kids. (See Make History. Raise a Bilingual Child.) As we were driving along, and playing little games in our minority language, it occurred to me that this might make a useful post: What activities can parents pursue in the car to promote use of the target language and stretch

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The “Home Run Book”: A Key Idea for Promoting a Child’s Language Development

One of the recurrent themes of this blog has been my ongoing quest to inspire my bilingual daughter, now 11, to read more frequently in English, her minority language. Although it’s true that her free time is limited, due to long days at our local Japanese elementary school and heavy loads of homework, the deeper challenge is that she simply isn’t, by nature, as hungry a bookworm as her 8-year-old brother. Still, because I adamantly believe that children who read

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Bilingual Children and Distant Grandparents: What We’ve Done

Sometimes I face this argument: Your children can always learn the minority language later. Why focus so much on fostering this language now? Strictly speaking, this is true: children can indeed learn a second (or additional) language at an older age, given suitable circumstances. But this argument also surprises me because it misses the two main motives driving my daily efforts, the two deepest aims underlying my entire bilingual journey: 1. I want to communicate well with my kids in

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22 Funny Tongue Twisters for Kids (And Why Tongue Twisters Are Terrific for Language Development)

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t challenge my kids to repeat a tongue twister that emerges naturally from our interactions. The truth is, because tongue twisters are such a fun and effective form of engagement in the target language, my ears are continuously pricked for this opportunity. Two examples, one older and one more recent… 1. When my son entered first grade, he chose a black backpack for school. Of course, it was hard to overlook the wonderful

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New Research Shows Reading Aloud Promotes Brain Activity and Language Development

The first scientific study of its kind has yielded findings which indicate that reading aloud to children has a measurable impact on brain activity and language development. In a study of preschoolers which used fMRI whole-brain imaging to explore the benefits of parents reading to young children, Dr. John Hutton and his colleagues at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found significant differences in brain activity between children who are read to regularly in the home and those that receive

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