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Middle School/High School

My Bilingual Kids Are Now Teens and This Is the Key to Our Success

I took my daughter to the doctor this morning. Yesterday at school, during P.E. class, she felt a painful twinge in her left leg—probably a pulled muscle. It doesn’t seem to be anything serious, and will likely heal on its own in a few days, but the school wanted us to have it checked. Naturally, I don’t wish for my children to injure themselves, but I must confess: it was a welcome chance for us to spend a little time

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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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My Daughter Hits the Biggest Milestone of Our Bilingual Journey Together

My daughter, Lulu, will be 16 in a few months and this blog has followed her progress as a bilingual child in Japanese and English (trilingual, if we count her growing Spanish, too) over the past 8 years. There have been a lot of large milestones over these years—both in her language development and in her rising maturity—and I’ve shared many of them, including… “I Can Help People”: I Interview My Daughter on Being Bilingual (March 22, 2013) Big Breakthrough

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I Did Something the Other Day That I Thought I’d Never Do

The other day I took my son to the library. No, going to the library isn’t the thing I thought I’d never do. In fact, I used to go to the library all the time—every week, like clockwork—to borrow books to read to my kids. So it isn’t the library itself—it’s why we went to the library. For the sake of the minority language The library is downtown, sitting in a small park, and the parking lot is some distance

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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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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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Make the Most of the “Golden Years” of Your Minority Language Influence

The other day my son graduated from elementary school. In Japan, elementary school lasts until sixth grade, then students move on to three years of junior high, then three years of high school. Since the school year ends in March and starts up again just a few weeks later, in April, this means that Roy will soon be entering his first year at our local junior high school while Lulu will be in her third and final year there, gearing

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5 Ways for Your Bilingual Child to Interact with Other Speakers of the Minority Language

If schooling in the minority language isn’t an option for your family, and travel to a minority-language destination is limited (see Bilingual Travelers, an ongoing series at this blog, for personal stories that share the powerful impact of such trips), it’s important to be proactive and resourceful about finding or creating opportunities from your own location so that your children can interact with other speakers of the target language. Here are 5 ideas… 1. Online Conversations Of course, many of

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My Bilingual Daughter Is 13. My Bilingual Son is 10. So Why Is Their Level in the Minority Language Basically the Same?

My daughter is 13, in her first year of junior high school. My son is 10 and in 5th grade. Both attend local Japanese schools and have grown up under virtually identical circumstances when it comes to sources of input in English, our minority language. And yet, in my personal observations of their language skills, as well as their performance when practicing for a standardized English test widely used in Japan (the Eiken test, where their level is now at

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