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My Family

Look How Far We’ve Come On Our Bilingual Journey (And How Far You Can Go, Too)

Now that my daughter is in junior high school, and nearly a teen, I’d like to offer you a special peek at the progress my kids have made to date in their minority language. (For those who need a bit more context, we live in Hiroshima, Japan and my kids attend local Japanese schools, which means that Japanese is our majority language and English is our minority language.) The idea for this post arose the other day when we bought

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The Most Important Point on Our Long Bilingual Journey

Recently, in My Daughter and I Hit a Big Milestone on Our Bilingual Journey Together, I shared how Lulu had graduated from elementary school and would now be entering junior high. (The school year in Japan ends in March and starts up again in April.) In my mind, I’ve always viewed this transition to junior high school as perhaps the most important point on our long bilingual journey: If I could just sustain my persistent efforts until this point, and

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Bilingual Kids and Grandparents: Make the Most of This Opportunity

This week the cherry blossoms are blooming in Japan. This week is also my father’s birthday. (Happy birthday, Dad!) He lives in Quincy, Illinois, the town in the U.S. Midwest where I grew up. In a way, there’s a profound connection between the two because the short-lived cherry blossoms—they bloom beautifully for just days before they fall—are a sharp reminder of how precious and fleeting our lives actually are. My father—and my mother, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee—are now both in

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My Daughter and I Hit a Big Milestone on Our Bilingual Journey Together

My 12-year-old daughter graduated from our local elementary school the other day. It was the 139th graduation ceremony at this school (really!), which means that the first class of graduates are now 151 years old (really?). In Japan, children attend elementary school through the sixth grade, then begin going to junior high school. And since the school year runs from April to March, graduation ceremonies—for schools everywhere—are held at this time of year. Smiles and tears At Lulu’s graduation ceremony,

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Special Contest: Guess How I Handled This Problem with My Bilingual Daughter and Win a Package of Cool Prizes from Hiroshima, Japan

Want to get a surprise package from me and my kids, all the way from Hiroshima, Japan? Your package could include trinkets like this… And treats like this… The contents of your package may vary a bit from these things, but it will include at least 10 fun items for your family. And all you have to do is be a winner in this special contest! (There can be up to 3 winners.)

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Big News for 2017 at Bilingual Monkeys

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is a good year for you and your family and I hope my work—this blog, my forum, and my book—can help you experience even greater success and joy on your bilingual journey. Before I share my big news for this year, let me point you toward an important article I posted last January. This article is still just as relevant today, and in fact, will always be relevant for the aim of raising bilingual

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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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VIDEO: Lively Discussion on Raising Bilingual Children with Adam Beck of Bilingual Monkeys and Amanda Hsiung Blodgett of Miss Panda Chinese

Since my book about raising bilingual children was released in the spring, I’ve been interviewed a number of times. These videotaped conversations—connecting me, in Hiroshima, Japan, to kindred spirits in other parts of the world—have been a real joy for me and I’ve been grateful for the invitations to speak about this subject. The truth is, I’m generally not a big talker, but when the subject is bilingual children, which I have a boundless passion for, I’m afraid it’s hard

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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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A Powerful Perspective on Raising Bilingual Children: The Great “Iceberg” of Bilingualism

My son is 9 and the other day I gave him a simple writing task, as part of our daily homework routine, to help stretch his ability in English, our minority language. But as it turns out, I found the results quite revealing in terms of our entire bilingual journey together. The simple task involved making a list of things of a certain color; in this case, a list of 10 things that are black. That was all. I offered

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Here’s the Bright Side to Bilingual Kids Getting Sick

My son is sick today. He woke up with a headache and fever and stayed home from school. (Summer vacation hasn’t quite begun yet in Japan.) Of course, I’m not happy that he’s sick. Like any parent, I don’t like to see my kids suffering, even if that suffering is only mild. And in my case, since I work from home (and my wife works outside the home), when my kids are sick this means there’s another presence in the

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