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Preschool

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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These Are the Building Blocks of a Successful Bilingual Journey (and a Closer Bond) with Your Kids

Today I’d like to put to rest the false and unhelpful notion that we “don’t have enough time” to make the regular efforts that are necessary to provide persistent input in the minority language and promote strong bilingual development in our kids. I empathize with the lives of busy parents, believe me, but when we claim that we’re “too busy” to maintain effective daily routines or take on a productive short-term project, we’re not only acting in a way that’s

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Raising a Bilingual Child? Raise the Odds of Success for Your Family!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. —Nido Quebein Think of it this way: Raising a child to be bilingual is about odds and each family’s odds of success will be higher or lower depending on their particular circumstances and how proactive they are about shaping these conditions in effective ways. My experience as a teacher at Hiroshima International School demonstrates that the odds of a Japanese child successfully becoming bilingual are

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45 Key Questions Every Parent Raising a Bilingual Child Should Ask

1. What are the benefits, to your mind, in raising a bilingual child? For the child? For you? For your family, near and far? For others? For the world? (Perspective 2 and Perspective 30) 2. How strongly do you believe that your actions each day—even your small actions—make an important difference to the larger success of your bilingual quest? (Perspective 3) 3. Which of your current circumstances are favorable for your success? Which circumstances are less favorable? How will you

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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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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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How to Effectively Use and Control Digital Devices with Your Kids

Digital devices and electronic toys can certainly play a helpful role in supporting a parent’s efforts to nurture language development. At the same time, it’s also true that using them effectively, and controlling them wisely, can be a challenge. Naturally, your situation differs from mine, and you’ll want to come to the conclusions that best serve your family, but perhaps sharing my experiences and thoughts on this subject—which now looms very large in all our lives—will offer some useful food

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How a Globe-Trotting Alligator Helped One Family Find Greater Fun and Success on Their Bilingual Journey

Along with our persistent efforts each day to provide exposure in the minority language, another way to boost input and engagement is through the use of short-term projects. For example, my kids and I created a series of silly interviews that I’ve shared at this site: video of my son, video of my daughter, and video of me. Other examples might include activities like making a short film; creating a picture book or comic book; writing and performing a short

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7 Must-Make Resolutions for Parents Raising Bilingual Kids

NOTE: This post was made in January 2016 but the principles below are continuously relevant for raising bilingual children, no matter the month or year. Last year, I shared my New Year’s resolutions, and the year before that, my kids revealed their resolutions (in a post that features the transcript of our funny conversation). This year, I thought I would simply compile a list of important resolutions for practically any parent intent on making proactive efforts in 2016 (and beyond)

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10 Effective Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Bilingual Development

Want 10 effective ways to strengthen your efforts, and your success, at raising bilingual children? There are now 10 “challenges” at The Bilingual Zoo, the friendly forum that complements this blog as a community of sharing and support for “keepers” of bilingual kids. These challenges are designed to empower your daily routine and boost your children’s language development. Try one, or try them all. Everyone is welcome to access the forum, and benefit from the challenges you’ll find at the

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Recommended Resources: Lovely Picture Book That Celebrates Being Bilingual

As parents of bilingual kids, one of our most important aims is nurturing a positive attitude toward the minority language. When a child feels that this language has value, that it benefits his or her life, our efforts to promote its growth can be far more effective. The reverse, I’m afraid, is also true, and if the child doesn’t feel much value in learning or using this language, the road ahead will be more difficult and less productive. It’s like

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