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Important Thoughts on Babies and Hammers

Quotes have long been an important part of my life. Over the years I’ve collected hundreds of favorite quotes that somehow speak to me, and inspire me. At any given time, the wall above my desk is continuously whispering several quotes that remind me of ideas I want to embody more deeply, or provide a helpful perspective on challenges I’m currently facing. I also pin up quotes from my kids, like this little message written (and joyfully punctuated) by my

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43 Great Quotes on the Power and Importance of Reading

Did you know that September 8 is International Literacy Day? I didn’t, until yesterday, and so I missed the chance to eat some cake. (I’m always looking for an excuse to eat cake.) A special day to celebrate literacy (and eat cake) is certainly something I support, but I also think that our attention should be squarely on literacy year-round. As a teacher, and now a parent, of bilingual children, books and reading have always been at the heart of

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There’s a Fine Line Between Being Firm and Being Rigid

In Why I’m Like This Rumbling Volcano (And Why You Should Be, Too), I stressed the importance of remaining firm about the expectations you have of your children when it comes to their language development. At the same time—and I just learned this lesson sharply—it’s vital to remember that there’s a fine line between being firm and being rigid. Being firm is productive, but being too firm crosses the line into being rigid, and that’s counterproductive ground. The challenge lies

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Why I’m Like This Rumbling Volcano (And Why You Should Be, Too)

We spent the past three days in the city of Kagoshima with my wife’s parents, celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Located on Japan’s southwestern tip, Kagoshima is home to 600,000 people—as well as Japan’s most active volcano, known as Sakurajima. Looming up from the sea just a short ferry ride from the city, Sakurajima is continually brewing with volcanic activity. In fact, even during our visit, it was billowing dark smoke and ash. But that’s the thing about Sakurajima: it’s

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96 Things You Can Do Today to Boost Your Child’s Bilingual Ability

Today is another opportunity to nurture your children’s language development. Every effort you make today, and again tomorrow, will move you and your children a little farther along your bilingual journey. These small steps will gradually add up over time—over days, weeks, months, and years—and largely determine the distance you travel. But in the end, it always depends on today. Below, then, is a list of 96 things you can do, right now, to help nurture your children’s language development,

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Recommended Resources: The Language Bear (and a Book Giveaway!)

Want to win a colorful bilingual children’s book, courtesy of Bilingual Monkeys and The Language Bear? If you’re already a subscriber to the Bilingual Monkeys Newsletter, just skip merrily ahead to learn more about the books produced by The Language Bear and how to enter the giveaway. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my weekly newsletter (it’s free!), simply click the link below to enter your first name and email address. You’ll then be eligible for this giveaway and

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3 Good Ways to Boost a Bilingual Child’s Language Ability and Loving Bond with Grandparents

For much of June, we were in the U.S., visiting family and friends. This series of articles offers observations of that trip in connection with raising bilingual children. The main purpose of our trip to the United States was to provide an opportunity for my kids and my parents to spend time together in person. As it had been five years since our last trip—when my kids were just 4 and 1—they didn’t really have clear memories of their grandparents

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If This Isn’t a Big Part of Your Strategy for Raising Bilingual Kids, It Really Should Be

For much of June, we were in the U.S., visiting family and friends. This series of articles offers observations of that trip in connection with raising bilingual children. The first thing I noticed after arriving in the United States were the billboards. My mother had just picked us up at the airport in Memphis, Tennessee (after a long journey from Hiroshima to Tokyo to Chicago to Memphis) and was now driving us back to her house, in the early evening,

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It’s a Scientific Fact! Baby Praying Mantises Can Get Your Child Reading More in the Minority Language!

Have you seen a baby praying mantis before? For a creature that looks a lot like a terrifying space alien, they’re pretty cute. For months now, we’ve had two of these praying mantis “egg cases” in a plastic container in our house. Apparently, when colder weather approaches, the female mantis squirts out a big batch of eggs in a sort of frothy mass which soon hardens. Last winter my son found two of these egg cases sticking to the backs

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How Rats in the Bathroom Can Boost a Child’s Bilingual Ability

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a pretty obsessive person. This caused me some trouble when I was younger (don’t ask me how I broke my nose in college), but as I got older, and learned to channel this energy toward more productive ends, I found that obsession could have a positive side, too. When it comes to my kids and their bilingual development, one of the useful benefits of being obsessive—of keeping this challenge continuously in mind—is the curious

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Recommended Resources: The Magic of Magazine Subscriptions

In How Many Books Do You Have in Your Home?, I looked at research which indicates that the size of a home library can have a powerful impact on a child’s language development and academic success. Although that study didn’t take magazines into account, I suggest that a steady stream of magazines into the home—both those for children and for adults—is a valuable influence, too. In our quest to promote the minority language of our kids, magazine subscriptions in the

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