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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

See my update on this post, which reveals the answer to the contest question: How I Got My Bilingual Daughter to Eagerly Do Her Homework in the Minority Language.

Special Contest: Guess How I Handled This Problem with My Bilingual Daughter and Win a Cool Package of 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…

Trinkets from Japan

And treats like this…

Treats from Japan

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.)

A more creative tactic

This is the first time I’m holding a contest like this one at my blog, so please read all the information carefully if you’d like to enter.

Basically, this contest is posing to you the same problem I recently experienced with my 12-year-old daughter. The challenge, in this case, was her reluctance to look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary, despite being able to use it.

Our dictionary

Here’s the thing: The bilingual journey is a continuous stream of challenges like this, throughout the length of childhood, and our greater success depends on how effectively we’re able to address them. While there are times it’s fine to force the outcome we desire (like if I simply continued to insist that Lulu open the dictionary), I suggest that the more effective move, whenever possible, involves a more thoughtful approach, a more creative tactic.

For example, ideally, I don’t just want Lulu to use the dictionary because I tell her to, I want her to actually feel some internal motivation to use it. In other words, when faced with challenges like this, the better objective in considering our course of action is twofold: we want to produce the desired outcome, yes, but moreover, we want the child to genuinely feel engaged and positive about the experience itself. Because when the child feels this way, our efforts are more effective not only for the immediate challenge, but in fact fortify our longer-term success by making her more engaged and positive, overall, about the minority language.

This is why I persistently stress the idea of staying playful and creative in our efforts, at least to the degree we reasonably can, and I try to offer lots of ideas in this direction. Not only does this make the process more fun and joyful for both the child and the parent, day by day, it actually enables us to be more effective and more successful over the whole length of the bilingual journey.

Entering the contest

So the contest, then, is simply this:

What did I do when I was faced with this challenge involving my daughter and the dictionary? What creative tactic did I come up with, a strategy which got her using the dictionary that day with far more enthusiasm than she had ever shown before?

And please note: I’m not suggesting that my tactic is the “best” tactic for this challenge—there are no doubt many other effective solutions besides mine.

Helpful hints for your guess

  • My tactic was a task that formed part of her daily homework in the minority language. I saw the results of this task, which confirmed that she used the dictionary, but I didn’t actually watch her carry it out. I imagine it took her less than 10 minutes to complete.
  • When I came up with the task, I knew it would work well with Lulu, that it would engage her and motivate her to want to use the dictionary. In fact, I think this playful tactic could help motivate almost any child to use a dictionary with more enthusiasm. (I’m not saying that a single tactic like this will suddenly make a reluctant child always eager to use a dictionary from then on; my point is that, by creating an engaging and positive experience, we can help turn the tide on negative feelings and resistance when it comes to using a dictionary or anything else. When we’re able to put a fun spin on something that previously was seen only as unpleasant, we cast the activity in a new, more favorable light.)
  • The task took me about 10 minutes to prepare.
  • This tactic involved no rewards, like treats or toys. Lulu was motivated by the task alone.

To enter the contest—and have a chance to win a surprise package from Japan for your family—please follow these steps…

THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. There were 2 winners—Lauren in the U.S. and Heidi in Germany. Congratulations to you both, and thank you to everyone who entered!

1. Send an email to me at adam[AT] with CONTEST in the subject line. (Entries can’t be made through comments at this blog! Comments won’t work this time because everyone would be able to see the guesses.)

2. In your email, explain your guess to me, clearly and specifically. What do you think I did to address this problem? What was my creative tactic?

3. Prior to sending your email, please share the link to this post via social media, preferably Facebook, to help me spread the word about this contest. In your email, tell me how you shared it. This is the link…

4. I will respond, by email, within 48 hours, so please check your spam folder if you don’t see my message in your inbox.

5. If your first guess doesn’t match my tactic, you can guess two more times, following the same steps for each entry. So one person can make a total of three guesses.

6. The deadline for this contest is the morning of January 31 (Japan time) or until there are 3 winners, whichever comes first. Winners will be determined by a matching guess and the order in which the email was received. In other words, only the first 3 matching guesses received can win a prize.

7. After the contest closes, I’ll make a follow-up post to reveal my tactic.

Good luck, friends! I look forward to receiving your email! And whether or not you enter the contest, I hope this post will get you thinking creatively about the challenges you face so you can address them as effectively as possible and experience greater success and joy on your bilingual journey. :mrgreen:


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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

I’m Adam Beck, the founder of this blog and The Bilingual Zoo, a lively worldwide forum for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids. I’m also the author of the popular books Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and Bilingual Success Stories Around the World. I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for 25 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 19 and 16. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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