If you’re curious what my plans are for 2021, I’ll summarize them in this post.
If you’re not curious what my plans are, you can stop reading here and enjoy a donut instead. (Or do both.)
First, though, let’s take a quick look back on my main efforts in 2020. Believe me, I’d rather not reflect much on 2020, either—it was a very difficult year for us all—but this year’s plans probably won’t make as much sense without the continuity of last year’s activities.
In 2020, I…
Unveiled the new Bilingual Monkeys website
This project took months, not only because remaking a site with so much content was an enormous chore, but also because that chore had me dragging my feet for weeks at a time. The final result, though, which a patient web designer helped me complete, was worth the effort.
Continued to write blog posts
I’m no longer blogging as frequently as I used to—because my kids are older now (this year they’ll be 17 and 14) and I’ve become focused on other writing activities—but I’d like the site to continue offering fresh content from time to time, in addition to the hundreds of posts made over the past 8+ years.
Maintained The Bilingual Zoo forum
I began the Bilingual Monkeys blog in 2012, then opened the forum in 2014. This free online community continues to be the one of the warmest, most supportive places on the web for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids.
Provided free online consultations for over 30 parents
I was honored to join the team of experts at HaBilNet, a new site led by Annick De Houwer, one of the world’s leading researchers on child bilingualism. Through HaBilNet, I’m now able to lend personal support to parents, via Skype or Zoom, for free.
Welcomed the Polish edition of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability
It was a great thrill for me to hold the first translated edition of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability in my hands. And it’s so gratifying, too, that many of the reactions from readers of the book in Polish are as positive as the reactions from readers of the book in English.
Created the language learning resource 28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables
I worked with a team of three native Spanish speakers to create this new resource, with online audio, that can benefit the language learning aims of all ages, from kids to adults, in homes and schools. It was a challenging project, since I don’t have much Spanish ability myself, but I’m very happy with how the book turned out.
Completed the rough draft of Bilingual Success Stories, the book I’ve been working on for more than two years
This book, which brings together the success stories of bilingual and multilingual families from around the world, has been a long journey. It’s a pretty big book, and to be honest, sometimes writing it has felt kind of overwhelming…but I knew that my perseverance, day by day, would gradually produce the pages of this draft.
Created three super-cute coloring books with my son (the first two inspired by our bearded dragon named Fifa)
This collaboration with my 13-year-old son grew out of the nearly three months that Japanese schools were closed last spring due to the pandemic. Working with an illustrator, who brought our ideas to life, Roy and I used our minority language to create these fun-filled books—which can also be used to promote exposure in any minority language. Like my other books, you can find them at booksellers worldwide.
Bearded Dragon Daydreams
Bearded Dragon Fairy Tales
Started two new Instagram pages
Though I’m still maintaining accounts at Facebook and Twitter, I’ve begun putting more of my energy into these two new accounts at Instagram: @bilingualadventures, about my life and work in the field of child bilingualism; and @bearded_dragon_daydreams, a really fun page about bearded dragons.
Of course, it’s hard to say how life will unfold for this weary world in 2021—and how these developments could interfere with the best-laid plans—but, at least for the moment, here are my intended aims for this year.
In 2021, I hope to…
Maintain Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo
As in 2020, I don’t expect I’ll be as active at these sites as I’ve been in the past, but I would like to keep up fairly regular efforts at both sites. In addition, I’ll continue sending out my newsletter, with current news and views, at least every month or so.
Continue to provide free consultations to parents
Of all the ways I’m able to lend support to parents—my blog, forum, social media, books, etc.—for me, the most gratifying and effective way of all is when I can speak directly to a parent or a couple about how to strengthen their efforts and their success. So I look forward to supporting many more parents this year through HaBilNet’s consultation service.
Complete my new book Bilingual Success Stories
In February, the full manuscript of the book will be ready to share with the parents I interviewed, along with other early readers, for their impressions. Based on this feedback, I’ll make final revisions to the text and then the book will go into production. The finished book will be available, in paperback and e-book versions, in the spring. I think the success stories in this book are so interesting and so inspiring, and I hope you’ll feel the same way when you read them.
Pursue other language editions of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability
Since the Polish edition of this book was published, I’ve received inquiries about producing other language editions of the book and I’m hopeful that some of these inquiries may lead to concrete plans. If you would like to see the book translated into your language, I’d be happy to hear from you with an initial proposal.
Create more books with son (and my daughter, too?)
2020 was a really fun, language-filled year with my son when it came to our creative projects. We’re already continuing our collaboration into the new year, with our illustrator, by creating a wordless picture book (about the imaginative mischief a bearded dragon makes when he’s home alone). I love wordless picture books, and consider them a “secret weapon” for language exposure because they can be used in any language, so it’s exciting for me to finally try creating a wordless picture book of my own. I’d be happy, too, if I can eventually create a book with my daughter (who has resisted my entreaties so far!).
Maintain my two Instagram pages
Honestly, at some point in the future, I’ll be relieved to finally step back from all social media and lead a quieter life. However, for this year at least, I’d like to continue my efforts with these two new pages at Instagram (@bilingualadventures and @bearded_dragon_daydreams) while maintaining my presence at Facebook and Twitter, too. Instagram, in fact, has been more fun than I expected, and I’ve been able to connect with many more people there: parents and teachers of bilingual kids as well as “parents” of bearded dragons. But it’s also true that posting new content to these pages and engaging in interactions each day can get me feeling frazzled at times.
As for my kids and their bilingual development, the fact that they’ll turn 17 and 14 this year, and lead busy, independent lives, means that the best I can do is simply continue to provide as much exposure and engagement in their minority language as I realistically can. As I’ve written about before, I’m no longer able to spend the sort of ample time with them that I once could when they were younger. However, the long-running routines that are embedded in our lifestyle—like reading aloud to them at breakfast, sustaining their homework routine of literacy activities, and persisting with my captive reading efforts—can continue to steadily advance their language ability through these teenage years.
And the creative projects that I’m sustaining with my son—and hopefully may involve my daughter, too—enable us to engage in the minority language together in fun and productive ways.