I’ve written a lot of words at this blog about raising bilingual children. But I think this short video of me being interviewed by my kids will demonstrate, better than words ever could, the important sense of playfulness that I’ve described in Be Very Serious. Be Very Playful. The Bilingual Journey Demands Both. and other posts.
I hesitate to call this a “method” because it’s simply my nature when I’m around kids. At the same time, I’m quite conscious of its impact on language development because this sort of silly playfulness is highly effective at engaging children in the use of the minority language. And so, though I’m not this nutty all the time, I do express my wild side pretty continuously with my children and my students, and I actively incorporate this playful quality in my ideas for language exposure.
Whatever success I’ve had in working with bilingual children over the years, this penchant for play is at the heart of it all because my actions appeal to the child’s own playful spirit. And when you match the child’s natural instinct for play, you create more effective conditions for exposure and engagement in the minority language, day after day, which, over time, leads to greater heights of bilingual ability.
In other words, this isn’t just frivolous stuff: to my mind, “serious silliness” is not only fun (and thus creates a closer parent-child bond), it’s the very foundation for maximizing a child’s development in the minority language.
This, as the video conveys, is the “crazy secret” for bilingual success.
Third interview in a series
This interview is actually the third in a series: in previous posts, I shared silly interviews with my son and my daughter and you’ll find those links below. If you haven’t seen them yet, they’re well worth watching: they can serve as inspiration for conducting interviews with your own kids, and I think you’ll find them pretty entertaining, too.
After you watch this video of me going bonkers, keep reading for additional tips on making use of interviews for fun, effective language exposure and other benefits.
- As I did, you can interview your kids and have them interview you. You could also have grandparents or other family members interview your kids, and your kids could interview them. (Grandparents interviewing their grandchildren, and grandchildren interviewing their grandparents would also make a wonderful memento of their time together, if recorded.)
- The interviews needn’t be taped, but by creating video or audio conversations, you’ll not only have a valuable recording for posterity, the impact of language exposure will be extended as you and your children watch them or listen to them.
- Your interviews can be silly or serious, or some blend of both. In fact, I have an archive of videotaped interviews I’ve conducted with each of my kids on their birthdays, year after year, which tend to be a combination of the two. (If your children are still small, you might put this idea into practice: annual “birthday interviews” are a marvelous way to gauge their growth.)
- Recorded interviews of your kids not only engage them in speaking the minority language, they enable you to assess their language ability more clearly. Aspects of their ability that you may not readily notice in daily life are highlighted in video or audio.
- When your children conduct an interview of you or others, they also practice literacy skills when preparing and posing the questions. Silly interviews, in particular, will also stretch their imagination and creative thinking.
Interviews with Roy and Lulu
Now, to watch the silly interviews I conducted with Roy and Lulu, just click on the images below to visit those posts!
Adam, you’re killing me. You’re hilarious!
Cheers for your comment, Mayken!
I loved all three videos! I am inspired to use the silly question interviews with my daughter and the students in my classroom. Thank you!
Lorilyn, I’m really glad you enjoyed the videos! Thanks for letting me know! Have fun making your own!
Experts say daddy are the masters about how to be funny and I can see you are one of them. Your voice and facial expressions plus that imagination, you must be a really funny teacher as well.
It was a relief to see that your son’s reactions and answers are very like my son, who is 7 now. All those calling names, fat face, butt face, etc., made me think it is a phase. I hope so, ha ha ha.
And yet, I’m the caregiver with the minority language but he rejected to listen to music, read books or watch movies in Spanish. Listening to your kids I can tell I’ve done a terrible job with my bilingual kid.
I’ll keep trying though…
Jessica, don’t be too hard on yourself. Please see Have You Failed at Raising a Bilingual Child? and continue doing your best each day to provide playful exposure in Spanish. Your son is still young and it’s possible to make a lot of progress over the years ahead if you stick with it. And I hope my blog and my forum (you’re welcome to join us!) can be useful sources of support for your efforts and your perseverance. I’m cheering for you!