Pin It
Thursday, April 11th, 2013

5 Games to Get Your Bilingual Child Talking

By
courtesy: 5 Games for Bilingual Kids image via/ © shutterstock

Encouraging your children to speak the minority language isn’t always easy. You may encounter resistance or face kids who understand the minority language but prefer to speak in the majority language. To boost their use of the minority language, make it fun! Here are five games that will help get your bilingual children talking. They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they are using the minority language!

 

Telephone

I had a major bilingual “a-ha” moment this past week when playing the game of telephone with my kids. It is ideal for second language learning! I can say anything I want to them in the minority language, in our case Spanish with me, Arabic with my husband, and they are excited to repeat it into the ear of the person sitting beside them. I was amazed to hear their great accents in Spanish roll off their tongues as I overheard them saying things into each other’s ears. It was also fun to watch them laugh when they realized the end result didn’t make sense. We play this with just the three of us and even though it’s a short game of telephone with lower chances of error, it is still pretty fun. If you and your child make just two people, then add a stuffed animal as a third person. Ask your child who gets to be the voice of the animal.

 

Puppets

Kids adore puppets and love pretending to be the voice of the puppet. Craft a puppet (or buy one, whatever you’re into) in a character or animal your child loves. The key is that the puppet is from your minority language country and only speaks the minority language. Take turns with who gets to be that puppet.

 

My Mama Went to the Store

My kids taught me this game when they came home from camp one day. I realized it was great for second language reinforcing, although they do have to be more advanced in the minority language for it to work well. One person says, “My Mama went to the store and brought home…” (and if you want to be less gender stereotyped then substitute dad if it makes you happy) then that person picks the first letter of an item. My oldest daughter started with a “p” tonight, and we guessed wrong with pineapple, peas or pear until we guessed it was pesto.

 

Desert Island  
This game doesn’t require a high level of language competence as kids have to pick between two choices. If you are on a desert island and you can only have one of two choices with you, which do you pick? You can cycle through any random combination of things, making the words in the minority language however easy or challenging. Apples or mango? Fancy Nancy or Curious George books? Play doh or markers? Chocolate cake or cookies? A dog or a cat?

 

This game also gives parents insight into their children’s preferences and thinking.

 

Monster

In our house, the version of monster we play is octopus. Inevitably, I have to be the octopus and chase them but because I am an octopus, I can only move in certain places and in specific ways that they dictate. Octopus also doesn’t speak English. So if they get caught, then they will have to use the minority language to say, “Don’t eat me” or “Go away!” or whatever it is they want to yell. I tell them “I’m hungry” in Spanish and they bait me in Spanish “Quieres comer?” and “Levantate!” when I pretend to sleep.

 

And a bonus game I have yet to try but found on this site and think could make a fun bilingual game:

 

Good Decision/Bad Decision

This game is pretty straightforward and doesn’t require a high level of language competence, unless the kids are the ones doing the asking, which requires greater fluency. Pushing your sister: good decision or bad decision? Dropping your coat on the floor: good decision or bad decision? Putting the milk away in the fridge: good decision or bad decision? Killing a caterpillar: good decision or bad decision. You get the idea. Tailor it to the things that need reinforcing in your household, which in our house lately would be waking up Mama and Baba in the middle of the night for no reason? Good decision or bad decision?

 

And remember, above all, have fun!

 

Hey! Are you looking for more bilingual games and information? You can find many more, awesome (ok, we’re biased) bilingual resources here!

© 2013, Stephanie Meade. All rights reserved.

m4s0n501

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


10 Best World Maps for Your Children’s Room

Because every little global citizen needs a map

Breastfeeding Around the World

In photos and figures

How Bilingualism Can Fail in Multilingual Families

It’s easy to raise bilingual kids when you speak a second language, right? Wrong.

Birth, Loss and In Between

Life after devastation

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Stephanie is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of InCultureParent. She has two Moroccan-American daughters (ages 5 and 6), whom she is raising, together with her husband, bilingual in Arabic and English at home, while also introducing Spanish. After many moves worldwide, she currently lives in Berkeley, California.

Leave us a comment!

6 Comments
  1. CommentsJay   |  Saturday, 01 June 2013 at 12:14 am

    What a great resource! This is already bookmarked and I’m definitely going to come back to it again. I’m soon moving back to the UK where I’ll need every trick, tip and game up my sleeve to keep Chinese alive for my boys. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. CommentsCordelia Newlin de Rojas   |  Tuesday, 04 June 2013 at 9:06 am

    Love these. And of course have my head in hands on how what took me an entire post to write, you managed to include in a couple of perfectly succinct sentences. LOL. Definitely going on my list of plane activities too as these are all winners for travel (well maybe except for the puppets…)

  3. CommentsThe Editors   |  Tuesday, 04 June 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Thanks so much for both of your comments. Let me know if any of those work out on the plane and for how many minutes Cordelia! The plane is always a game of how many minutes an activity can last, right?!

  4. CommentsInCultureParent | 29 Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids   |  Monday, 24 June 2013 at 12:29 pm

    […] for more articles on raising bilingual kids? Try these: 5 Games to Get Your Bilingual Child Talking Bilingual Parenting: Five Strategies to Start Now Is Raising Bilingual Children Worth the […]

  5. CommentsKun lapsi ei puhu vähemmistökieltä | MONIKIELISYYSMIETTEITÄ   |  Monday, 05 August 2013 at 6:48 am

    […] Täällä on esitelty viisi esimerkkileikkiä, joitten avulla lasta voi rohkaista puhumaan kieltä: http://www.incultureparent.com/2013/04/5-games-to-get-your-bilingual-child-talking/. Meillä on pyritty liittämään positiivisia asioita saameenkieliseen tekemiseen. Eli vanhempi […]

  6. CommentsInCultureParent | 3 Big Mistakes Parents Make in Raising Bilingual Kids   |  Tuesday, 27 August 2013 at 10:24 pm

    […] instead of drilling them in your preset agenda. They love to tell their own stories. Above all, make learning a language fun, not a […]









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



10 Best Children's Books for Gifts

Our Editors favorite multicultural books for this holiday season.

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

My wife thinks three languages will confuse our child. Is she right?

11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa

Try a few of these from this fantastic selection of African-American holiday books

What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal

How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?

10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry

We dare you to read these without a tear

Why This Mom Banned the Word ‘Weird’ From Her Kids' Vocabulary

One approach to explaining diversity to kids.

French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

How one mom in an intercultural marriage sees the differences between Italian and French parenting

The Cultural Battleground of Sleepovers

Should they be allowed because it's "normal?" Think again.

Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?

Would you pick up a stranger's child or is that invasive?
After 5 years having a Beijing mother inlaw in our home and life,I am finished will walk away even 2 children one of which she stole from the beginning. The family unit China like different regions...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] Read more of my guest post here at Inculture Parent […...
From I was Diagnosed with Cancer at Age 37 while Abroad with Kids
[…] Photo Credit: incultureparents.com […...
From How to Raise Strong and Confident Asian Pacific American Daughters
[…] Western sleep weirdness. […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
I come from Mumbai, India. My son speaks gujarati (language) at home because that is our mother tongue. He speaks Hindi in our aparment building because that is a common language in Mumbai. He...
From Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?
One of the first big books i read ...
From Favorite Swedish Stories: Emil in the Soup Tureen
[…] and other recommendations are further developed here and here: Giselle from Kid Yoga Stories and Tips for starting a family yoga practice.  And her favorite pose? Restin...
From 10 Tips for Starting a Family Yoga Practice
[…] Fall is almost behind us but here’s a beautiful presentation of fall traditions around the world! […...
From Fall Traditions and Celebrations Around the World
Great and in depth list! I have another suggestion for German. It's Learn German with Play! Phrase Guide and Puppet Kit. It's made by www.fluentfamily.com and they also have several phrase guides ta...
From Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

More Raising Bilingual Children