Bilingual Children

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

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Culturally, my kids are half Canadian. All of their Canadian relatives spend the greater part of the year surviving on Skype and electronic photos to keep up with their speedy growth. So, when our finances and schedules allow, I know that I must plan a return to my home country to give my children contact with the other half of their genetic code. Particularly for my parents (their laolao & laoye), it’s torturous to have such a huge distance between two of their four precious grandchildren.  Read more »

Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   My three-year-old daughter lives in Greece, is being brought up by a German nanny, speaks German perfect and German is her dominant language for the time being.  Read more »

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad’s language is limited

Dear Dr Gupta,   I have two kids one is 3.  Read more »

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

As an adult who is embarrassingly monolingual, I never stop lamenting the “what if” of truly learning and assimilating a foreign language to the point of fluency.  Read more »

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I enjoyed reading some of your replies to people who asked for advice and am hoping you might be able to shed some light on our dilemma.   I grew up in Minnesota speaking only English from birth until age 13, when I took my first Spanish class in middle school, but had a chance to study in Ecuador for a year as an exchange student at age 17.  Read more »

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

In the very early videos of my son’s life you can hear me in the background speaking English to him. Gasp! It's so strange to hear that now as, when he was around two months old, I made the decision to switch and speak only Cantonese; from then on you can’t hear me in videos at all. My Cantonese was awful—most of my Chinese family would say it still is awful (Hong Kong Chinese people are quite blunt and not generous with compliments).  Read more »

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I need some advice.   As a multiracial/multicultural family it's important that my children speak English, Spanish (which I am teaching them) and Korean.   My daughter is in Korean/English dual language program at our local school. My son didn't get in last year (lottery system) as an entering kinder nor did he get in for entering first grade.  Read more »

After Her Husband’s Tragic Death, She Embraced a Religion and Culture Not Her Own

Yuki is a Japanese-born single mom. She has managed to raise her nine-year-old son Abi alone, after overcoming the sudden tragic death of her Jewish-American husband in San Francisco when Abi was just a baby. She is also a writer, surfer, foodie and someone who has created a space for her little family to thrive in.   Abi and Yuki live in San Francisco nine months of the year, visit her family in Japan for about two months and spend about a month on the East coast visiting her American in-laws.  Read more »

How This Single Working Mom Raised a Trilingual Kid

Maria came to San Francisco from Zacatecas, Mexico as a teenager. She crossed the border illegally with the husband she married in her hometown. Because of Maria’s mother’s influence, she married too young, at the age of 16, and since then has had a hard life full of responsibilities.  She is now a U.S. citizen who eventually divorced and currently lives with her three children, younger daughter Karina and two older sons in the Mission district of San Francisco.  Read more »

Many Languages, One America: 25 Proud Bilingual Children

The multilingual Coke commercial that aired during the most watched American TV event of the year—the SuperBowl—was exciting. A prominent multinational company equated the U.S. with multilingualism and featured it on mainstream TV during a very American event. But at the end of the day, all the commercial did was acknowledge reality.   But then the ad came under siege.  Read more »

Raising Trilingual Children? An Interview Not to Miss!

It was really exciting to sit down and talk to Julia, a 27-year-old multilingual who was raised trilingual in Japanese, Portuguese and English and now also speaks Spanish. I was really curious about her multilingual upbringing and what she thinks her parents did right. Her big advice to us parents raising bilingual and multilingual kids: reading is just as important as speaking! Read our interview with her below to find out more.  Read more »

The Power of Immersion Travel

As I browsed a local Nicaraguan newspaper this morning at breakfast, La Prensa, my daughter noticed the kids page and asked to see it.   "Mama, it says 'seis diferencias,' six differences," she told me and continued on down the page.   At home she would never think of picking up something in Spanish to read over English and often times I face groans if I choose a Spanish book to read.  Read more »

8 Awesome Pinterest Boards for Bilingual Kids

We love bilingualism and love browsing pinterest. If you're like us, then you will love these awesome pinterest boards related to raising bilingual kids to give you more resources on raising bilingual kids.     This post is sponsored by Piggy Press, an independent multilingual book publisher who publishes books in Spanish or English as the base language with Spanish, Mandarin, Kuna, French and Swedish as the second language.  Read more »

How to Start a New Language with Your Child

Language is all about communication and if you or your child do not experience or believe in the benefits of deeply communicating with others, it is a lost cause before you even start. As Nelson Mandela said “When you talk to someone in your language you speak to their head but when you talk to them in their language you speak to their heart.”   Before even embarking on learning a different language with your child it is important to note:   (a) Why you want to do it (b) What your child’s level of interest will be (c) What your goal is in terms of their language learning (d) Whether or not it is useful and/ or realistic   This is usually the toughest one to face.  Read more »

Should we switch from OPOL to ML@H to maximize language exposure?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   We are an English/German-speaking family, currently living in Germany practicing one parent one language (OPOL) with our two-year-old. We're moving to an English-speaking country soon and are wondering if we should switch to minority language at home (ML@H) to maximise German exposure? Any thoughts?   ~ Debating ML@H?   Dear Debating ML@H,   I'm not very keen on deliberate decisions to use particular languages.  Read more »

Why Most African Kids are Multilingual

The average Kenyan child speaks three languages. This figure is even higher amongst children in urban deprived areas who regularly speak five languages. This is no mean feat considering many children growing up in these areas do not have indoor plumbing or easy access to basic education. What they do have however is a high density of people from different ethnic communities living cheek by jowl all with a huge impulse to communicate.  Read more »

Is Mixing Languages OK in Bilingual Children?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   We're a British family living in Spain. My daughter is 22 months old, at Spanish nursery about 30 hours a week where she's been going for a year. At home we typically only speak English to her and that currently appears to be a stronger language for her but she's recently started trying sentences and they're often mixed—probably more than I can tell as it's sometimes hard enough to work out what she's saying in English.  Read more »

Autism and Bilingualism: Why I Ignored the Professional’s Advice to Drop My Son’s Second Language

Nine years ago I fell in love with a ‘Dutchie’. We married and I moved to the Netherlands and soon after had my son. As an educator working in an international school, I never questioned my children’s ability to learn two languages. My belief was that children exposed to another language from birth would pick it up easily. I had worked with children that spoke four or five languages.  Read more »

3 Big Mistakes Parents Make in Raising Bilingual Kids

Raising bilingual kids can often be hard work to ensure the child is getting enough exposure in the second language. While no parents mean to discourage their kids, make sure their enthusiasm stays on track by avoiding these big mistakes.   1. Correcting them: Children that are corrected too much in their second language will be reluctant to speak out of fear they will say something wrong.  Read more »

Why is My Bilingual Child’s Vocabulary Below Her Peers?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   Some background information first: We are raising our children German-English bilingually in the U.S. I am a native German and I speak German with the kids, but my husband speaks English and pre-school, school, etc. is all in English. There are not many other German-speaking families in the area we live. Our four- and six-year-old girls both speak German (with some grammar mistakes).  Read more »

6 Out-of-the-Box Ideas to Raise a Bilingual Child on a Budget

Raising a bilingual child in a country where bilingualism isn't a given can be expensive. When you don't speak a second language, can't afford private immersion school and tutors are too pricey as are the fancy language classes in your community, then what options do you have left? Here are six out-of-the-box ideas for helping you raise a bilingual child on a budget.  Read more »

Should I Improve My Own Language Skills to Teach My Daughter?

Dear Dr Gupta   I have a four-month-old baby who I would dearly love to grow up bilingual, as I never had the opportunity myself. I have spent a lot of time learning languages through classes, travelling and living overseas but have never had a true opportunity to become fluent in any one of them, and am pretty out of practice with all of them now too.  Read more »

Is all the Hard Work of Bilingualism Really Paying Off?

You know those moments when you have to pause, take a breath and remind yourself to take it all in? I had one of those language moments last weekend where the figurative waters parted in totally unexpected ways to reveal that all my hard work around my kids' language development is actually paying off.   The well-known bilingual children's musician, Jose-Luis Orozco, performed at our local children's library last weekend.  Read more »

Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don’t Think I Speak Mandarin

Now that I’m the exclusive English-language source for my daughter in our home, I do a lot more talking than I used to. Every new language brings out a different side of our personalities and I’ve discovered that I’m a bit less chatty in Chinese, not to mention a lot less funny! (It took my husband travelling back to Canada with me to realize that I have a pretty good knack for making people laugh.  Read more »

7 Benefits of Raising Bilingual Kids

Being bilingual affords children (and adults) many advantages over the course of their lifetime. Here are seven benefits of raising bilingual kids that have been documented in research and studies.   1.     Bilingual children have a better ability to focus and ignore distractions in the environment. That’s because the part of the brain called the executive function, used for planning, judgment, working memory, problem solving and staying focused on what’s relevant is stronger in bilinguals.  Read more »

How Many Languages Are Too Many for a Child?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I have a burning question. How many languages is too many? I ask because we are a trilingual family English/French/Spanish. We have decided on homeschooling this September with our two girls (two-and-a-half & turning five), in part to be able to up the time spent with Spanish, the minority language in our house, which has been falling by the wayside.  Read more »

How Should We Teach Reading to a Bilingual Child?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I have a five-year-old girl who is fluently bilingual. I think she may be French dominant since she speaks to her little sister in French but her English is above average as well so it is hard to tell. I am anglophone and her father is bilingual but his first language is French. He speaks only French with the children and I speak only English.  Read more »

My child has a language delay. Should she learn another language?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I have always loved learning languages. However, my four-year-old daughter (our only child) has an expressive language delay and tested in the first percentile on a state evaluation. She has been getting speech therapy for the past year and a half, but she is still very far behind other kids her age in that a lot of what she says remains unintelligible.  Read more »

Why Your Bilingual Child Objects When You Switch Languages

Anyone who interacts for some time with a young bilingual child will notice the strong bond that exists between a person and a language. In the eyes of the child a person is tagged with a particular language, and if that person addresses the child in the other language, it may cause some distress. We saw this with Danny, when his mother, who usually spoke to him in English, asked him a question in German.  Read more »

Do I teach my child my native language even though I am not fluent?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   Is it "worthwhile" to speak to my young baby (nine months) in my native Cantonese with the hope that he will acquire some of the language even though I have rudimentary fluency (grade school level)?   Although Cantonese is my native language and was what I spoke at home with my parents, English quickly became my dominant language once I started school and is currently my dominant language as an adult.  Read more »

My 3-Year-Old Understands Spanish but Only Speaks English. Help!

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I need some advice. I am from Guatemala but live in Texas. My husband and I have a three-year-old and a two- month-old. We want to raise our daughters bilingual. Our decision was that I would speak in Spanish and he in English. Reality is my three-year-old understands Spanish but only speaks in English. All of her friends and family around speak English.  Read more »

How Immersion Travel Helped My Kids Progress in Spanish

During our trip to Mexico, my children took to Spanish like a fish to water. They have been learning Spanish since September in afterschool time, initially for 20 hours per week and since November for five hours per week.   Our first stop in our 10-day trip was to Puebla for one of my best friend's wedding. My kids had so much fun playing with all the other kids, mostly nieces and cousins of my best friend’s family.  Read more »

English is starting to replace Portuguese. What can I do?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   My three-year-old child speaks English everywhere and with my husband at home, and Portuguese with me. I recently noticed that she is adding more and more English words in her conversation with me and forgetting Portuguese words that are common in her world, such as the names of colors and animals.   I try to correct her gently by repeating the entire sentence she'd just spoken but entirely in Portuguese, and ask her to repeat it.  Read more »

Why Arabic is Dead and Spanish is Alive for My Kids

My kids hear Arabic every day from their dad but it’s amazing how much more of a hold Spanish is taking after seven months of learning it. They take Spanish several days per week in a small class with two friends. Plus many of their close friends are native Spanish speakers so we are socially in an environment with Spanish around us pretty frequently.  Read more »

When Language Immersion Doesn’t Come Easy

My son has learned three languages in his short lifetime. Now seven and half, Amir was born in Spain, but was instantly privy to a world where three different languages were regularly spoken in his home environment. His father—who speaks Arabic with his family members—and I communicate to one another in Spanish, and my native tongue is English. As his primary caregiver, I felt it was important to speak to Amir in English, and it became the language he was mostly surrounded with in those early years, especially after we moved to the United States when he was only six months old.  Read more »

5 Games to Get Your Bilingual Child Talking

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.  Read more »

8 Tips for Encouraging Bilingualism in Different Personality Types

My girls are playing close by as I’m working on my laptop. Sara, 7, is the lead actress in a production of “princess bride” that seems to be going on in our living room. She is very much in control, giving out directions, talking, laughing and sometimes singing. Her sister, Emma, 11, prefers not to be center stage and mainly speaks to remind her sister of details she has forgotten (like the name of the fiancé).  Read more »

Is TV in Mandarin helpful or overkill for my trilingual Cantonese-speaking child?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I could do with some advice. We are an OPOL family, speaking Italian (father), Cantonese Chinese (mother) and English (between the parents) at home. For Christmas I bought myself a device to stream TV from China but find, of course, that it is mostly in Mandarin, not Cantonese. There are some lovely cartoons and children's shows--should I let our 22-month-old watch them? My Mandarin is so-so--I can understand children's shows but I'm nowhere near fluent (or even conversational), so I would get into trouble quickly if pushed.  Read more »

Do Bilingual Children Know Fewer Words Than Monolinguals?

Linguistic research in young bilingual children has focused on whether multilingual children develop language skills in the same way and at the same speed as monolingual children. Numerous studies in the field have focused on this question by examining different aspects of language, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.   A recent article from Diane Poulin-Dubois, Ellen Bialystok and their colleagues (2012), published in the International Journal of Bilingualism, looks at the area of vocabulary.  Read more »

29 Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids

Raising a child with good bilingual ability can be a significant challenge. How do you support the minority language so that it keeps pace with the relentless development of the majority language?   Here are 29 tips for busy parents to help increase the odds of success.   1. Start early If you’re proactive from the start, you’ll stand a much better chance of nurturing a good balance in the child's bilingual ability.  Read more »

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Z        This page is a way for all of us to share resources for books, websites, music, apps, games and more for raising our bilingual children. These are reader recommendations on resources by language. Many of these products we have not looked into ourselves and therefore they are not endorsements.  Read more »

Mandarin Books on Video for Kids

  Here is a HUGE collection of Mandarin books on youtube, including stuff like Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus and Berenstain Bears, A Picture for Harold's Room. Each book is read aloud on Youtube in Mandarin (this is especially great for non-native speaking Mandarin parents who want to help their kids with Mandarin):   原来是你啊 : : http://youtu.  Read more »

What to Expect From Daycare in a Non-Native Language

Three years ago we moved to the Netherlands from the U.S. with our two-month-old daughter. Neither my Italian husband nor I spoke any Dutch. Fast forward to present and we now have a very talkative three-year-old who regularly insists that she speaks only “Nederlands.” This is what we have learned about what you can expect when you send your child to daycare in a non-native language.  Read more »

Is Earlier Really Better for Second Language Acquisition?

There is a common myth about second language acquisition that by six or seven years old, it is too late to acquire a language fully.  This argument is based on the “critical period hypothesis." I admit that linguistics research is not easily accessible and linguists are notoriously poor at disseminating their findings to the public. Because of that, I can't blame anybody for believing that older children can’t learn a second language with perfect fluency.  Read more »

Is it Too Late to Teach My Kids My Native Language?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I am Italian and living in California, and unfortunately my two kids, who are nine and 13, don't speak Italian, and barely understand the basic phrases. I understand they will never be fluent and will always have an accent, but I wonder if it is not too late to start speaking to them in Italian (will have to figure out how to make the transition).  Read more »

Are Four Languages Too Much?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I am a very proud Hungarian mum of the greatest three-month old baby, Dominic, whose Dad is Albanian, but we live in Spain. However we communicate in English. As you can see there are four languages in Dominic's life and I know that a kid's brain is like a sponge but when is it too much? I speak to him in Hungarian, my husband in Albanian but we do talk with each other in English.  Read more »

10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children

As a Polish mother in the Netherlands with multilingual children growing up with Polish, German and Dutch, I often hear uninformed and judgmental comments. Inspired by Babble’s “What not to say…” series, I wrote my own list about what you should never (and I mean NEVER) say to parents of multilingual children. 1) “I know somebody who is bilingual, and they never learned to speak any language properly.  Read more »

The Science Behind Bilingual Children’s Brains

Why start language learning early? With the help of modern technology in neuroscience, we now understand how language develops during infancy and early childhood. Also, based on countless studies, researchers can safely conclude that as your child grows older, her uncanny language abilities decrease significantly. This 'critical period' means that you should strike while the iron is hot! Do babies have super human language skills? Research at the University of Chicago shows that a bird placed in isolation for the first few weeks of its life never learns the song of its species properly and will thus be unable to uphold a territory or woo a mate.  Read more »

When Trilingual is Not Necessarily Better than Bilingual

Dear Dr. Gupta: My partner and I are expecting and we are trying to determine a language plan now. I am a native English speaker, my partner is a native Italian speaker who also speaks Spanish and English fluently; he speaks Spanish better than English. We live in an English-speaking country but in an area where Spanish is widely spoken. There are limited opportunities to speak Italian, but he does have some friends who speak Italian, we Skype often with his family and we will visit Italy often.  Read more »

Bilingual Parenting: Five Strategies to Start Now

When I found out I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was “I can’t wait to raise this child to speak French.” I am a native English speaker, and I’ve been a Francophile since I was a young girl. My love of the French language and Francophone cultures has largely shaped my career, my travel and my interests. Although I was committed to raising a bilingual child, I never actually thought about how to go about it, especially in the very young, preverbal stages.  Read more »

How Bilingualism Can Fail in Multilingual Families

Raising bilingual kids, if nothing else, involves commitment. Bilingualism isn’t automatic. Long before having children or meeting my multilingual husband, I knew I wanted to raise bilingual kids. I was not brought up bilingual and learned the majority of my languages as an adult. As a result, I wanted my kids to have the gift of bilingualism from childhood.  Read more »

Diary of a Bilingual Spanish School

In “Fostering Bilingual Education through Two-Way Immersion,” we describe how a constructivist curriculum and a multicultural approach to dual immersion led to the success of a two-way Spanish immersion program.  The following narratives offer vivid evidence of why this is so. They illustrate, over the course of a school year, how bilingual instruction was blended with constructivist pedagogy adapted to the needs of second-language learners and how this combination was not only natural but necessary.  Read more »

Fostering Bilingual Education through Two-Way Immersion

This article is an excerpt from the book Diary of a Bilingual School: How a Constructivist Curriculum, a Multicultural Perspective, and a Commitment to Dual Immersion Education Combined to Foster Fluent Bilingualism in Spanish- and English-Speaking Children Fluent bilingualism is commonplace throughout much of the world. How strange that it’s so difficult to achieve in the United States! Unless we came here as immigrants, grew up in homes where another language was spoken, or spent extended time in a non-English-speaking country, most Americans are likely to be monolingual.  Read more »

Multilingual Children for Money or Love?

My husband and I are the typical young family starting out our journey into parenthood. Like all parents, we want what is best for our children and thus, spend quite a bit of time researching everything from cribs and mattresses to baby food and stimulating toys.  But we also research something else: how to raise trilingual children.  Our ethnic backgrounds set us apart from many other parents around us in Suburban Michigan, as my husband is Lebanese and I am Mexican.  Read more »

François Grosjean Responds: Cherishing the Multilingual Heart

At the end of last year, the title of a post by Jan Petersen on InCultureParent caught my attention: "How Francois Grosjean Broke My Multilingual Heart." I was troubled at first as I have defended bi- and multilinguals most of my academic life, not broken their hearts! So I read on and immediately felt reassured....and exonerated. I wasn't really the one who had broken Jan Petersen's heart in my Psychology Today post, "Helen or Hélène.  Read more »

We speak Mandarin to our daughter but should I switch to Italian?

Dear Dr. Gupta, My husband and I live with our one-year-old daughter in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We both speak Mandarin Chinese to her (he is from China), and are leaving this week to take her on her first stay one-month in China. We also have many Chinese friends and hope to move to China for a few years when she is older so that she will become literate.  Read more »

How My Kids Lost and Found Their Native Language

I feel defeated when I watch childhood home videos of my two daughters, Alina and Alexa. In the videos, they are speaking their beautiful native tongue, a bittersweet memory, as they lost their ability and desire to speak it as they got older. My girls were very early speakers. By age two, they spoke in full Armenian sentences. By age three, they were able to carry on articulate conversations, and oh boy were they chatty! I enrolled them in preschool by age four, with minimal English vocabulary.  Read more »

All I Want for Christmas is Perfectly Bilingual Children

When it comes to raising a bilingual child, I have several beliefs about how you can waste your time. I think it’s a waste of valuable second language reinforcement time if you don’t watch movies in the minority language, read books and listen to music in that language and most of all, have a babysitter or nanny in that second language. I would also never pay for private school if that education is not in another language.  Read more »

Getting Back on the OPOL Wagon

As I wrote about in Part I of this article, "Falling off the OPOL Wagon," I didn’t realize I had fallen off the one parent one language (OPOL) wagon until I found myself face down on the ground with a chipped tooth and a mouthful of dirt. The real question is how did I get back on the wagon? I credit reading about other multilingual children’s progress on various blogs with flipping the switch for me.  Read more »

Falling off the OPOL Wagon

I didn’t realize I had fallen off the one parent one language (OPOL) wagon until I found myself face down on the ground with a chipped tooth and a mouthful of dirt. For me it was a slippery slope. I am not aware if strict OPOL means that parents speak their native language to each other as well as their children. This would require that my Mexican husband speak fluent French and that I speak fluent Spanish.  Read more »

Code-Switching in My Multilingual Family

“Mommy,” my son stated, “for lunch, uno quesadilla con queso istiyorum.” In our family, this sentence that combines English, Spanish and Turkish not only makes sense, but it is also a normal exchange. I grew up speaking English and Spanish and have a fair command of Turkish. My husband’s native language is Turkish, and he is comfortable communicating in English, German and French.  Read more »

Language for Family Ties or Competitive Edge?

When we decided to move to Singapore about 18 months ago, people’s reactions fell into roughly three categories: 1. People who knew pretty much nothing about Singapore: “Are you insane?” “What language do they speak over there?” “Is it safe? Don’t they hang you for littering?” 2. Those who had been to Singapore or were planning on it: “I am so jealous, you are going to eat so well.  Read more »

The Influence of Bilingual Preschool Teachers

Lately, both of my girls have taken to calling my youngest, Lila, “Lilita.” Although they do not attend a bilingual Spanish preschool, two of the three teachers are native Spanish speakers. While they have Spanish class on Fridays, the influence of Spanish extends beyond the songs and words they learn on that day. The Spanish diminutive has crept into their English vocabulary with ease.  Read more »

Is Raising Bilingual Children Worth the Costs?

I am the daughter of born-and-raised-in-Japan parents and also a proud American citizen. I grew up bilingual because both of my parents spoke only Japanese at home, but at school, I only heard English. I think this is one of the most ideal ways to become bilingual—to be immersed in one language half the time, and in another the other half. I was very lucky; being bilingual has helped me in my education and given me neat volunteer and work opportunities.  Read more »

Which method is best for raising bilingual kids when the main bilingual parent is not around much?

Dear Dr. Gupta, I am a native English speaker who married a native Spanish speaker. We currently have one 10-month-old daughter and have another child on the way. For numerous obvious reasons, we want our kids to be bilingual, but we are very torn on which method to use. I speak a fair amount of Spanish, and my vocabulary is growing all the time (my husband and mother-in-law speak to me in Spanish almost exclusively).  Read more »

Chinese School Dropout: Why I No Longer Torture My Son With Bilingualism

After three years of flashcards, tracing sheets, computer games and CDs, I’m giving in. I’m a Chinese School Dropout. Or rather my second-grader is. It’s a decision we have not come to rashly. We have had a love-hate relationship with learning Chinese. Sure, there was some whining. But not kicking and screaming and crying—especially since first grade, when my son started in a homework-free program aimed at non-native Mandarin speakers.  Read more »

Raising my son bilingual in non-native Spanish is exhausting me–should I continue?

Dear Dr. Gupta, I am an adoptive parent raising my son, Oakley, in non-native Spanish. Increasingly, I have moments where I feel like I can't keep on speaking to Oakley in Spanish. I'm exhausted.   Here are the reasons why speaking to him in Spanish is becoming onerous and, despite the cognitive value and specific educational productivity, unproductive:   1) Spanish is not my strong language, English is.  Read more »

Defining a Child’s World through Language

Not a linguist myself, I come from a family of linguists. Perhaps that is why I appreciate the power of language not only in conveying information but in shaping one’s mind. Like all multilingual children, I grew up realizing that certain words in one of my languages did not have a translation or equivalent in another one. This conveyed to me not just a deficiency in vocabulary but a void of ideas.  Read more »

The 10 Best Things About Going Bilingual

The 10 best things about going bilingual with your children:   1. When people ask my kids where they're from (a pretty common question for anyone with brown skin tone), they say France! (Sadly, neither me nor their Papa have any direct connection to France, I just happen to have studied the language and decided to pass it on.)   2.  Read more »

Speaking in Tongues Film

Why is bilingualism important to you? Answer this question below in the comments to win the DVD of the film, Speaking in Tongues.   Speaking in Tongues, courtesy of Patchworks Films, is the award-winning documentary following the lives of four budding bilingual children in dual-language immersion programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.   I saw this movie fairly recently and was so pleased that this critical subject was the topic of a documentary.  Read more »

Bilingual Parenting: OPOL or Mixed Language—Does it Matter?

Bilingual parenting is more common than we think. It’s the norm in many countries where citizens speak several languages or dialects that are transmitted to their children. Mixed marriages, with parents who come from different countries and speak different languages, create families where two languages coexist in daily life. Families moving to live in another country, either as expatriates or immigrants, also bring an extra language into the home.  Read more »

Learning to Read When Bilingual: Which Language First?

A hot topic for parents trying to raise balanced bilinguals is which language do you teach first, the minority one or the community language? Or maybe both at once?! We didn't have much choice, as our daughter was enrolled (reluctantly) in the English section of her French school for the first two years, due to lack of places on the French side, so all her initial reading was in English.  Read more »

How to go about Japanese-English bilingualism in the U.S.? I don’t want my kids feeling alone and like they don’t fit in.

Dear Dr. Gupta,     How do you suggest a parent work with, while protecting, her children from the strong pressures to conform to making English dominant in one’s head, in the context of the U.S. and Japan? U.S. bilingualism is short lived. Japanese bilingualism is even shorter. I have struggled with this all my life.     I was born as a youngest of three to Japanese parents and moved to Singapore and was put in the British school system for 4 years, then half a year of Japanese school, which I loved, in Singapore.  Read more »

Perfect Bilingualism: Does it Exist?

If you have ever lived in a foreign country where you speak the language as well as its inhabitants, you’ll know how frustrating it is for someone to complement you on your charming accent. You might consider yourself completely bilingual, but there’s that little accent that people keep remarking on. Or you might be bringing up bilingual or multilingual children and notice that they have a slight accent in what you consider to be their mother tongue.  Read more »

Invisible Interpreter: The Grandmother – Child Language Divide

Paati (grandma) joined us this past summer from India. It was her first visit to our home in the U.S since the kids. Paati can understand, read and write elementary English, while our six-something-year-old daughter can handle only minimal Tamil (the regional Indian language we speak). With no clairvoyance, my husband and I concluded that the lack of a medium of communication was going to deter and procrastinate the bonding between Paati and our children.  Read more »

Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children: Correcting My Grammar

I've long been resigned (though secretly thrilled) that my six-year-old daughter corrects my French, but I didn't expect my three-year-old son to start just yet. But a couple of days ago, when I was offering him some raisins verts (green grapes), he indignantly stated, "Raisins blancs!" (white grapes), which I suppose must be the correct translation he has heard at school.  Read more »

What Bilingualism is Not

I have had the chance to live and work for extended periods of time in at least three countries: the United States, Switzerland and France, and as a researcher on bilingualism, it has allowed me to learn a lot about my topic of interest. I have found that people in these countries share many misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals but that they also have very country-specific attitudes towards them.  Read more »

Forgetting my Mother Tongue

Francois Grosjean's recent article on language forgetting struck a cord. I have experienced a form of language forgetting myself when I was seven years old, in a limited sense. My family moved from Frankfurt in Germany's Hessen region to Hamburg in the North. Both my sister and I had spoken "hessisch," the local dialect spoken in Hessen. Within six months after the move we had both completely switched to a Hamburg accent and had actually forgotten our dialect.  Read more »

Is it useful to start teaching my children my native language when they are 4 and 7 years old?

Dear Dr. Gupta, My children are 4 and 7 years old and we live in Australia. My first language was Russian, though I was born and raised in Australia and I remember being sent to kindergarten and school not knowing English—an experience I found terrible and isolating, even though I learnt English fast. For this, as well as various other reasons, I did not speak Russian to my children from birth and am now wondering whether it would be any use at all to start to speak Russian to them at this stage.  Read more »

Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

While viewing a new exhibition at the art museum with my twin daughters, who are three and a half years old, we stopped in front of a painting that caught their attention. I asked them, "Que ven en esta obra?" (What do you see in this picture?) Emma jumped and said, "Nieve y Arboles" (snow and trees). Hannah, with a concerned face, answered, "Es buy scary" (it is very scary).  Read more »

Autism and Multilingualism: A Parent’s Perspective

It happened again last week. I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a colleague when she asked me point blank what language we spoke at home. I often get that question as my husband and I come from different countries and on top of that, we're expats in Turkey. This makes us, for all practical purposes, a trilingual family. But people don't buy that and they want to know which of our three languages we really speak, when no one is watching.  Read more »

Education in Multilingual Families: The Burning Question—Part One

Education. One word, carrying so much baggage. Hope for the future; worries about its quality and quantity. And for families raising bilingual or multilingual children, the language question adds another dimension of difficulty, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a place where you have lots of options. Matthew is four and a half. School starts at age three in France (although it isn't mandatory until age six).  Read more »

Help! My Bilingual Child Won’t Speak My Language

If you find your child refuses to speak your language, don't hit the panic button just yet. All you need is a little bit of patience and perhaps some organization too. As a parent of bilingual children, I have often heard parents bemoan the fact that their child refuses to speak back to them in their native tongue, preferring instead the language of the country they live in.  Read more »

Languages of the Mind and Heart: Growing up Trilingual in the UK

As someone who loves to write and read, a love of language and words fits naturally. My family is of Punjabi origin, hailing from Jhelum, Pakistan and therefore speaks a Patwari dialect of Punjabi. Growing up, I spoke Patwari with my mother and grandparents; this was the language they scolded us in (Danger! Animals!) and loved us in. The dialect they used is exactly the one they brought with them from Pakistan to the UK forty years ago.  Read more »

Is bilingualism hurting my niece’s language skills in both Spanish and English? Are two languages causing her to have low verbal skills?

Dear Dr. Gupta, I am not sure what to do about my niece’s English and Spanish. She has grown up in a bilingual environment. Her Mom speaks to her only in Spanish and her Dad in a mix of English and Spanish (both are native Spanish speakers and my brother (her Dad) was born in the Dominican Republic like most of the family but moved to the U.  Read more »

Are grammatical errors ok when speaking a second language to a child?

Dear Dr. Gupta, I am a native English speaker with a passion for German. I studied it in college and lived and worked there after graduating. Dear friends communicate with me in German and I have command of a large expressive vocabulary; however, my grammar, tenses, gender of nouns, etc. are all extremely weak. My husband is half Filipino and half African-American.  Read more »

Raising Bilingual Children in Non-Native Language: Tools for Parents

So your kids have a ton of target language DVDs, books, websites and toys to fast-track their bilingualism, but what about you, the parent? If the target language isn't your native one, you'll be wanting to maintain and improve it any chance you get. But as we all know, being a parent doesn't give you the luxury of long stretches of free time for language-learning! The best way to keep up your language skills is to work it into your day-to-day life.  Read more »

Late Speaker and Bilingual? Changing a Common Belief

Popular wisdom would have it that bilingual children are generally late speakers. It was certainly my experience when my son at three didn't speak but a few words. People around me would tell me oh, don't worry it's because he's bilingual. My own doctor told me there was no need for concern as my son was learning two languages at the same time. Indeed, I met several parents of bilingual children who had the same kind of experience as me.  Read more »

Osmosis of Language

By the age of four, I had lived in three different countries and spoke pieces of three different languages. I was born in the former Soviet Union to an East German father and a Peruvian mother. My parents were university students in present day Ukraine and they communicated with each other in their only common language at that time, Russian. My first words were in Russian, although my father always addressed me in German and my mother in Spanish.  Read more »

Why I Want My Children to be Multilingual

Question: why is it important to me that my kids speak more than one language? I have to admit that I never really thought about this. When I married an Algerian woman I must have assumed my children would be multilingual. Or maybe I was so unprepared that I actually didn't have an opinion. But in hindsight it is obvious that there really was no choice for me.  Read more »

Another Benefit of Raising Kids in Non-native Language

In the beginning I often felt quite self-conscious speaking French in public, with my English accent and errors. But people have always been lovely--English people often try and say a few minority language (ml) words to the children, such as 'Bonjour' and 'Au revoir,' while French people are often curious about my decision to speak non-native French, particularly if they haven't spoken French with their own children! And an unforeseen benefit is that I feel less exposed when it comes to disciplining Schmoo in public! Schmoo sometimes teaches me new words now--a few days ago she kept referring to her pot of bubble mixture as a 'flacon,' a word I don't know and hadn't taught her.  Read more »

Reinforcing the Minority Language

Early on, I read quite a bit about language acquisition and discovered that children need interactive language exposure in order to learn a language. This means that sitting your child in front of the television to watch minority language (ml) programs alone will not teach them that language. Your child needs to be highly motivated to actually use the language in order to learn it, which is only possible if they are brought into contact with people who speak it and who they want or need to communicate with.  Read more »

Myths of Multilingual Families

In some families, children become bilingual. When a child interacts with one or more caretakers in a language on a regular basis, he or she learns to use that language. The key to learning languages in the home—whether one, two, or even more—is interaction. Interaction involves speaking and listening. In many intercultural families, however, children do not become bilingual.  Read more »

Adventures in Raising Trilingual Kids

Welcome to my blog! I am bringing up my children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, to speak three languages: English, Twi and French. I started learning French at school (age 11) and loved it so much I ended up studying it to MA level (age 26). So after all those years of struggling to learn another language I wanted to give my kids the easy option! As my husband grew up in Ghana, he speaks fluent Twi, so it was easy to add this third language into the mix.  Read more »
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A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.

Why We Need to Read Multicultural Children's Books

Children need to see the world around them reflected in books.

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

I am just another "farang" or stranger until my son starts speaking fluent Thai

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

What you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.

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?

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

What's the best way to transmit the values we care about to our kids?

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Smarter, larger, better, healthier and more beautiful? A project that debunks stereotypes.

Dear White Officer, Please Don't Shoot

At what age does my darling black son begin to look like a threat to the world?

A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

A great pick for back to school season

My Daughter’s 10 Favorite Multicultural Books

Does your shelf have these kid favorites?

I was Diagnosed with Cancer at Age 37 while Abroad with Kids

Illness in a foreign country can be scary but it taught this mom a different meaning of family.

Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More

Win almost $300 in prizes from awesome globally-inspired children's products.

5 Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Healthy smoothies for summer your kids will like.

3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas

Beautiful children's stories from Nepal to Tibet

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Help Us Giveaway a Soccer Ball to Kids in Ethiopia!

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Tanabata Festival: July 7

A beautiful Japanese summer festival

Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

A simple homemade gift for kids

A Children's Book for Global Citizens: Everyone Prays

A celebration of faith around the world through simple text and rich illustrations.

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

What would you do? Your child won a place in the lottery, only problem is it's the wrong year!
For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that som...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered i...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
I live with my Czech in laws with my four children and my Czech is crap I try to learn but the baby doesn't sleep well I'm a constant zombie and the brain just doesn't work. Plus being tired makes m...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I am so glad I found this site. I am happy to see that I am not alone in experiencing 'family issues' after getting married. I am not from the West but I am married to a Canadian. I never truly unde...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] my most favourite article about breastfeeding called Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan by Ruth Kamnitzer. I have no doubt that Mongolians would find our social stigmas around [R...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] sources and reasons for the rules of these countries too, such as China, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Hungary (see above re “Titanic”).  Has anyone got s...
From International Baby Naming Laws–Are They a Good Thing?
[…] Source Inculture Parents […...
From Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)
If your nerves shat down your hormones , can you get pregnant by injecting a sperm in you to develop a baby . Please let me know...
From Baby-Making the Hindu Way
[…] Diwali Lantern from InCultureParent […...
From Diwali Craft: Make a Lantern
Another great African American children's book is "Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters" Book by Fredrick McKissack, Jr. and Patricia McKissack A great DVD is Santa and pe...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
[…] the father waits to speak Swahili to the child, the more risk he runs of her not ever learning it, which is true. The more he waits, the more risk he runs of her associating English with h...
From Why Your Bilingual Child Objects When You Switch Languages
This is really great! I wanted to do a book list for some of my friends and family about Kwanzaa. Thank you for this articl...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
This was interesting. My twin girls are 15 months, and although they are very verbal, we do not understand what they're saying. I'm American and their dad is French, and we live in France. I speak o...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/03/breastfeeding-around-the-world/#slide1 […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/02/breastfeeding-land-genghis-khan/ […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
[…]                 http://www.incultureparent.com/2014/07/why-african-toddlers-dont-have-tantrums/ […...
From Why African Toddlers Don’t Have Tantrums
[…] Any content provided on this blog is opinion based with selected information from various sources where indicated. Image: http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/01/imbolc-craft-st-brigids-cro...
From Imbolc Craft: St. Brigid’s Cross
Or you could have had a beautiful white baby with a man from your own culture. Not enough drama in tha...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
Crystal, thanks for sharing your experiences. It makes for a fascinating read! The link to the Siddha school you provided seems to be no longer working. Is the school still ther...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
[…] but which colour to choose? Biome has 25% off storewide till midnight tonight with the code BIOME25 why African babies don’t cry – an absolutely brilliant […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2014/06/6-childrens-books-to-celebrate-juneteenth/ […...
From 6 Children’s Books to Celebrate Juneteenth
I love this website and its insight on raising global citizens. I agree with what you say about no one English accent being correct - the thing that I was surprised by in this article was the fact ...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Why are Germans thinking about being rude? Do You All want to be Just A Coarse-Face? If all of you deviate from Universalism, there is much more to fear from the world than you expec...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] 3 Children’s Books from the Himalayas at InCultureParent […...
From 3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas
[…] How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race […...
From How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race
[…] don’t Need a Room. The baby room is certainly a modern invention. For much of history, and in other parts of the world today, babies […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Addressing the "grown up time" someone mentioned earlier...am sure that many people address this differently with what works for their family. However, suffice it to say that when the baby's in your...
From The African Guide to Co-sleeping
[…] were taught to whistle – but other people use other sounds. Most people seem to shush or to hiss. It doesn’t really matter. You could probably sing “La Cucaracha” and it would stil...
From Thanks to Chinese Potty-Training We’re Done With Diapers at 19 Months
Thanks for the article! I tried to put my newborn twins into a bassinet at birth, but there was just no way! No way to breastfeed and no way to survive the nights with two of them waking me up all...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Olga, witam!:) what a fresh approach this has given me on such a day like today! I'm Half polish being polish from my mothers side and as this is the language that I ident myself with, I decided to ...
From 10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children
[…] the talk at school. You can see an example of bilingual twins’ language use in this article from InCultureParent and this Q&A on Twins List. Also, as you say, convincing them to spea...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
Thank you SOO much for sharing!!!! I have breastfed my twins for 3 years now and still going. It has been a struggle, especially with family members like my mother in law who wished I weaned at 2 m...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep