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Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Cesar Chavez for Kindergartners

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This was daughter's homework book one day this week: Granted, both girls found the book a tad dull, as it is not always as fun reading historical accounts at that age as it is to read books where animals talk and unicorns make appearances, but I was glad they made an age appropriate book on such an important figure in U.S. history. The first two historical figures my older daughter has learned about in kindergarten so far are Dr. Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. I'd say that's a great start! So far, I am very pleased with the Berkeley public school curriculum!.  Read more »

The Benefits of Ayurvedic Cleansing

We have been at an Ayurvedic ashram in South India called Arogya Niketana for three weeks now.  Read more »

Around the World in One Semester

My family and I have embarked on our long awaited five-month trip around the world.  Read more »

Multiculturalism at Work in a Kindergarten Classroom

Last week I volunteered for a few hours in my daughter's kindergarten class in Berkeley, California.  Read more »

I Can’t Speak Business in Any Language

None of my languages are business compatible. This morning I was sitting on a train from Paris CDG airport into Paris. I was singing a silly song in my head ("et les meufs et les keufs dans le RER") and started thinking about cultural knowledge and blending in. Listening to the chatter around me, I suddenly realised that as French as I sometimes like to think I can be, there is a massive part of French culture that I can not blend into at all: business.  Read more »

Cooking 101: First Family Recipes

We all have our secret pepper sauce.   Ok, maybe not. I’m half French but when it comes to food, I am probably weighing in at closer to 3/4 French. Unlike my Trinidadian friend, I don’t have a secret family pepper sauce, but I do have my family’s vinaigrette!   I’ll never forget, standing on my tippy-toes, chin resting on the white tile counter, while my mother measured out the ingredients into the deep bottom green Pyrex salad bowl, explaining to me the critical ratio of red wine vinegar to vegetable oil  Read more »

Empty Nest in the Emirates

For the last four years our family has been going through a well-rehearsed but unpleasant ritual on a regular basis: the leaving of college-age children. They leave after summer break, again in the winter then spring, and after Eid holidays. They depart for other countries to attend universities, internships and summer courses.   How excited I was when our first child got accepted into college! After months of research, accumulation of certificates and often emotional negotiations, the choice was made.  Read more »

Language Dilemmas in a Multilingual Family

Language has always fascinated me. Getting to know a culture and its complex, subliminal messages…the soul of a people comes only with an understanding of that society’s language. That is why I chose Foreign Languages as my major in college and studied German for a year and half, dreaming of a career as a United Nations translator/interpreter.  Read more »

Why Everything is Done Properly in Germany

I grew up in Germany, where according to English folklore, everything is done properly. As always, there's a bit of truth behind that and now that I live in the U.K., I find that truth in places I did not expect, for example insurance sales calls. I have taken a lot of insurance company sales calls lately because two of our short-term insurances ran out—the one for the car we recently bought and the one for our fridge freezer we purchased a year ago.  Read more »

Behind Germany’s Ban on Circumcision

The circumcision “ban” that happened in Germany this past week has stirred up a lot of bad feelings and accusations. A court in Cologne settled the case of whether a doctor was right or wrong circumcising a little boy. See here, here or here. The interesting part is that a lot of newspapers use the word "ban" in their headlines. I know, of course, that publishers like an extreme headline.  Read more »

Bilingual Writers and Colonialism

It's funny how things go sometimes. After reading Francois Grosjean's recent article about Cherishing the Multilingual Heart, I started looking for authors that are multilingual. I have to admit that I didn't get very far, but I didn't have to: Francois Grosjean looked as well and he found quite a few amazing bilingual writers. It's a compelling list, full of names that are bound to make any multilingual proud, whether they are writing or not.  Read more »

Putting Down Roots and Buying Real Estate as an Expat

For an expat family (or for this expat family, anyway) putting down roots somewhere can be difficult. The possibility of moving on is always present. The culture and language are not our own, we don’t have much family nearby and the current world economic situation means that jobs are more likely to change than not. So how do you settle down? Put down roots? Feel connected? In our case, the beginning of an answer to that question lies in buying real estate.  Read more »

The Power of Culture in Raising Multilingual Kids

TV and Other Cultural References Through use of technology it is fairly easy for us to expose our children to all kinds of languages and cultures. Need proof? My daughters recognise the title song of a TV show called "Wickie und die starken Männer" even though we live in the UK where it will never air. I used to watch "Wickie" ("Vicky the Viking") when I was a kid.  Read more »

When Relocation Adds a New Language to the Mix

I am now faced with another move 18 months into our Asian adventure, having not yet finished arguing with myself over how much to encourage (hyper-parent) my kids to learn Mandarin on top of our three family languages. We are relocating to Bangkok. This opens up a whole world of new possibilities. First and foremost, it means I will be able to afford daily massages, as we will no longer be living hand to mouth.  Read more »

10 Tips on Living with Chronic Illness

As I write this piece I am sitting in a health clinic that my daughter and I attend. When we were here yesterday, a woman who suffers from the same condition remarked how badly her mother felt at having passed it on to her (our condition is genetic). Before I had a moment to think, I blurted out that I didn’t feel badly. Don’t get me wrong--I hate seeing my daughter in pain and like any mother I would love to remove the word "suffering" from my child’s life.  Read more »

We Are Not So Different: Why China’s Recent Hit and Run Tragedy Shouldn’t Shock You

Disclaimer: Viewers beware. Link to article also features graphic video of incident. You can stop the video in order to read article if needed. A few days ago, a toddler was struck by two vehicles on a road in China and eventually died because no one stopped to help. My initial reaction? Total shock followed by immediate outrage coupled with an attitude of “this would never happen where I come from.  Read more »

Are Germans Really Rude?

Disclaimer: bloggers opinions are entirely their own and are independent of InCultureParent. Being a German myself, I feel I'm entitled to say this: Germans are rude. In the UK, being rude is a really bad thing. I wonder where it ranks on the "don't do!" scale, but I guess it's up there with stealing from the handicapped or old women, or lying to a child.  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 »

Our Trilingual Family Origins

A while back someone asked me where I am from. I explained that I am half French and half American to which they responded, “Oh, so you’re Canadian!” If only it were so easy. Their response got me thinking about identity, culture and one’s sense of self and belonging. Growing up in New York with a Brooklyn-born father and a French mother from Normandy, I never really felt American.  Read more »

Which Language First When Raising Trilingual Kids?

At almost 19 months old, Ramzi is just starting to really get talking. Matt was an early talker, and at the same age had quite a large vocabulary and was putting little sentences together. It’s been really interesting to watch the differences and similarities in how the two acquire and use their three languages. If I remember correctly (and oh, how I wish I had kept better track of these things!) Matt had about an equal number of words in English and Arabic at 19 months.  Read more »

The All-or-Nothing Family: A Lament

The hardest thing for me about our unique little family is our unique extended family situation. One side of the family is in the U.S., the other side of the family in Lebanon, and we, like shipwrecked sailors, somewhere in the middle, impossibly far from both. Ok, yes, there’s email. Skype. Facebook. Planes and international travel. Thank goodness! Without all that our lives would be truly sad and lonely ones.  Read more »

Expat Life Explained

I was obviously joking when I told you not to live abroad. Living abroad is probably the second most amazing thing I have done in my life. Right after raising children. But while we're talking about the problematic sides of multilingual living, I might as well mention one big problem all expats will face at some point.   Family & Home Away From Home   So you're living abroad.  Read more »

Embarrassing Multilingual Moments

The other day a builder was at our house to do something in the kitchen. He told me how he thought it was funny that just when he knocked on the door, a Lufthansa aircraft went overhead, because garble blah garble blah blah.   I tried not to do the completely blank stare, but I had not understood a single word of his explanation.   Now, about an hour later, I think he was trying some German and I felt a bit sorry because it failed utterly.  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 »

What’s for Dinner?

They say the last holdout of cultural assimilation can be found in the refrigerator, or the kitchen cupboards. Food is such a primal thing—we are what we eat. I was thinking about this yesterday, watching Matthew eat his snack: peanut butter and jelly on Lebanese bread. A French friend who was visiting laughed and made a comment about the marriage of two cultures.  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 »

Raising Kids in Non-Native Language Part II

I have recently been thinking about how long I can carry on talking to my children in a language that is not my mother tongue. There are many, many occasions when it is difficult and I'm sure I lose my cool with the kids more often because of the constant pressure I put on myself to stick to French, even when it would be a hundred times easier to think what to say in English.  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 »

The Expat’s Dilemma

Eight days before Halloween, on a misty Saturday afternoon, I had what the French call "un grand moment de solitude." I was in a nearly-deserted park, one designed on a truly grandiose scale. Matthew, age four, was standing next to me, dressed in a raincoat and boots, with a king's cape. A golden crown was on his head and a foam sword was tucked into his improvised kingly belt made out of a playsilk that had been languishing, unused, for years in his toy box.  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 »

Life in the Middle

It's only from a distance of months or years or decades that you can look back and see how one apparently small decision nudged the course of your life in a totally unexpected direction. I don't really know why I decided to take French my sophomore year in high school. I grew up on the Mexican border; it would have been much more practical to take Spanish.  Read more »

No Common Mother Tongue

A lot of resources on the web talk about the two most successful approaches in multilingual parenting: "One Parent One Language" (OPOL) and "Minority Language at Home" (MLAH or ML@H). Both have advantages and both are tailored to pretty specific situations. MLAH works best in an expat environment for example, where both parents speak a common language but live abroad with their children.  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 »

Four Generations of Multicultural

I am fourth generation multicultural. On my father's side of the family there is a long history of people marrying outside of their tribe. Africa is so often referred to as "Africa" that the rich diversity of tribes and cultures within it can be overlooked. Tribes can be as different in their language, culture and customs as an English person can be from a Hungarian.  Read more »
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Hi Kim! I am so glad that this article was useful for you and made you feel validated as a parent. It's not often in this judgmental world of parenting we get that, right?! That's the main reason...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
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From No Kids Allowed: How Kenyan Weddings are Changing
Your mother in-law seems somewhat reasonable. Many Chinese Mother In-laws are not. In their scenario, they would be number 1 to the child and you would be number two. Many want to have a bond closer...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
I think Konstantina is actually responding to what is probably more familiar/praised/or preferred socially as well. I was an English teacher in Poland with a distinct accent. I struggled to get Engl...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Noor Kids' title "First Time Fasting" is another great rea...
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This article was shared in a community I run to connect globetrotting parents and everyone LOVED it. You should join us! We all relate to your experience. Many of us, including me, are in the same b...
From Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get
Please help: I Love my wife and my son. I am also EXTREMELY involved as a dad. I had to move to china ( in a tiny tiny town) where I am the only foreigner so that my wife can take over the family bu...
From How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband
Thanks for writing this!! My baby is 7 months, and I love having her sleep in my room. I don't mention it too often to people who have had kids because they seem a little judgy on it. So tonight I...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Honestly, it looks like the author married into a very backward and old fashioned family. Not stimulating children's curiosity, differences between boys and girls, and women slaving in the house, wh...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
[…] B. Breasts are for Babies? Perceptions of Breastfeeding in Italy. In Culture Parent June […...
From Breasts are for Babies? Perceptions of Breastfeeding in Italy
[…] that “beatings” are not actually spankings. There may be some truth to this because African tribal culture does not support “spanking”. This is confirmed by my own observation in S...
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[…] Pomlazka, a special handmade whipping stick, is an Easter tradition in the Czech Republic. Made out of pussywillow tigs, pomlazka is braided and then used by the village boys/men to “...
From What’s Easter without a Whipping?
Hi Hajar! I have 3 (almost 4, 10 weeks to go), we sleep on a king mattress with a single beside it, generally I sleep with the 3 on the King and my husband is on the single! (Babies are 6,4 and 1). ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Dear Arabic Dad, I disagree with Dr. Gupta's advice to drop Arabic if your children reject it. If you show your children that you are willing to speak English with them, they will not make the effor...
From How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad’s language is limited
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From What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal
What a wonderful review! If you're interested, we'd love for you to link up this post (or any other that features diverse kid lit) with the Diverse Children's Books Link-up! You can find it at ...
From 2 Children’s Books about Jamaica
This is exactly what I wanted to teach my students. They are learning about traditional games from around the world and I found this wonderful website to get full of useful information! It helped me...
From Five Fun Games from Around the World
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From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
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Hi Mira, Love your list. I would add the following titles: - Grandfather Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus - The Last Kappa of Old Japan, by Sunny Seiki - Fly Free, by Roseanne Thong -...
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[…] Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan | InCulture Parent […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Thank you for your post! I am also working through raising my child with a sense of religious community and ritual without strictly adhering to certain interpretations of religious faith. (And also ...
From Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family
I don't understand. I always thought that discipline was a major part of far East culture. (no racism intended of course). So I'm a little confused. Were the examples mentioned in the article consid...
From Cross-Cultural Differences in Discipline in Japan