Posts Tagged mainlanguage

Monday, July 15th, 2013

7 Benefits of Raising Bilingual Kids

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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 Immersion Travel Helped My Kids Progress in Spanish

During our trip to Mexico, my children took to Spanish like a fish to water.  Read more »

8 Tips for Encouraging Bilingualism in Different Personality Types

My girls are playing close by as I’m working on my laptop.  Read more »

What to Expect From Daycare in a Non-Native Language

Three years ago we moved to the Netherlands from the U.  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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »
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