Category Archives: Families

15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language Learning

15+ Games to Engage Kids in Language LearningThis article by Breeana D. from takelessons.com is full of fun games that will get kids excited about learning a new language. Although it focuses on Spanish, these ideas can easily be adapted to any language!

Learning Spanish can be difficult, especially for kids. From complex grammar rules to difficult vocabulary words, there are a lot of tough concepts kids must learn.

While difficult, learning Spanish is well worth the time and effort. After all, learning a second language greatly increases a child’s cognitive abilities, improves his or her memory, and broadens his or her horizons. So how can you help your child stay motivated while learning Spanish? It’s easy; make learning fun by incorporating exciting games into their practice routine.

At TakeLessons, we’ve come up with 15+ fun and educational Spanish games specifically for kids. These games will help your child learn important concepts, while keeping him or her fully engaged throughout the learning process.

Diego Dice

This game is the Spanish-version of the popular children’s game, Simon Says. Choose a student to take on the role of “Diego” and have him or her issue commands to the group in Spanish. For example, “Diego dice, toca la cabeza.” (Diego says, touch your head).  Players are eliminated from the game by either failing to follow an instruction or following an instruction that doesn’t include the phrase “Diego dice.” This is a great game for teaching kids common commands in Spanish.

Charades

This game is the Spanish-version of another favorite game, Charades. First, take a set of index cards and write down different Spanish verbs; for example, bailar (to dance), correr (to run), and comer (to eat). Then, have a child choose a card from the pile and act it out in front of the group. The group will try their best to guess the Spanish verb the child is acting out. This game is a win-win for everyone, as it helps the “actor” and the “viewers” memorize common verbs.

Who Am I?

A fan favorite, Who Am I? is a great game for learning conversational speak. First, write out a list of famous individuals on a set of index cards; for example, Taylor Swift, David Beckham, Pablo Picasso, etc. Have the child choose a card from the pile and tape it onto his or her back. Then, have the child take turns asking questions in Spanish about who she or he is; for example, “Am I male or female?” “Am I old or young?” After generating enough clues, the child will guess who he or she is.

For the full list of 15+ Spanish games, click here.

Using games to reinforce important language concepts is a great way to keep kids engaged. Next time it’s time to practice, try playing any one of these games with your child.

This article originally appeared on TakeLessons.com, an online marketplace that connects thousands of teachers and students for local and live online language lessons. 

Holidays & Food: Celebrate with a Discount on Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual childrens books food themed discount holidays

Think of any holiday celebrated in any part of the world, and there is sure to be at least one traditional dish associated with it. Thanksgiving turkey, curry on Boxing Day, or rice cakes for Chinese New Year… Food is the cornerstone of any celebration.

In an article that explores the relationship between food and culture, writer Amy S. Choi says, “Food feeds the soul. To the extent that we all eat food, and we all have souls, food is the single great unifier across cultures.” She says that to understand a culture’s food is to know the story of their identity, survival, status, pleasure and community.

Another article on parents.com delves into the oftentimes surprising history behind many traditional holiday dishes, like Christmas fruit cake and Hanukkah latkes. Did you know sweets are eaten during Diwali to symbolize the defeat of evil and the triumph of goodness and light?

To get your classroom and family talking about their favorite holiday dishes, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on these fun, food-themed bilingual children’s books:

Yum Let's Eat! Bilingual children's bookYum! Let’s Eat! – Meet children from around the world and explore their foods and eating traditions. This story explores the rich diversity of children’s lives and develops a worldwide perspective.

Grandma's Saturday Soup - bilingual children's bookGrandma’s Saturday Soup – Every day something reminds Mimi of Grandma’s special Saturday Soup and the tales her grandma tells. Delightful descriptions of Jamaica, accompanied by vivid illustrations, will make us all wish that we had a grandma like this!

Buri and the Morrow - bilingual children's bookBuri and the Marrow – In this famous Bengali story, an old woman travels through the forest to meet her daughter. On her way she meets a fox, a tiger and a lion, and she must come up with a plan to outwit them.

Alice and Marek's Christmas - bilingual children's bookAlice & Marek’s Christmas – It’s Christmas Eve and everyone is getting ready. This story explores the different ways people celebrate  around the world. There are recipes and activities in this beautifully illustrated book that takes us to the heart of Christmas in Poland.

Deepak's Diwali - bilingual children's bookDeepak’s Diwali –  This warm contemporary story is interwoven with beautifully illustrated images from Hindu mythology. The book is packed with recipes and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Samira's Eid - bilingual children's bookSamira’s Eid – The first sighting of the new moon starts a day of celebration for Samira and her family. The Ramadan fast is over and now it is time for prayers and presents. A surprise visitor brings a mysterious present and has an unusual story to tell. Great for teaching children about Islamic holidays and culture.

Li's Chinese New Year - bilingual children's bookLi’s Chinese New Year – It’s nearly the New Year and Li can’t figure out what animal he’s going to be in the special school assembly. Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? Find each of the 12 zodiac animals on your way through the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the festival at the back of the book.

The Giant Turnip - bilingual children's bookThe Giant Turnip – This traditional story is set in an inner-city school where the children have grown an enormous turnip! How can they pull it out? They all try together but the turnip will not budge. Who will save the day?

limasredhotchilliLima’s Red Hot Chilli – Take one hungry little girl, six different tempting foods and one shiny, delicious red hot chilli. One big bite results in a spectacular display of fireworks. Mom, Dad, Aunt and Grandad all come to help, but Lima’s mouth is still too hot. Who can rescue her?

Just enter code FOOD15 during checkout to receive 10% off these fun, holiday food-themed titles, now through December 31, 2015.

5 Ways to a Bilingual/ Multicultural Holiday Season

diwali multicultural bilingual holiday

If you feel like the school year is speeding by, you’re right: the holiday season is already upon us. There’s still plenty of time to work on that Christmas list. You may already be planning your big meal for Thanksgiving Day. Or, you may find yourself wondering how to get through another stressful holiday season with your sanity intact.

If you find this year’s holiday spirit is more ho-hum than ho-ho-ho, try adding a multicultural and bilingual twist to your classroom and family festivities. It will liven things up and refresh that holiday spirit.

Highlight the Spirit of Giving Thanks

hands holding words give thanks

The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, which makes this is the perfect time of year to focus on gratitude, appreciation and thankfulness, both at home and in the classroom. In bilingual classrooms, the topic of thankfulness can involve language learning (learning to say “thanks” in many languages) and also cultural sharing (how different cultures show their appreciation).

Learn About a New Holiday

Ramadan decorations multicultural bilingual

When you learn about holidays from other cultures, you’re learning about new religions, customs and languages.  Kids also gain an appreciation for diversity when they see how other holidays are different and similar to the ones they celebrate.

Language Lizard offers a free, standards-based lesson plan that explores traditions from many different religions and cultures, including Christianity, Hindu, Islam, Judaism, and Sikhism. Kids will also love stories about children celebrating Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights,” and Chinese New Year.

Arts & Crafts from Around the World

mid-autumn festival lantern cultural diversity

Bring cultural diversity and international flavor to your holidays with these five easy kid crafts. The best part? They can all be made with materials you probably already have. Plus, they involve minimal mess, and are simple enough for most kids to complete on their own.

Celebrate with Holiday Foods from Other Cultures

International diversity foods pizza heart shape

Your little ones are home for winter break, perhaps stuck inside because of bad weather. Or you have out-of-town guests visiting, and many meals to plan. Don’t let holiday stress get you down! Take a culinary journey by trying out these winter holiday dishes from all around the world. Use it as a creative potluck theme, and everyone can join in the fun!

Engaging Bilingual Students

kid reading bilingual book

It’s easier to get kids to engage in conversation when they are inspired and excited about the topic. This is particularly true for bilingual students, especially if they are still mastering the English language. What better time to get your bilingual students talking with you and one another? Students’ minds are full of happy memories from holidays past, and they will want to share how their families celebrate at home. Check out our tips to help your students direct their holiday excitement into fun language opportunities.

 

“Diwali” by siddhu2020 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/5LYfYm

Can Video Games Help Children Acquire English Language Skills?

by guest blogger Ed Gould

There is plenty of choice when it comes to digital media that can help children learn English when it is not the first language of their home. These days, it is easy to download cartoons and children’s drama shows to a tablet or laptop PC, which can help kids focus on English without even really thinking about it. Digital media of all kinds can help to improve pronunciation, vocabulary and confidence in using English sentence construction, but what about video games?

Unlike other forms of digital media, video games and apps are sometimes designed with a worldwide market in mind, and therefore have little value for language skill acquisition. Games that center on the visuals tend to have little by way of spoken or written English that will help children at all. Nevertheless, there are plenty of games out there that can help children focus on their burgeoning language skills. Some are ideal for occupying children in a gaming environment that will allow them some good quality screen time and – crucially – be both entertaining and help to boost language skills at the same time.  Many of these sorts of games focus on the ability of kids to read individual words and recognize them, but others provide the opportunity for more advanced skill acquisition, such as improving English grammar and spelling.

Of course, educational games will always have their place when it comes to learning English, but what about other sorts of video games that provide children with an experience that has more to do with entertainment than learning? As mentioned, there are plenty of games that provide little in this regard. However, there are some well known brands that provide good content within their games, which gets kids reading and contextualizing English from the ensuing game play. Ideally, learning English from such video games will be something that happens naturally, in tandem with the game, and not be the object of the game itself.

According to a Danish study, many children use video gaming as one of their primary tools in learning English. Led by Birgitte Holm Sørensen, a professor at Aalborg University’s Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy, the research found that the competitive nature of many games was beneficial to the learning process. She said that in traditional Nordic pedagogy, teachers tend to avoid the competitive element found in games for fear of exposing any vulnerabilities in kids. “But it turns out that the children really like the competition and challenges inherent in games,” she said.

 

This article was contributed by Ed Gould, who is a writer and father living in Hertfordshire, UK. He lists his interests as rugby, gaming and guitars, but not necessarily in that order.

Language Lizard’s Biggest Giveaway Ever! $300 in Bilingual Children’s Books

bilingual children's books and language lizardOctober is full of bilingual reading fun! In honor of two exciting events – Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month AND Language Lizard’s 10th Anniversary – we are proud to announce our biggest giveaway ever!

Enter to Win $300 in Bilingual Books from Language Lizard!

Language Lizard will send one lucky winner a $300 Language Lizard gift certificate that can be used to purchase any of the bilingual / multilingual products available on the Language Lizard website.

Books are available in English with Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English-only, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Karen (Sgaw), Korean, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Malayalam, Nepali, Norwegian, Panjabi, Pashto, Patois, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Scottish Gaelic, Shona, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Twi, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yoruba.

How to Enter – Bilingual Book Giveaway

To enter the contest, simply fill out and submit the Language Lizard Giveaway Entry Form before October 31, 2015.  Every entry form submission counts as one entry “point.”  Individuals can receive additional entry points by taking the following actions (one point per action taken):

The maximum number of entry points one can receive is 5 (one for the form submission and one each for the actions above). 

Enter the giveaway, and find the full terms and conditions, here.
Browse all the language learning materials the winner can choose from by visiting www.LanguageLizard.com.

October is Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month

children reading bilingual bookCelebrating the Bilingual Child Month was established in 2006 to recognize the many children that speak two or more languages and understand multiple cultures. This is a time to recognize their achievements, encourage continued language learning, and explore the differences and similarities of diverse languages and cultures with all students. These efforts will help connect our communities and improve global relations.

For more information about Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month and tips on how you can celebrate this special month in your classroom, check out our blog post.

Good luck and happy reading!

Back-to-School Discounts – Bring Dual Language Books to Your Students!

 

children's bilingual dual language booksWe hope your school year is off to a great start! To help you bring dual language books to your classroom and home, Language Lizard is offering a special Back-to-School Discount!

Until September 30, 2015, choose from one of the following:

Get $10 off your order of $100! Just use coupon code BackToSchool2015 during checkout.

Or choose 5% off our popular bilingual book sets! Always a great value, our bilingual book sets are offered in 30 languages and include many of our most popular titles. Use coupon code BookSet2015 during checkout.

Happy reading!

Great Giveaways for Back-to-School

back to school giveaway from iTeachBilinguals

If you’re getting ready to head back to school, we have two great giveaways for you!

First, you should check out iTeachBilinguals and their Back-to-School Giveaway. You can enter now through August 8, 2015 by following this link. The grand prize winner will receive an iPad Air 2! A winner will be announced August 9, 2015.

Another great giveaway for language learners is Language Lizard’s Cookbook & Bilingual Book Giveaway. You can win a copy of Room to Read’s Recipes Worth Reading cookbook AND a surprise bilingual book in English and the language of your choice! It’s easy to enter, no purchase necessary. A winner will be chosen September 16, 2015.

Happy reading, and we hope you enjoy the rest of your summer!

Cookbook & Bilingual Book Giveaway

Cover of Room to Read cookbook "Recipes Worth Reading"Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh food, try new recipes, and connect with family by sharing both a good meal and a good book. Language Lizard is making that easier with our “COOK & READ” Giveaway where you can win a cookbook and a bilingual book.

Room to Read

Room to Read is an organization that “envision[s] a world in which all children can pursue a quality education, reach their full potential and contribute to their community and the world.” Our friends at the Central NJ Chapter of Room to Read have created a delightful cookbook, Recipes Worth Reading, with 150 recipes from around the world. Each chapter represents a country Room to Read operates in. There are sections with Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Eating Light, Allergen Free, One Pot Dishes, Desserts and more! Best of all, 100% of proceeds from the cookbook benefit Room to Read programs supporting literacy and gender equality in education in Africa and Asia. You can order the cookbook through the Barnes & Noble website. To learn more about Room to Read, visit www.roomtoread.org.

How to Enter:

COOK & READ Giveaway: You can win a copy of Room to Read’s Recipes Worth Reading cookbook AND a surprise bilingual book in English and the language of your choice. Entering the giveaway is simple:
1) No purchase necessary: Simply fill out our contact form and write “COOK & READ” in the comments section, along with your choice of language from one of Language Lizard’s 40+ languages.
2) If you are making a purchase, you can write “COOK & READ” and your language choice in the order notes section, and you will also be entered.
Bonus entry point: Tell us you posted about this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter or your Blog, and you will get one extra entry point!
Language Lizard will accept entries until September 15, 2015, and three winners will be selected using Random.org’s number generator.  One entry per person please.

The Last Book My Dad Read to Me

bilingual father reaching for book

by guest blogger Sue Kwon

For my husband, our two young girls and myself, reading a bedtime story together is a much-loved nightly ritual. On our busiest days, it’s our first opportunity to sit down with a single purpose and no distractions. My husband is the official story reader in our family. He has patience (that I lack) with even the longest, most repetitive children’s books. The girls sit still, listen with rapt attention, and gaze up at him with eyes full of love and admiration.

In our household, we all speak and read in English. It’s a commonality that’s easy to take for granted. It means story time is an experience shared equally by everyone. The family I grew up in was different: my parents and older sisters were Korean immigrants, and I was born in the US. They all spoke and read in Korean, and I almost entirely in English. My father and I had a nightly story time routine too, and I remember very clearly the last book he ever read to me.

My father was born and raised in a small town in South Korea. He served a mandatory time in the military, married young, and eventually emigrated to the US with his wife and young daughters, knowing no English whatsoever. Once here, he picked up the language quickly while working at a doughnut shop, where he biked to and fro each day. One night at work, he was held up at gunpoint, and he decided to make a big change: He opened a business installing windows, a skill he had learned as a young man in Korea. We were lucky – the new business grew fast. But that meant he worked very long, stressful hours. By the time he got home at night, he was so exhausted he only paused briefly to eat dinner before going to bed.

I got into the habit of waiting by the front door as soon as my mother started making his dinner. That way, as soon as he walked in, I could pounce on him with a book in hand. Although my father had very impressive verbal English skills, his reading skills were very basic. Still, he would sit and read to me, and it was the few precious moments we spent together each day.

One evening, when I was 5, he came home from work and we sat down right in the entryway, just like always. He opened the book and read the first line: “We like worms!” he said, his English heavily accented. “Not worms, Daddy!” I interrupted. “It says ‘rhymes!’ Why would they like worms?” I doubled over with laughter. I found it hilarious that my dad, the most grown-up person I knew, someone I thought was invincible, didn’t know the word “rhymes.” What was even funnier to me was the fact that we had read that book a hundred times before, and I had thought all along it was a story about worms. I laughed so hard, I didn’t immediately realize that he wasn’t laughing with me. The emotion on his face was so clear, I knew without a doubt I had embarrassed him. It must have been humiliating to be corrected and laughed at by his preschooler. He handed me the book, shrugged, and said it looked like I didn’t need his help anymore.

We never attempted story time after that. Partly because of my father’s embarrassment, but also because I had lost respect for him. I naively thought that if I could read better than he could, I must be smarter than him. Who knows, maybe on some level he thought the same thing. It didn’t occur to me then that his ability to read in English was not a true measure of his intelligence. We never tried reading a book in Korean. I think if we had, I would’ve realized right away how silly my assumption was.

It wasn’t until I was grown with kids of my own, years after his passing, that I realized the enormity of my father’s life. The amount of bravery it must have taken for him to leave his home country. The level of intelligence it must have taken to pick up a new language, and then grow a successful business from scratch. My dad came from such humble beginnings, but managed to achieve so much in his life.

Thirty years after that last story, and 10 years after his passing, I often think about all the knowledge, experience and wisdom my dad must have carried with him. I wish I had given him a chance to hand it down to me. Because we didn’t share a written language, and had no means to bridge that gap, we missed out on a lifetime of knowing each other.

Tonight, as I sat with my husband while he read to the girls, I thought about how lucky we are. Lucky to be able to share bedtime stories, but also lucky to live in a time and place where foreign language is no longer seen as a detriment, but a great asset. Parents don’t have to give up their home language for fear of hindering their kids’ development. Languages can mix, intermingle and live in harmony in the same household. Parents and kids can meet somewhere in the middle, and share bedtime stories that lead to life stories that lead to a lifetime of family togetherness.

Do you have more than one language in your home? Tell us your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.

“No substitute” by Patrick Feller via Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6jEJFb

Why Your Children Should Learn a Less Commonly Taught Language

children reading foreign language books

by guest blogger Susan Cazenavette Herrick Siu

More than 300 distinct languages other than English are now spoken in the United States. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, those with the most native speakers in this country are Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, French, Vietnamese, German, and Korean (all with numbers of speakers in the millions), followed by Russian, Arabic, and Italian.

Other languages with large numbers of speakers (in no particular order) include Portuguese, French Creole, Yiddish, Greek, Polish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Navajo, Laotian, Thai, Hmong, Hindi, Urdu, and Serbo-Croatian.

The most commonly taught languages are Spanish, French, and German, which do happen to be among the top ten most commonly spoken languages in the U.S, but also all happen to be Indo-European languages closely related to English. All of the world’s other languages are classified as “less commonly taught.”

Many people decide to learn a language (or have their children learn a language) because of the number of people who speak that language (whether in the U.S. or abroad). Yet there are many good reasons why you or your child should consider learning a less commonly taught language.

To Get to Know Their Family History

Many North Americans, even if they no longer speak a language other than English, Spanish, French, or German at home, have ancestors who did. Did you perhaps have a Native American great-grandfather or a Ukrainian immigrant grandmother, or are you descended from African slaves who spoke Mende, Fula, or another West African language? Or perhaps your child’s connection to a less commonly taught language is even closer, as for my niece Sophia, who is learning Georgian in order to communicate with her grandmother and cousins in the Republic of Georgia and in the US.

To Read or Do Research in Another Language

Do your high school aged children want to read the Bible, the Torah, or the Buddhist scriptures in their original languages? Do they love modern Egyptian novels, Japanese comic books, or Chinese Taoist poetry? Do they want to attend school abroad? Do they plan to study history, art history, international studies, computers, languages, comparative literature, translation, or linguistics in college? If so, they might want to start studying a less commonly taught language now.

To Make New Friends in the Community

If you live in a community where less commonly taught languages are spoken, learning one of those languages may help your children make new friends and connections within the community. This may be true even if you don’t live in a big city. In Lewiston, Maine, where I live, for example, there is a large Somali community and knowing the Somali language would be helpful to anyone attending the public schools, as well as to anyone involved with community organizations, from the library to the farmer’s market to the hospitals. (See Newsweek‘s very interesting article, “The Refugees Who Saved Lewiston.”)

To Travel and Make New Friends Abroad

If your family is going on vacation to Ireland, your children would benefit from learning some Irish Gaelic. If your child plans to go on an exchange program to India, she might want to learn some Hindi, Gujarati, or one of India’s several hundred other mother tongues. If you or your spouse will be stationed in Kuwait or South Korea in the near future, your children could benefit greatly from learning to speak Arabic or Korean.

To Help Save a Dying Language from Extinction

More than half of the world’s approximately 6000 languages are now considered “endangered,” which means that there will be no native speakers left a hundred years from now. Many have only one, ten, or a few hundred speakers as I write; others have become extinct in the recent past. Some communities are making efforts to save their endangered languages from extinction by teaching them to both children and adults. Linguists are preserving others on paper or in audio and video formats so that these languages can be studied even when they are no longer spoken. For more information, please visit the Endangered Language Alliance website.

I wish you and your children the best of luck as you embark on your language learning adventures.

Susan C. H. Siu, a writer, linguist, and mother of three, is Editor-in-Chief of World’s Edge Books & Publishing, a small publishing company specializing in foreign-language titles. Susan speaks French and some Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Italian. She co-authored a book, Georgian Language for Parents and Children, Book I, with Darby Lezhava and Marico Maskharashvili. She also maintains the LinguistKids blog (http://linguistkids.blogspot.com) with the aim of providing resources to parents, educators, and librarians who want to help children learn languages, understand cultures, and become citizens of the world.

What less commonly taught language do you speak with your family? Comment below and tell us why!

 

This article originally appeared in Language Lizard’s Culture Connection Newsletter.  To receive this newsletter, please sign up here.