Category Archives: Families

Traditions Around the World: Celebrate Autumn

Display for Día de los Muertos (or Day of the Dead in English), a holiday celebrated mainly in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage living in the United States and Canada. The holiday is dedicated to the remembrance of friends and relatives who have died.

The air is becoming cold and crisp. Leaves are turning a vibrant gold, red and purple. Pumpkins dot the countryside and hay rides are a dime a dozen. Autumn is in full swing.

In addition to the changing of the seasons and the euphoric smell of hot apple cider, this time of year brings with it a wealth of cultural traditions from around the world. This has always been a time to be thankful for the summer bounty that was produced and to start preparing for the coming of the winter chill and darkness.

This time of year is also for remembering those who are no longer with us – to honor our family, friends and loved ones who have passed on. Celebrations and festivals centered around the dead and departed can be found in cultures all over the world, each with their own set of traditions.

Given that this time of year is bursting with global festivals and celebrations, it is a perfect opportunity to help your children and students appreciate the different ways that communities celebrate around the world. You can encourage children to share their own family’s traditions as well as introduce celebrations that are new to them. Continue reading Traditions Around the World: Celebrate Autumn

Bilingual Book Giveaway: The WINNERS!

THANK YOU to everyone who participated in Language Lizard’s $250 Bilingual Book Giveaway!  We were impressed with the number of entrants and very inspired by the feedback we received from participants!  You are all working so hard to improve literacy and language skills among dual language learners.

We also appreciate all your efforts to teach children about other cultures and support a greater understanding of diversity and our multicultural community.  If you would like to read some of the comments of our entrants, simply click here.

We know there is a need to offer additional grants and giveaways to support the dual language learners and educators that we serve.  And we would like to do more!  Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas for future giveaways or grants (e.g., one larger prize or more smaller prizes?).  We appreciate your feedback and you can contact us at any time.

Continue reading Bilingual Book Giveaway: The WINNERS!

6 Reasons Why Children Should Learn Languages As Early As Possible

The research extolling the benefits of bilingualism abounds in today’s day and age. Bilingualism helps us better understand the structure of languages and can give us an in-depth view of another culture.  Bilingualism can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms. It can help people find jobs here in the United States and in other countries.

Although most of us in the United States don’t start learning additional languages until middle school or college, for some time now studies have shown that this is not the ideal time to begin learning new languages. In fact, recent studies are showing that the best time to pick up a new language is when we are very young. Rather than causing linguistic disorders or difficulties (as was once believed), being exposed to additional languages from birth is actually the best time to start.

Does this mean that we can not learn languages when we are older? No! It just means that if we are trying to decide when to introduce a new language to our children, the earlier the better.

Here are 6 fantastic reasons why children should be introduced to languages as early as possible: Continue reading 6 Reasons Why Children Should Learn Languages As Early As Possible

Bilingual Children Benefit from Summer Foreign Language Programs

Whether bilingual children speak both of their languages well or are in the process of learning a second language, summer foreign language programs can be a great way to help them become more comfortable in their languages. Without the need to focus on daily schoolwork, summer provides a wonderful opportunity for bilingual children to experience a daily language bath without the pressure of assessment.

The key is to find a program that works well for your child. The first step is to get an idea of what a child’s strengthens and weaknesses are in the target language before beginning a search for a summer foreign language program. This will help in deciding which program might be the best fit. A child who is struggling with reading and writing would likely benefit most from a summer program that incorporates as much literacy as possible in fun and engaging ways. For a child who is having difficulties with pronunciation or general communication, a summer program that focuses on verbal elements would be preferable. The overall goal is to help a bilingual child feel more comfortable in the target language and to boost overall language confidence. Continue reading Bilingual Children Benefit from Summer Foreign Language Programs

Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children

Bilinguals around the world will tell you that they do not have the same degree of fluency in all of their languages. A language that is used primarily in academic situations may come across as stiff and stilted when used in less formal situations. Family issues are often more easily discussed in a home language. Depending on where we live when our first child is born, we may only know the vocabulary for baby items in one language and find the same discussions difficult when visiting family in our country of origin. The concept of a “balanced bilingual” is rarely a reality in the world of multilingualism.

Despite this, we very easily fall into the trap of believing that bilingual children are the exception to the rule. We have come to expect that they should have equal mastery of both of their languages. However, just as with adults, a child’s level of linguistic ability will differ depending on situation and language. For example, it may be difficult for a bilingual child to recount events in a home language that took place in the school language. Words, phrases and meanings used in a school setting are not necessarily used in the home language.  Continue reading Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children

Keep Literacy Alive for Bilingual Children During the Summer

Summer is such a wonderful time for children: playing with neighbors in the sprinkler, splashing with friends at the local pool, eating popsicles on the back porch. Summertime freedom is expansive and overwhelming.

The downside of summer for many teachers, especially those teaching English Language Learners (ELLs), is that they often worry that all of the hard work that their students put in during the school year will decline during the summer months. Without daily input of spoken and written language, a student often starts to forget what she has learned and ends up working hard to get back on track in the fall. However, this need not be the case.

There is no reason why literacy has to be put on hold during the summer months with bilingual children. In fact, summer is a perfect time to give home and school languages the undivided attention they deserve. Without the need to focus on homework and after school activities, bilingual children and parents can have a wonderful time with literacy. It doesn’t take a lot of work. It just demands a good set of resources to work with and the willingness to follow through. Continue reading Keep Literacy Alive for Bilingual Children During the Summer

10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children

Research continues to show that support for the home language is an essential element in supporting children’s academic skills. Parents who engage with their children in their home language through discussion, reading books out loud and in everyday activities help children to do better in school, even if the school language is different from the home language. This is in contrast to research many decades ago that encouraged parents to speak the community language at home with their children, believing this would strengthen their children’s academic language skills. We now know that this past research was flawed and that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Bilingual books are wonderful tools to help create a bridge between languages. They give teachers the opportunity to educate children in the school language, while at the same time they foster an appreciation for the home language. Bilingual books encourage parents to continue using their home language, knowing that it will benefit, not detract from, their children’s school language learning. Continue reading 10 Ways to Use Bilingual Books with Children

Expand a Child’s World: Involving bilingual families and English language learners in the classroom and at home.

According to the US Census Bureau, over 20% of the US population is of “foreign stock” – that is, they are either foreign-born or have at least one parent who was born in another country. In 2000, 47 million people in the United States spoke a non-English language at home, an increase of over 45% in just one decade. The number of native-born Americans with close ties to another country is expected to grow even more over the next few decades.

While these demographic changes present many challenges for educators, they also offer terrific opportunities to teach children about our world. Rather than trying to “Americanize” the ethnic community, we should make efforts to better involve English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students and bilingual families in the classroom by encouraging them to share their language and culture. Continue reading Expand a Child’s World: Involving bilingual families and English language learners in the classroom and at home.