October is here which means it is time to focus on celebrating bilingual children!
Although we know that childhood bilingualism is fabulous and fantastic, it feels as if many in this country haven’t yet come to realize this (let alone celebrate it).
When it comes to bilingual children, words such as worry and concern are often used: “We are concerned that the bilingual children in this country won’t learn English, especially if their parents speak to them in their heritage languages at home.” We hear the word funding all the time: “The funding for our dual language learning program is being cut – yet again!” And, of course, the words motivate, encourage and inspire are key when it comes to bilingual children: “What can I do to motivate bilingual families to keep using their language(s) at home?”
But what about the word celebrate? When was the last time we called out: “Let’s celebrate bilingualism!”
Continue reading Celebrate The Bilingual Child Month!
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
As schools open their doors each fall, students from all walks of life enter. Each has the opportunity to share with other students in the amazing experience of education. Wide-eyed and anxious, children slowly lower their guard and allow themselves to get comfortable with their teachers, fellow students and surroundings. The hope is that this experience will be filled with joy and comfort for each and every student.
For many English Language Learners (ELLs), school is a place of laughter, fun and expansion. Bit by bit language and cultural elements are learned, shared and savored. For other ELLs it is a place of fear, humiliation and intimidation.
Continue reading 8 Tips to Protect English Language Learners from Bullying in Your Classroom and School
Research abounds about the benefits of bilingualism: the more exposure to languages from as early an age as possible is the best. Being that our brains are still growing and developing rapidly when we are young, multiple languages can be assimilated as seamlessly as a single language at this age. Some research even goes as far as defining optimal age limits within which languages should be learned for greatest benefits, primarily for picking up a native-like accent. However, experts enthusiastically agree that it is never too late to learn a language and to learn it well.
Not all children will have the opportunity to be exposed to multiple languages in their childhood. They may not grow up with parents who speak another language at home. They may not have the benefits of attending a bilingual school. However, just because our children may not benefit from delayed Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that even a small amount of language exposure isn’t beneficial in a number of ways. In fact, the small amount of language and cultural exposure children receive in their early years may have the most lasting impact.
Continue reading Learning Foreign Languages: 5 Reasons Why a Small Amount of Language Exposure Is Beneficial
Back-to-school sales line the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores; children roam department stores picking out new fall clothes; and parents rush around with check-lists of items their children will need in the coming weeks and months.
Yes, the school year is about to begin.
For bilingual children, this time of year may feel a little daunting, especially for those who will be starting school for the very first time. In addition to all of the feelings that many students face on their first day of school (nervousness about what the teacher may be like, excitement about meeting new friends, concerns about what will be expected), bilingual children may have additional worries: Will they fit it? Will their English language skills be up to par. Will they understand everything that the teacher says? Will other students make fun of them because of their accent?
For teachers who are not used to working with bilingual children, there may be an assumption that to help these bilingual children feel comfortable in the classroom they will need extra attention. This may very well be the case, but if it is not done with care it can backfire. A bilingual child who already feels out of place may feel even more so if a teacher ends up giving him too much special attention. What a bilingual child may want the most is to have the chance to fit in and to be just like everyone else, not singled out due to special circumstances.
Continue reading 5 Tips to Help Bilingual Children Shine in the Classroom
Long before our children have learned to read they will have been exposed to the magic of books. Stories of pixies and trolls, adventure and suspense will have filled their minds with fascination and beauty. We can probably still remember moments snuggled on the sofa as our parents read out loud to us. Magical story lines blossomed before our eyes.
When we were young, so much depended on the way an adult read out loud to us: the eerie intonation of a goblin, the gentle melody of a fairy, the loud rumble of a dragon’s roar. Even though we savored every word in the story, how we were read to made all of the difference. The more our parents or teachers took on the role of the characters, the more captivated we became. The more involved they were in the story, the more it came to life for us.
Continue reading Bilingual Books: Read Them Out Loud!
Reading bilingual books with bilingual children can be a wonderful way to help expand comprehension and vocabulary in more than one language. As you read in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, children who can read the same story in more than one language reap many benefits. For example, they can transfer their comprehension and vocabulary of a story read in a stronger language to comprehension and vocabulary in a weaker language.
To help children strengthen their literacy skills even further, bilingual books can be incorporated into lesson plans for teachers to utilize in their classrooms and parents in their homes. Lesson plans provide targeted discussion topics and activities that can help make biliteracy fun and engaging for children. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans
We’d like to share with you a great opportunity to support early childhood literacy and language development to children in need with bilingual books and educational supplies!
Our friends at Give and Surf Inc. are starting a preschool for ages 3-5 in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The preschool will be educating children from the indigenous Ngobe villages of this underserved area. Their preschool will be the first of its kind in the area.
We all know the importance of early reading for children, and Give and Surf is currently collecting books and any supplies necessary to start the preschool. They have an empty classroom and an open canvas to build the ideal preschool! The children of Bahia Honda have had limited exposure to books and would benefit greatly from any support. Continue reading Support Early Childhood Literacy in International Preschool Classroom
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
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