Using Multicultural Resources to Support Language Learners and Enhance Diversity in the Classroom

us dept of education sad-hortons-kids 114

Many educators successfully use multicultural resources to teach their students about other cultures and to make their classrooms more welcoming for a diverse student body. However, some teachers may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of adding “multicultural education” to their expanding list of things to do. They often are already dealing with new testing requirements, changing core standards, and other demands. They struggle with ways to make their classrooms more multicultural while meeting all of their other teaching objectives.

Incorporating multicultural education into the curriculum should not be considered an “additional” task; rather, with the right tools and resources, educators can integrate a multicultural element into existing lesson plans.

Benefits of Multicultural Resources in the Classroom

Using multicultural and multilingual resources in the classroom can enhance and support core standards, and can have the following benefits:

  • It makes the classroom more welcoming for students from different countries because they see their own culture and language reflected in the lessons.
  • It builds self-esteem and instills in multi-ethnic students a sense of pride about their heritage.
  • It provides all students a chance to learn about other cultures and languages, which can help them succeed globally and in our diverse communities.
  • It offers an opportunity to involve parents from diverse cultures in the classroom.
  • If students are allowed to bring multilingual materials home, it promotes literacy at home and enhances parental involvement, both of which improve school success.

Below are just a few suggestions on how to incorporate a multicultural element into already-established lessons that may give you some new ideas or thoughts on the topic.

Cultural Holidays and Festivals

Teaching about holidays and festivals is an excellent way to introduce diverse cultures to your students. While studying different holidays, children can cover important concepts such as “comparing and contrasting,” and the learning can bridge over to art, math, and other subjects.

For example, when studying Thanksgiving, consider reading Samira’s Eid and comparing and contrasting our celebration of thanks with the Islamic celebrations of Eid and Ramadan. During the winter holidays, a book such as Marek and Alice’s Christmas shows how Christmas is celebrated in Poland. In learning about how other cultures celebrate familiar holidays, children begin to understand traditions from other parts of the world. Children can draw Venn diagrams to share what they have learned.

Other important holidays can be discussed as they occur throughout the year. You can use Deepak’s Diwali to teach about the major Hindu holiday Diwali (the Indian Festival of Lights). When teaching about Diwali, speak to the art teacher about having the children design their own Rangoli patterns. Students also could review the Rangoli patterns in math class when they are learning about symmetry.

Students can learn about Chinese New Year in the book Li’s Chinese New Year. In art class during this time, they can make masks with a sign of the zodiac (instructions about how to make the mask are included in the book). Older children can work in teams to do additional research on international holidays and festivals and then come together to present their work.

Dental Health and Hygiene

Many schools periodically have a dentist come to discuss dental hygiene. Including a reading of The Wibbly Wobbly Tooth is a great way to add a multicultural element to such a lesson. This story depicts a child of Asian heritage trying to figure out what to do with a tooth that just came out. In it, he talks to friends from all different cultures to find out what they do when a tooth falls out. This opens up an opportunity for you to ask your students from other countries to share their family’s traditions.

The dental health lesson could also include a bilingual version of Sahir Goes to the Dentist, ideally choosing a language edition spoken by kids in the class. Not only will students read about a child’s visit to the dentist, they will see a language/text that is represented in their class or community.

Community, Cooperation and Teamwork

In the bilingual book The Giant Turnip, school children work together to plant a garden and then have to figure out how to remove a giant turnip that grows there. In the end, they are successful only after they have brainstormed ideas and have all worked cooperatively.

This is, of course, a great book to use when doing units about planting and growing a garden. But it is also an excellent tool for discussing themes of community, cooperation and teamwork. For example, it can be used as an introduction to the concept of “community.” What is a community? Why is it important? Similarities and differences within a community, and how differences in a community can help it operate better.

Students can discuss the diverse makeup of their own communities and even how their classroom community can be more united. Older students can research different communities around the world, comparing and contrasting similarities and differences. The book can also be used to reinforce concepts of cooperation and teamwork: how people need to work together to achieve a common goal.

Folk Tales and Fables

When teaching a unit on folk tales, include bilingual folk tales from around the world in the lesson. You can introduce the concepts of “good versus evil,” the importance of cooperation, and the rewards of courage and ingenuity, while simultaneously introducing other cultures and languages. Some great stories to consider are: Yeh-Hsien (A Chinese Cinderella); the Bengali folk tale Buri and the Marrow; the beautiful Chinese story The Dragon’s Tears; and the Tibetan Fable “The Hare’s Revenge” (part of Lion Fables).

Counting

For younger children who are learning to count, consider reading a book such as Handa’s Hen, in which young Handa is looking for her chicken and encounters many other animals and insects along the way. Set in Africa, children will see settings and animals that may be new to them (e.g., five beautiful sunbirds, eight spoonbills). By pointing out different languages in the bilingual books, children also can see the different language scripts, thus expanding their view of the world. In addition, using multilingual number cards when learning numbers will allow children from non-English speaking homes to see their languages represented in class.

The Five Senses

Welcome to the World Baby is a wonderful multicultural book to share with children who are learning about the five senses. It is especially exciting to use in class when a student has a new baby sibling. In the story, Tariq has a new baby brother and the children in his multicultural classroom share how they welcome new babies in their families. Each example relates to one of the five senses (e.g., they can touch An-Mei’s red painted egg, which stands for birth, life and growth, and is the color of good luck; they can taste Elima’s bitter aloe leaf and sweet honey, which represents that life can be bitter and sweet). Again, this offers a chance for children from multicultural households to share their own traditions.

These are just a few of many examples of how multicultural and multilingual stories can be used to bring a global perspective to existing lessons and make multi-ethnic children feel better represented in the classroom. For more details and additional lessons that incorporate multicultural stories, please see the free multicultural lesson plans on our website. Share your own multicultural teaching ideas by commenting below!

 

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

Photo “SAD_Hortons_Kids 114” by US Department of Education via Flickr, licensed under CC By 2.0.

Celebrate “World Folk Tales & Fables Week” in the Classroom and at Home

IMG_3201This year, World Folk Tales and Fables Week is from March 16 through March 22. It’s a week dedicated to encouraging children and adults to explore the lessons and cultural background of folk tales, fables, myths and legends from around the world.

Reading folk tales is a great way for children to explore different cultures and enhance literacy skills. Learn more about why kids love folk tales and fables in a previous blog post that discusses why folk tales are such a great teaching tool for kids.

A folk tale is any story that has been passed down through generations by a group of people. A fable, one type of folk tale, is a short story that teaches a lesson, often features talking animals, and is directed particularly at children. The most well known creator of fables is Aesop, a Greek slave believed to have lived around 560 BC. Some of his most popular fables are “The Tortoise and the Hare,”  “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg,” and “The Lion and the Mouse.” There are also more modern-day fables, like Dr. Seuss‘s The Lorax.

Resources for Teachers & Parents

If you’d like to introduce your class or family to folk tales, but aren’t sure where to begin, Language Lizard offers a series of blog posts dedicated to international folk tale characters. There, you can get an overview of characters from around the world, like the Monkey King from China, and Finn McCool of Ireland.

BURI-2

One of our favorite stories, the Bengali folk tale Buri and the Marrow, is used in the lesson plan entitled “Language, Customs, Culture in India,” which can be downloaded at no cost from our website. Don’t hesitate to use any of our lesson plans to help you explore different cultures and folk tales with your students.

Or try another great folk tale, Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella. This Chinese version of Cinderella is similar to, yet delightfully different from, the more recognized European or Disney interpretations of the story. Children will be inspired by Yeh-Hsien, a strong character who takes her destiny into her own hands.

posters

We also offer the Myths and Legends collection (Pandora’s Box, Isis and Osiris, Beowulf, The Children of Lir), which can be a good starting point for older children to explore various cultures and classic stories.

We hope you have an exciting World Folk Tales and Fables Week, exploring new characters, adventures and cultures from far away lands!

Get 10% off two entertaining world folk tales – Buri and the Marrow and Yeh-Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella – by entering Coupon Code FOLKTALE2015 at checkout! This discount is valid now through March 31, 2015.

Comment below and share with us your favorite folk tales and fables!

Relationships and Bilingual Families

family holding hands

by guest blogger Christine Jernigan, Ph.D.

I recently wrote the book, Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children. In my interviews with parents, they frequently spoke of the language “bond” they shared with their children. Let’s look at this connection. What does speaking another language do for familial relations? How does it affect interactions? What does it mean to have a code language?

The Language Connection

Think about your speech in your native tongue. You speak different versions of the language depending on who you’re talking to. With your elderly neighbor, you use more formal language, using “yes” instead of “yeah.” If you spoke to your best friend the way you speak to this neighbor, she’d wonder why you were sounding so stilted. That’s because language also represents the kind of relationship you have with someone. Ever seen newlyweds speak their own lovey-dovey language? When you’re speaking a foreign language with your child, you have an even stronger bond because it is so different from the way others around you speak.

I’ll tell you about a family I interviewed. The father, Ralf, has spoken German for years to his daughter, Sara, now five years old. Ralf is German, but he’s married to an American and lives with his family in the US. He was trying to become an American citizen. After much preparation and waiting, Ralf was finally awarded citizenship. The day he came home from the awards ceremony, he spoke to Sara in English, instead of their usual German. He was just playing around when he said, “Okay, no more speaking German with Daddy, Sara. I’m American now!” (R.D., interview). Much to his surprise, she burst into tears. He had to console her for some time—in German!—reassuring her he was making a joke and that, of course, they would keep speaking German together. Even at a young age, Sara tied German to her relationship with her father. To abruptly abandon the language would mean cutting their special cord.

The Bond of Extra Time

Parents I interviewed say the relationship with their children is greatly enriched by the extra time they spend with them sharing the second language. I’ve found this to be true in my life, as well. I speak Portuguese to my children, a language I learned later in life. Being the main speaker of the language to my children has encouraged me to continually communicate with them. I strongly believe that the extra time and focused attention strengthens our attachment. As my children have grown, I’ve kept a journal of their language development. This journal entry is from when my kids were almost six and four:

“… raising the kids bilingual…pushes me to spend time with them, talking to them, not just doing around-the-house chores in silence and such. I get a reminder that I haven’t been vocal with them…[when] they struggle to find the word in Portuguese… Playing Uno and Go Fish has helped a lot… I think every mom struggles with…rarely get[ting] down on the floor to play because there are always bills to pay or phone calls to be returned or beds to make.” (journal, 1/26/2007)

Other parents agreed. They reported that being aware of speaking an L2 (new language) meant they interacted more with their children. This mom speaks French with her infant:

“I really feel I do a better job teaching my infant French instead of English. I talk more often if I am speaking French, because I am conscious of teaching a language.” (F.T., email interview)

Just Between Us

How great would it be to talk to your kids and have no one understand? I love being able to correct my kids without other people noticing. In this journal entry, my daughter was four and very stubborn about apologizing:

“Today Portuguese really came in handy. One thing I cannot get Sydney to do until she’s good and ready is apologize. Today she smarted off to my dad. I told her she needed to say she was sorry and could tell Diddy [Daddy] was waiting for an apology. She flatly refused and instead said, in Portuguese, “I want juice,” so I told her, “After you apologize.” She said she was sorry right then and there.” (journal, 5/19/2005)

Think back to times in your childhood when your parents corrected you in public. Perhaps you did something that embarrassed them. You made a rude comment that other people overheard, or you asked an inappropriate question about a stranger. Parents I interviewed said it’s much easier when no one picks up on the embarrassing things kids say. One mom states, “And sometimes Mary Kate says things inappropriate about people and you can explain in French. Once she was in a restroom and a lady passed gas and Mary Kate said, ‘She farted Mommy!’ [but] in French.” (J.F., interview)

In this case, the code language helped not only the mother, but also the stranger to not feel embarrassed. I’ve had many such situations, one when my daughter was just two:

“This morning…we were at the mall and Sydney saw a woman who was overweight with bushy black hair going everywhere. She yelled out and pointed at the woman saying, “Bruxa!” [Witch!]” (journal, 11/4/2004)

Of course, parents still have to explain to children why these comments are rude or hurtful, but since no one actually gets hurt in the moment, the intensity is dialed down.

Directly from the Source

I decided to ask my children directly if speaking Portuguese has changed our relationship. Their responses are below (translated from Portuguese):

Sydney (13 years old): We can talk to you when I don’t want other people to hear. Other kids can’t do that.

James (10 years old): If it’s just you, Sydney and me and we’re learning the language together, it’s like bonding. And when we go other places, I can talk just to you—if people are around, they can’t chime in. It’d be fun to have a code language with a friend.

In Closing

In closing, I’d like to offer a word of encouragement. When we as parents think of taking on bilingualism, we can quickly talk ourselves out of it. The many negatives jump to the forefront and can scare us off. But when you look at all the many benefits of bilingualism and then add to that a closer bond, a tighter connection, suddenly learning and sharing a foreign tongue looks worth the while. Join me on a wild and wonderful journey. And check in with me to let me know how it’s going: christinejernigan@gmail.com

Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.com.

Your Springboard & Cheerleader: ‘Family Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children’ by Christine Jernigan

JerniganFamily Language Learning: Learn Another Language, Raise Bilingual Children
Written by Christine Jernigan, PhD
Paperback and ebook
Review by Sue Kwon

Inspired by her experiences with foreign language learning, in professional settings and in her own family, Christine Jernigan, PhD, set out to write a unique guide for parents who want to raise their kids to speak more than one language. Specifically, Family Language Learning is designed for parents who are still in the process of learning a second “target” language themselves, or who are fluent but living in a country where another language is dominant. Jernigan, who instructs foreign language teachers at North Carolina State University and works as a language coach for parents, writes in a flowing, humorous and engaging style. The many personal anecdotes told by the author, as well as by other parents raising bilingual children, range from amusing to deeply moving. Readers will find themselves relating wholeheartedly to the language learning adventures (and misadventures) these parents have experienced.

This book is meant to be a how-to guide, or “springboard” as Jernigan calls it, for parents in the early stages of teaching their children a new language. It is also intended as a motivational tool, or “cheerleader” for when those parents inevitably run into roadblocks, or are feeling discouraged. Throughout, readers are encouraged to remain flexible, and to make adjustments when a situation demands it: “Keep your language plan in play dough, not stone,” as Jernigan very nicely puts it.

Family Language Learning stands out particularly because of Jernigan’s unique approach to the subject of language learning. While most experts focus on the academic, social and economic benefits of learning a second language (as does Jernigan, from the very first chapter), this author also explores in depth the greater emotional bond that learning a new language can create.

This book is accessible to every stage of language learner, even those at the very start of their journey. Concepts and terminology are explained in a clear and concise manner that assumes you have arrived with no prior language training. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of language learning, from why it’s important for your children to learn a new language to why you should encourage your kids to read foreign language material on their own, and how to motivate them to practice writing in the target language.

While Family Language Learning can easily be read cover-to-cover, thanks to Jernigan’s conversational style of writing, the chapters are broken into sub-sections that also make it easy to flip to the particular topic you’re seeking answers to. So, even when you’re well into your language journey, you can find just the right words of guidance and encouragement you need when you reach a bump in the road.

Family Language Learning is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.com.

You May Also Want to Read…

BakerAdditional, valuable information on bilingualism and language learning can be found in A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism by Colin Baker, a classic book in the field now in its fourth edition. This book is an extremely thorough guide for teachers of bilingual students, as well as parents who are raising bilingual children, whether they are fluent in the second language or not.

A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism can serve almost as an encyclopedia of language learning because it offers a wealth of information on a very wide range of topics. Each chapter is dedicated to distinct subjects, like “Family Questions,” “Language Development Questions” and “Reading and Writing Problems,” and within each chapter are Frequently Asked Questions that Baker has encountered over decades of working with parents and colleagues in bilingual education, as well as in his personal experience successfully raising three bilingual children.

A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism (4th ed) is available in hardcover and paperback at Amazon.com.

Helping Children of Different Languages Communicate, Learn & Play – ‘New Words, New Friends’ by Karen Nemeth

 

newwords

New Words, New Friends
Written by Karen Nemeth
Illustrated by Diego Jiménez Manzano
Paperback and ebook
Available in English and Spanish
Ages 4-8
Review by Sue Kwon

Theo and Wyatt, two friends at school, are at the center of New Words, New Friends, the latest children’s book from Karen Nemeth, a national expert on early education and advocate for dual-language learners. Theo and Wyatt play just fine together, until their paths cross with that of the New Kid. “The New Kid got the ball and bounced it away. ‘Hey, You!’ cried the boys, ‘we need the ball to play!'” As we know, there is no greater offense for young children.

Little ones can sometimes get upset when reading about or seeing an emotionally charged situation like this. Yet Nemeth narrates this story with a sweet, uplifting rhyming style that allows kids to understand the important aspects of the plot without prodding any negative emotions. The lines are kept brief and concise – something adults will appreciate when kids ask to hear the book again and again. (And with this one, they will.)

The story’s characters, brought to life by Spanish illustrator Diego Jiménez Manzano, are drawn in a bold, playful, childlike style. The characters have round faces and big, bright eyes that are sure to please young readers. Jiménez Manzano also takes the time to fill each page’s background with small, colorful details, so there will be something new for kids to find on multiple readings.

In the story, Theo and Wyatt are lucky to have a knowledgeable, nurturing teacher who takes the time to explain why the New Kid behaves the way she does: She speaks another language, and didn’t understand what they were saying to her. The teacher tells them, “‘When a friend speaks a language that’s different than you, these are three things you can easily do.'” Thanks to her thoughtful guidance, a brand new friendship is able to grow between Theo, Wyatt and the New Kid, who we find out is named Violet. This story is about the importance of kindness and empathy when interacting with people from different backgrounds.

While New Words, New Friends is a book that kids will love reading, Nemeth also intends it to be “a storybook resource for teachers, librarians and parents.” The end of the book features Discussion Questions to help adults get their kids thinking and talking about the important lessons in the story. This book is meant to be a guide for adults who are helping little ones navigate the tricky yet essential journey of learning social and communication skills. “New Words, New Friends” delves into these important tasks, and presents it in a fun way, for both adults and children.

New Words, New Friends is available in English and Spanish, in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com.

Be sure to check out languagecastle.com, Karen Nemeth’s website that offers a wealth of resources for anyone who teaches young children who speak different languages.

Chinese New Year & Dental Health Month: Discounts & Resources

bilingual chinese new year dental health monthPlan early – the month of February brings two great events to enjoy with the kids: Chinese New Year and Dental Health Month. Read on for discounts and free resources that will add a bilingual twist to your celebrations! (Read about other New Year celebrations around the world here.)

Chinese New Year

chinese dragon international holidays diversity

Chinese New Year is on February 19, 2015. Also known as Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is the country’s most important social and economic holiday. Traditionally, it is a time to renew and honor family bonds through elaborate rituals and feasts.

Celebrate this special holiday, at home and in the classroom, with the bilingual children’s book entitled Li’s Chinese New Year. Available in English and your choice of 10 different languages, the story follows Li, who is trying to decide what animal costume to wear to the school’s big New Year assembly. Will he be a fierce tiger or a strong ox? And what year will his new cousin be born in? Readers can find all twelve of the zodiac animals throughout the story, and discover facts and activities relating to the holiday at the back of the book.

Now through February 28, 2015 get 10% off Li’s Chinese New Year by entering discount code CNY2015 at checkout!

If you’re planning to teach your students about Chinese New Year, be sure to check out our FREE standards-based lesson plan that includes this holiday’s history, traditions and the many languages spoken in China. This great resource was created by our friends at West Chester University of PA.

Dental Health Month

nd strupler dental project

In February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors Dental Health Month. This year’s slogan is “Defeat Monster Mouth!” The goal of Dental Health Month is to promote oral health by establishing good habits early and getting regular dental check ups. The ADA offers free resources for parents and teachers, including a Planning Guide and activity sheets.

To help kids prepare for a trip to the dentist, Language Lizard offers the bilingual children’s book Sahir Goes to the Dentist. It tells the story of Sahir, who has lost a tooth, and Yasmin, who has a cavity. Both children visit the dentist and learn valuable lessons about how to properly care for their teeth. The book is available in English and your choice of 23 different languages.

Now through February 28, 2015 get 10% off Sahir Goes to the Dentist by entering discount code DENTIST at checkout!

Also, check out our post for 5 ways to turn kids’ post-winter break excitement into fun language opportunities!

Leave a comment below and tell us how you will be celebrating Chinese New Year and Dental Health Month with your students and family!

Dragon photo by Kenny Louie via Flickr, some rights reserved.

Toothbrush photo by ND Strupler via Flickr, some rights reserved.

A New Year’s Resolution for Language Learners

kid reading bilingual bookIf your plans for 2015 include learning a new language with your kids, or passing on your native language to them, there is one New Year’s resolution that will help your kids learn faster and also make the process more fun for the whole family.

Bilinguals: “Brain Bodybuilders”

Using Music to Help Children Learn Languages

In addition to the many and varied benefits to being bilingual, new research has found something new: bilinguals have more efficient brains that filter out important information from a mass of data faster than brains of monolinguals. This amazing brain benefit is seen as early as infancy. Babies exposed to more than one language have faster image recognition compared to their peers.

Increase Their Language Exposure – And Don’t Give Up!

Parents can become frustrated that their kids aren’t picking up the second language “automatically.” Aren’t their minds supposed to be like sponges? It may be that they need broader language exposure, in more areas of their lives. It’s estimated that kids need to be exposed to a language at least 30% of the time before they begin internalizing it.

There is a growing movement in Europe that disperses foreign language instruction throughout the entire curriculum, instead of keeping it isolated in a single language class. In the US, language immersion schools are becoming more popular, and their students are showing very promising results. True internalization happens when a new language reaches into all different corners of a child’s life.

Make a Resolution to Add a Self-Motivating Activity

In order to learn a new language, your child must learn its essential vocabulary. While this may sound like an enormous task, the bulk of any language is made up of a few hundred words, so you don’t have to know the majority of its words to communicate effectively. Knowing filler words like “and,” “but” and “so” are essential because they buy a few moments to think what to say next. It also helps to practice answers to the most commonly asked questions, like “Where are you from?” and “What do you like to do?” because it boosts a new speaker’s confidence.

To help your kids learn vocabulary faster, try practicing it in a way that is fun and self-motivating! By weaving language into activities they already love, new words will quickly become a real part of their lives. We know, of course, that kids of all ages benefit from the simple act of reading with their parents. Little ones also respond well to singing in a new language. Or, try turning a kids’ treasure or scavenger hunt into a language learning game!

springtime language learning: scavenger and treasure hunts

Parents can find a wealth of kid-friendly content online by using Google or websites like Youtube. Older kids might be interested in foreign kids’ TV shows, foreign music, kids’ blogs in foreign languages, cartoons, recipes, or even video games.

It’s also great to get your kid’s friends involved. You could have a foreign language movie night, or foreign language-themed party with word games like Pictionary and karaoke singing. If you can, set up a play date with other kids who speak fluently. Being in the midst of a foreign language play date can give your child a new appreciation for the language, and greater motivation to participate in the conversation.

Whatever fun, motivating activities you decide to take on in 2015, be proud that you’re making the effort to give your kids the gift of language and culture. Rest assured, it’s a gift they will benefit from every day of their lives.

What kind of language-themed activities do your kids love doing? Post below and share your ideas!

 

Classroom kids photo by caseywest via Flickr, some rights reserved

Scavenger hunt photo by Umair Mohsin via flicker, some rights reserved.

Celebrate with Holiday Foods from Around the World

International diversity foods pizza heart shape

photo by Anderson Mancini via Flickr

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! Follow up each meal with a storybook from the same part of the world, and your kids will have an experience that nourishes the body and mind.

India – Gulab Jamun

gulab jamun

photo by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via Flickr

In India, Diwali is the winter holiday known as the Festival of Lights. One tradition is to give sweets to friends and neighbors. (Find a great Diwali storybook here.) Gulab Jamun, which translates to “rose berries,” are deep fried dough balls covered in rose water-scented syrup. Here is a step-by-step recipe with photos.

Japan – Udon Noodle Soup

bowl of Japanese udon noodles

photo by Kamatama via Flickr

It’s believed that udon noodles were first brought to Japan from China in the 800s by Buddhist monks. Udon noodles, made from wheat flour, are thick and chewy. They can be served in a variety of ways: cold or hot, with sauce or stir-fried. Its neutral flavor matches well with a variety of ingredients.  In Japan’s cold, winter months, hot udon noodle soup is a popular comfort food. If you want to eat your udon the traditional way, don’t forget to use chopsticks, and you can show your appreciation with an enthusiastic slurping sound! Martha Stewart has a recipe for Udon Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms in Ginger Broth.

Mexico – Tamales

lucianvenutian via Flickr

photo by lucianvenutian via Flickr

Tamales have been eaten in what is now known as Central America since before 5,000 B.C. They quickly grew in popularity due to their portability and the way they can fill the belly. Made from masa dough that is filled with meats, cheese or vegetables, tamales are wrapped in a corn husk, then steamed or boiled. They are traditionally made during the holidays, because tamales take many hands to assemble, and are cooked in huge batches. Here is a great pork tamale recipe, courtesy of PBS.

Germany – Speckknoedel

speckknoedel in a bowl

photo by Christian Allinger via Flickr

Speckknoedel are the dumplings of Europe’s mountainous Alpine region. They were probably invented and then gained popularity as a winter food because they enabled people to stretch ever-dwindling meat and bread supplies in the cold months. Give this recipe for speckknoedel soup from Food Network a try.

Mongolia – Buuz  

Mongolian Buuz

photo by Аркадий Зарубин via Wikimedia Commons

Mongolian Lunar New Year, known as Tsagaan Sar, is considered one of the culture’s most important holidays. It is a time of year dedicated to family and feasts. (You can find a great storybook about Chinese New Year here.) Warm meat- and vegetable-filled dumplings called Buuz are a popular and delicious holiday treat. Here is a buuz recipe you can try at home.

Finland – Glögg

Glögg

photo by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons

During Yule, Finland’s midwinter holiday season, Glögg is a very popular alcohol drink that is served hot. It is made from red wine and a combination of spices, and can be combined with raisins, blanched almonds or ginger biscuits. This traditional glögg recipe it is sure to warm the spirits of your adult guests.

Give these international holiday foods a try this season, and your family can get a taste of life in another land. Don’t forget to check out our tips to having a Bilingual Staycation, or learn how people celebrate New Year’s around the world.

Comment below and share your favorite winter holiday foods and recipes!

 

Photo Credits

Pizza in heart shape photo by Anderson Mancini via Flickr, some rights reserved

Gulab Jamun photo by Premnath Thirumalaisamy via Flickr, some rights reserved

Udon noodle soup photo by Kamatama via Flickr, some rights reserved

Tamales photo by lucianvenutian via Flickr, some rights reserved

Buuz photo by Аркадий Зарубин via Wikimedia Commons, some rights reserved

Speckknoedel photo by Christian Allinger via Flickr, some rights reserved

Glogg photo by Mr. Choppers via Wikimedia Commons, some rights reserved

Language Lizard’s Bilingual Gift Guide for the Holidays

child holding wrapped gift
Research has shown there are countless benefits to growing up with more than one language. Better higher-level brain function, and improved communication and problem-solving skills are just a few. If you’re searching for a bilingual holiday gift, we can help you pick just the right item for that special language learner in your life.

Bilingual Families

bilingual very hungry caterpillar wheels on the busFamilies that already speak a second language will love the gift of a dual-language book. Language Lizard offers hundreds of titles, in over 40 different languages. Each page of these beautifully illustrated stories is told in both English and a second language of your choice. Reading aloud to kids leads to greater success in school and encourages a lifelong love of reading. A bilingual book is a gift of precious family time. Reading together as a family strengthens emotional bonds and improves kids’ social skills.

Bilingual book set of 10

Bilingual Book Sets are another great gift option for bilingual families, and an excellent value. Each set is hand selected to include our most popular titles. It’s a great way to help a family start its own bilingual library at home!

Families Learning a New Language Together

Bilingual CD and bookA bilingual story book with an accompanying audio story CD, or a colorful picture dictionary with a CDROM, is perfect for families learning a new language together. The family can listen to the text in the new language, while they follow along in the book. As many adult language learners will tell you, simultaneously hearing a language spoken and seeing it written is a great way to learn a new language faster.

Older Bilingual Childrenbilingual childrens book and poster

A bilingual book is clearly a great choice if you’re shopping for a child who can already read in a second language. You can search for books according to age or reading level. Language Lizard also offers a selection of colorful bilingual posters, which will appeal to kids of all different ages and interests.

Educators & Organizations that Support Dual Language Learners

bilingual book poster flash cards

Do you know someone who is working with students learning English or another language? Educators will love our selection of high-quality teaching cards, reference books and classroom posters. These products not only inspire students to learn a new language, they help kids connect with characters from other cultures. Language Lizard also offers free lesson plans based on a range of book titles and themes.

Language Lizard Gift Certificates

Language Lizard gift certificateLastly, gift certificates are always a great option for every kind of language learner. Gift certificates are available in any amount, and can be personalized with a message to the recipient. They are emailed within one business day (or you can choose the regular mail option).

For additional ideas on selecting culturally appropriate bilingual children’s books, please see the blog post: From Hiccups to Tuk-Tuks: Our Selection of Culturally Appropriate Bilingual Children’s Books.

Did you grow up bilingual, or even multilingual? Leave a comment below and tell us your favorite language-related gifts and memories from your childhood!

 

Tomorrow is the Last Day – Get 10% Off Gift Certificates! Give the Gift of Language & Culture for #GivingTuesday

Photo by peddhapati via flickr, some rights reserved

We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Just a reminder that our special Language Lizard gift certificate offer will expire at the end of the day tomorrow, #GivingTuesday.

To receive a 10% discount on all Language Lizard Gift Certificates, simply add the item to your cart, choose the amount of your gift and the recipient, and use COUPON CODE LLGiving2014 upon checkout (by Dec 2nd 2014).

Language Lizard gift certificates allow you to share bilingual books with students, teachers, librarians, and others who support dual-language children. Your recipients can choose books in over 40 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more!

You can also add a special note of thanks on your gift certificates, and have them sent via email within one business day!

Happy Reading!

 

Photo credit: Bhaskar Peddhapati via Flickr, some rights reserved