Thanksgiving is one of the only times during the year when we can all come together and celebrate the beauty in our lives that we experience for free. We can enjoy our friends, neighbors, and families while avoiding the stress of some other holidays. Best of all, everyone of all faiths and backgrounds can participate in this truly American holiday.
So how can you use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to promote bilingualism?
Thanksgiving is such a special time, perfect for getting back in touch with family members you haven’t seen in ages. A great way to reconnect and promote bilingualism is to have children interview family members and friends at the table about what Thanksgiving words they might know in other languages. You and your children will get to know where people have traveled to learn other words, and you’ll reaffirm connections between family members for whom English is a second language. In some families there may be those who know more English and want to keep the family’s traditional language as well — and this activity is perfect for them too.
This game could be used to add bilingualism to a book the family makes together of pictures of the holiday traditions and foods in their home.
Time to Digest
After supper and before the apple pie comes out, the kids might be looking for something to do. Encourage them to put on a performance of a bilingual book they’ve read! They’ll love entertaining their relatives as they digest, and no-one can resist little ones who are eager to share something they’ve enjoyed. They can put on the performance in both languages to further cement their understanding.
Cultures all over the world make food the centerpiece of their most important celebrations. Make your centerpiece something that involves the traditions of the cultures your child is learning about. You can go further than a simple fall theme, too, and include celebratory food in general. Families in which children are learning Bengali might want to try a cholar dal, usually served for the festival of Durga Pujor. Are your little ones learning Mandarin? Tangerines and oranges are often handed out for Chinese New Year. Although these holidays aren’t to do with Thanksgiving, the foods traditionally associated with them all have a special quality that will add sparkle – and a global perspective! – to your table. Add them to a special Bilingual Cornucopia in the middle of your dinner table and give all of your family and friends something bilingual to talk about.
Want more ideas about bilingual kids, different cultures and Thanksgiving? Check out these great blogs from our archives: