All posts by languagelizard

Children’s Books: Stick with the Real Thing!

As a recent article from the New York Times reminds us, when it comes to children’s books, print is still where it’s at. E-books may be perfect for a bus ride home after a long day in the office, easily tucked away into a briefcase or backpack. And an iPad can help distract us and our children during a long wait in the doctor’s office. But when it comes to the beloved bedtime story or a read-aloud at school, parents and teachers turn to the tried-and-true paper and glue book.

There is something magical about children’s books. Our favorites are those which create the perfect marriage between image and text: a magical storyline weaving and dancing against vivid illustrations and images. We each must have a memory of cuddling up with just such a book from our childhood. It isn’t impossible to recreate this in today’s digital age, but it just doesn’t feel quite the same, does it?

Even though children will often select the same book to be read out loud, this doesn’t mean that having plenty around isn’t worthwhile. Looking through piles of books, each with its own size, shape and colors, can be pure bliss for a young child. It  helps children come to realize just how diverse our literary world really is.

Ultimately, the storyline is only part of what matters to a young child when we read out loud to them. The overall experience is the real payback. The way we read a story out loud to children transports them to another world. Holding a book in the hand, feeling the texture of the pages as they are turned, and touching the images is as much part of the experience as reading the text. So is the warmth and comfort of snuggling on a parents’ lap or laying back on a floor pillow while being read to.

Continue reading Children’s Books: Stick with the Real Thing!

Multicultural Calendar – Diversity Calendar 2012

With the holiday season approaching, we wanted to let you know about a wonderful Multicultural Calendar that we recently discovered.

This calendar would make a great gift for educators, families and organizations who celebrate diversity and teach children about other cultures and holidays.  In fact, we liked it so much that Language Lizard has decided to give a few away!

Developed by artist Sheena Singh, this beautiful calendar includes hundreds of multicultural, multi-faith and diversity related holidays and observances.  It provides accurate dates with explanations for each of the world’s twelve major religions and the cultural festivals of most ethnic groups in North America, including Aboriginal People, Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Shinto, Sikh and more.  It also includes cultural festivals of over 140 countries.   Continue reading Multicultural Calendar — Diversity Calendar 2012

Thanksgiving and Immigrant Cultures

Is this what you will teach your students this Thanksgiving?

By guest author: Corey Heller

Stories about the origins of the North American celebration of Thanksgiving abound. Some attribute it to the Pilgrim’s prayerful appreciation for having survived an arduous journey across the sea. Others claim that it commemorates the kindness of the Native Americans who helped them survive a cold winter without food. Still others say it stems from the originally pagan tradition of giving thanks for yet another bountiful summer crop.

Whatever the origins of this North American holiday, most of us can agree that it is a holiday motivated by feelings of appreciation, humility, and kindness. At the heart of Thanksgiving is our deepest gratitude for simply being alive to witness one more day. It is about surviving in a world bombarded by uncertainty and change. No one can know what tomorrow will bring, and all we can do is appreciate what we have right here and right now.

Immigration is central to the Thanksgiving story. The New World was a destination for European settlers searching for new beginnings, merchants seeking unlimited resources, and sadly, African slaves transported unwillingly to a strange new land. These newcomers, in turn, inundated and overpowered the Native Americans who had been living on this bountiful land for many generations. Ultimately, they too became immigrants in their own land, as they were pushed farther and farther to unknown territories.

Thanksgiving tells the tale of the settler, each with his or her own personal history. Our ancestors brought traditions tucked away in travel bags between sorrows of lands lost and hopes for a new and better life. Immigration has played an intrinsic role in all Americans’ lives: this movement of peoples has formed America into what it is today.

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Bilingual Books to Boost Reading Comprehension

As we all know, reading comprehension is essential in today’s world. It is necessary for mastering subjects in school, working at jobs, and deciphering written communications. Without it, we might be able to pronounce words on the page but would not be able to make sense of what the words mean when put together.

Reading comprehension demands that we create images and connections in our head based on the combination of words that we are reading. The more familiar we are with the words on the page and how they apply to what we have already learned or experienced in our lives, the better will be our comprehension.

For English Language Learners (ELLs), this is especially challenging. Most ELLs do not have a strong English vocabulary from which to pull, so it is important that they are presented with text that includes a lot of context. Pictures, short sentences, words that are repeated again and again can be especially helpful. If recognizing individual words is difficult, it will interfere with a student’s overall ability to comprehend what is being read.

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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!

Bilingual Book Review: The “Our Lives, Our World” Series

In continuation of our celebration of The Bilingual Child Month, we’d like to share with you a review of three bilingual books that explore and celebrate global diversity. Read these books with your students to help them appreciate children just like them from around the world.

Goal! Let’s Play! – written by Joe Marriott and illustrated by Algy Craig Hall
Yum! Let’s Eat! – written by Thando Maclaren and illustrated by Jacqueline East
Brrmm! Let’s Go! – written by Julie Kingdon and illustrated by Leo Broadley
Paperback Ages 2-6
Review by Maureen Pugh

These three books comprise the “Our Lives, Our World” series, which explores the rich diversity of children’s lives and develops a worldwide perspective. Although the books are written and illustrated by different people, the series does have a cohesive style.

Each book introduces eleven children from eleven different countries, and every child is given a two page spread that introduces the child, and illustrates what the child is describing. The children are introduced with “my name’s Charlie …” or “I’m Abeba…”, so the text repeats the introductory phrases that we all want our children to be familiar with.

The text goes on with simple sentences, which contain mostly commonly-used vocabulary (and some new vocabulary), such as “I’m Khaled. We eat couscous and lamb tagine when we visit Grandpa.” Another example is “My name’s James, I play tennis with my family every weekend.”

Not surprisingly, Brrmm! Let’s Go! focuses on vehicles (bicycle, helicopter, tuk-tuk) and action verbs (to ride, to fly), while Goal! Let’s Play! introduces popular sports played in the country (ie, India – cricket, and Switzerland – skiing). Yum! Let’s Eat! depicts favorite foods from around the world.

Continue reading Bilingual Book Review: The “Our Lives, Our World” Series

Celebrate The Bilingual Child Month!

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!”

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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

8 Tips to Protect English Language Learners from Bullying in Your Classroom and School

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