What kind of people are most likely to be bilingual? What motivates them, and what benefits of bilingualism do they enjoy? Whether you’re bilingual, in the process of learning, or just curious about learning a new language, you’ll want to check out these interesting stats regarding bilingualism in the US.
It’s that time of year again – summer is winding down, and school is back in session! Language Lizard is offering a new set of colorful mugs that celebrate cultural diversity and the love of languages – perfect for educators, students and parents alike!
“Welcome” in Different Languages
This unique mug says “Welcome” in many languages, and is a great gift for teachers who work in multicultural classrooms. Languages include Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Farsi (Persian), French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Somali, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Yoruba.
Learning a new language takes dedication and a lot of hard work! Let the world know about your bilingual superpower! A great gift for students and teachers that encourages and promotes language learning. English-only edition of this mug is also available.
“We All Smile in the Same Language”
If you are looking for fun summer activities to get the kids outside and staying active, try these fun multicultural games played around the world!
These games are a great way to teach your children about other cultures while still having fun this summer. Some of these games just need a few people, while others can be played with large groups. They are simple to learn and do not require a lot of equipment. Children of all ages can join in and stay active while simultaneously learning something new this summer!
HUNTERS AND RABBITS (Belgium)
You can play this game with as many people as you would like and it should be played in a wide, open place.
- One player starts with the ball – he/she is the hunter. This player then has to dribble the ball to get closer to the “rabbits,” which is everyone else in the game.
- The rabbits are only allowed to hop, they cannot run.
- Once the hunter gets close enough to a rabbit, he/she must stop and throw the ball at a rabbit’s legs. If the ball touches the rabbit’s leg, then that rabbit becomes a hunter too. If the ball lands anywhere else besides the rabbit’s legs, then the rabbit stays a rabbit.
- The last rabbit standing is the winner of the game. The tricky part is that no matter how many hunters there are, there can only be one ball to catch the rabbits with.
TRIANGLE GAME (Greece)
This game is typically played outside where you are able to use chalk with a small group of people.
- You draw a large triangle on the ground and split it into 3 parts as shown above. The smallest part you label with a 3, the middle a 2 and the bottom a 1.
- Players take turns throwing rocks from 15 feet away. As they are throwing, the players add up their scores based on the numbered section that the rock landed in.
- The first person to 50 is the winner.
- Players stand in pairs, with one pair behind the other.
- One player stands behind the row of pairs and that person is “it.”
- The person designated as “it” then yells “Go!” and the last pair in line must then both run to the front of the line. One runs on the left side of the line the other on the right, and they need to reach the front without being tagged by “it.”
- If “it” is unable to tag anyone then they must be “it” again for the next round. However, if “it” does tag somebody then the person they tag is the new “it” and the previous “it” goes to the front of the line.
There can be up to 14 players in this game and the players need a long jump rope. Two of the 14 players will be spinning the jump rope while the other players line up.
- The first player in line jumps into the rope, jumps once and comes out without being hit by the rope.
- Then the next player runs in and jumps twice and comes out.
- This pattern continues up until 12 jumps in a row.
- Once the players reach 12 jumps, the pattern will start with 1 again.
- Note: There must be no hesitation to run and jump into the rope; if there is, then that player is out. Also if a player hits the rope at any time with any part of his or her, the player will also be out.
- The last jumper standing is the winner.
EL GATO Y EL RATON (Puerto Rico)
This game must be played with a group of people, and they must choose a leader. (Typically the leader is an adult.)
- The leader will select one person to be the cat and one person to be the mouse. The rest of the people will form a circle holding hands.
- The mouse will start on the inside of the circle and the cat will start on the outside. The objective is for the cat to catch the mouse with the people in the circle trying to help the mouse escape and keep the cat out without ever unlocking arms.
- If the cat gets into the circle, the mouse must escape it.
- When the mouse is caught, the leader chooses two new people to be cat and mouse, and the game starts all over again.
What multicultural games do you like to play with your little ones? Comment below and share!
Playing with a Big Ball” by Michael Coghlan via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/oRtyNU
This blog post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!
Language Lizard is pleased to announce new multilingual “talking” charts that allow students to hear explanations of key terms in English, geography, math & science in many different languages, including English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
These charts are invaluable resources for teachers who support a linguistically diverse student body. Using these charts with the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, newcomers and English Language Learners (ELLs) can hear key terms explained in their native languages, allowing for a better understanding of subject matter content.
Students simply select the language that they want to hear from the right side of the chart with the PENpal, and then tap a subject term to hear an explanation of the word in the selected language. Teachers and students can also use “talking labels” (recordable stickers) to add their own recordings of additional information to the chart.
There are four new Talking Charts, and they can be purchased separately or in a value pack of 4 Multilingual Charts.
The English Multilingual Terms Chart includes explanations and examples for terms such as alliteration, apostrophe, conjunction, differentiate, figurative, imagery, narrative/narrator, onomatopoeia, personification, preposition and synonym.
The Geography Multilingual Terms Chart includes explanations for erosion, estuary, habitat, infrastructure, landscape, latitude, longitude, pollution, settlement and much more.
The Math Multilingual Terms Chart includes terms such as adjacent, circumference, coordinate, decimal, denominator, diameter, equilateral, fraction, isosceles, perimeter, perpendicular, radius, ratio, symmetry and vertical.
The Science Multilingual Terms Chart includes absorb, amphibian, circulation, condensation, combustion, evaporation, friction, nutrient, organism, particles, respiration, vertebrate and more key terms.
These new charts work alongside our popular Multilingual Phrases for School Talking Chart which allows teachers and administrators to communicate more easily with student language learners as well as parents who do not speak English well.
The following languages are available on the charts: Arabic, Czech, English, Farsi, French, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Panjabi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovakian, Somali, Spanish, Sylheti, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yorub
by guest blogger Karen Nemeth EdM
Cognates are pairs of words that sound alike and have the same meaning in two different languages. They are useful first steps in learning a new language.
How Do Cognates Work?
In English we say “elephant” and in Spanish we say “elefante.” English and Spanish speakers can easily make the connection between these cognates to learn and remember the animal’s name. In English, we say “frog” but in Spanish we say “rana.” Frog and rana are not cognates, and the lack of connection means learners will find those words harder to use and remember. We know that people need to use their new language to really learn it. Cognates make it possible for language learners at any age to use their new words right away. By starting with the cognate words, a learner can build their vocabulary and gain the confidence to add more words in their new language.
Find Cognates in Your Target Language
Spanish and English share hundreds of cognates and have borrowed from each other for centuries. There are also many cognates that connect German to English, such as “mouse” and “maus”. Other languages, like Chinese and Arabic, have fewer cognates with English words. Lists of cognate words in different languages can be found online. I created a resource for Spanish-English cognates in preschool and kindergarten called Language Castle Cognate Guide. It has user-friendly lists of simple cognates in the different educational domains to support early learning. Other cognate resources can be found at colorincolorado.org. Bilingual children’s books, or matching books in two or more languages, can also be great resources to find vocabulary connections.
Learning Activities Using Cognates
Research shows that teachers and families can help children learn a new language successfully when they use cognates to explain the meanings of words in conversations and stories. Look for examples of cognates to support the language learners you work with. Use the pairs of words to help children understand the characters, stories and facts in books. Plan activities around the cognates you have found. Add cognates to familiar songs. Use cognates in puppet shows or pretend play to give children more opportunities to practice and use the words. Highlight cognates on word walls or classroom dictionaries. Plan science and math lessons that use cognates to strengthen children’s comprehension. Building connections through cognates is a sure path to success.
Read more about what experts are saying about the importance of using cognates to build second language learning:
August, D., Carlo, M., Dressler, C. and Snow, C. (2005) The Critical Role of Vocabulary Development for English Language Learners. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20: 50–57
Collins, M.F. (2010) ELL preschoolers’ English vocabulary acquisition from storybook reading, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(1), 84-97
Gillanders, C. & Castro, D.C. (2011) Storybook reading for young dual language learners, Young Children, January 2011, 91-95
Lugo-Neris, M.J., Jackson, C.W., Goldstein, H (2008) Facilitating Vocabulary Acquisition of Young English Language Learners, Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41, 314-327
Pérez, A.M., Peña, E.D., & Bedore, L.M. (2010) Cognates facilitate young Spanish-English bilinguals’ test performance, Early Childhood Services, 4(1), 55-67
Wallace, Christopher, (2007) Vocabulary: The Key to Teaching English Language Learners to Read, Reading Improvement, 44.4 , 189-193
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.
This blog post is linked with the monthly Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Be sure to check out other bloggers’ tips, teaching strategies, and resources!
National Reading Month is a great time to try out a new multicultural book with your little ones! Celebrate with fun, diverse children’s books that introduce them to different cultures. And don’t miss out on the Multicultural Stories Giveaway we are co-sponsoring with our friends at I Teach K-2!
What is National Reading Month?
Every March, National Reading Month kicks off with NEA’s Read Across America, which celebrates the birthday of the beloved Dr. Seuss. All month long, organizations across the country hold events that celebrate the love of reading, and encourage kids and adults to enjoy new books or re-visit old favorites.
Our Favorite Multicultural Books for Children
If you’re looking to grow your classroom or personal library by adding great multicultural picture books the kids will love, here are some of our favorites. (Each title is available in English plus your choice of a second language, so kids get to explore a second language, too!)
Each day, something new makes Mimi think of her grandma, whom she misses very much. She misses Grandma’s special Saturday Soup, and her stories of life in Jamaica. Derek Brazell’s colorful illustrations brings this story to life, and make us wish we all had a remarkable grandma like this!
How are new babies celebrated around the world? Tariq’s classroom gets to meet his new baby brother. During circle time, the students share the different ways their families welcome new babies into the world. Na’ima bint Robert brings us a beautiful, thoughtful exploration of cultural and religious diversity through the eyes of our children.
This book by Thando Maclaren takes us around the world, to learn about different foods and traditions. Read about exotic dishes like fajitas, sushi, dhal, roti and more! Explore the diversity in children’s lives and develop a worldwide perspective with this book, which is part of the “Our Lives, Our World” series. Other titles in the series include Brrmm! Let’s Go! and Goal! Let’s Play!
Little Li woke up on a Monday morning, only to discover that his tooth is wibbly wobbly! His tooth went wibble wobble all day, until PLOP! it fell right out. Now what will Li do with the tooth?
This humorous story by David Mills, author of Lima’s Red Hot Chilli and Mei Ling’s Hiccups, explores different cultural traditions associated with losing a tooth. It’s a great story to start a class discussion about customs and shared experiences.
Multicultural Stories Giveaway
Language Lizard is co-sponsoring a Multicultural Stories Class Library Giveaway… Enter below by April 1, 2017 for a chance to win!
“Woman in Library” by David Niblack via imagebase.net is licensed under CC0 http://imagebase.net/photo/696/Woman-in-Library.html
Right now, our lives are permeated with emotionally charged discourse about political and social upheaval. When you think about how much news media, social media and personal conversations we’re exposed to, it’s very likely our kids and students are aware and possibly experiencing anxiety about what they hear and see going on in the world around them. We all may feel disheartened with the current events that are dividing us as people, and as a nation.
If you’re worried that the children in your life are experiencing stress or anxiety, you first want to acknowledge and address these emotions, as we discussed in a previous post. Then, you can try to direct the conversation to the good that is happening in the world. One way we suggest doing this is to celebrate diversity with our children. When we open our hearts and minds to people of other cultures, we also cultivate a spirit of love and hope, which can lead to strength and healing.
Below are a few ways we can mitigate anxiety for students, your kids and yourself.
Limit Media Exposure
As informed adults, we can’t ever “bury our heads in the sand” by turning our backs on current events. It’s, in fact, vitally important that we check in regularly with reputable news organizations because so much is happening in the political and social realm, in such a short amount of time. However, don’t allow yourself to become inundated by what can feel like a flood of information and reactions. Decide how much time a day you want to dedicate to staying informed, then try to stay within that limit.
If older kids are exposed to news or social media directly, work with them to establish boundaries and talk about what they’re hearing and seeing. With younger kids, we need to be wary that their little ears are picking up on our adult conversations. Decide what information you want to convey to them, and be ready to answer their questions in an age-appropriate manner.
Do Good, Feel Good
One of the best ways to feel better is by doing good for those around you. Find a way that you and your family or classroom can volunteer to make the world a better place. Working selflessly for others can do wonders for your own state of mind. This is also a great opportunity to connect with other people, and build an emotional and social support network.
If you are concerned about the treatment of vulnerable members of society, or discriminatory attitudes, consider supporting causes that reflect your values and help those who could benefit most from your assistance. Working with children to raise funds to support a cause can be empowering, and allow for substantive discussions on important issues.
When you’re feeling stressed out or sad, take a moment for yourself. Think about the good things in your life that you’re grateful for. Take a break and do something just for you – like reading a book, listening to your favorite song or going for a stroll – and just be present in the moment. Meditate or just lie down and rest for a bit! In order to be kind to others, you must first be kind to yourself.
Suggest these strategies to children as well; these are valuable life lessons that will help them navigate future challenges. You can also make use of online resources to find support and recommendations.
We would love to hear the beautiful, thoughtful, brave ways you are making the world a better place! Take a moment to #CelebrateDiversity with us on social media, and keep up the good work!
“World” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/9nZaR3
In a previous article, we offered tips to get you started in terms of choosing the right bilingual baby books, making dedicated reading time and reading with enthusiasm. In this post, we would like to offer some of our favorite bilingual books for babies and toddlers.
In a recent interview published in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, Casey Lew-Williams, co-director of the Princeton Baby Lab and Princeton assistant professor of psychology, discussed research regarding how young children learn and communicate, and how this supports their development. Lew-Williams mentions that quality of speech comes first, and then quantity. In other words, it’s not important to talk all the time; even when playing with a young child, you’re interacting with them and exposing them to language, often in creative and meaningful ways.
In terms of reading to babies and young children, he says: “Reading is another fantastic way to expose a child to language. Ideally you’re not just reading the pages in a book. You’re pausing to engage with the child: How does this relate to his or her life? Children’s books are more diverse in terms of vocabulary and grammar than speech. So there’s an extra value to reading, because it gets parents outside their own natural tendencies or conversational topics and into the language and ideas of an author.”
Our Favorite Bilingual Books for Babies and Toddlers
The Wheels on the Bus
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Row, Row, Row Your Boat… If You’re Happy and You Know It… Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Walking Through the Jungle
Today’s spotlight language is Somali! We offer some background information and interesting facts about the language, as well as help finding children’s books in Somali. Interested in learning about other languages as well? Check out our series of posts on world languages, including Spanish, Nepali, Hindi, Russian and Japanese!
Where is Somali spoken?
Somali is a part of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Somali is spoken by an estimated 16 million people around the world. It’s the official language of Somalia, with several regional dialects, and is also spoken in nearby countries, like Kenya and Ethiopia.
How Many People Speak Somali in the US?
According to the most recent 2010 US Census data, there are about 100,000 Somali immigrants in the US. There are large Somali speaking populations in Minnesota, Ohio, Washington, California, and Washington, DC.
Interesting Facts About Somali
There are multiple writing systems used to express the Somali language, including Arabic, Wadaad and Osmanya.
The Somali language has 20 distinct vowel sounds. It is spoken with three different tones (high, low and falling) that indicate things like gender and number.
Somali has been influenced linguistically by other languages, like English, Italian and Arabic.
Somali Books – Bilingual Children’s Books
If you interact with children who speak Somali, or are learning the language, you may want suggestions on some of the best bilingual Somali kids books and audio books. Many engaging and popular stories with text in both English and the Somali language are available, including Handa’s Surprise, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, Hansel and Gretel and Pandora’s Box. There are also Somali book sets that allow for interactive learning via a special Recorder Pen, audio books and an interactive Somali picture dictionary.
Do you speak Somali, or are you learning the language? Comment below and share your interesting language facts!
“Aerial views of Kismayo 07” by AMISOM Public Information via Flickr is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal https://flic.kr/p/dieWvg
One of the most popular ways to raise a child bilingually is by using the OPOL approach – One Person, One Language. It seems to be one of the easiest ways for children to distinguish between languages, because they become aware that they should speak a different language with different people.
Using our family as an example: I am a native English speaker and my husband is a native Italian speaker. We live in Italy and both speak each other’s language, however not to a native level. We have two children aged two and four years old. We have spoken with our children in our own native languages from the start to give them the best chance of becoming bilingual early on.
OPOL vs MLAH approach with language exposure
MLAH (Minority Language at Home) is another common approach to raising bilingual children. This is where one language is spoken within the home, and the other out in the community. With this approach, both languages seem to have the same amount of exposure.
With the OPOL approach, most of the time one language is lacking in exposure, the minority language. Therefore, it is extremely important that the parent who speaks the minority language sticks to it quite strictly to make it work. It is not always as easy as it sounds.
We live in Italy, the community language is Italian, therefore I am the only exposure to English my children have. It would be quite easy for me to switch to the community language, however I never speak with my children in Italian, only English. It can be quite difficult sometimes in public. There are some people who stare, or ask why I am speaking English with them when we live in an Italian community. I try my best to make my children feel comfortable enough to speak back with me in English, no matter where we are, and who we are with.
Consistency plays a key role in the language learning process
If parents are not consistent using only one language speaking to their child, there is a risk that your child will become confused. Although my husband and I mix languages between ourselves, we speak ONLY our native languages with our children. They learned from very early on, who they should speak with, in which language. They know they are expected to respond to us in the language we speak with them. They are so used to it now in fact, that if I “joke” and say something in Italian, they usually laugh at me and get embarrassed because it doesn’t seem right.
Yes, it can be difficult when having family conversations
Using the OPOL approach means conversations at home can become quite “interesting” at times. With each parent speaking a different language, the children are forced to mix between languages in one conversation.
When we are eating a meal together or playing together as a family at home, there is a mix between Italian and English spoken between us all. The one thing that stays consistent though, is that when addressing my children I only speak English, and my husband only Italian, even if we speak a mix of the languages with each other.
If we are with other Italian family members who do not speak English, I stay consistent speaking with my children in English, even if others cannot understand what I am saying. This is where consistency can become difficult, as some people can feel like they are left out of the conversation. When this is the case, I sometimes translate for them, what I have said to my child.
What about adding a third language?
The OPOL approach can also work when raising your children with three languages, it just means a “third person.” Our children are learning Spanish as a third language. We have a “playmate” named Ana who comes to spend time with them. Before she started, we explained our family situation and she has been following the same approach. She speaks only Spanish with our children, and they are expected to respond in Spanish just as they do with us in English and Italian. It was quite amazing watching them take to it so easily.
Is OPOL the only way to go?
Of course this approach isn’t for every family. Before deciding on an approach to follow with your children, it is best to assess your situation, what languages are spoken, by whom, and to which level. Then work out your family language goal choosing an approach to suit.
If OPOL works for you then that’s great. If not, you can always use it as a good foundation and adapt the approach to suit your family goals.
Chontelle Bonfiglio is an Australian mother of two bilingual children. She is a certified ESL Teacher, Blogger, and Creator of Bilingual Kidspot, a website for parents raising bilingual or multilingual children.
Help your children build literacy in more than one language with bilingual books for kids available at Language Lizard!