Category Archives: classroom

2 New (Free!) Multicultural Lesson Plans

two lesson plans in front of chalkboardWe’ve teamed up with our friends at West Chester University to bring you two new lesson plans that bring multicultural education to your classroom! Download the free lesson plans and adapt them to the unique needs of your classroom. Homeschooling parents, use the activities to build literacy skills and explore new languages and cultures with your kids!  Continue reading 2 New (Free!) Multicultural Lesson Plans

Parents Night for Bilingual ELL Families

colorful stick figure people in a classroom with a chalkboard that says, "Bilingual Parents Night"Have you thought about hosting a Parents Night event just for your bilingual families? It’s a great opportunity to create a personal connection with parents who have a unique set of concerns, as well as a valuable skill set to bring to your classroom. Continue reading Parents Night for Bilingual ELL Families

4 Musical Multicultural Kid Crafts

Music is an wonderful way to introduce kids to different cultures. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” It can evoke emotions that are at the heart of the shared human experience. Here, we offer four musical multicultural kid crafts that celebrate diversity and remind us of what we all have in common. Try them with your little ones at home or school! Continue reading 4 Musical Multicultural Kid Crafts

Preparing Your Classroom for Bilingual Students

cartoon children in front of a school with "hello" in many languagesIt may be hard to believe, but summer is coming to an end. Beach days and family barbecues will soon be behind us. You find your mind is full of lesson plans and an incoming class of new faces. As you’re organizing shelves and deciding on the optimal classroom layout, remember to consider the needs of your bilingual students. Now is the perfect time to create a welcoming classroom that reflects acceptance and diversity right from the start. Continue reading Preparing Your Classroom for Bilingual Students

25 Must-Read Multicultural Books for Preschoolers and Kindergartners

Set of 25 multicultural children's booksLanguage Lizard is thrilled to offer a new, exclusive collection of must-read multicultural books for preschool and kindergarten children! This set of books gives you an instant, award-winning library of diverse books for your classroom or home. No need to search around! We’ve selected 25 of our favorite multicultural stories that expose children to cultural and ethnic diversity and celebrate differences.

The books portray children from various backgrounds, including African American, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, Asian and Native American. The set includes stories related to the immigrant experience, books that help children embrace their unique heritage, and folktales from around the world. 

The entertaining and well-reviewed stories help students appreciate diversity and build community with those around them. Children in diverse classrooms will build self esteem as they read/hear books in which their culture or ethnicity is represented. (Note: All books in this set are in English. Educators looking for bilingual multicultural booksclick here or visit Language Lizard’s language-specific pages.

Stories Included in the Collection

  • An Ezra Jack Keats Book Award winner that explores the similarities of two children who live in very different communities across the world.
  • A child revels in who she is despite her differences. An ode to self-esteem, with fun and silly illustrations.
  • An Asian folktale in which a young child is rewarded for his honesty and loyalty. An IRA-CBC Children’s Choice and An American Bookseller “Pick of the Lists.”
  • A sweet story in which a girl helps her Tia (aunt) earn money for a new car (since much of their savings goes to relatives who live far away). Winner of an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award, an Amelia Bloomer List Selection and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.
  • An introduction to Ramadan in which a young boy shares his experiences of this special time and wants to try to fast like the grown-ups do.
  • A book that looks at children all over the world and illustrates our common humanity.
  • A child is teased for looking different and learns how to celebrate his differences.
  • A book celebrating non-violent social change and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, illustrated by a three-time Caldecott Honor Recipient.
  • A Latino boy “conquers the world” (except his sisters!) while teaching kids about a theatrical, action-packed sport that is popular in many Spanish-speaking countries. A Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and an ALSC Notable Children’s Book.
  • Observing the features that make us unique, a story that celebrates what makes each child special.
  • A Chinese girl learns to appreciate what her culture has to offer during an “American” holiday. An IRA Notable Book for a Global Society.
  • A simple introduction to racial and ethnic diversity that teaches children that you can’t tell what someone is like from the color of their skin. An ALA Notable Book.
  • A book with diverse characters that inspires and guides young children to recognize their self-worth and develop confidence in themselves. Includes a section of discussion questions, activities, games and tips.
  • A trickster gets into trouble when he tries to do what goes against his nature. Winner of an ALA Notable Children’s Book, an ABA Pick of the Lists, and a National Parenting Publications Gold Award.
  • A story that uses colors as the backdrop for sharing Muslim culture, with artwork that brings classical elements of Islamic art into a modern setting.
  • A classic Chinese legend in which a poor boy helps thwart a greedy emperor’s plan.
  • With bright, bold illustrations, an artistic child notices and appreciates the colors of her friends.
  • A young girl delights in her favorite Korean dish… with details about how readers can prepare it themselves!
  • A reassuring book that encourages kids to embrace their individuality and celebrate multiculturalism.
  • A lovely Native American folktale that cautions children against bragging and teasing. An NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies and a Parenting Magazine Reading-Magic Award Winner.
  • A look at different families around the world, what they do and how they help each other.
  • A Caldecott Medal winner, magical woodcuts are used in an Indian fable that explores big versus little, and the nature of pride.
  • A book celebrating different cultures illustrates that the things that make us different also make us special.
  • A simple story about friendship with culturally diverse characters and suggested after-reading activities.
  • A lovely book about the children of the world and their inherent similarities. Supports The Global Orphan Project.

Just a Few Reviews of the Books in this Collection

  • “Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love.” – Kirkus Reviews
  • “With its universal themes of wanting to fit in, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, this read-aloud is sure to strike a chord with many young readers/listeners, and on a variety of subjects, not just race.” – School Library Journal
  • “Explores the child’s experience of straddling two cultures – and serves up an ending as satisfying as sweet-and-sour pork and crusty dessert.” -The Washington Post
  • “A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as the simplicity of its story.” – School Library Journal
  • “Children will appreciate the warm, personal narrative, as well as the connections with Muslims all over the world.” – Booklist
  • “Beautiful full-color illustrations portray this ancient Chinese folktale…” – Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
  • “A splendid tale, perfectly paced for an amusing read-aloud” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
  • “… strong, dramatic woodcuts perfectly interpret the old fable.” – School Library Journal
  • “[An easy read] with child-friendly illustrations and easy-to-understand examples of real-life situations.” – Skipping Stones: A Multicultural Children’s Magazine.
  • “Expressive, child’s-eye watercolors get in on all the activity… in this celebration of a well-loved cultural dish” – Horn Book
  • “… [focuses] on positive thinking and assertive, kind behavior that can bolster children’s mental health, their relationships, and their performance in school.” – Sean Covey, best-selling author of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids
  • “Beautiful…. This will enrich and spark discussions of diversity.” – Booklist
  • “The Strength of family and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams are the bedrock of [this…] picture book.” – Publishers Weekly
  • “An essential book that acknowledges in the simplest of terms our common humanity.” – Kirkus Reviews
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

Unique Children’s Books About Diversity

 Children's Books About Diversity: English-only Multicultural Book Sets

Language Lizard is excited to offer new sets of Multicultural Books in English. They are a great way to introduce kids to new cultures and traditions, and to celebrate diversity in the classroom and at home.

New Multicultural Book Sets

CULTURAL HOLIDAYS: DIWALI, EID & CHINESE NEW YEAR (3 BOOK SET)Our Cultural Holidays set helps children learn about 3 important holidays around the world: Diwali, Chinese New Year and Eid. Each of the books in this set is used in our multicultural lesson plans about these important holidays. Readers can download the multicultural lesson plans for free.

CHILDREN'S BOOKS ABOUT DIVERSITY: FOOD, GAMES, TRANSPORTATION (3 BOOK SET)Our set of Children’s Books About Diversity: Food, Games, Transportation takes kids on a trip around the world, exploring the rich diversity of children’s lives. Kids will learn about exotic dishes, different games children play and the ways people get around in different countries.

Bilingual Multicultural Books

Please note that in addition to these English sets, we continue to offer bilingual multicultural books in 50+ languages! Readers can easily search by language on our site to find the right books in their languages of interest.

Mugs that Celebrate Diversity & Languages – Back-to-School Gifts for Teachers and Students!

Mugs bilingual and multicultural gifts

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

"Welcome" in many languages multicultural mug

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.

Bilingual Superpower

Bilingual Superpower mug

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”

"We all smile in the same language" bilingual mug

Our “We all smile in the same language” bilingual mug has English on one side and Spanish on the other (English-only mug also available). A fun way to celebrate diversity and inclusion while enjoying your favorite beverage.

All mugs are 11oz  and microwave safe. Happy sipping!

Multicultural Activities: 5 Great Games Played Around the World

Kids playing with a large ball

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)

Triangle game from 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.

GOELLKI (Russia)

  • 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.

RELOJ (Peru)

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!

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

 

Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT)

It’s one in the afternoon and I enter the classroom armed with language books, handouts and a number of other paraphernalia to make this another “greatest lesson ever.” I arrange my things, write the date and the topic on the board and turn to face a room full of what I expected to be eager faces. Instead of bright eyes and curious expressions, I see blank stares and even a few grimaces. “Buenas tardes,” I try. The class gives a collective groan. My enthusiasm fizzles.

Every language teacher at some point or the other, usually very early in their career, has faced this situation. It’s when you are meeting a group of students for the first time but they’re old enough to not be impressed by onomatopoeic name tags. Your cheery disposition has no effect on “Happy Harry” or “Joyful Jessica.”

Foreign language teaching has gone through a number of methodologies and approaches; each purporting to be better than the other. According to Richards and Rodgers (2014), “efforts to improve the effectiveness of language teaching have often focused on changes in teaching methods… such changes have reflected changes in the goals of language teaching, such as a move toward oral proficiency rather than reading comprehension as the goal of language study; they have also reflected changes in theories of the nature of language and of language learning” (p.3). Furthermore, “common to each method is the belief that the teaching practices it supports provide a more effective and theoretically sound basis for teaching than the methods that preceded it” (Richards & Rodgers, 2014).

Despite the pedagogical strides, unfortunately for the majority of classrooms, the grammar translation method or rote learning maintains supremacy as the means of teaching. This approach came out of the methods used to teach classical languages such as Greek and Latin and focused on the repetition of grammatical forms, imitating the speaker and involved translating sentences from the target language to the native language (Celce-Murcia, 2001).

How many of us can recall the endless lists of verb tables and vocabulary? In fact, any oral language practice was simple repetition of sentences, which according to Richards and Rodgers (2014), “were designed to illustrate the grammatical system of the language and consequently bore no relation to the language of real communication.” Hence, came the search for method of language teaching that emphasized the use of language for its main purpose: communication, while abstractedly, or intentionally teaching grammar.

The most recent approach to language teaching takes this view of using language as a means of communication. The Communicative Approach, as it is called, focuses on teaching contextual functions and notions. Reading, speaking and listening skills are emphasized in activities since they occur together in the real world and the rules of grammar become an outgrowth of what students learn (Richards & Rodgers, 2014). There is no set way of using the Communicative Approach. It largely depends on whether the teacher wishes to emphasize fluency or accuracy. There are also different versions of the approach, which have become methods in themselves. One such method is Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT).

Nunan (2004) describes this approach as “learning by doing”. He proposed that “intellectual growth occurs when learners engage in and reflect on sequences of tasks” (p. 12). These tasks should be activities that students would naturally engage in on a day-to-day basis: real world tasks. As such, a sequence of classroom tasks may include reading a job advertisement and writing a resume in the target language, calling to make a doctor’s appointment or even a hotel reservation. The tasks are designed for students to engage in language use to make transactions, to socialize and even for enjoyment, which are all a part of everyday interactions.

Nunan (2004) makes a distinction between what he calls “target tasks” and “pedagogical tasks.” Target tasks, he wrote, “refers to uses of language in the world beyond the classroom” while “pedagogical tasks are those that occur in the classroom” (p.1). He further explained that, “a pedagogical task is a piece of classroom work that involves learners in comprehending, manipulating, producing or interacting in the target language while their attention is focused on mobilizing their grammatical knowledge in order to express meaning, and in which the intention is to convey meaning rather than to manipulate form” (p. 4).

Ideally, in the communicative language classroom, both types of tasks should be used. Pedagogical tasks help to practice the grammar and vocabulary specific to a particular topic and may even have real world connections. One such task may be for students to plan a birthday party while constructing sentences which describe what each person will do. The sentences will include the future tense and vocabulary related to parties such as decorations, specific foods and gifts. A target task from this exercise would be to ask students to create and exchange invitations for the same party.

The Communicative Approach and by extension, Task Based Language Teaching involves collaboration. Students must work together on tasks either in pairs or in groups in order for the communicative objective to be met. After all, language is designed to be exchanged. Task Based Language Teaching does offer a lot of potential in the classroom for changing how students learn as well as their overall attitude to languages.

Importantly, the role of the teacher has changed. He/she no longer transmits knowledge to the learner but encourages the learner to use the knowledge that they have and through tasks to build that knowledge. The role of the learner changes too. Nunan (2004) wrote that “by using ‘task’ as a basic unit of learning, and by incorporating a focus on strategies, we open to students the possibility of planning and monitoring their own learning…” (p. 15). That is to say, students become self-directed. They determine how to approach the task and may even understand the subject matter in different ways.

That said, the students’ reaction to my greeting when I entered the classroom betrays their attitude to learning a foreign language. Their reticence came about as a response to the teaching styles that they have encountered with the result being that the new language isn’t any clearer to them now than it was when they first began learning.

As I explain my goals for the lesson and the tasks that they will be doing, I have to keep all of that in mind and determine that my approach must make language learning more meaningful. When we begin, I can see the expressions changing, and their questions about how to do the task shows that the creative gears are again turning.

And the “greatest lesson ever” begins.

References

Celce-Murcia, M. (2001). Language teaching approaches: An overview. In Teaching English as a second or foreign language (Vol. 2, pp. 3-10). Retrieved from http://files.sabrikoc.webnode.com/200000087-a23cda4300/Language_Teaching_Approaches_Celce-Murcia1991.pdf

Nunan, D. (2004). Task Based Language Learning . Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J., & Rodgers, T. (2014). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge University Press.

“school” by justine warrington via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 justine warrington

NEW MULTILINGUAL “TALKING” CHARTS: English, Geography, STEM (for use with PENpal Recorder Pen)

New Multilingual "Talking" Charts

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.

English Multilingual Terms Chart

English Multilingual Terms Chart

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.

Geography Multilingual Terms Chart

Multilingual Terms Chart

The Geography Multilingual Terms Chart includes explanations for erosion, estuary, habitat, infrastructure, landscape, latitude, longitude, pollution, settlement and much more.

Math Multilingual Terms Chart

Math Multilingual Terms Chart

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.

Science Multilingual Terms Chart

Science Multilingual Terms Chart

The Science Multilingual Terms Chart includes absorb, amphibian, circulation, condensation, combustion, evaporation, friction, nutrient, organism, particles, respiration, vertebrate and more key terms.

Multilingual Phrases for School Talking Chart

Multilingual Phrases for School Talking Chart

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

You can get more detailed information on these multilingual “talking” charts, and also check out all of our PENpal products and literacy value sets.