Category Archives: Families

The Many Benefits of Bilingualism

Want your child to learn a second language, but wondering if it will be worth the time and effort? Kids’ schedules are already full of school and extracurricular activities, so parents must be selective when taking on anything new. Read on for some compelling reasons why bilingualism is definitely worth the effort.

Bilingual Babies: Cognitive Benefits from Infancy

Researchers have found that babies from bilingual homes have greater cognitive abilities, specifically with what’s known as “attentional control.” This difference occurs even when they’re too young to speak. Babies from bilingual households appear to be better than their monolingual peers at learning and anticipating new patterns.  

Young bilingual children have also been shown to have greater fundamental social and emotional skills that evolve from their attentiveness to social cues when multiple languages are spoken at home.

Infants are very open to learning new languages, especially when there is a lot of interactive dialogue between baby and caregiver(s). Studies show that the more back-and-forth interaction young kids are exposed to, the greater the academic and cognitive outcomes they have later, during school-age years. This type of interactive dialogue, in the form of playtime or when reading bilingual baby books together, is also quality bonding time, with huge emotional and psychological benefits for babies and parents.

For young dual language learners (DLLs) who speak the non-majority language at home, it is important to stress the benefits of bilingualism early on.  Even before entering school, framing bilingualism as an asset – and not a liability – gives young DLLs a boost when they enter kindergarten. When DLLs are given support in their home language during preschool years, they perform better across all academic and social measures after they enter elementary school.

School Years: Academic Benefits of Bilingualism

English learners who go through bilingual or dual language programs in school are more likely to graduate, go to college, and have higher-paying careers than their peers who lose their home language. Students are proud to see their home languages reflected in the classroom, whether it’s through bilingual booksmulticultural posters or class activities.

Students attending dual-language classes – whether they’re learning English or another language – also tend to be happier, have better attendance, fewer behavioral problems, and have higher test scores.

Across the country, more schools are embracing fluency in multiple languages by offering a special award called the “Seal of Biliteracy” that recognizes the hard work of becoming biliterate. Students who earn the Seal are more attractive to colleges and employers, leading to positive effects on earning potential over their lifetimes.

Adulthood: Bilingual People Become Global Citizens

According to the US Census, about 25% of Americans can converse in a second language. Compare that number to the 50% of people globally who are bilingual or multilingual. In some parts of Europe, that figure is actually closer to 100%.

From a strictly practical perspective, being a nation of monolinguals puts us at a disadvantage, not just in terms of the world economy, but in terms of our national security as well. It’s imperative that we have citizens who can clearly communicate with business and political leaders from around the world.

Not only that, bilingualism helps to bridge the divide across cultures and nations. Speaking other languages makes us better global citizens. At a time when tensions among countries and cultures runs high, knowing the language of another group of people is one of the best ways to understand their perspective, and find common ground.

For families who have recently immigrated, maintaining the home language is a way to connect younger generations to their families’ history and culture.

Lifelong: Potential Brain Benefits of Bilingualism

Studies have found that bilingual people are better at multitasking. Because their brains have a more robust executive control system (from switching off the language that is not needed), bilinguals are generally better at tuning out distractions, allowing them to focus on what is most relevant at any given moment.  

Researchers have also found evidence that speaking more than one language can delay the onset of dementia in Alzheimer’s patients by as many as 5 years.

These are just a few of the many amazing benefits of bilingualism. And the great news is, experts say you don’t have to achieve full fluency before you begin experiencing them. So sweep those hesitations aside, and set out on your language learning journey!

Unique Multicultural Gifts for the Holidays

bilingual shirts and mugs

Celebrate diversity and show your support for bilingualism with these fun and unique gifts! Perfect for bilingual students and teachers in diverse classrooms.

Discounts on ALL Bilingual Book Sets – Available in 40+ languages!

We hand-selected our most popular titles for bilingual book sets to save you time and money. All books include English and one other language of your choice. Tailored to meet the language needs of teachers and librarians, they make ordering easy! Our book sets include the most accessible, popular, and culturally appropriate books for the children you want to reach.

Exclusive PENpal Interactive Literacy Sets are a great way to support dual language learners! We offer an extensive selection of literacy sets that include the PENpal Audio Recorder Pen, along with our award-winning bilingual “talking books.”

Discount is applied during checkout – no code needed!

Multilingual Posters – Great for teachers with diverse classrooms!

To help you decorate your multicultural classroom or library, we are offering a discount on our multilingual poster 3-pack. This set of 3 posters lets you display “Hello,” “Thank You” and “Welcome” in over 30 languages. The discount is available online – no coupon code required.

Unique T-shirts & Mugs Celebrate Diversity and Bilingualism!

bilingual shirtsWe’re excited to offer new multicultural t-shirts that celebrate bilingualism and diversity with messages like: Welcome Your Friends (with “HELLO” in different languages), I’m Bilingual, What’s Your Superpower? and We All Smile in the Same Language.

There are many more design and color options available at our Amazon store, as well as bilingual, Spanish-only, French and German versions of some of the designs.

bilingual mugsSimilar designs promoting multiculturalism are also available on mugs! (Note that there are multiple pages.)

Gift Certificates – Let Recipients Choose What They’d Like!

Language Lizard gift certificates are great for students, teachers, librarians, and others who support dual-language children. Your recipients can choose books in over 50 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Gujarati, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Japanese, Nepali, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese and more!

You can select gift certificates in any value, add a special note of thanks, and have them sent via email within one business day!

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

Bilingual Summer Reading List

Whether your summer is action-packed or laid back, there are stretches of time that are perfect for getting in some bilingual reading. But what books are perfect for the long ride to grandma’s, or the quiet afternoon by the lake? We’ve brought together some of our favorite summertime reads that are sure to appeal to kids of all ages and interests. Bonus: They’ll be improving their bilingual skills. Our titles are available in English with your choice of over 50 languages! Continue reading Bilingual Summer Reading List

5 Multicultural Games for Kids to Try This Summer

Kids playing outdoorsIf you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, give these multicultural games from around the world a try! From games that you can play in a group, to one-on-one games, they are perfect for all ages. Get your kids or campers outdoors to play a fun round of Catching Stars or a competitive game of Hoops! It’s a great way to stay active this summer while learning about different cultures. Continue reading 5 Multicultural Games for Kids to Try This Summer

Home Language Maintenance Strategies

In previous posts, we’ve discussed the benefits of home language maintenance. However, many parents struggle to maintain the home language (HL) for a variety of reasons. Here, we offer some concrete suggestions that parents can use with elementary-aged children, to ensure they receive the cognitive, cultural and professional benefits of bilingualism.

Teachers can share the following strategies with parents and even provide assignments that will support HL maintenance. Educators can also build bilingual book libraries to provide resources for children to read at home in the HL, and at school in English.

  • Require your child to speak to you in the HL while at home. Give praise for doing so, and do not punish the child for wanting to speak English. Children will need several daily reminders to speak the HL.
  • Have one parent do homework with the child in English (as that is the language at school).
  • Provide grade level-appropriate homework for your child in the HL. If possible, coordinate with the teacher to select homework that is related to what they are doing in class. If there is not enough time to do this on the weekdays, pick a weekend day to do it.

1. Incentivize your child. Example: If you do this homework, then we’ll go to the_____________. If you don’t finish, we cannot go.

2. During the summer, do homework in the HL on a regular basis (if possible, work with your child’s teacher in determining summer assignments.

  • Find cartoons, music, movies, multicultural books, apps and educational shows to play for your child in the HL. Screen time should be limited.
  • If possible, send your child to your home country.  If you still have family there, you may be able to arrange a home stay where the child gets maximum exposure to the HL.
  • Explain to your child why it is important for her/him and your family that he or she speak both languages. Young children can understand and think critically about the importance of bilingualism, such as:

1. Maintaining the family’s native culture.

2. Maintaining communication with family who only speaks the HL.

3. Having pride in where you come from.

4. Being wll prepared for the future and a bilingual world and workplace.

  • Give age appropriate examples of how others value their bilingualism. Examples: “My friends at work wish they spoke two languages,” or “your teacher is so proud of you and impressed by your bilingualism,” or “I got my job in part because I speak two languages.”
  • Provide a print-rich environment for your child in the HL: Have your child help you choose fiction and non-fiction books in the HL, make grocery lists, write letters to relatives, and do other writing tasks in the HL. Reading and writing in the HL takes time and effort, but is important.
  • Stay firm, confident and proud of your “HL Only” rule while in the house. Children in elementary school are much more likely than middle school or high school children to eventually accept the rule and adapt to it.
  • Think of HL maintenance as part of parenting – you’re the enforcer!
  • Do not get discouraged when your child doesn’t want to speak the HL. If your child is just making the change to home language use, start by having your child speak to you in the HL for an allotted amount of time each day.

1. Be creative and pick a phrase in the HL that your child must use a couple of times a day for that week, for example.

2. Tell your child it’s like a challenge or a game: “If you speak to me in Spanish after school for 20 minutes and during dinner, you’ll be rewarded with _____.” Sticker charts, point systems, and more will show your child how s/he is progressing and s/he can earn something after reaching a certain point.

  • Do not criticize your child for using incorrect grammar, having an accent, or using the wrong word when speaking the HL. It’s natural to make mistakes, and you can gradually correct him or her with gentle reminders.
  • If you have an infant as well, have your elementary school child speak to the baby in the HL only (for the benefit of both children).

Don’t be afraid and don’t get discouraged if the time and effort to implement a plan seems overwhelming at first. It will become part of your routine, just like anything else you’ve established in your home. Reach out to other parents who are in your situation, join online communities of bilingual parents, and do your own research if you have the time. There are many resources out there that can help you! It’s very rewarding when your child can speak to you and to others in your native language.

Guest author Emily Enstice is a former teacher at Willow Creek Academy, a K-8 charter school in Sausalito, California. She received her doctorate in International and Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco.

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

“Facts About Languages” by Elaine Smith via Flickr is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) https://flic.kr/p/VoddCu

Benefits of Home Language Maintenance, From Parents’ Perspectives

Nearly one in three U.S. children live in a household where a language other than English is spoken, but are the same number of children fluent in their home language? Actually, many parents struggle to maintain the home language for a variety of reasons: when spoken to in the home language, children respond in English; some teachers encourage English only at home (the perception that another language confuses children is false); parents, their children and many societal groups view home languages as inferior to English. These examples of parent struggles with home language maintenance resonate with immigrant families across the U.S. Continue reading Benefits of Home Language Maintenance, From Parents’ Perspectives

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

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!