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→
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.
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 wordsmotivate, 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!”
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.
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.
Research abounds about the benefits of bilingualism: the more exposure to languages from as early an age as possible is the best. Being that our brains are still growing and developing rapidly when we are young, multiple languages can be assimilated as seamlessly as a single language at this age. Some research even goes as far as defining optimal age limits within which languages should be learned for greatest benefits, primarily for picking up a native-like accent. However, experts enthusiastically agree that it is never too late to learn a language and to learn it well.
Not all children will have the opportunity to be exposed to multiple languages in their childhood. They may not grow up with parents who speak another language at home. They may not have the benefits of attending a bilingual school. However, just because our children may not benefit from delayed Alzheimer’s doesn’t mean that even a small amount of language exposure isn’t beneficial in a number of ways. In fact, the small amount of language and cultural exposure children receive in their early years may have the most lasting impact.
Back-to-school sales line the aisles of supermarkets and drug stores; children roam department stores picking out new fall clothes; and parents rush around with check-lists of items their children will need in the coming weeks and months.
Yes, the school year is about to begin.
For bilingual children, this time of year may feel a little daunting, especially for those who will be starting school for the very first time. In addition to all of the feelings that many students face on their first day of school (nervousness about what the teacher may be like, excitement about meeting new friends, concerns about what will be expected), bilingual children may have additional worries: Will they fit it? Will their English language skills be up to par. Will they understand everything that the teacher says? Will other students make fun of them because of their accent?
For teachers who are not used to working with bilingual children, there may be an assumption that to help these bilingual children feel comfortable in the classroom they will need extra attention. This may very well be the case, but if it is not done with care it can backfire. A bilingual child who already feels out of place may feel even more so if a teacher ends up giving him too much special attention. What a bilingual child may want the most is to have the chance to fit in and to be just like everyone else, not singled out due to special circumstances.
Long before our children have learned to read they will have been exposed to the magic of books. Stories of pixies and trolls, adventure and suspense will have filled their minds with fascination and beauty. We can probably still remember moments snuggled on the sofa as our parents read out loud to us. Magical story lines blossomed before our eyes.
When we were young, so much depended on the way an adult read out loud to us: the eerie intonation of a goblin, the gentle melody of a fairy, the loud rumble of a dragon’s roar. Even though we savored every word in the story, how we were read to made all of the difference. The more our parents or teachers took on the role of the characters, the more captivated we became. The more involved they were in the story, the more it came to life for us.
Reading bilingual books with bilingual children can be a wonderful way to help expand comprehension and vocabulary in more than one language. As you read in Dual Language Books Benefit Bilingual Children, children who can read the same story in more than one language reap many benefits. For example, they can transfer their comprehension and vocabulary of a story read in a stronger language to comprehension and vocabulary in a weaker language.
To help children strengthen their literacy skills even further, bilingual books can be incorporated into lesson plans for teachers to utilize in their classrooms and parents in their homes. Lesson plans provide targeted discussion topics and activities that can help make biliteracy fun and engaging for children. Continue reading Bilingual Books in Multicultural Lesson Plans→
We’d like to share with you a great opportunity to support early childhood literacy and language development to children in need with bilingual books and educational supplies!
Our friends at Give and Surf Inc. are starting a preschool for ages 3-5 in Bocas del Toro, Panama. The preschool will be educating children from the indigenous Ngobe villages of this underserved area. Their preschool will be the first of its kind in the area.