It 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
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
With summer here, many parents find themselves asking the same question: What should I do with the kids until school starts up again? There’s no reason you can’t make language and cultural learning part of your summer break routine! Continue reading Multicultural Learning Activities for Summer
If 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
Language Lizard is excited to announce that we’ve added two new bilingual books to our offerings:
Pinocchio and the Real Boys
We are thrilled to announce the addition of Pinocchio and the Real Boys, a title made even more special because it’s available in a new language – Kurmanji Kurdish! Continue reading New Bilingual Children’s Books Available!
Today’s spotlight language is Kurmanji. We’ve gathered some background info and interesting facts about the language. We also have information on our newest Kurmanji children’s book. Continue reading Kurmanji Language & Kurmanji Books: Facts, Figures & Resources
Across the country, more schools are embracing fluency in multiple languages by offering a special award called the “Seal of Biliteracy” that can be earned by bilingual students. Continue reading The “Seal of Biliteracy” in Schools Across the Country
Teacher Appreciation Week & More!
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11. It’s the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” to the teachers and school staff that work tirelessly to make a difference in our children’s lives. Continue reading Diverse Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week & to Celebrate Bilingual Students
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!
“Facts About Languages” by Elaine Smith via Flickr is licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) https://flic.kr/p/VoddCu
World Folktales and Fables Week is celebrated the third week of each March. (This year it’s March 18-24.) Be sure to enjoy a good folktale at home and in your classroom! Use #WorldFolktales on social media, and tell us about your favorite folktales and fables.
World Folktales & Fables: Important Teaching Tools
Every culture has its own way of teaching lessons and sharing how different things came to be. Many do this through the telling of fables or folktales. Here, we look at eight folktales from around the world. Each one explores the origin of different phenomena and reflects important values. These folktales, which are all part of our Multicultural Book Sets, are a perfect way to teach your students or children about different cultures and languages from around the world. A special discount for World Folktales & Fables Week is offered at the end of the article.
How the Moon Regained Her Shape, By: Janet Ruth Heller and Ben Hodson
This accomplished children’s book is the winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. This Native American folktale follows the story of the moon and her journey to understanding that other people’s words should not define her. Moon lets the Sun’s hateful words get the best of her and it makes her feel inferior and small just like a bully’s tormenting can make a victim feel small and oppressed. The Moon’s true friend, Round Arms, then shows her all the great things that people say about her and that she should not be discouraged by the hateful words of others.
The Empty Pot, By: Demi
This book provides a great vehicle to convey the message that honesty is the best policy. This Chinese folktale about the Emperor looking for a successor shows children that you will be rewarded for your honesty in ways you could never imagine. The Emperor had given all the children seeds and said that whoever returns with the most beautiful plant in one year will be the new emperor. All the children but one return a year later with beautiful plants. Yet the one boy with an empty pot, Ping, becomes the new Emperor. The Emperor had given everyone cooked seeds so nobody should have been able to grow a plant. Ping claimed his reward for his honesty and became the new emperor of China.
Once a Mouse… By: Marcia Brown
Winner of a Caldecott Medal, this book teaches children to be thankful for what they have as things can change at any moment. In this Indian folktale there is a hermit sitting in the forest when all of a sudden he sees a mouse running away from a crow. The hermit then turns the mouse into a cat and then into a huge dog and many more animals all increasing in size until what was once a mouse is now a tiger. The tiger becomes greedy and wants more power. The hermit spots his greed and turns him into a mouse once again because he is not thankful for what he has. Children will learn from this book that it is important to be thankful for all the good you have in your life and not focus on what you don’t have.
The First Strawberries, By: Joseph Bruchac and Anna Vojtech
This Cherokee folktale about the first man and women teaches children the important lesson to forgive and forget. The story tells of the man coming home one afternoon from hunting and getting angry at the women because she did not prepare any food for him. They fight and then the woman runs away, leaving the man stricken with sorrow and trying to catch up with the woman to win her back. The woman finally stops fleeing when she sees the strawberries, giving the man ample time to catch up with her. They then forgive each other for their mistakes and go back home. Reading this book is a great way to celebrate Cherokee culture and to learn how to forgive someone even if they hurt you.
Toad is the Uncle of Heaven, By: Jeanne M. Lee
This Vietnamese folktale tells the story of the toad and how his determination and strength must be respected regardless of his size and appearance. There was a horrible drought in Vietnam, people and animals were dying and the toad knew that something must be done. He set off on a long journey to find the King of Heaven and ask him to pour rain down on the Earth. Along the way other animals joined him to the Heavens. When they got there, the King refused to speak with them, so the toad and the other animals had to prove themselves. Finally the King listened to their complaints and rained water down over all of the Earth. The King now respected the Toad for his bravery and determination and called him “uncle” which is a sign of respect. The bravery and courage of the toad teaches children that with a little courage of their own they can do anything.
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, By: Verna Aardema and Leo and Diane Dillon
This entertaining African story about a pesky mosquito who will not stop buzzing and own up to his faults is the winner of a Caldecott Award. The iguana’s anger towards the mosquito’s foolishness sets off a chain reaction which spirals out of control, and one of the Owl’s children ends up dying because of it. The animal council then tries to find who is at fault until they finally realize it is the mosquito’s fault for telling nonsensical stories. This folktale teaches children that it is more important to tell the truth than to exaggerate facts and be dishonest.
Liang and the Magic Paintbrush, By: Demi
Originating in China, this folktale tells the story of Liang and the paintbrush he was gifted by the old man on the phoenix. It was a magic paintbrush because everything he painted with it came to life! Liang used it to paint things for the poor and the needy, and everyone was very thankful. Until one day the greedy emperor found out about the paintbrush and tried to steal it from Liang. But since the emperor could not paint well, everything turned into something he did not want it to be. The Emperor then freed Liang with the condition that he would paint whatever the Emperor wanted. In the end, Liang was ordered to paint him an ocean and the Emperor drowned in it. This shows that if you are humble and you do things to benefit the needy then you will be blessed, but if you let greed get the best of you then there will be nobody to save you from drowning.
Rabbit and the Moon, By: Douglas Wood and Leslie Baker
This fable about friendship and giving is of Native American origin and still resonates with many people today. Rabbit has always wanted to go see the moon, and the crane was the only bird willing to fly the rabbit all the way there. The story goes that Rabbit is still on the moon now and anybody looking at the Moon from Earth can see Rabbit hopping around. In return for the trip to the moon, Rabbit gave the crane a red spot on his head. Crane’s legs were stretched out because the rabbit held on to them for so long during his flight. This story teaches that lending a helping hand to others will be a rewarding experience for all involved.
Language Lizard is offering a special 10% discount on some of our favorite bilingual folktales for World Folktales and Fables Week. Use code WFF2018 to get a 10% discount on The Dragon’s Tears, The Giant Turnip and Yeh Hsien: A Chinese Cinderella through the end of March 2018.