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
Thanksgiving is here! Let’s take a look at the meaning behind this holiday in the US, and what its traditions have in common with celebrations in other parts of the world. And learn to say “thank you” in different languages!
The first Thanksgivings celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians were a celebration of a good harvest.
Harvest celebrations are held in every part of the world, throughout the year. For example, Vietnam celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Israel celebrates the festival of Sukkot. (Check out our post for fun and easy kids crafts that celebrate these harvest celebrations and more.) Continue reading Giving Thanks Around the World
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
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.
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.
There has been a lot of discussion and debate regarding refugees, with some people expressing concerns that letting in refugees will increase terrorism, while others fear that the recent proposed limitations imposed by an executive order have caused the US to lose its moral compass. In the midst of this conversation, it can be easy to forget the human faces behind the term “refugee.”
What is a refugee?
According to international refugee law, a refugee is one who seeks refuge in a foreign country because of war and violence, or out of fear of persecution in his/her country. The United States recognizes persecution “on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group” as grounds/requirement from those seeking asylum.
The person is referred to as an asylum seeker until a request for refuge has been accepted and approved. After the protection needs are recognized, he/she is officially referred to as a refugee, and enjoyes refugee status, which carries certain right and obligations, per the legislation of the receiving country.
Throughout our history, refugees from Albert Einstein to Marlene Dietrich have made a huge impact on our country and the world at large. Here, we discuss just five refugees (some names you may recognize) who are helping make America great.
Literature: Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende is a Chilean writer. She was an immigrant in the U.S, where she started writing novels that have become famous around the world as modern Latin-American classics.
When asked what gave her the drive to achieve, she answered, “Often I had no alternative but to work hard in order to survive and protect my family. I was a political exile and then an immigrant. That makes one strong.”
On September 11th, 1973, Isabel went into exile after her uncle, Salvador Allende, was detained in a military coup. After this incident, Isabel started to receive death threats and shortly found out that her name was on the military blacklist. She fled to Venezuela with her husband and two children. Without a visa or a job, she managed to continue her career as a writer when she became a journalist for a newspaper called El Nacional.
In 1981, when Allende received news that her grandfather was about to pass away, Isabel started writing him letters, in order to feel closer to her family. This manuscript was then turned into her first and best known novel: The House of the Spirits.
Her stories were inspired by families like hers, that live in troubled times, and are caught up in the politics of the day. In 1985, Isabel went to the US as a visiting professor of literature. Today, she is involved in more than 20 organizations that provide support for refugees, and women and children who have been abused.
Sports: Luol Deng
Luol is a South Sudanese-British professional basketball player who currently plays for the Miami Heat. He was born in 1985, in the middle of the civil war in Sudan. He and his family escaped the fighting when he was young, settling first in Egypt, and later in Great Britain. He had his early education in London, and went on to study in the US before pursuing a career in professional basketball. Deng has previously played for the Chicago Bulls, and is a two-time NBA All-Star.
Entertainment: Jасkiе Chаn
Jackie Chan is known for his acrobatic fighting style on screen, his use of improvised weapons, creative stunts, and comedic timing. Chan is a star in Hong Kong, and is a refugee who has had a big impact in America’s entertainment industry. This talented actor was born in China, but moved to Australia with his family as refugees of war, fleeing the violence of the Chinese Civil War. He began his career as a stuntman, but soon became a famous actor in the US and around the world.
The 1969 coup, and its bloody aftermath, in Somalia prompted Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid’s family to flee to Kenya. The Somali-American fashion model, actress and entrepreneur was discovered by a photographer. She began her career as a supermodel in the US, and eventually married musician David Bowie, started a cosmetics company, and became active in humanitarian causes.
Technology: Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin is a billionaire engineer and inventor, and currently the wealthiest immigrant in the US. Born in Russia, Brin came to the US at the age of 6, when his family fled to escape anti-Semitic persecution. Brin eventually attended Stanford University to study computer science, where he met Larry Page. Together, they co-founded Google in 1998. It is now the most popular search engine used in the world. Brin is now the president of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Do you know of a refugee who is helping make America great? Comment below and share!
“AMERICA!” by Michael Dougherty is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/a15evT
While Father’s Day traditions may vary all of the world, one thing is for sure, they deserve to be celebrated! Did you know that dads in Mexico wake up early to compete in a 21 km race around the capital city? Alternatively, fathers in Finland sleep in and enjoy their favorite breakfast.
If you are looking for a fun way to show your dad you care, why not look to another country for some cultural inspiration? You never know where you may find a new tradition for your family!
This guest post was provided by Personal Creations. You may also enjoy last year’s inspirational father’s day post, “The Last Book My Dad Read to Me“. Note: For Father’s Day 2016, Language Lizard is offering a 10% discount on our popular bilingual book, “My Daddy is a Giant” (through June 2016, using coupon code Daddy-16).
“Family By the Beach” by FHG Photo via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/8odLni
by guest blogger Adam Beck
Though I no longer teach at Hiroshima International School, I return there every year, with my family in tow, for the school’s annual spring festival. For me, my main motivation—apart from seeing old friends—is the sale of used books: children’s books of all kinds, from the school library and students’ homes, at rock-bottom prices.
I practically start drooling as I paw through them.
Each year I come home with dozens of books for our home library: books I can read aloud to my kids at breakfast, books we read together for “shared reading” (taking turns, page by page), and books they can read on their own.
A couple of years ago, we came home from the festival and I dumped two heavy shopping bags of books on the kitchen table. I pulled out a chair and sat, happily examining my treasure and taping together the loose covers and pages. That’s when my daughter Lulu, then 9, approached and exclaimed, “Daddy, we have too many books!”
The truth is, if you stepped inside my little house, you’d probably laugh: It’s bursting with books, to the point where there really isn’t room for them all. Our bookshelves overflowed long ago and there are now piles rising from the floor like sunflowers.
But I turned to Lulu and I replied: “Too many books? You can never have too many books!”
My philosophy of education
“You can never have too many books!” These seven words basically sum up my view of language education since I first became a teacher of bilingual children 20 years ago. Books and reading—lots of books and lots of reading—became my main ally in nurturing language development.
During my time at Hiroshima International School, I flooded my classroom with books and read often to my students. And as I watched their English ability grow, I realized that this same approach would become the cornerstone of my efforts to one day raise bilingual children of my own. I would flood the house with books in the minority language and make reading a daily staple of my family’s lifestyle.
I have seen the rewarding results of this “method” in my own personal experience, but in fact, there is also prominent research which indicates that a correlation between the number of books in the home and a child’s language development and ability, as well as academic achievement and even career success, is evident in countries and languages around the world.
Pursued over a period of 20 years and published in 2010, the authors of the massive study Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations analyzed the lives of some 70,000 people in a range of countries. At the heart of their research was this key question: About how many books were in your family’s house when you were 14 years old? (Any books, not simply books for children.)
At the same time, they gathered background data on these participants, such as the parents’ level of education and occupation, and their own schooling and work.
What does this research reveal? It demonstrates—even given the parents’ level of education and occupation, as well as such factors as gender, class, nationality, political system, and gross national product—that the impact of books is the same throughout the world and throughout many generations: Children in families with a home library of 500 books or more experience significantly greater educational success. On average, these children pursue their education for 3.7 years longer than children in homes with few or no books.
As the authors themselves write: “We find that parents’ commitment to scholarly culture [which they define as “the way of life in homes where books are numerous, esteemed, read, and enjoyed”], manifest by a large home library, greatly enhances their children’s educational attainment. … Scholarly culture has a powerful impact on children’s education throughout the world, in rich nations and in poor, under communism and under capitalism, under good governments and bad, in the present generation and as far back in history as now living memory can take us. … A book-oriented home environment, we argue, endows children with tools that are directly useful in learning at school: vocabulary, information, comprehension skills, imagination, broad horizons of history and geography, familiarity with good writing, understanding of the importance of evidence in argument, and many others.”
Implications for parents
Although this study was concerned more broadly with books in the majority language of each nation, and success in schooling, there are important implications for parents seeking to support the minority language of their bilingual children. After all, success in schooling is a direct outgrowth of success in language development.
Build a home library of books in the minority language—the bigger, the better.
Even if you don’t own 500 books (both children’s books and books for adults count!), the more books you have, and the more you make use of those books by reading aloud to your children each day and reading together, the more your children’s language ability will grow.
And, as the study suggests, the language-related “tools” that your children will gain in the minority language will also be a source of support to them when attending school in the majority language. For example, the knowledge about the world that my kids have gleaned from our English books at home serves them well when studying similar topics in Japanese.
Create an environment of bookshelves and books, not simply digital readers and e-books.
One important reason I haven’t yet shifted much from “real books” to e-books is because real books, in my view, provide a richer environment for the senses. It’s true, we’re slowly getting buried in books here, but the fact that my kids are surrounded by them (and stumbling over them), day in and day out, makes books and reading a way of life.
With bookshelves, books are continuously on display and available for discovery; this just isn’t the case with e-books lurking inside a digital device. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking e-books—they have many merits, not the least of which would be helping me dig out of my housekeeping dilemma. But, to me, they also run the risk of turning books from “public things” into “private things.”
For the sake of my children’s language development, I want our home environment to support my aims, and I think emphasizing books that are tangible and tactile, as “public things” always beckoning to the eye, is a more effective course during their formative years.
Keep in mind that, as these researchers contend, “a taste for books is largely inherited.”
Of course, our main goal involves supporting the minority language of our bilingual kids. But have you ever considered the fact that, in a way, the support you’re providing to your children today will also affect the language development of their kids, your future grandchildren? (Sorry to turn you into a grandparent so soon!)
The study on “scholarly culture” makes this very clear in exploring the question: Where do libraries come from—who acquires a large library? And the authors conclude that “Scholarly culture, and the taste for books that it brings, persists from generation to generation within families largely of its own accord, independent of education and class.”
In other words, if you build a large library of books in your home, your children probably will, too, when they’re adults! And if your children do, your grandchildren will do the same for their kids! And so it goes, generation after generation, a love of language and literacy—and stronger language development—handed down far after your time.
Adapted from the book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids by Adam Beck, founder of the blog Bilingual Monkeys and the forum The Bilingual Zoo. Adam has worked with hundreds of bilingual and multilingual children, from toddlers to teens, as both a classroom teacher and a private tutor. He now lends support to many more families, in all parts of the world, via his book, blog, and forum. He has lived in Hiroshima, Japan since 1996 and is raising two bilingual children in Japanese and English.
How many books do you have in your home library or classroom library? Could strengthening this library help strengthen the language development of your children or students? Please add your thoughts below.
April is an important month for our nation’s libraries. Take the time to celebrate the many ways our libraries contribute to our communities. In a previous post, we explored innovative ways for libraries to attract ethnic populations. Here, we take a look at ways libraries can transform a community.
Diverse Communities, Multicultural Library Offerings
Libraries have always been a place to read and learn, and have functioned as important community centers. Librarians assess their communities, its needs, and decide how best to meet those needs. Community outreach is a big part of a library’s purpose. As the US becomes more diverse, it’s imperative that libraries increase their services and programs to meet the needs of non-native-English speakers. These changes establish libraries as true centers of learning for the entire community.
National Library Week
The second full week of April each year is National Library Week. It’s a time to celebrate and promote our nation’s school, public, and academic libraries. This year’s theme is “Libraries transform.” It’s an initiative from the American Library Assocation (ALA) aimed at making more of the public aware of the many services libraries offer, and the value and impact of those services in communities. The main idea behind the initiative is that “[l]ibraries today are less about what they have for people and more about what they do for and with people.”
Dia! Diversity in Action
April 30 of each year is the culmination of Dia! Diversity in Action, a nationwide initiative from the ALA. Also known as El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), it provides support to libraries wanting to connect their patrons to more bilingual/multicultural services and resources. The initiative is a “daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures.”
Storytime in a Foreign Language & More
The Association for Library Service to Children, the world’s largest organization supporting children’s library services, includes multicultural programs in its list of recommended programs for school-aged children. One is Storytime in a Foreign Language, where members of the community are invited to come in and read books in their native language. Parents are also encouraged to share foreign language books and cultural stories with their children.
PENpal Audio Recorder Pen – A Unique Tool for Libraries
The PENpal “Talking Pen” is great for libraries in search of an easy-to-use, multipurpose tool that will attract and meet the needs of their ethnic patrons. In addition to turning existing bilingual children’s books into audio books in over 40 languages, the Mantra Lingua PENpal can bring fully customized recordings to any learning resource. Just some examples:
- Listen to sound-enable posters, photos or charts
- Create interactive displays
- Create verbal treasure hunts for children to follow
- Provide step-by-step instruction for any Learning Center
- Make an oral version of forms and booklets to facilitate communication with patrons.
The PENpal Recorder Pen is so versatile, it can be used to support reading, writing, speaking and listening for any person in need of an inclusive resource that develops literacy skills.
Do you have an outstanding multicultural library in your neighborhood? Tell us about their innovative programs and services by commenting below!
“Canada Water Library Shelves” by Barney Moss via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/dNwts8
There are so many reasons to read to your baby, especially when you’re raising a bilingual child. Not only is reading a great way to bond, it’s a chance to link spoken words with visual images on the page. And don’t forget to get older siblings involved in the bilingual reading fun! Here are 5 tips to getting your bilingual baby book collection started.
Choosing the Right Bilingual Baby Books
Your first bilingual books for your baby should be made of sturdy material that can withstand strong baby hands and teeth. Board books with thick pages are a great choice, as are cloth and vinyl books that can be washed off.
For babies newborn to 6 months, choose books with large pictures in bright colors. Older babies love books with images of their favorite things, like balls, bottles and other babies.
Make Dedicated Reading Time
Life with a baby means getting a million things done each day (and night). Feeding, changing, nap time… repeat. Find a special reading time that works best for your family: maybe at snack time, after a bath or at bedtime. Soon, reading time will be one of the best parts of your daily routine.
Read with Enthusiasm!
Whether it’s animals noises, singing or character voices, your baby (and you) will have more fun when story time is full of excitement, emotion and enthusiasm. But remember to keep your expression pleasant, so baby doesn’t get frightened if there are scary parts.
Name Everything as You Read
Don’t limit yourself to the text on the page. Feel free to point to pictures and objects and name them all in both languages!
Let Your Books Grow with Your Child
As your baby grows, don’t forget to add more challenging stories to your collection. These will have longer sentences, with more complex vocabulary. But it’s ok to keep the old favorites in the rotation! Find multicultural children books that are culturally appropriate. International holidays and common experiences, like making friends or trying new foods, are great topics that your little one will enjoy.
What is your family’s favorite story to read? Comment below and let us know!
It’s the start of a new school year, and your classroom fills with a brand new kaleidoscope of personalities. You may find yourself wondering how to help an eclectic group of kids connect with each other. How do you bring your class together as a community, and jump start the conversation and collaboration? You want to create a safe, secure and nurturing learning environment for all children – an especially challenging task when they come from diverse backgrounds.
Although it may sound a bit counter-intuitive, one of the best ways to create a sense of community is by celebrating individuality. Kids love to see themselves reflected in the classroom. As discussed in our recent post about understanding and appreciating cultural differences in the classroom, when kids contrast and compare family holidays and traditions without judgment, respect and acceptance begins. Reading world folk tales and fables is a great way to explore new traditions from various cultures.
The Concept of Community
You may want to begin by exploring the concept of a community with your class. Yes, it’s a group of people who share something in common, but there are so many less obvious aspects, particularly in a classroom setting. Language Lizard offers a free standards-based lesson plan that teaches students all about the concept of community: What is it, why is it important to have one, and what makes a community stronger?
Sarah Brown Wessling, 2010 National Teacher of the Year and the Teacher Laureate for Teaching Channel, talks about the importance of creating “classroom chemistry” in a blog article, which she describes as the moment when a “certain group of students auspiciously find each other in a classroom.” She discusses 14 ways to create it with your students, and the important role that good chemistry plays in keeping students engaged in the classroom. For another in-depth look at the importance of building a classroom community, check out The Center for the Collaborative Classroom’s Child Development Project, which offers more activity ideas and supporting research.
Predictable, Nurturing Classroom Environment
A classroom that is not just functional, but also comfortable and comforting, encourages learning. Things like lighting, temperature, desk spacing, and a comfy reading corner are physically comforting. A predictable daily routine is emotionally comforting, as are clearly defined rules for classroom behavior. This article from Edutopia discusses how the use of daily trust-building activities can create a support system in your classroom.
What are some ways you create an outstanding community in your classroom? Comment below and share your experiences!
“Teamwork and team spirit” by 드림포유 via Flickr is licensed under CC BY ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/o4ZHuD
“Individuality” by Joey Gannon via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/HGRhB
“Team.” by Dawn (Willis) Manser via Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/6oaunE