Language, Culture, and Identity Issues: Challenges and Changes in Mixed Roots and Multicultural Families

Mixed family 

 

Identity is something that many if not most all of us wrestle with whilst growing up. However, like most minorities, this is perhaps even more so for many mixed roots, multicultural and third culture kids; from dealing with being treated differently by others and searching for groups to identify with, and feel a sense of belonging, to learning multiple languages and cultures. As previously mentioned, language and culture are integral parts of our identity, and kids who have or develop positive attitudes and feelings towards all aspects of their identity tend to be better adjusted and happier. However, as parents, how can we help our kids to deal with the inevitable bumps along the way?

 

Whether in print, downloaded or read online (e.g. Dino Lingo Books), stories, especially traditional ones, span generations, keep culture alive and help children to connect with their roots, even when living outside that community. In an increasingly globalised world, it’s also wonderful to be able to read stories from cultures that aren’t our own, but may help our children connect and understand friends in an increasingly number of internationalized classrooms (see the Culture and Diversity selection, for example). Many books also help children to address the challenges they may face, from being the odd one out and bullied to being the new kid at school.

 

Furthermore, for parents these days, there are numerous helpful starting points to deal with issues of language, culture, and identity as they arise, from books and blogs to communities that meet face-to-face and/or on social media. They share a wealth of invaluable information and support at local, regional, and international levels. Here are three, all by people sharing from firsthand experience in order to help others:

 

Multilingual living  is the home of Multilingual Living Magazine, a popular digital publication dedicated to families raising bilingual and multilingual children. It’s a place to “… find inspiration, tools, advice, wisdom and support!” There is a host of helpful articles, including ones written by guest experts, and questions sent in from readers, on issues ranging from top 10 things parents should never say to their bilingual/multilingual child to top 10 reasons your children aren’t speaking your language and what to do when you’re feeling left out of the conversation and isolated.

 

Bilingual Monkeys offers “ideas and inspiration for raising bilingual kids (without going bananas)” with a weekly newsletter, resources for parents including ‘fun stuff’, a blog and collection of articles covering topics like 96 Things You Can Do Today to Boost Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and the tongue-in-cheek How to Fail Miserably at Raising a Bilingual Child.

 

Multilingual parenting has a weekly newsletter, blog, community and coaching. The Q&A archive includes a wide range of topics from what to do if your child’s teacher tells you to stop speaking a family language to several posts addressing how to raise kids with three or more languages. Searching the site for the topic of identity, you can find a number of posts that support the acceptance and development of our multilingual and multicultural selves, and Rita Rosenback, when writing about Many Languages One Identity, asserts:

“All my languages are an intrinsic part of my identity. Every single one of them has helped me understand other people and cultures and thus contributed to the person I am today. They do however not split my identity, they consolidate it.”

 

As parents, for example, we can support our children’s journey towards this position of self-confidence and self-acceptance, not only with encouragement and acceptance of their developing identities, but also by providing as many positive encounters with their languages and cultures as possible. On this note, here are 3 of the things that me and my sister think our parents got right for us (Anglo-Celtic-Japanese growing up in England): Celebrating our cultures, visits to Japan, and varied groups of friends.

 

Celebrating our cultures

I feel very lucky to have grown up with Robin Hood and King Arthur & The Knights of The Round Table as well Japanese folk stories and anime. We were somewhat spoilt in having two sets of cultural festivities, but now my kids have three (Malay, English, and Japanese), insomuch as we can keep it up! Building a positive affinity to each culture, in the long run if not the shorter term, serves to develop interest, the desire to learn the language, and positive self-image.

Visits to Japan

Although it would take 3-4 years to save enough funds to go to Japan with assistance from grandparents, every trip was an amazing 4-6 week affair where all our relatives went out of their way to make up for lost time, so much so that we’ve never felt the physical distance in terms of how close our relationships were. When I first travelled to Japan on my own steam, aged 19, and then again a few years later, it was invaluable to be familiar with places as well as have family and friends I was comfortable with since childhood.

 

Varied groups of friends

In addition to school and neighbourhood friends, we also had our mum’s circle of Japanese mothers whose children we played with regularly. Whilst it was our parents who helped maintained our ties whilst growing up, our friendships continue to this day, not least because we’d always try to get together whenever we visited Japan. Also, when my mum heard of a new Japanese family or mixed family (i.e. English married to a Japanese), she’d also make an effort to reach out and bring us all together. Meeting other kids ‘like us’ was inevitably something we always looked forward to, and benefitted from, as our similar circumstances formed a good basis for shared understanding and empathy, as well as healthy cross-cultural conversations and debate from the mundane to the more complex:

“Shoes on or off?” one friend asked when comparing typically English and J      apanese homes.

“Definitely off!” we replied to nods of agreement.

“So what do you speak at home?”

 

The language of play and its crucial role in language development and children’s immediate needs and desire to join in and make friends, can never be overstated. Moreover is often key to breathing life into a minority language that a child might otherwise have limited encounters with outside the home.

 

Whilst everyone’s experiences are different, I hope that by sharing a few of mine, you might find something that connects. And please feel free to share yours, too!

 

Last but not least, it’s always worth knowing how to find other groups and information relevant to us for any given place or time in our lives. Some of the more common terms I’ve found helpful in Internet searches include mixed race, interracial, mixed roots, mixed heritage and multicultural, but half, double, and hapa can also lead to new discoveries as I found in Japan. And these days, many groups are thriving with the proliferation of social media. But if there isn’t a group in your area, now may be the best time to start one.

by Philip Shigeo Brown

Croatian Cuisine and Traditional Foods – Croatian Culture for kids

Each part of Croatia has a different cuisine. You can taste something new every day.

Croatian people have three main meals in the day. Breakfast is light. People drink coffee, tea, or chocolate milk, and eat bread with jam.

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It usually has a soup, meat with vegetables prepared in different ways, and a salad. Salad is made of greens with a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of oil and vinegar in the spring and summer, or pickled vegetables during the winter.

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Dinner is usually made of leftovers from lunch. If not, people cut dry sausages and cheese.

Croatian people really like eating bread, and they can eat it with almost anything. Old people can even eat bread when they eat fruits like oranges, figs, or grapes. Bread is often home-made, but sometimes people buy it from bakery shops.

Sea parts of Croatia eat a lot of fish and seafood like mussels, octopus, and calamari with olive oil, and vegetables. It’s called Mediterranean cuisine, and it’s very healthy and delicious. A lot of people are fishermen. They use their little boats called “barka” to go out to the sea and throw their fish nets to catch fish.

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People who live next to the sea say that a fish swims three times. The first time, it’s in the sea. The second time, it’s in the oil when it’s grilled. The third time, it is in wine that you drink when eating it.

Fish plate with fish, mussels, calamari, Swiss chard with potatoes shown above.

A way of preparing food under the metal top covered with hot ember is very popular. They often prepare young lamb or veal with potatoes, or octopus with potatoes this way.

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Cheese made from sheep milk and “pršut” (prosciutto) are very popular, and they taste delicious.

In the continental parts of Croatia, more heavy and spicy food is popular. “Kulen” is a spicy kind of a sausage that people like to eat.

Pork is a favorite kind of meat in continental parts of Croatia. There are many foods prepared from it.

Besides meat, pasta dishes are popular here. “Štrukli” is a meal made of pasta filled with cheese. “Štrukli” are prepared in many ways. They can be cooked in a soup or baked like a cake.

A kind of a stew called “paprikaš” with fish or meat is cooked with red pepper. Pepper gives it a spicy taste.

“Sarma” is a meal made from minced meat rolled in sour cabbage leaf. It is cooked in a soup with tomato sauce, and served with mashed potatoes.

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Apple strudel, berries strudel, cheese strudel and other kinds of strudel are a part of Croatian cuisine. “Krempite” (cream pies) are cakes with vanilla and egg cream and they are one of the most popular cakes in Croatia.

What should I wear? Croatian Fashion and Traditional Clothing – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatian people used to wear traditional clothes. Women wore dresses, and men wore shirts and pants. If they lived in a village, they usually wore white clothes made from rough fabrics.

They would decorate it with hand-made patterns, lace (Pag lace), or golden buttons (dukati). Women sometimes had complicated hair-dos.

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It is interesting that a tie is a Croatian invention. In the past, Croatian soldiers wore their neck pieces tied in a special way. In some languages, tie is called kravat, kravatta, corbata. All those names come from the name Croatian.

Today, people wear modern clothes like anywhere else. They wear jeans, shirts, dresses, sneakers, boots and so on.

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Common Croatian Words and Phrases – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatian seems like a hard language to learn, but it’s not really. It’s easy to read because each letter is always read the same way.

When you are in Croatia, there are some common words and phrases you can use to get around, and they’re not too difficult to learn.

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Greeting people depends on the time of the day. Before noon, you say “Dobro jutro”. Between noon and evening, you say, “Dobar dan”, and when the night falls, you say “Dobra večer”.

When you want to ask someone how he or she is doing, you ask “Kako si?” They can say they’re okay, “Dobro sam”.

When you give someone a book, for example, you can say here you go, or “Izvolite”. They will answer with “Hvala”, and that means thank you. “Nema na čemu” means you’re welcome.

When someone sneezes, you tell them “Nazdravlje!”

When you want to wish someone to enjoy their meal, you say “Dobar tek”.

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If you want to apologize to something, you can say “Oprostite”, but most Croatian people will understand sorry as well. They watch a lot of American movies, so they started saying sorry instead of “Oprostite” even to each other.

Yes is “Da”, and no means “Ne”. When you want to say please in Croatian, you say “Molim”.

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Common Croatian Names (boys and girls) – Croatian Culture for kids

Most popular Croatian name is definitely Ivan, and variations of that name. Ivan is a name for boys. In English, it is the same as John.

Ivan can come in many variations. They could be Ivo, Ivano and Ivica for boys, or Ivana, Iva, Ivona for girls. “I” in those names is read like ee in week, not like i in ivy.

Other popular Croatian names for boys are Luka (Luke), Marko (Mark), Filip (Phillip), Josip (Joseph), Antonio (Anthony), Karlo (Carl), Petar (Peter), and so on. Most of these names are traditional and exist in Croatian language for a long time.

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For girls, besides Iva and Ivana, the most popular names are Ana (Anne) and Marija (Mary). There are cases when in one school class with 20 children, there are three or four girls named Marija, or three or four boys names Ivan.

Other popular names for girls are Lucija (Lucy), Mia, Lana, Nika, Dora, Sara, Katarina, Martina, Marina, and so on.

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Croatian Alphabet and Written Character History – Croatian Culture for kids

The Croatian language is a Slavic language. That means it is similar to Czech, Slovakian, Russian, and it is very similar to Serbian.

There are three different dialects in Croatian. You can say “what” in three different ways – “što” (shtoh), “ča” (tscha), and “kaj” (kuy). Three Croatian dialects are called after these three words. Dialects can be very different from each other. Sometimes people living on one end of the country can have trouble understanding someone who lives on the other side of the country.

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Dialects are influenced by other languages. People who say “ča” often use words from Italian language. People who say “kaj” will often use words that come from German language.

Croatian alphabet has 30 letters. It doesn’t have letters q, w, x, and y, but when people spell foreign words like New York, they will use those letters.

The alphabet does have letters like č, ć, dž, đ, š, and ž. People often confuse č and ć, and children in school don’t really like when that comes in their tests.

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Each letter of Croatian alphabet is always read the same way. Here is how to do it:

A – like u in sun

B – like b in bed

C – like ts in bets

Č – like Ch in Charles

Ć – like t in mature

D – like d in daisy

Dž – like dg in fudge

Đ – like d in schedule

E – like the first e in excellent

F – like f in flour

G – like g in go

H – like h in help

I – like ee in week

J – like y in yell

K – like k in king

L – like l in love

Lj – like li in million

M – like m in mother

N – like n in no

Nj – like ñ in se Spanish señor

O – like o in opera

P – like p in parrot

R – it’s called rolled R, like the sound you would make when trying to imitate a sound of the old car using the sound r

S – like s in sun

Š – like sh in wish

T – like t in top

U – like oo in book

V – like v in victory

Z – like z in zebra

Ž – like s in measure

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Say ” Happy Birthday” in a different language

 

Chinese - 生日快乐 - Shēngrì kuàilè

German - Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag

Japanese - お誕生日おめでとうございます - Otanjōbiomedetōgozaimasu

Dutch - gelukkige verjaardag

Arabic - عيد ميلاد سعيد

Czech - všechno nejlepší k narozeninám

Greek - χαρούμενα γενέθλια - charoúmena genéthlia

Finnish - Hyvää syntymäpäivää

Turkish – Mutlu yıllar

French - joyeux anniversaire

Hebrew - יום הולדת שמח

Polish - z okazji urodzin

Hindi - जन्मदिन की शुभकामनाएँ - Janmadina kī śubhakāmanā’ēm

Russian - С ДНЕМ РОЖДЕНИЯ - S DNEM ROZHDENIYA

Italian - Compleanno felice

Korean - 생일 축하합니다  - saeng-il chughahabnida

Japanese - お誕生日おめでとうございます - Otanjōbiomedetōgozaimasu

Portuguese - feliz aniversário

Spanish - feliz cumpleaños

Swedish - Grattis på födelsedagen

Romanian - fericit ziua de naştere

Norwegian - Gratulerer med dagen

Vietnamese - Chúc mừng sinh nhật

Ukranian - днем народження - dnem narodzhennya

Urdu - سالگِرہ مبارک - salgirah mubarak

Thai - สุขสันต์วันเกิด - sook sun wan gerd

Malay - Selamat hari lahir

Latin - Felix dies natalis

Language learning for kids

Popular Children’s Literature of Italy

-          Aesop’s Fables (Dover Children’s Thrift Classics):

(Author- Aesop, Pat Stewart) Ages 4 to 8

-          The Adventures of Pinocchio: The Story of a Puppet:

(Author- Carlo Collodi, Iassen Ghiuselev)  Ages 9 to 12

-          Pompeii:

(Author- Peter Connolly) Ages 9 to 12

-          The Buried City of Pompeii: What It Was Like When Vesuvius Exploded (I Was There):

(Author: Shelley Tanaka, Greg Ruhl)

            Ages  9 to 12

-          Vulca the Etruscan (Journey Through Time Series):

(Author: Roberta Angeletti, Beatrice Masini) Ages 8 to 12

-          Leonardo and the Flying Boy:

(Author: Laurence Anholt) Ages 8 to 14

-          Bravo, Zan Angelo!: A Commedia Dell’Arte Tale With Story & Pictures:

(Author: Niki Daly) Age 10+

-          The Legend of Old Befana:

(Author: Tomie De Paola) Ages 4 to 10

-           Big Anthony: His Story:

(Author: Tomie De Paola) Ages 4 to 8

-          Opera Cat:

(Author: Tess Weaver, Andrea Wesson) Ages 4 to 8

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Inventions for Kids: French Inventions, DID YOU KNOW???

  • AQUALUNG: a breathing apparatus that supplied oxygen to divers and allowed them to stay underwater for several hours. It was invented in 1943 by Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
  • BAROMETER: a device that measures air (barometric) pressure. It measures the weight of the column of air that extends from the instrument to the top of the atmosphere. There are two types of barometers commonly used today, mercury and aneroid (meaning “fluidless”). Earlier water barometers (also known as “storm glasses”) date from the 17th century. The mercury barometer was invented by the Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli.
  • BATTERY: a device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Each battery has two electrodes, an anode (the positive end) and a cathode (the negative end). An electrical circuit runs between these two electrodes, going through a chemical called an electrolyte (which can be either liquid or solid). This unit consisting of two electrodes is called a cell (often called a voltaic cell or pile). It was invented by Alessandro Volta.
  • BICYCLE: a wooden scooter-like contraption called a celerifere; it was invented about 1790 by Comte Mede de Sivrac of France.
  • ELECTRIC IRON: The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley
  • MAYONNAISE: invented in France hundreds of years ago, probably in 1756 by the French chef working for the Duke de Richelieu, The first ready-made mayonnaise was sold in the US in 1905 at Richard Hellman’s deli in New York.
  • METER (and the METRIC SYSTEM): Was invented in France. In 1790, the French National Assembly directed the Academy of Sciences of Paris to standardize the units of measurement. A committee from the Academy used a decimal system and defined the meter to be one 10-millionths of the distance from the equator to the Earth’s Pole (that is, the Earth’s circumference would be equal to 40 million meters). The committee included the mathematicians Jean Charles de Borda (1733-1799), Joseph-Louis Comte de Lagrange (1736-1813), Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827), Gaspard Monge (1746 -1818), and Marie Jean Antoine Nicholas Caritat, the Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794).
  • PENCIL: invented in 1564 when a huge graphite (black carbon) mine was discovered in England. The pure graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The graphite rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders, forming pencils.

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Historical French Figures: From Disney to Helping the Blind See

William the Conqueror actual French name is Guillaume le Conquérant, and he was Duke of Normandy, a large area of northern France.  He is a historical figure of France because in 1066 he took his army across the Channel, and killed the English King, Harold, and most of the English nobles in the Battle of Hastings. He conquered England and put his Norman followers as leaders. His knights built strong castles like Dover, and his bishops built fine cathedrals like Canterbury. For 300 years, the King of England and all the important people in the country spoke only French. Today, English still has thousands of words which come from French.

Claude Monet is an artist, the leading member of the Impressionist painters. His most famous painting is the “Water-lillies” which he painted in the elaborate garden he had made for himself.

Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer whose work is often linked with the Impressionist painters. He is famous for piano pieces such as “Children’s Corner” and his orchestral work “The Afternoon of a Faun” (“L’apès-midi d’une faune”).

Alexandre Dumas wrote the two historically known adventure classics “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”.

Victor Hugo credited forDisney film and video “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The original novel was written by Victor Hugo and is known in France as “Notre Dame de Paris”.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is theauthor of “Le Petit Prince” a well- known French children’s book.

Napoléon Bonaparte was a famous French general who became Emperor of France in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Napoleon was responsible for introducing measures which form the basis of many of France’s institutions that still exist today, including an educational law to set up state grammar schools (lycés) which aimed to provide well-trained army officers and civil servants. During Napoleon’s reign France was constantly at war. Napoleon built a huge empire, so that by 1812 he controlled the greater part of Western Europe. Eventually he was defeated when France was invaded by Russian, Prussian, Austrian and British armies. Finally, Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. He managed to escape and ruled France again for just a hundred days before being defeated by Wellington at Waterloo. He was sent as a prisoner to St. Helena, where he died in 1821.

Louis Blériot is credited as a French airman who became the first person to fly the English Channel. On 25 July 1909 he flew from Calais to Dover in 37 minutes.

Louis Braille is credited towards inventing the system of raised dots which form letters for the visually impaired to read. Louis was blinded in an accident at the age of 4. He was sent to one of the first schools for blind boys in Paris, where they were taught simple skills to help them earn a living without begging. Without being able to read, it was difficult for blind people to have much education. The system is now used everywhere in the world.

Ferdinand de Lesseps is credited towards building the Suez Canal – regarded at the time as the world’s greatest engineering triumph, and tried but failed to build a Panama Canal.

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