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

Developing Reading Fluency with Children


In some of our previous blogs, we’ve talked about Enjoying Reading with your Child and Making Reading a Routine Reality. But how about helping children to become independent readers?


Author, teacher trainer, and owner of her own language school in Japan, Mari Nakamura, has developed a Three-Stage Literacy Program at her school, English Square. In a recent article for The Language Teacher, she focuses on promoting reading fluency among elementary school age children. She considers what is reading fluency, what are appropriate materials, and what activities can we use to help.


What is reading fluency?

To read fluently, we need to recognize words accurately and automatically. Before this, however, children first need to develop letter recognition, know their sounds and the meaning of words before processing sentences and so on.  Although we may read for a variety of specific reasons and personal goals, we generally read to understand the message, communicating with the writer, and expanding our knowledge. With that can come enjoyment, but when faced with material that is too difficult, children can get frustrated and possibly put off reading.


What reading materials should we use?

In developing reading fluency, we know that children benefit most from many opportunities to read easy passages orally, repeatedly, and with guidance. Research has also shown that knowing at least 98% of the words is necessary to be able to construct meaning with a high degree of success, which also helps kids stay motivated to read. Of course, the content must also at the right maturity level as well as being engaging and interesting, for example, by expanding their knowledge whilst making them think more about their lives and the world around them.


How can we help foster reading fluency and independence?

For fluency development, Mari suggests using stories children are familiar with, especially ones that they’d read (or had read to them) when they were younger. In addition to repeated reading of easy materials and providing assistance when needed, we can also add developmentally appropriate activities. For example, with children who are more hesitant, we might read a word or a sentence first then get them to read it aloud afterwards. They might also try shadowing, even under their breath at first, trying to keep up with whoever is reading. We can even show children how to shadow with Dino Lingo Books, for example, reading the words aloud as they listen to the audio. They can also learn to run their finger along as they hear the words being read.


When children are faced with longer, more difficult words, we can show them how to break them up into their syllables, like ty-ran-no-sau-rus. By covering up parts of the words with my fingers, I can also leave the parts that my children (AA) either know how to read or can try to sound out. However, saying some words can still be challenging, so one thing that works well (with children as well as adult learners of English), is building difficult words up backwards, as shown below. And chanting expressively invariably adds to the fun!


Me: Say, ‘rus’ (expressively)

AA: ‘rus’ (laughing)
Me: ‘SAUrus’

AA: ‘saurus’ (quietly)
Me: Great. Louder. ‘SAUrus’!

AA: ‘SAURUS’! (laughing)

Me: ‘tyranno’

AA: ‘tyran…’ (giggling)

Me: ‘ranno’

AA: ‘ranno’

Me: Good. ‘tyRANno’

AA: ‘tyRANno’

Me: ‘tyranno, tyRANno, TYRANNO’! (getting louder)
AA: ‘tyranno, tyRANno, TYRANNO’! (laughing again)

Me: ‘saurus, saurus, saurus!’

AA: ‘saurus, saurus, saurus’!

Me: Tyrannosaurus!

AA: Tyrannosaurus!

Me: Alright! Tyrannosaurus! Rrrrr!

AA: Rrrr!! (laughing) Tyrannosaurus!! (laughing)

So, what kinds of reading fluency activities work for you and your kids? Please feel free to share your ideas and experiences, and let us know how you get along with any of the above activities and techniques.

Philip Shigeo Brown

The Social Advantages of Exposure to Other Languages


Recent studies show that “multilingual exposure improves not only children’s cognitive skills but also their social abilities” (“The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals”, The New York Times, March 11, 2016). Whilst I’m wary of sound bites that may mistakenly encourage us to think that people are ‘superior’ simply by virtue of speaking more than one language, there can be definite advantages that also serve as good reminders and sources of motivation for parents and children alike.

Firstly, researchers in developmental psychology found that early exposure to a multilingual environment can promote effective communication as children develop greater perspective-taking skills. And in a follow-up study, even babies as young as 14-16 months can be seen to develop these interpersonal skills as result of exposure to multilingual environments. The research adds to the benefits that have been witnessed by parents across the globe and shared in testimonies like this:

The benefits to multilingualism that we like in particular include the ability to see situations from multiple points of view (already at 2, our daughter knows there are multiple ways of saying the same thing), leading to tolerance, open-mindedness, empathy.
– Karolina from Poland and Oscar from Elsavdor are raising their 2 year-old, Natalia, in the US with Polish, English, and Spanish, whilst learning American Sign Language.

As Professor Katherine Kinsler points out in her New York Times article, “… the social advantage we have identified appears to emerge from merely being raised in an environment in which multiple languages are experienced, not from being bilingual per se. This is potentially good news for parents who are not bilingual themselves, yet who want their children to enjoy some of the benefits of multilingualism.” And in a similar sense, Dino Lingo Books and Dino Lingo, are also well suited to parents who are not bilingual themselves (or fully bilingual, like me), but hope their children can benefit from multilingual exposure.

by Philip Shigeo Brown

Making Reading a Routine Reality

 Reading with kids

Last month’s blog, Enjoy Reading with your Child, reminded and re-motivated me to put into practice more of what we know about reading. Yet reviewing the Top 10 Tips has given me room for greater reflection and left me with some food for thought. By sharing here, I hope that we might encourage and learn more together.

1. Make books part of your family life – Always have books around so that you and your children are ready to read whenever there’s a chance.

We have a few low bookshelves dedicated to our kids and they’ve always enjoyed being able to access them freely (even if it sometimes drove us to distraction during the early toddler years!). Though we have books around the house, I must admit that we don’t actually read them very often, especially since having our 3rd child last year, and our three- and five-year-old can see that 90% of our reading is on a screen. So, in order to change that, I’m going to make a concerted effort this week to establish my own reading routine that involves sitting down with a book.

2. Join your local library – Get your child a library card. You’ll find the latest videogames, blu-rays and DVDs, plus tons and tons of fantastic books. Allow them to pick their own books, encouraging their own interests.

To be honest, I don’t know if we have a local library here in Malaysia as I’ve not looked into it (yet?), although there are some books shared via our local community hall. Fortunately, we’ve also been given and found plenty of books over the years but I’m nonetheless looking forward to showing Dino Books to my kids this week, too. And, I’m especially excited by the variety of stories from around the world. We always let our children choose what to read for a bedtime story or any other time so I wonder what they will choose next.

3. Match their interests – Help them find the right book – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction, poetry, comic books or non-fiction.
On rare occasions when our children haven’t been able to choose, we’ve made suggestions that have almost always been well-received, perhaps because they’re still so young! One thing that has been noticeable, however, is the relative lack of lead characters and role models for girls, although this has been gradually changing over the years. For anyone interested, A Mighty Girl, is a great resource.

4. All reading is good – Don’t discount non-fiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines and leaflets. Reading is reading and it is all good.

We encourage our kids to read anything from signs and car registration plates to whatever they notice and ask us about. That said, I think we could still point out and ask them more, as well as play more reading games to develop their letter recognition and phonics skills. Oxford Owl, for example, offers a host of age appropriate ideas.

5. Get comfortable! – Snuggle up somewhere warm and cosy with your child, either in bed, on a beanbag or on the sofa, or make sure they have somewhere comfy when reading alone.

Happily, this usually seems to be an easy and enjoyable one to achieve, though sometimes us parents have trouble staying awake.

6. Ask questions – To keep them interested in the story, ask your child questions as you read such as, ‘What do you think will happen next?’ or ‘Where did we get to last night? Can you remember what had happened already?’

Usually, I’ll ask them about the pictures, e.g. Who do you think that is? Why is he in trouble? What should he do? At the moment, we finish 99% of the books we read in one go, but when we start reading longer ones, the other questions here will definitely prove useful so it’s good to keep them in the back of one’s mind.

7. Read whenever you get the chance – Bring along a book or magazine for any time your child has to wait, such as at a doctor’s surgery.

As my mum did this with me, I’ve done the same with our kids and keep a book with their medical records, another in the baby bag, and with their spare clothes – all good to go. Now I just need to remember to change them from time to time, too!

8. Read again and again – Encourage your child to re-read favourite books and poems. Re-reading helps to build up fluency and confidence.

Like many if not most kids, ours will ask to read something they like again and again (though less often as they’ve gotten a little older, thankfully). To save myself from getting bored after the nth time, in addition to trying different voices and speeds, it can be fun to add and/or change bits, and see how they react. Asking different questions each time has also been interesting and surprising at times.

9. Bedtime stories – Regularly read with your child or children at bedtime. It’s a great way to end the day and to spend valuable time with your child.

For us, we may be out right up to their bedtime at the weekend, meaning that the kids fall asleep in the car on the way home. During the week, I guess that we have bedtime story on 2 nights a week. This is definitely an area that could benefit from commitment and effort to establish a reading routine, and setting myself a concrete goal of 3-4 out of 5 week nights plus Sunday night is the first step to making that a reality. Dino Books can also offer me a ‘Plan B’ on nights where I’m alone with the kids and our one year-old needs prioritizing.

Incidentally, if you’re looking for extra motivation, research by Professors Kalb and Van Ours in 2013 indicates that the effects of routine parental reading can be quite significant, increasing not only reading but other cognitive skills at least up to 10-11 years old. For example:

“Children four to five years old who are read to three to five times a week have the same reading ability as children six months older (who are read to only twice or less a week). Reading to children six to seven days a week puts them almost a year ahead of those who are not being read to. It was also found that reading to small children has a positive effect on the development of numeracy skills.” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 3rd 2013

The benefits seem to continue for the rest of their lives and, notably, “The results indicate a direct causal effect from reading to children at a young age and their future schooling outcomes regardless of parental income, education level or cultural background” (Kalb and Van Ours, 2013).

10. Rhyme and repetition – Books and poems which include rhyme and repetition are great for encouraging your child or children to join in and remember the words.

Luckily, quite a few of the books we have are written in verse, and they are indeed fun and memorable. Songs and nursery rhymes can also provide excellent opportunities, of course, for rhythm, rhyme and repetition.

Over the past month, whilst I felt that I made some progress in reading with my children, it seems mostly due my unconscious mind seeking to follow up on what we know to be important. However, taking conscious action during the next month should further help. So, what’s helped and helping you to make routine reading a reality?

 Philip Shigeo Brown

What Parents Want to Know about Bilingualism


It’s generally recognized that most people across the globe are bilingual or multilingual and use 2 or more languages or dialects in everyday life. And the diversity of bilinguals within multicultural societies continues to grow. Beyond sharing fascinating facts about how this came to be (Bilingualism’s Best Kept Secret), Prof. Grosjean addresses 11 of the most frequently asked questions by parents and carers (collated by Corey Heller, founder of Multilingual Living). Here they are below with bullet point summary answers (but please feel free to click on the link for the original, full article):

What parents want to know about bilingualism
(Also published in The Bilingual Family Newsletter, 2009, 26(4), 1-6.)

How can one tell if children are getting enough exposure to each language?

  • Since there is no good measure of ‘enough’, maximize and balance input, aiming for a daily basis especially for children to be able to use, not just understand, languages
  • Interaction with people is better than just watching TV or DVDs
  • Ensure there are monolingual situations for each language where children have to use the same language (and cannot code-switch)

Which is the “best” method for helping children become bilingual (e.g. one parent – one language, the minority language at home, etc.)?

  • Prof Grosjean prefers and recommends minority language at home: Although one of the parents has to speak their second (or third) language, and the language will need to be reinforced by other people to give it a strong base, the majority (community/school) language has less problem finding its place; the weaker language (the home language) will receive much more input than if only one parent uses it, and it can be easier for the child to associate one language at home, another outside.
  • However, each method has its pros and cons and the effectiveness will depend on the child, parents, local circumstances, etc.

Is it all right to change from one method to another or one language to another in the home?

  • Changes in circumstances may require changes in method but the genuine, communicative need for both languages is fundamental to ensure their continued use (not just a ‘need’ imposed by parents!)
  • If children are old enough, discussing changes in strategy with them can help transition

What does research say, in layman’s terms, about the benefits of bilingualism / multilingualism over monolingualism?

  • More recent studies suggest bilinguals outperform monolinguals in certain tasks, for example, involving selective control; they perform just as well with analysis of representations; and sometimes do less well in monolingual vocabulary tests (where their other language may be dominant)
  • Prof. Grosjean warns people to be wary of older studies due to lack of control factors

Is it all right to raise a child in a non-native language, even if parents don’t speak the language absolutely perfectly (but well enough) and they don’t have a perfect native accent (but it is good enough)?

  • Again, having a genuine need to use the languages is key, together with supporting factors, such as the amount and type of input (as mentioned above)

Are there specific golden rules that every family should follow about raising children in more than one language?

  • Although every family and situation is different, Prof. Grosjean first highlights the value of understanding the factors that promote additional language acquisition, emphazing ‘the need factor’, language input, the roles of the family, school and community, as well as attitudes towards the language, the culture, and bilingualism. Again, Prof. Grosjean points out the importance of monolingual situations to facilitate genuine communicative need.
  • Support for parents and children to understand what it means to be bi-/multilingual as well as bi-/multicultural is also invaluable and often key to ensuring the process is mostly a positive experience, despite the inevitable challenges

Is it worth it for a spouse to speak his/her language even if they are only with the child a little bit of the time?

  • Even if exposure is limited, some is better than none, and one never knows what role a language may play in the child’s future

How should one deal with more than two languages in the family and how can one add an additional language to an already bilingual household?

  • Once again, Prof. Grosjean stresses ‘the need factor’ and setting up monolingual situations for each language 

What will happen to the children’s bilingualism when they start going to school in the community language?

  • The community language will likely become the dominant language
  • Children may try to use it exclusively with their parents, especially from around 6 years old until their early teens, often so as not to feel ‘different’ 

What should be done when children have been diagnosed with a speech impediment and they are told that their bilingualism / multilingualism is the cause? Is it all right to go against what the speech therapist / school therapist may say and still speak a native language at home?

  • “Bilingualism researcher and speech therapist, Susanne Döpke, states clearly that bilingualism is not the cause of language delay and language disorders”
  • Moreover, “…discontinuing the home language is not going to improve the bilingual child’s abilities in the majority (school) language; on the contrary, it may have other prejudicial consequences” 

What about cultural issues such as bilingual children assimilating into the community while also retaining their connection to the parents’ cultures?

  • Being mindful of what it means to be bicultural and how that affects children’s sense of identity is important
  • Some children reject one language/cultural identity over the other, and a few reject both, but most seem to eventually accept both to varying degrees and, “…biculturals who are allowed to be who they are, and who accept their dual heritage, are invaluable members of society who bridge the gap between the cultures they belong to”


As parents, we not only find ourselves thinking about questions such as the ones above, but also need to focus on the day-to-day practicalities and longer term. Our earlier blog entry, How to Raise a Bilingual Child, covers a number of key points in brief, from starting as early as possible with a consistent language policy (e.g. One Parent One Language or Minority Language At Home) to understanding individual differences and development, the critical period, and what motivates you as well as your child.


Fortunately, whatever your situation these days, there is a wealth of resources and support online, as well as an increasing number of multicultural communities and grassroots movements. For example, Multilingual Living, offers an excellent advice from getting started and teaching at home to being a non-native and addressing common problems. And for me, trying to raise our kids tri-lingually/culturally and not sure where we may go in the world, one thing that particularly stands out about Dino Lingo is that it’s actually much more than a bilingual site due to all the multilingual options.

Authored by: Philip Shigeo Brown

More about Dino Lingo learning sets for bilingual children

Benefits of Bilingualism


Benefits of Bilingualism

Benefits of Bilingualism

1 A child’s brain has a higher number of synapses (compared with an adult brain) and greater plasticity. This means children naturally can learn languages better than adults.
2 A study which assessed math and language scores of 2 groups (1 group studied 30 minutes of Spanish for 1 semester and the other comparable group did not) found that the group which studied the foreign language for 1 semester had higher math and language scores at the school.
3 A study which looked at the reading scores of average intelligence children concluded that there is a close relationship between studying a foreign language and better reading scores.

4 According to the IQ test scores of 2 groups: immersion French class vs. regular class, immersion French class students had higher IQ scores (e.g. classifying dissimilar objects etc.)
5 An analysis of the Louisiana State Basic skills Tests scores of 13200 3rd and 5th graders showed that students who took foreign languages classes did better in the English test.
6 Bilingual babies are more perceptive to nonnative languages/easily discriminate different sounds
7 Bilinguals can better deal with distractions
8 Bilingual kids have better problem solving skills . Having more linguistic and cultural information enable bilinguals to look at different aspects of the problem.
9 Bilingual kids can read better than their peers.
10 Bilingual kids can understand more about any other culture
11 Bilingual kids gain flexibility in acquiring any kind of new information
12 Bilingual kids have the upper hand in a multicultural, multilingual, multi-ethnic world
13 Bilingual kids perform better in the situations that require multitasking
14 Bilingualism delays dementia and Alzheimer’s
15 Bilingualism helps kids become more creative (Bialystok, 2001): field independent thinking…
16 Bilinguals can better understand other cultures and countries
17 Bilinguals can easily interact with multinationals
18 Bilinguals can effortlessly learn a 3rd language
19 Bilinguals can have a better use of language creatively
20 Bilinguals gain competitive advantage in future jobs
21 Bilinguals have better memory when it comes to remembering language dependent words
22 One in five Americans speak another language besides English at home. Two thirds of the world’s children are brought up bilingually.
23 Only bilingual kids in immigrant families can understand the true heritage of their ancestors
24 People who know more than one language are better at handling with conflict
25 People who study languages in early age get better in creativity and divergent thinking
26 Saunders (1998) found that students in the ESFL program of a high school in Georgia, scored higher on the Math portion of the e Iowa Test Of Basic Skills test
27 Students who study a foreign language in elementary school have better communication skills, improved cognitive development and advance cultural awareness.
28 Students who study another language get higher scores in college entrance exams
29 Studying foreign languages increases SAT score. Cooper (1987) analyzed 23 metropolitan high schools in the south and found that student who studied any foreign language for at least 1 year in general had higher SAT scores.

1 Research Notes: Language Learning and the Developing Brain. (1996) Learning Languages, 1/2, 17.
2 Armstrong, P. W. and J. D. Rogers. (1997). Basic Skills Revisited: The Effects of Foreign Language Instruction on Reading, Math and Language Arts. Learning Languages, Spring, 20-31.
3 Garfinkel, A. and K. E. Tabor. (1991). Elementary School Foreign Languages and English Reading Achievement: A New View of the Relationship. Foreign Language Annals, 24/5, 375-382
4 Samuels, D. D. and R. J. Griffore (1979). The Plattsburgh French Language Immersion Program: Its Influence on Intelligence and Self-esteem. Language Learning, 29/1, 45-52.
5 Dumas, L. S. (1999). Learning a Second Language: Exposing Your Child to a New World of Words Boosts Her Brainpower, Vocabulary, and Self-Esteem. Child, February, 72, 74, 76-77.
7 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008

8 Kessler& Quinn, 1980,87, Hakuta, 1986
9 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
10 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
12 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
15 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
16 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
17 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
18 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
19 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
20 Marcos, K. M. (1998). Learning a Second Language: What Parents Need to Know. National PTA Magazine, August/September, 32-33.
21 Seven steps to raising a bilingual child. Naomi Steiner, Susan L. Hayes, Steven Parker, 2008
23 common sense :)
25 Marcos, K. M. (1998). Learning a Second Language: What Parents Need to Know. National PTA Magazine, August/September, 32-33.
26 Saunders, C. M. (1998). The Effect of the Study of a Foreign Language in the Elementary School on Scores on the Iowa Test Of Basic Skills and an Analysis of Student-participant Attitudes and Abilities. Unpublished dissertation, University of Georgia.
27 Marcos, K. M. (1998). Learning a Second Language: What Parents Need to Know. National PTA Magazine, August/September, 32-33.
28 College Board, 2003
29 Cooper, T. C. (1987). Foreign Language Study and SAT-Verbal Scores. The Modern Language Journal, 71/4, 381-387



The 3 most common questions asked by parents who want to raise a bilingual child.

1- Isn’t it better to teach the 2nd language after a child properly speaks the first?

2- Do children get confused when they hear 2 different languages at home?

3- What should I do if my child doesn’t want to speak another language?


Isn’t it better to teach the 2nd language after a child properly speaks the first?

This is not necessarily true. Speaking it later will make the child think it is less important, additionally it is guaranteed that the children will learn the dominant language in school so it is good to give priority to the minority language.


Do children get confused when they hear 2 different languages at home?

Children can easily differentiate between the differences in male and female speech, polite and direct speechand so on. Children don’t get confused by hearing different languages from different people, they are aware that it is one of the differences between people.


What should I do if my child doesn’t want to speak another language?

It is normal that kids prefer to speak the most dominant language in their environment and do not understand a parent that speaks a different laguage. However you can always motivate your child with attractive rewards (e.g. ice cream, chocolate bar, a trip to the amusement park) for listening to you or repeating what you say. It is good to remember that they will get used to the second language after a short while. Even if they don’t understand what you say at the beginning, they will get used to the sound and intonation and eventually grasp what you mean.




  • The earlier the better.If you are going to be a mother soon, remember that your child can recognize your voice before he or she is born. And before your child is 6 months old, he or she knows the difference between the main language and other languages.


  • Try OPOL.OPOL means One Parent, One Language. If you are a French mother, then you speak French to your child. If your husband is Russian, then he speaks Russian. Each parent speaks his or her native language to the child.


  • Try MLAH.MLAH means Minority Language At Home. In this style, both parents speak the minority language in the house. If you are a Japanese mother with an American husband living in the USA, both of you speak Japanese at home. This method is especially good if your child does not have many chances to use the second language outside the house.


  • Be consistent.For either OPOL or MLAH, both of you have to be consistent. When you start mixing languages or using these methods only on certain occasions, your child may not become bilingual. Or your child may become a passive bilingual where he or she understands the language but does not speak it.


  • Remember that every child is different.Some studies show that girls start talking earlier than boys. Also, some boys are better at learning languages than girls. But children all around the world eventually reach their own level of language competence.


  • Be aware of the critical period.The peak of development of your child’s brain is at age 3. After age 5, it becomes difficult for your child to understand accents. And as a teenager, it is almost impossible for your child to have a natural language skill.


  • Motivate your child.Give your child a reason to speak the second language. You can create opportunities by finding families who speak the language and plan playdates with them. You can hire a nanny or a babysitter who speaks the language. You can go to cultural centers. You can borrow DVDs, CDs and picture books from the library. You can travel to countries where the language is spoken. You have a lot of choices.


  • Motivate yourself.If both of you, as the mother and father, teach your child your own language, you will bond with your child. You can give your child a chance to perform better in school and to be more creative. Your child will get more job offers. And your child will grow as a global-minded person.


Your Neighbourhood can Determine How Open Minded Your Child is

A recent study found that small children who live in neighborhoods where more than one language is spoken are more likely to learn from and interact with people from different backgrounds. This means, no matter what language is spoken at home, if a child grows up in an ethnically rich neighborhood, he/she is more likely to be able to read the social cues from different people. The study reported that

“Infants’ direct interactions with caregivers have been shown to powerfully influence social and cognitive development. In contrast, little is known about the cognitive influence of social contexts beyond the infant’s immediate interactions with others, for example, the communities in which infants live. The current study addressed this issue by asking whether neighborhood linguistic diversity predicts infants’ propensity to learn from diverse social partners. Data were taken from a series of experiments in which 19-month-old infants from monolingual, English-speaking homes were tested in paradigms that assessed
their tendency to imitate the actions of an adult who spoke either English or Spanish. Infants who lived in more linguistically diverse neighborhoods imitated more of the Spanish speaker’s actions. This relation was observed in two separate datasets and found to be independent from variation in infants’ general imitative abilities, age, median family income and population density. These results provide novel evidence suggesting that infants’ social learning is predicted by the diversity of the communities in which they live.”

What is the Most Popular 2nd Language around the World?


It is well known that English is the most common foreign language in all around the world but did you know that Tagalog is the most common foreign language in Saudi Arabia and Polish is a language that is very familiar to the British? What is more surprising is Argentinians hear more Italian than Spanish and Mandarin is the most popular 2nd language in Australia. According to the list compiled by MoveHub, more than half the countries in the world have a minority language other than English.

Most common 2nd languages in Europe


Most Common 2nd languages in Americas



Read more about the most popular 2nd languages here

Source: MoveHub