Reading – Getting your child started with reading in the ml

There is no right or wrong time to teach our children to read in the minority language (ml). It really depends on your child’s situation, capacities and needs. But for us parents, it is quite a daunting challenge. For those of you considering teaching reading in the ml, here is how we went about it; should you find it interesting to read about another family’s experience. 🙂

How did we go about it?

Step 1: learning the ABC
Originally, we just played nursery rhymes to our eldest, like many parents do. We started at around 18 months with YouTube nursery rhyme videos, mainly from Super Simple Songs. Various ABC songs featured among their collection.
We planned not to teach anything to our daughter before the Majority Language (ML) school did, and to then build on the school’s teaching, since our 3 languages share the same alphabet. Hence, when my daughter started learning the ML alphabet at school, we put the alphabet nursery rhymes more often at home, sing these songs with her on the school run, and use our play-mat or magnetic letters to help her visualise the letters.
At the time of writing this post, my youngest (2 years old) is at the nursery rhyme stage. She loves the ABC songs and now knows most of her English alphabet phonetically. She is yet to pick up the Spanish alphabet (I am working on it! 😉 ).

depth of field photography of p l a y wooden letter decors on top of beige wooden surface

Step 2: teaching the phonics
If you wonder what phonics are, here is a cute little video about them on the great Oxford Owl website.
We moved on to English phonics out of necessity when my eldest daughter turned about 3. The necessity came from the requisites imposed in an entry test to an English Wednesday school we were hoping to enrol my daughter on.
We got the “Read Write Inc.: My Reading and Writing Kit: Early sounds and blending” kit.
The kit was brilliantly designed and my daughter thoroughly enjoyed learning the sounds with the flashcards and learning to write them using a wipe-clean sheet and the matching exercise book. The pack also includes a parents’ guidebook so we do not feel too overwhelmed.
Another resource that greatly helped my daughter was this phonics song by 123 Kids TV on YouTube. Somehow it really grabbed my daughter’s attention and at that time we sang it on the school run almost everyday!

Step 3: teaching the letter blending
As part of the preparation to the entry test, we started to teach letter blending. By that stage, my eldest daughter knew her letter sounds very well, so we started blending the letters. However, when asked what sound such and such letter made together, I could tell from the look in her eyes she was at a loss to answer. So I decided to move from the 2-D approach of pen and paper to a more visual 3-D approach: using props. The prop I chose was a foam play-mat consisting of colourful letter puzzle pieces, which can be seen in below along with the method used.
She was slowly starting to pick blending up when she sat the entry test and was not given a spot at the Wednesday school. So we decided to stop teaching the blending as we did not want to rush her education. We still preferred having the ML school leading the way on the curriculum, as we had originally planned. However, a couple of months letter, within the first few months of the school year, my daughter still wanted to play with the foam letters to learn blending and now managed to blend more sounds. It turned out her class had started blending at the ML school and she was naturally transferring these skills with her English!

Play-mat

Step 4: getting started with the Early Reading
Just after Christmas, we casually discovered our eldest was now beginning to read on her own! The problem we faced was that in our ML country, they would only start proper reading the following school year, but by then her interest might have waned. We decided once again to depart from our initial plan of building on the ML schooling and actually getting her started with reading in English.
We chose English so as not to confuse her with the ML. I repeatedly explained to her that whatever mummy taught her was in English and that in class she must do as the teacher said since she was teaching her in ML. That seemed pretty clear in my daughter’s mind. She never seemed confused by learning to read in 2 languages more or less at the same time. We decided to leave Spanish for later, as it is very close to the ml and could transfer her ML reading skills to Spanish once formally taught. And to be honest, I already caught my daughter more than once trying her reading skills to Spanish books. Kids can be full of surprises and amaze us!
To teach her reading in English, I purchased the Read with Biff, Chip and Kipper Collections (Levels 1-6). My daughter thoroughly enjoys the series and loves Kipper’s big sister. Between January and May of this year, we have been reading almost every night before bed time. A book a night for the easier levels, and half a book or several pages for level 5. We are yet to start level 6 but of late my daughter seems less motivated. Upon the advice of a bilingual mum, I have designed a Reading Reward Chart and my daughter gets a sticker for every reading done. You can see the blank Reading Reward Chart just below (without my daughter’s name and picture for this blog’s purposes). It has been of help though I still have to chase my daughter to sit down and read.
We also purchased the last level of “Read Write Inc.: My Reading and Writing Kit: Becoming a reader”, which my eldest enjoyed seeing again and likes the little rhymes used on the flashcards to remember the digraph and trigraph sounds. Truth is though, I am a bit more laid back than with the first set since I do not have the same pressure of preparing her for an entry test. The kit is also slightly more complex. It includes a few early reader books whose parent explanations I find a bit more complex to grasp.

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What is my eldest daughter’s attitude towards reading in the ml?

My daughter is of a very curious nature, and to that extent it does not surprise me much she started reading on her own. The fact is, she is so curious that she often wanted to rush through the different levels of the Early Reader books series! 😀
The 2 difficulties I faced with teaching her early reading was actually the fact she has a “leader” temper and often refuses to be explained anything by me; and that she has is a bit “convenient”, and does not like making much efforts (which explains why we had to switch from OPOL to ml@h strategy!).
Hence, my daughter always feels a bit lazy as to the perspective of reading, but the minute she has the book before her eyes, she enjoys it pretty much and often protests if we stop in the middle of the story because it is late and time for bed!

The aim of this post is to share how we are going about teaching literacy to our daughters, in case it could be of interest to you and/or give you ideas. But as I explained in the introduction, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. So do not hesitate in sharing your own experience and tips in the comments section. We can all learn from one another’s experience!

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“Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 14.01.32The cute story of a little boy whose kite gets stuck in a tree. He decided to knock it down throwing his shoe, but that gets stuck too… follows a session of most ridiculous object-throwing to try and get the kite down.

A story written in a most humorous and nice languages. The illustrations are so simple yet so colourful and arty. The aesthetic of the books makes you feel like Oliver Jeffers just drew the pictures and jotted the lines just for you.

This books is our home’s favourite at the moment!  The girls had me read it daily a zillion times! My eldest loves the increasingly incongruous situation. My little one loves the humour, just as I do as well as the great pictures. Also a nice book for children to pick vocabulary from.

Need more reviews:
Chrikaru Blog
GoodReads 

This book is available from Amazon and BookDepository 

Reading – 10 benefits of reading to your child in the minority language

-“Stuck! Stuck!” Demanded my youngest over dinner a few days ago.
-“Oomph! Not again!” I bemoaned to myself, cursing my latest book purchase’s success. “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers is my latest purchase as part of my monthly resources shopping for my daughters. It was recommended by blogger Christina Reid on her great Chrikaru Blog that I follow.  This book has been a hit with both my almost 6 and 2 year olds. And as you probably already know, when kids like something – especially a book- they never get enough of it!  To tell you the truth, as my youngest insisted, I felt tempted to turn down her book choice -especially as I had already read it at lunchtime to my eldest, and every evening before that!. But then I remembered the impact reading has on our children.

If for a monolingual child exposure to reading is important, for a bilingual child it is twice as crucial. With every read, they absorb the vocabulary, but also the sentence structure, pronunciation, intonation and more. I remembered how my eldest had learnt off by heart Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” after having “binge” listened to the audiobook.
The other day, on our way home, my eldest surprised me using the word “the earth” when referring to our planet. It was the first time she ever did. And the penny dropped in my mind: she had picked this word from another Oliver Jeffer’s book purchased with “Stuck”, “Here we are”.

Reflecting on the topic, I managed to come up with a non-exhaustive list of benefits of reading the same book over and over again (who would have known, hey? 🙂 ):

  1. It creates a drill – my eldest daughter’s nursery school relies on a lot of drills to teach the alphabet and counting. So reading the same book over and over again is tantamount to such drill with the book’s content!
  2. It fosters vocabulary building – not only do children hear new words, but they also hear them in context, and can learn them by participating in their repetition throughout the story.
  3. It creates exposure to the minority language – this is much broader than just vocabulary building. It encompasses accents, pronunciation, the melody of the language, listening comprehension…
  4. It sets the example of reading and bolsters the child’s love for books – a very important habit to pass on, and most importantly to our little bilingual monkeys.
  5. It sets the example of how to read – the pace, the pauses, the intonations,…
  6. It develops the child’s deduction skills – by the child inferring the meaning of new words from their context.
  7. It helps the child to understand the story – do you remember when you were child of re-reading a book and finally understanding some of its details? Children are in a continuous learning process, and they need that repetition to sometimes grasp every detail of a story.
  8. It encourages family discussions – by discussing the book, asking them what they think is going to happen or what they liked best/least, the child is invited to reflect and analyse as well as putting into practice their minority language skills!
  9. It is a family quality-time – who could object to that?! 😉
  10. It is probably the easiest and most fun way to lean their minority language.

So whenever you are asked to read that same book for the zillionth time, do not feel weary: it is actually a good sign that your child is soaking up your minority language!

Tips:

  1. When translating a Majority Language book to the minority language, or narrating a wordless book, I like to stick to the same words as much as possible so as to help my daughters to learn that vocabulary through its repetitive use time after time, with each reading of the book.
  2. With every read of the same book, I pick on 1 different word I suspect my eldest daughter does not know and ask her what it means. When she does not know, I explain it to her. This creates an extra learning opportunity for her. However, I strongly recommend to stick to only 1 word with every reading so as not to turn the storytelling into a boring lesson for your child.

Captive reading: Using a whiteboard

Last month, I posted about captive reading in this post. On this blog, I try to list a lot of tips from my own experience or that I heard from other bilingual parents, but I thought that sharing some of my own results could be of interest to you, as it gives a more practical touch to tips lists. 🙂

A while back, to spice up our captive reading a bit, I had replaced the sheet of text in the loo with a small whiteboard and a marker, on which I write an easy question my eldest daughter can try to write an answer to or come and tell me directly.

At the beginning, my daughter did try to write answers or simply rubbed off my question and started “writing” (she is learning to read in English and French but not yet to write besides her name) whatever she fancied. It felt a bit frustrating to be honest. But I kept going, and over the last 2 weeks I got 2 very pleasant surprises…

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure to discover a perfect answer!! I snapped it to share it with you: I am so happy because for once she wrote a simple answer AND correctly.

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The week before, though she had answered completely off point of the original question I had written. It was not the first time this happened, but it was very cute and here again I thought it would be nice to share it with you to show all the nice surprises you can be in for with this captive reading method. My daughter wrote “Never tickle a tiger, you know? I love you”. It was in reference about a book she adores that I reviewed here. With as a cherry on the cake a little love message.  Okay, the spelling needs working on but it was so cute that it felt great. 🙂IMG_6329

So if you have not tried this yet and your child is growing indifferent to captive reading, you might just want to give a shot to this more interactive approach. You could be in for a good surprise or even two (even if it is only after weeks of frustration 😉 ! )…

Follow this blog on Twitter

For those of you who are very much into social networks, you can now follow this blog on Twitter: https://twitter.com/@Ourmlhome1 !

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All my new posts are pushed through on my Twitter account. Please share the posts of your interest with your friends since they might be of help to other bilingual parents, who in turn can share their own tips in the comment section, and make this blog grow into a compilation of useful, practical tips and ideas for bilingual parents.
Liking the posts also helps me assess what interests visitors, and position my blog’s content accordingly.

“Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth” by Jarvis

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 09.12.29The hilarious story of a fearsome crocodile that lived for scaring the jungle animals with his big teeth. Until one day, his big secret comes out and Alan becomes the jungle’s laughing-stock.
The humour is delightful, the story has a cute morale and illustrations are lively and appealing.

My eldest loved discovering Alan’s unexpected secret, and this book is definitely one of my youngest’s favourite probably because of its humour. Dad loves the smart beaver who found out the secret. As for me, I love the moral behind it: it’s not because you look and behave like a bully that you can’t turn things around.

Need more information?:
Buzzing for books on Youtube – where the book is shown and read aloud.
By Jarvis – the author’s website
Goodreads – for more reviews

This book is available on Amazon , BookDepository and TheBookPeople

ml grandparents: 10 ideas how they can actively support their grandchild’s ml acquisition

Sometimes, the bilingual journey does not have to be a lonely one. Some bilingual parents are lucky enough to get support from their minority language (ml) family.
And for those who do not feel that much support, you can try to raise awareness among your ml family and request their assistance. As my mother used to tell me, “who asks for nothing, gets nothing”. I myself did so over a year ago and had very pleasant surprises, with my relatives going through the trouble of getting ml resources for birthdays and Christmas.

Grandparents usually enjoy spoiling their grandchildren, even more so when they are far away. Hence where circumstances allow, try to make an ally of your ml relatives and get them involved in some of the following ideas to help foster the ml in their grandchildren:

  1. Skype as regularly as possible – for “connected” grandparents, this does not take much but time. Calling regularly, trying to interact with the child, having little chats. I once even read of a bilingual mum who even had the grandparents “invited” at her daughter’s birthday party via Skype, joining for the candle blowing and presents opening. Everything is possible! For grandparents who are not into high-tech, the telephone is still a nice alternative though pricier and less visual for younger grandchildren.
  2. Write letters/e-mails – there is no beating the good old penpal relationship. A brief message, whatever the format, with a picture or anything of the like will get the child reading in the ml and bonding with the grandparent. When I left for university, my mother used to write to me a brief note every 2 weeks or so, and enclose my favourite comic strip from the ml TV magazine, sometimes an easy recipe or an article she had read she knew I would like.
  3. Send ml magazines – As a child, my elder sister who had stayed in my ml country used to send me my ml magazine on a monthly basis. Subscription abroad was very expensive (and still is!) compared with a national subscription, so my parents took a national subscription and had my sister send it by postal mail. Why not do something of the like? Without the pressure of a subscription, the grandparent could simply send any ml children’s magazine with frequency.
  4. Send small things about the ml country – without going through the expense of a parcel, why not do smaller things on a regular basis. Why not sending a couple of puzzle pieces every 2 weeks or so of a puzzle map of your country, for instance like this one for Spain?
  5. Sending parcels with ml goodies – my in-laws did that every Christmas for many years, and it was such a collective excitement to open the parcel together, and discover the treats from our ml country. In our case, they would send us Spanish ham, Spanish cheese vacuum-packed, olive oil from my husband’s place; occasionally some toys for our daughters.adult aged baby care
  6. Get ml books and other resources – there are never enough ml resources in the Majority Language (ML) country, hence if the grandparents can, extra resources, given in person when visiting or sent by post, that would be of great assistance too.
  7. Opening a local library account in their ml country and let you use the e-books facilities of that library – this great tip was given to me by a bilingual mum. It is so simple yet it enables you to get an easier access to ml books.
  8. Visit more often if possible – now this is an expensive contribution, but if the grandparents can afford to visit more you more often, that would be of great help.
  9. Have your child stay with them over the holidays – here again an expensive option, yet where feasible greatly beneficial both to the ml acquisition and family bonding.
  10. Find activities at the local day camp, cultural centre, sports facilities or arrange ml playdates when their grandchildren visit – these are often difficult to organise for us bilingual parents from the ML country, yet these are great experiences for our children, to live the local life and play with ml peers.

How do your ml grandparents help with your bilingual journey? Please share with us your experience using the comments section.

Summer holidays: 10 ideas to keep the ml up when staying in the ML country

The summer holidays are round the corner and for many bilingual families it is the occasion to fly back to their minority language (ml) country. However, this is not the case for all of us and bilingual parents staying in the Majority Language (ML) country might feel frustrated at not having the opportunity to expose their child to the ml during a trip back to the ml country. If you are one of these parents, you might be wondering what you can do over the summer to support your child’s ml development, so here are some ideas which I hope might be of help to you.

  1. Send your child out to the ml country – Being yourself stuck for professional motives in your ML country does not mean it has to be so for your child. Provided s/he is old enough and you have relatives happy to take him/her in for a couple of weeks or more, this could be a nice solution. They will experience the ml country on their own and live the ml life like a real ml peer.
  2. ml day camp – once again, if your child is old enough for this and finances allow, this could be another interesting solution. It enables them to experience the ml country with peers doing entertaining activities and gives them a taste of independence.
  3. Have ml relatives over – if the first 2 ideas are not an option for you, why not invite ml relatives over? Even if it is only for a short stay, it will feel a bit like a celebration and strongly mark your child. As a child, my parents used to invite our ml family all year round and it certainly felt like special times to us. It encourages the ml use in your child and fosters family bonding.
  4. Get an ml speaker to look after your child – if this is an option for you this would definitely greatly benefit your child’s ml development. Any extra ml exposure and use is good to take.
  5. ml get togethers – should you know other ml parents around you who happen not to be taking holidays, arrange get togethers such as playdates but also picnics in a park, an outing to the zoo, watching your ml national football team play in the World Cup…
  6. Activity books – make the most of the holidays and break from ML schooling to strengthen your child’s dual literacy using activity books. Now, watch out not to make it a boring chore, try to make it entertaining and feel like quality time with your child. Should Spanish happen to be your ml, Spanish Playground organises a fab summer programme for you to follow.  If it is not, you might still want to have a look at their Activity Calendars (in English featuring on that same link) to get ideas of activities you could do in your own ml. Also think about working around themes of interest to your child. For instance, if your child is into sports and more particularly football, why not work around the upcoming World Cup?
  7. Dictations– for older children, this might be a chore, but a couple of dictations a week will work wonders for their dual literacy. As a child, my mum insisted on dictations and they felt like a bore, however with hindsight I am grateful to her as I am now biliterate in my mother-tongue and this has proved tremendously useful in my life. An alternative or as a supplement, why not ask them to write a little poetry around a topic of their interest?
  8. Read more – with later bedtimes, try to make the most of it by reading a little more in the ml, or ask your older children to read themselves by setting them some sort of little homework. For instance, let them pick the book of their choice, read it and write in the ml a half a page (or more) summary with an illustration.
  9. Attend your cultural centre – should you be lucky to have one around or an ml association take part in their events.
    Organise family ml board game nights -make the most of the holidays and your child being able to go to bed a bit later.
  10. Organise family ml movie nights – as for board game nights, make the most of later bedtimes. Why not make it a special treat by making some home-made popcorn, ice-lollies, etc…?

It goes without saying that the more you do, the better for your child’s ml development. 🙂

Have you got any other ideas you would like to share?  Please do so by writing it in the comments section!

 

Quick take-aways from my memories as a trilingual child

Born in France to French parents, we moved to Spain when I was aged almost 10, and educated in a local international British school (yes, yes, you read this right 😉 ). The schooling language was no coincidence, but a conscious choice initiated by my dad who had foreseen what was to happen: within months, I became trilingual. Today, after many years abroad, I am living back in France again and am married to my Spanish media naranja (other half). We are educating our 2 daughters (almost 6 and 2) in Spanish and English with a strict ml@home approach, with a total ban on the Majority Language (ML) – see Our Story for more on our bilingual education strategy.

I am a very privileged trilingual mum, because not only am I able to rear my daughters trilingual, but also because I myself was reared trilingual in the same languages and can hence -to some extent- relate to my daughters. Though I became trilingual at a later age and abroad -and not from birth and in our country of origin like my daughters- there are still things I can relate to. For instance looking for my words, code-switching, feeling different because I speak another language or because ML people can’t relate to what I say or have experienced. Yes, I feel like a foreigner in my own country, but I do hope that one day my daughters will come to feel like me: I have as many cultures, hearts and identities as I speak languages….and that is simply priceless!

How did my parents preserve my minority language?

Educating my daughters trilingual has given me hindsight on my own trilingual education. Looking back, I realise that without really consciously designing a bilingual education strategy, my parents had instinctively implemented an ml@home approach, though not as strict as the one as I am using today with my daughters. The reason being I had not resisted the minority language (ml), unlike my eldest.
If you are curious of what other bilingual parents do, here are the things I remember about how my parents tried to preserve my mother-tongue:

  • My parents purchased ml books and VHS when she travelled back to France at Christmas time, and visiting relatives also brought us some.
  • My grandmother lent me books from her very extensive children’s book collection gathered over the years from her older grandchildren.
  • My grandmother recorded ml cartoons on VHS that I would take back to Spain whenever she or we visited.
  • My elder sister -who was a young adult and had stayed back in France -wrote letters and postcards to be on a regular basis.
  • My elder sister sent me my ml magazine – subscription abroad was very expensive compared with a national subscription, so my parents took a national subscription and had my sister send it by postal mail.
  • We travelled back to France for Christmas.
  • Every other year, I spent some of the summer holidays at my ml best friend’s house in France, whilst the other year it was my ml best friend who flew over and stayed with us.
  • We hosted loads of our ml relatives and friends throughout the year. Their visits always felt like a celebration.
  • My mother had our satellite ml TV and radio on ALL day long
  • My parents purchased ml magazines and newspapers on a weekly/daily basis
  • Every summer, my mother had me do activity books and dictations – as much as I hated them, I am grateful to my mum as it enabled me to stay biliterate in French.
  • We had regular calls with my ml family and I was required to take part.
  • My parents mixed a lot with local ml speakers and had ml friends.

What do I remember from the move abroad and becoming trilingual?

As a parent, you might also wonder how your child might feel about moving country. So if you wonder what I remember from my move to Spain as a child… well not that much in fact! I am sorry to disappoint your curiosity though I feel this is a good sign as it means the change has not traumatised me! I don’t remember my parents announcing their decision to move but I do remember the first time I saw my house there; my elder sister teaching me the basics of English which had already learnt as a teenager; my very first Spanish book being a little pocket dictionary; my first day at my international school and being introduced to a French classmate who was to be my interpreter exclusively at the teacher’s request. Most interestingly, I do not remember what my mother only told me a year ago: every night when I returned from school, I cried and asked to return to my French school. My mother cannot remember how long it lasted though she reckons it did not last more than a month.
Language-wise, I remember enjoying the intimacy of speaking my ml with the couple of ml school-mates I had there, and that when going back to France over Christmas, my extended family was impressed with me having adapted and picked up my new languages so fast. Like me today, my mum had stomached negative comments about rearing her child trilingual. She recently told me that when she went to cancel my enrolment at my school in France before moving to Spain, the headmistress had lectured her for ages and told her it was the worst thing my parents could do for me. Though it happened many decades ago, I felt a lot of anger at this woman when my mum told me this. I wish this headmistress could read this post today and know how grateful I am to my parents and that it was in fact the best thing they ever did for me.

Quick take-aways

To end this post “down memory lane”, here are a few quick take-aways I hope you can draw from my experience as a trilingual kid (if you have not already drawn them from you own experience as a bilingual parent):

  • Children can adapt to change – as hard as a move abroad can be with the country, culture and language change, it is nothing that children cannot overcome with family love and support.
  • The more you bathe the child in the minority language the more efficient the bilingual education.
  • Educating bilingual means living the language – the ml has to be part of your daily life.
  • Ignore criticism – you will always get language sceptics or well meaning individuals. Just follow your heart and ignore them.
  • Resources, resources, resources! – the more ml resources you have the better.
  • All this hard work is well worth it.
  • Children might be ungrateful but adults are not. Your children might not realise your hard work, but one day they will thank you for it.
  • Even your grandchildren might benefit from it if your children decide to also follow the bilingual education route 🙂

It is always hard to have a prefect hindsight on one’s own experience. So feel free to leave a question in the comments section if you feel like I missed out on an insight you are interested in. 🙂

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Summer in the ml country: ideas to make the most of it!

The summer holidays are just round the corner and many bilingual families take the opportunity to travel back to their minority language (ml) country.
For us, it is always the incredible opportunity to give our children a booster shot of our ml. As excited as we are of going, we sometimes feel at a loss to know how to make the most of this special occasion.

Here are a few ideas for you to look up, depending on your own holiday circumstances:

When staying with your ml relatives

  • Send your children out before you – If your circumstances allow, why not send your children out to your family before you, so they may enjoy more time in the ml country and experience it on their own with ml relatives?
  • Ask relatives to find out whether their acquaintances have children about the same age as yours – and arrange playdates during your stay
  • Ask relatives to enrol your child at activities – e.g: in a local day camp (part-time is ideal so they experience family life and mix with local peers) or cultural centre. Two years ago (just when we had switched from OPOL to ml@h strategy) my mother-in-law enrolled my eldest daughter for some activities at the local Cultural Centre. My eldest daughter was still a passive trilingual back then, and this was a great experience as she was given the opportunity to be with ml peers and forced to use her ml.  We hope to renew this experience this summer.
  • Arrange to meet up with relatives with children – it encourages ml friendship and could provide an opportunity to set up a penpal relationship once back in the Majority Language (ML) country.
  • Spend time with the family to foster family bonding – an emotional bond will help bolster the will to learn the ml in your child.

When staying away from relatives

  • Look up for a hotel full of ml tourists – a bilingual mum once mentioned this and I thought it was a fantastic idea. For instance, if German or English is your ml, there are hotels-full of these ml tourists in Spain. So look up for such hotels or holiday resorts.
  • Take your children to the resort’s pool or to the beach – it is a great place for kids to meet their ml peers and play. And nothing beats play when it comes to picking up the ml!

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Regardless of your arrangements

  • Take them at least once to see a ml movie screening – let your children feel what ml life is like by going to the cinema and discover the latest movie in their ml.
  • Put the ml TV on – let children discover their ml society, and that includes the ml television. Obviously not all day long, but when you are home or back at the hotel, just let them get a flavour of their ml society.
  • Let the children watch ml cartoons – it will let them see what their peers watch and identify to them, and it could help children accept ml cartoons once back in the ML country (for parents who are encountering resistance on that point with their kids).
  • Listen to the radio – let the children hear the ml but also pick up on the ml news, society, music, culture…
  • Live the ml life – for instance in Spain we include the siesta (nap during the warmest afternoon hours) in our schedule, we eat at local times, put the children off to bed late like locals do.
  • Visit a local bookshop – if your child is old enough, take him/her with you and let them pick some ml books to bring back home and treasure. Plan ahead some spare room in your suitcase and when visiting the shop let them know how many books they can take home.
  • Take them to a local theme park – let them experience great fun that their memory will associate to the ml country.
  • Take a little bit of time to do some ml activity book – get your child familiar with what their ml peers learn and do.
  • Buying an ml magazine – chances are, if they enjoy it they might then be glad if you subscribe to one for them once back in ML country.
  • Support your ml national football team – this summer is the football World Cup, if your family is into it and you are lucky enough to be in your ml country at that time and that your ml national team is competing, try to take your older children and watch the games with your relatives or in a bar/at a public screening so they may share the emotion and atmosphere. Get them to wear their ml colours and feel part of the celebration. 🙂
  • Take them to local cultural events – ask relatives or contact the local Tourist Office and find out if there are any cultural events that could entertain your children; e.g: a feria if your ml language is Spanish.
  • Local events – Look up the website of the closest local library or cultural centre and see if they happen to organise anything of interest for children whilst you are there; e.g: a story-telling session, fun exhibitions…

When travelling to the ml country, what do you do to boost your child’s ml development? Please share your tips with us by leaving a comment.