Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: February 2016

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

How to explain your bilingual child the importance of speaking a minority language?


by Berna 


Do you want your child to speak your (minority) language with you and/or with a sibling? Or do you want her/him stop mixing the languages? Use this great tip from Berna to explain your child why it is important to stick to speaking the minority language and to speak it more often.



We live in the USA and have two kids. Their majority language is English and minority is German.

My older daughter always speaks to her little sister in our minority language. I usually leave it be when she slips and uses English words every now and then, but recently she has been talking more and more in English (majority language!) to her sibling.


I kept reminding her by saying
"Remember we need to speak to your sister in German so she can learn it too" .

My daughter’s response was
"She's a baby. She'll learn it eventually".
I guess it is something she heard another adult was saying.


She didn't seem to quite 'get' it why it is very important to speak German to her sister. So I decided to show it to her in the form of a little game.


The sponge represents our brain. Two colors represent our languages.

I have chosen the dark color for the majority language English and the light color to represent the minority language - German.

Each time we counted where we (must) speak English we made a dot with blue color. We did the same for German in yellow.



“Now what happens when we choose English between us?” I asked her.


The German gets diluted and eventually we can't see it!


I asked my 5 year old what can we do so this doesn't happen?

She took the yellow color representing German and said "we speak speak speak it all the time" and added that daddy can get some yellow too cause he's too blue.



At the end we got a beautiful color and she understood that this is the result of keeping up with German. She also asked if we could add red for Turkish. “Absolutely!” - I said. “We just need to keep practising so we don't forget the languages.”














If you have a child who refuses to speak with you in the minority language and who is old enough to understand the concept using the colors same as I did above, maybe this fun way of explaining how the brain works is just what you need!
For those of you, who speaks more than one language to your child, try to use two sponges. Be creative! :)


Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.



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Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Plus resources for teaching phonics and reading to children in English.



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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Books in French by Ophélie Texier. Crocolou - half Crocodile & half Wolf. Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop - February 2016


Do you speak French with your kid? Your child surely will enjoy  "Crocolou aime les voyages"  , a beautiful book about a little crocodile Crocolou  or... stop! He is not a crocodile. His mother is a crocodile, but his is father is a wolf! He and his little sister Marilou are a mixture of both: a crocodile and a wolf.  Read more about the book on Eiola's  website.

Keep in mind that there are more books written by Ophélie Texier about Crocolou. Here are all the titles listed in the order of publishing:

Crocolou aime avoir peur
Crocolou aime les câlins
Crocolou aime les voyages
Crocolou aime ses copains
Crocolou aime le sport
Crocolou aime les gâteaux
Crocolou aime la nature
Crocolou aime sa petite sœur
Crocolou aime être beau
Crocolou aime le père Noël
Crocolou aime son doudou
Crocolou aime être amoureux
Crocolou aime sa nounou
Crocolou aime la fête !
Crocolou aime son papa
Crocolou aime les saisons
Crocolou aime l'école
Crocolou aime son chien
Crocolou aime cuisiner
Crocolou aime sa maman
Crocolou aime les livres
Crocolou aime jardiner
Crocolou aime dire non


Some titles are available on  Amazon.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

15 Inspirational Tips From A Mother Raising Trilingual Children


by Filipa

As you already know from my previous post, I am a mother of two beautiful trilingual children French/Spanish/English. We live in Perth, Western Australia.

My son Tiago has just turned 3 and my daughter Elisa is 23 months old. They are amazing little learners.
As you will notice when your children reach that age, their little minds absorb much more than you expect. It is great fun and a privilege to witness their progress on a daily basis.

Tiago speaks French and Spanish as well as any same age little Aussie speaks English. He understands everything in English but for now it is his minority language, so he is not as fluent.

I am not worried about my children’s English since they are going to be schooled in Australia. I’d rather focus on the French and Spanish while they are little. I feel that the more efforts I put into these languages now the harder it will be for them to give up later. It requires a lot of discipline from us but it is well worth it.

Elisa is starting to associate the languages with the people. Where before she used to ask me for “agua” (water in Spanish) now she says “eau” and “agua” is just for dad.It is very amusing to hear my son correcting her when she speaks Spanish to me instead of French “Non, en français ma poupée” (No, in French my doll).

At home we use the OPOL method. I only speak French to the children and dad only Spanish. I am fluent in Spanish and my husband can also speak French, therefore none of us is excluded. I never switch to English when talking to my children even if I am with people who cannot understand French. I simply translate in English for their benefit. I do not want my children to think that English is better than French or Spanish.

I personally believe that switching to English would confuse them and would undermine my efforts in getting them fully proficient in the other languages. We want them to be able to communicate with their grandparents and cousins who live overseas. We cannot travel every year to France or the USA where my father-in-law lives. It is expensive. The journey is too long and we like to explore other places too.

We use several tools to ensure that they are learning French and Spanish without feeling excluded.

Let me share a few with you:

1. Consistency


We never switch to English (our community language). When they learn new English words at daycare, unless they are singing a song, I will translate everything back to them in the form of a question. “Oh! You have played with the farm animals at daycare. What did they eat? (my son knows the difference between herbivores, carnivores and omnivores) Who else was with you?”


2. Video calling


We skype with my family in France once or twice a week. My children practise by speaking with their grandparents and their cousins. We also skype once a week with my father in law in New York and again they practise their Spanish.

3. Playdates

We are lucky to have South American friends who have same age children. We try to organize playdates at least once a month.


4. Reading Books

I own an online bookstore specialized in international children’s books and we are lucky to have access to hundreds of books in French and in Spanish. My children love books and they are my fiercest critics. So far they loved all the books I showed them.


5. Language Workshop for kids


I also run Spanish and French workshops for little ones. I take my son along with me so he can get more practice with other children but it also motivates the other children who do not have a Spanish or French speaking background. When I ask them to repeat new words, some of them are shy and Tiago says the words straight away, then the children give it a go.


6. Activity Book


I am crazy about activity books, I love them since I was a kid and used to complete them the first couple of days of the holidays. Every time I go back to France or the USA I come back with at least 10kgs of books, same when I have friends who come over. I could never resist a book; I would cut down on my coffees or something else but not on books. However, it can be quite expensive but with the magic of internet you can now find many free activity books that you can download and print. For example, I use for the Spanish http://www.edufichas.com and for French http://www.teteamodeler.com/cahier-de-vacances/cahier-vacances.asp . There are many more just Google “free activity books for a 2 or 3 year olds” and you will see many options offered.
I still buy some activity books with stickers as both my kids love them.


7. Music

My children love dancing and singing. I have CDs with French and Spanish rhymes.The other day I got really confused when my son asked me to sing the rhyme with the elephant. I told him I did not know any French rhymes with elephants. He then added, “Yes you know! The elephant that rocks on a spider web.” It is a Spanish rhyme but since he made his request in French I assumed he wanted a French rhyme! When we sing together, I let them finish the sentence. They would sing the last word, and then little by little they are singing the whole sentences and songs.



8. Making mistakes

When I read a story or I sing a song, I will change it to say something silly. They will correct me right away.


9. Play games


For my last Spanish workshop I took a small Christmas tree with coloured balls and stars to decorate it. In order to hang a decoration on the tree the children had to tell me the colour and the shape of what they were picking up. Anything to make them speak.


10. Flashcards & Memory cards


I like to use flashcards. I make my own for my workshops. The ones you can buy tend to be on a single topic at the time. I have made about 45 that cover several themes, such as the house, clothing, food, farm animals, wild animals…..

I also like to play memory cards with them. Again I make my own using different themes such as Halloween, Christmas, birthdays…..


11. Comment on everything

I make comments when we are at the library for storytime or at the theatre. Obviously it is all in English, so I say something like “did you hear that? The cat jumped on the bed then went out of the window and he wasn’t even afraid”. I want to make sure they understand all the English words they are listening to but also I want them to tell me in our home languages what they remember of the story once it is over.


12. Encourage conversations  

Even if they are little and do not speak clearly, it is always great to get them included in the conversation. Promote open end questions? Avoid “yes” or ‘no’ questions. For example, today it is windy I pointed the tree branches moving and asked my children to look at the branches and hear what noise the leaves were making. Then I asked them if the wind was blowing softly or strongly. They could feel the wind on their faces, was it cold, warm? Ask them to describe what they see and feel when they are older.


13. Do not correct kids speaking

I do not correct them every time they make a mistake. It might make them want to stop talking.


14. Exposure

I take them to museums, art galleries, fairs, cultural events and exhibitions to develop their vocabulary.


15. Learning before travelling

When we are travelling, I organize little activities with them on the country we are going to visit. It is fun to see them recognizing some monuments and greet people in the local language.



If your partner speaks English only

I get to speak to many mothers who are trying to raise their children in a language other than English and it seems that they find it more difficult when one of the parents speaks English only. What I tend to tell them is to avoid switching to English when their partner is home, keep speaking German, Polish whatever language you are teaching your child (remember consistency) and say it again in English for the partner’s benefit. This way the partner can also pick up a few words in the foreign language.


Raising children in other languages than the one spoken in the country we live in is not easy.

I always tell myself it all comes down to 3 words: 

CONSISTENCY,  DISCIPLINE and PERSEVERANCE.

When you speak different languages, you are able to think differently and be more tolerant and open to other cultures. We all really need it these days.

Now it is your turn! Let us know what you do to keep your children speaking their mother tongue.

Comment below or share your story!



My husband Albis and I live in Perth, Western Australia. Everyday brings more fun when we hear our children Tiago and Elisa speaking in French, Spanish and English. I love listening to my son literally translating jokes from one language to another. I cannot wait until Elisa is a bit older to hear them sharing a secret code/language in French or Spanish.






Are you interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent?  Would you like to take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series ? You can contact me here.


You might also like:


7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.




Kids Radio Sations from around the world!
In so many different languages !


One parent speaks two languages. Raising a trilingual child.




PROS & CONS of Raising a Trilingual Child



Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Plus resources for teaching phonics and reading to children in English.



Russian Schools and Communities in Australia

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What I Love about my Trilingual Kids.


The Valentine's day is approaching, so let’s have some fun and talk about love; love in relation to our multilingual children. So, what do you love about your bilingual / trilingual kids?



Here is what I love about my kiddos:

1. they can switch between the languages with ease!


2. you never know in what language they will talk during their sleep


3. you can leave them with the monolingual grandparents that are visiting you, knowing that everything will be fine and nobody will starve even if the adults can not say what they need at a local store - the grandchildren will do all the talking for them.


4. you can leave them with two sets of grandparents, who do not speak each other‘s languages, and go on vacation and know that grandparents from both sides will be able to talk to each other thanks to the little translators!


5. they have three different perspectives on life


6. they never get bored from reading the same book - just read it in another language!


7. they can follow the messy multilingual family / family friends conversation, when one speaks one language and answers to others in another and it all makes sense to them.


8. they can find friends easily no matter where they are


9. they are great communicators in general


10. they know what the fastest means of transportation are and are used to flying


11. they are reflection of the way I speak my mother tongue as I am the main language input for them


12. they explode with creativity and imagination. I wonder where that is coming from…


13. they are the sweetest kids, who hug and kiss me such that I feel that I am their baby and not the way around.


What about you?

What do you love about your bilingual / trilingual child?

Comment below!
♡ ♡ ♡