Raising Bilingual Children

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

By

Culturally, my kids are half Canadian. All of their Canadian relatives spend the greater part of the year surviving on Skype and electronic photos to keep up with their speedy growth. So, when our finances and schedules allow, I know that I must plan a return to my home country to give my children contact with the other half of their genetic code. Particularly for my parents (their laolao & laoye), it’s torturous to have such a huge distance between two of their four precious grandchildren.  Read more »

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Language Resources for Raising Bilingual Children

A comprehensive list of language learning resources for bilingual children across many languages. Read more »

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Latest Article:
Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Dear Dr. Gupta,   My three-year-old daughter lives in Greece, is being brought up by a German nanny, speaks German perfect and German is her dominant language for the time being.  Read more »

Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   My three-year-old daughter lives in Greece, is being brought up by a German nanny, speaks German perfect and German is her dominant language for the time being. She also speaks Greek and English but her accent is not very good in English as her teachers are Australian.   Should I seek a teacher with a British accent? In which language should she start reading and writing? At which age? She will definitely attend the Greek school since we do not have a foreign school in our city.  Read more »

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

As an adult who is embarrassingly monolingual, I never stop lamenting the “what if” of truly learning and assimilating a foreign language to the point of fluency. Sure, I took a year of Spanish in high school and a year of German in college, but all that's left me with is a smattering of confused pidgin phrases tumbling around in my head.   Now that I'm living in Thailand, I'm confronted with the extra challenge of a tonal language, and I'm picking it up at a snail's pace.  Read more »

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

In the very early videos of my son’s life you can hear me in the background speaking English to him. Gasp! It's so strange to hear that now as, when he was around two months old, I made the decision to switch and speak only Cantonese; from then on you can’t hear me in videos at all. My Cantonese was awful—most of my Chinese family would say it still is awful (Hong Kong Chinese people are quite blunt and not generous with compliments).  Read more »

How This Single Working Mom Raised a Trilingual Kid

Maria came to San Francisco from Zacatecas, Mexico as a teenager. She crossed the border illegally with the husband she married in her hometown. Because of Maria’s mother’s influence, she married too young, at the age of 16, and since then has had a hard life full of responsibilities.  She is now a U.S. citizen who eventually divorced and currently lives with her three children, younger daughter Karina and two older sons in the Mission district of San Francisco.  Read more »

Many Languages, One America: 25 Proud Bilingual Children

The multilingual Coke commercial that aired during the most watched American TV event of the year—the SuperBowl—was exciting. A prominent multinational company equated the U.S. with multilingualism and featured it on mainstream TV during a very American event. But at the end of the day, all the commercial did was acknowledge reality.   But then the ad came under siege.  Read more »

Raising Trilingual Children? An Interview Not to Miss!

It was really exciting to sit down and talk to Julia, a 27-year-old multilingual who was raised trilingual in Japanese, Portuguese and English and now also speaks Spanish. I was really curious about her multilingual upbringing and what she thinks her parents did right. Her big advice to us parents raising bilingual and multilingual kids: reading is just as important as speaking! Read our interview with her below to find out more.  Read more »

The Power of Immersion Travel

As I browsed a local Nicaraguan newspaper this morning at breakfast, La Prensa, my daughter noticed the kids page and asked to see it.   "Mama, it says 'seis diferencias,' six differences," she told me and continued on down the page.   At home she would never think of picking up something in Spanish to read over English and often times I face groans if I choose a Spanish book to read.  Read more »

How to Start a New Language with Your Child

Language is all about communication and if you or your child do not experience or believe in the benefits of deeply communicating with others, it is a lost cause before you even start. As Nelson Mandela said “When you talk to someone in your language you speak to their head but when you talk to them in their language you speak to their heart.”   Before even embarking on learning a different language with your child it is important to note:   (a) Why you want to do it (b) What your child’s level of interest will be (c) What your goal is in terms of their language learning (d) Whether or not it is useful and/ or realistic   This is usually the toughest one to face.  Read more »

Why Most African Kids are Multilingual

The average Kenyan child speaks three languages. This figure is even higher amongst children in urban deprived areas who regularly speak five languages. This is no mean feat considering many children growing up in these areas do not have indoor plumbing or easy access to basic education. What they do have however is a high density of people from different ethnic communities living cheek by jowl all with a huge impulse to communicate.  Read more »

3 Big Mistakes Parents Make in Raising Bilingual Kids

Raising bilingual kids can often be hard work to ensure the child is getting enough exposure in the second language. While no parents mean to discourage their kids, make sure their enthusiasm stays on track by avoiding these big mistakes.   1. Correcting them: Children that are corrected too much in their second language will be reluctant to speak out of fear they will say something wrong.  Read more »

6 Out-of-the-Box Ideas to Raise a Bilingual Child on a Budget

Raising a bilingual child in a country where bilingualism isn't a given can be expensive. When you don't speak a second language, can't afford private immersion school and tutors are too pricey as are the fancy language classes in your community, then what options do you have left? Here are six out-of-the-box ideas for helping you raise a bilingual child on a budget.  Read more »

Is all the Hard Work of Bilingualism Really Paying Off?

You know those moments when you have to pause, take a breath and remind yourself to take it all in? I had one of those language moments last weekend where the figurative waters parted in totally unexpected ways to reveal that all my hard work around my kids' language development is actually paying off.   The well-known bilingual children's musician, Jose-Luis Orozco, performed at our local children's library last weekend.  Read more »

7 Benefits of Raising Bilingual Kids

Being bilingual affords children (and adults) many advantages over the course of their lifetime. Here are seven benefits of raising bilingual kids that have been documented in research and studies.   1.     Bilingual children have a better ability to focus and ignore distractions in the environment. That’s because the part of the brain called the executive function, used for planning, judgment, working memory, problem solving and staying focused on what’s relevant is stronger in bilinguals.  Read more »

Why Your Bilingual Child Objects When You Switch Languages

Anyone who interacts for some time with a young bilingual child will notice the strong bond that exists between a person and a language. In the eyes of the child a person is tagged with a particular language, and if that person addresses the child in the other language, it may cause some distress. We saw this with Danny, when his mother, who usually spoke to him in English, asked him a question in German.  Read more »

Why Arabic is Dead and Spanish is Alive for My Kids

My kids hear Arabic every day from their dad but it’s amazing how much more of a hold Spanish is taking after seven months of learning it. They take Spanish several days per week in a small class with two friends. Plus many of their close friends are native Spanish speakers so we are socially in an environment with Spanish around us pretty frequently.  Read more »

When Language Immersion Doesn’t Come Easy

My son has learned three languages in his short lifetime. Now seven and half, Amir was born in Spain, but was instantly privy to a world where three different languages were regularly spoken in his home environment. His father—who speaks Arabic with his family members—and I communicate to one another in Spanish, and my native tongue is English. As his primary caregiver, I felt it was important to speak to Amir in English, and it became the language he was mostly surrounded with in those early years, especially after we moved to the United States when he was only six months old.  Read more »

5 Games to Get Your Bilingual Child Talking

Encouraging your children to speak the minority language isn’t always easy. You may encounter resistance or face kids who understand the minority language but prefer to speak in the majority language. To boost their use of the minority language, make it fun! Here are five games that will help get your bilingual children talking. They’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they are using the minority language!   Telephone I had a major bilingual “a-ha” moment this past week when playing the game of telephone with my kids.  Read more »

8 Tips for Encouraging Bilingualism in Different Personality Types

My girls are playing close by as I’m working on my laptop. Sara, 7, is the lead actress in a production of “princess bride” that seems to be going on in our living room. She is very much in control, giving out directions, talking, laughing and sometimes singing. Her sister, Emma, 11, prefers not to be center stage and mainly speaks to remind her sister of details she has forgotten (like the name of the fiancé).  Read more »

Do Bilingual Children Know Fewer Words Than Monolinguals?

Linguistic research in young bilingual children has focused on whether multilingual children develop language skills in the same way and at the same speed as monolingual children. Numerous studies in the field have focused on this question by examining different aspects of language, including grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.   A recent article from Diane Poulin-Dubois, Ellen Bialystok and their colleagues (2012), published in the International Journal of Bilingualism, looks at the area of vocabulary.  Read more »

29 Tips for Raising Bilingual Kids

Raising a child with good bilingual ability can be a significant challenge. How do you support the minority language so that it keeps pace with the relentless development of the majority language?   Here are 29 tips for busy parents to help increase the odds of success.   1. Start early If you’re proactive from the start, you’ll stand a much better chance of nurturing a good balance in the child's bilingual ability.  Read more »

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Z        This page is a way for all of us to share resources for books, websites, music, apps, games and more for raising our bilingual children. These are reader recommendations on resources by language. Many of these products we have not looked into ourselves and therefore they are not endorsements.  Read more »

What to Expect From Daycare in a Non-Native Language

Three years ago we moved to the Netherlands from the U.S. with our two-month-old daughter. Neither my Italian husband nor I spoke any Dutch. Fast forward to present and we now have a very talkative three-year-old who regularly insists that she speaks only “Nederlands.” This is what we have learned about what you can expect when you send your child to daycare in a non-native language.  Read more »

Is Earlier Really Better for Second Language Acquisition?

There is a common myth about second language acquisition that by six or seven years old, it is too late to acquire a language fully.  This argument is based on the “critical period hypothesis." I admit that linguistics research is not easily accessible and linguists are notoriously poor at disseminating their findings to the public. Because of that, I can't blame anybody for believing that older children can’t learn a second language with perfect fluency.  Read more »

10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children

As a Polish mother in the Netherlands with multilingual children growing up with Polish, German and Dutch, I often hear uninformed and judgmental comments. Inspired by Babble’s “What not to say…” series, I wrote my own list about what you should never (and I mean NEVER) say to parents of multilingual children. 1) “I know somebody who is bilingual, and they never learned to speak any language properly.  Read more »

The Science Behind Bilingual Children’s Brains

Why start language learning early? With the help of modern technology in neuroscience, we now understand how language develops during infancy and early childhood. Also, based on countless studies, researchers can safely conclude that as your child grows older, her uncanny language abilities decrease significantly. This 'critical period' means that you should strike while the iron is hot! Do babies have super human language skills? Research at the University of Chicago shows that a bird placed in isolation for the first few weeks of its life never learns the song of its species properly and will thus be unable to uphold a territory or woo a mate.  Read more »

Bilingual Parenting: Five Strategies to Start Now

When I found out I was pregnant, one of my first thoughts was “I can’t wait to raise this child to speak French.” I am a native English speaker, and I’ve been a Francophile since I was a young girl. My love of the French language and Francophone cultures has largely shaped my career, my travel and my interests. Although I was committed to raising a bilingual child, I never actually thought about how to go about it, especially in the very young, preverbal stages.  Read more »

How Bilingualism Can Fail in Multilingual Families

Raising bilingual kids, if nothing else, involves commitment. Bilingualism isn’t automatic. Long before having children or meeting my multilingual husband, I knew I wanted to raise bilingual kids. I was not brought up bilingual and learned the majority of my languages as an adult. As a result, I wanted my kids to have the gift of bilingualism from childhood.  Read more »

Diary of a Bilingual Spanish School

In “Fostering Bilingual Education through Two-Way Immersion,” we describe how a constructivist curriculum and a multicultural approach to dual immersion led to the success of a two-way Spanish immersion program.  The following narratives offer vivid evidence of why this is so. They illustrate, over the course of a school year, how bilingual instruction was blended with constructivist pedagogy adapted to the needs of second-language learners and how this combination was not only natural but necessary.  Read more »

Fostering Bilingual Education through Two-Way Immersion

This article is an excerpt from the book Diary of a Bilingual School: How a Constructivist Curriculum, a Multicultural Perspective, and a Commitment to Dual Immersion Education Combined to Foster Fluent Bilingualism in Spanish- and English-Speaking Children Fluent bilingualism is commonplace throughout much of the world. How strange that it’s so difficult to achieve in the United States! Unless we came here as immigrants, grew up in homes where another language was spoken, or spent extended time in a non-English-speaking country, most Americans are likely to be monolingual.  Read more »

Multilingual Children for Money or Love?

My husband and I are the typical young family starting out our journey into parenthood. Like all parents, we want what is best for our children and thus, spend quite a bit of time researching everything from cribs and mattresses to baby food and stimulating toys.  But we also research something else: how to raise trilingual children.  Our ethnic backgrounds set us apart from many other parents around us in Suburban Michigan, as my husband is Lebanese and I am Mexican.  Read more »

François Grosjean Responds: Cherishing the Multilingual Heart

At the end of last year, the title of a post by Jan Petersen on InCultureParent caught my attention: "How Francois Grosjean Broke My Multilingual Heart." I was troubled at first as I have defended bi- and multilinguals most of my academic life, not broken their hearts! So I read on and immediately felt reassured....and exonerated. I wasn't really the one who had broken Jan Petersen's heart in my Psychology Today post, "Helen or Hélène.  Read more »

How My Kids Lost and Found Their Native Language

I feel defeated when I watch childhood home videos of my two daughters, Alina and Alexa. In the videos, they are speaking their beautiful native tongue, a bittersweet memory, as they lost their ability and desire to speak it as they got older. My girls were very early speakers. By age two, they spoke in full Armenian sentences. By age three, they were able to carry on articulate conversations, and oh boy were they chatty! I enrolled them in preschool by age four, with minimal English vocabulary.  Read more »

All I Want for Christmas is Perfectly Bilingual Children

When it comes to raising a bilingual child, I have several beliefs about how you can waste your time. I think it’s a waste of valuable second language reinforcement time if you don’t watch movies in the minority language, read books and listen to music in that language and most of all, have a babysitter or nanny in that second language. I would also never pay for private school if that education is not in another language.  Read more »

Getting Back on the OPOL Wagon

As I wrote about in Part I of this article, "Falling off the OPOL Wagon," I didn’t realize I had fallen off the one parent one language (OPOL) wagon until I found myself face down on the ground with a chipped tooth and a mouthful of dirt. The real question is how did I get back on the wagon? I credit reading about other multilingual children’s progress on various blogs with flipping the switch for me.  Read more »

Falling off the OPOL Wagon

I didn’t realize I had fallen off the one parent one language (OPOL) wagon until I found myself face down on the ground with a chipped tooth and a mouthful of dirt. For me it was a slippery slope. I am not aware if strict OPOL means that parents speak their native language to each other as well as their children. This would require that my Mexican husband speak fluent French and that I speak fluent Spanish.  Read more »

Code-Switching in My Multilingual Family

“Mommy,” my son stated, “for lunch, uno quesadilla con queso istiyorum.” In our family, this sentence that combines English, Spanish and Turkish not only makes sense, but it is also a normal exchange. I grew up speaking English and Spanish and have a fair command of Turkish. My husband’s native language is Turkish, and he is comfortable communicating in English, German and French.  Read more »

Language for Family Ties or Competitive Edge?

When we decided to move to Singapore about 18 months ago, people’s reactions fell into roughly three categories: 1. People who knew pretty much nothing about Singapore: “Are you insane?” “What language do they speak over there?” “Is it safe? Don’t they hang you for littering?” 2. Those who had been to Singapore or were planning on it: “I am so jealous, you are going to eat so well.  Read more »

The Influence of Bilingual Preschool Teachers

Lately, both of my girls have taken to calling my youngest, Lila, “Lilita.” Although they do not attend a bilingual Spanish preschool, two of the three teachers are native Spanish speakers. While they have Spanish class on Fridays, the influence of Spanish extends beyond the songs and words they learn on that day. The Spanish diminutive has crept into their English vocabulary with ease.  Read more »

Is Raising Bilingual Children Worth the Costs?

I am the daughter of born-and-raised-in-Japan parents and also a proud American citizen. I grew up bilingual because both of my parents spoke only Japanese at home, but at school, I only heard English. I think this is one of the most ideal ways to become bilingual—to be immersed in one language half the time, and in another the other half. I was very lucky; being bilingual has helped me in my education and given me neat volunteer and work opportunities.  Read more »

Chinese School Dropout: Why I No Longer Torture My Son With Bilingualism

After three years of flashcards, tracing sheets, computer games and CDs, I’m giving in. I’m a Chinese School Dropout. Or rather my second-grader is. It’s a decision we have not come to rashly. We have had a love-hate relationship with learning Chinese. Sure, there was some whining. But not kicking and screaming and crying—especially since first grade, when my son started in a homework-free program aimed at non-native Mandarin speakers.  Read more »

Defining a Child’s World through Language

Not a linguist myself, I come from a family of linguists. Perhaps that is why I appreciate the power of language not only in conveying information but in shaping one’s mind. Like all multilingual children, I grew up realizing that certain words in one of my languages did not have a translation or equivalent in another one. This conveyed to me not just a deficiency in vocabulary but a void of ideas.  Read more »

The 10 Best Things About Going Bilingual

The 10 best things about going bilingual with your children:   1. When people ask my kids where they're from (a pretty common question for anyone with brown skin tone), they say France! (Sadly, neither me nor their Papa have any direct connection to France, I just happen to have studied the language and decided to pass it on.)   2.  Read more »

Speaking in Tongues Film

Why is bilingualism important to you? Answer this question below in the comments to win the DVD of the film, Speaking in Tongues.   Speaking in Tongues, courtesy of Patchworks Films, is the award-winning documentary following the lives of four budding bilingual children in dual-language immersion programs in the San Francisco Bay Area.   I saw this movie fairly recently and was so pleased that this critical subject was the topic of a documentary.  Read more »

Bilingual Parenting: OPOL or Mixed Language—Does it Matter?

Bilingual parenting is more common than we think. It’s the norm in many countries where citizens speak several languages or dialects that are transmitted to their children. Mixed marriages, with parents who come from different countries and speak different languages, create families where two languages coexist in daily life. Families moving to live in another country, either as expatriates or immigrants, also bring an extra language into the home.  Read more »

Learning to Read When Bilingual: Which Language First?

A hot topic for parents trying to raise balanced bilinguals is which language do you teach first, the minority one or the community language? Or maybe both at once?! We didn't have much choice, as our daughter was enrolled (reluctantly) in the English section of her French school for the first two years, due to lack of places on the French side, so all her initial reading was in English.  Read more »

Perfect Bilingualism: Does it Exist?

If you have ever lived in a foreign country where you speak the language as well as its inhabitants, you’ll know how frustrating it is for someone to complement you on your charming accent. You might consider yourself completely bilingual, but there’s that little accent that people keep remarking on. Or you might be bringing up bilingual or multilingual children and notice that they have a slight accent in what you consider to be their mother tongue.  Read more »

Invisible Interpreter: The Grandmother – Child Language Divide

Paati (grandma) joined us this past summer from India. It was her first visit to our home in the U.S since the kids. Paati can understand, read and write elementary English, while our six-something-year-old daughter can handle only minimal Tamil (the regional Indian language we speak). With no clairvoyance, my husband and I concluded that the lack of a medium of communication was going to deter and procrastinate the bonding between Paati and our children.  Read more »

Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children: Correcting My Grammar

I've long been resigned (though secretly thrilled) that my six-year-old daughter corrects my French, but I didn't expect my three-year-old son to start just yet. But a couple of days ago, when I was offering him some raisins verts (green grapes), he indignantly stated, "Raisins blancs!" (white grapes), which I suppose must be the correct translation he has heard at school.  Read more »

What Bilingualism is Not

I have had the chance to live and work for extended periods of time in at least three countries: the United States, Switzerland and France, and as a researcher on bilingualism, it has allowed me to learn a lot about my topic of interest. I have found that people in these countries share many misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals but that they also have very country-specific attitudes towards them.  Read more »

Forgetting my Mother Tongue

Francois Grosjean's recent article on language forgetting struck a cord. I have experienced a form of language forgetting myself when I was seven years old, in a limited sense. My family moved from Frankfurt in Germany's Hessen region to Hamburg in the North. Both my sister and I had spoken "hessisch," the local dialect spoken in Hessen. Within six months after the move we had both completely switched to a Hamburg accent and had actually forgotten our dialect.  Read more »

Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

While viewing a new exhibition at the art museum with my twin daughters, who are three and a half years old, we stopped in front of a painting that caught their attention. I asked them, "Que ven en esta obra?" (What do you see in this picture?) Emma jumped and said, "Nieve y Arboles" (snow and trees). Hannah, with a concerned face, answered, "Es buy scary" (it is very scary).  Read more »

Autism and Multilingualism: A Parent’s Perspective

It happened again last week. I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a colleague when she asked me point blank what language we spoke at home. I often get that question as my husband and I come from different countries and on top of that, we're expats in Turkey. This makes us, for all practical purposes, a trilingual family. But people don't buy that and they want to know which of our three languages we really speak, when no one is watching.  Read more »

Education in Multilingual Families: The Burning Question—Part One

Education. One word, carrying so much baggage. Hope for the future; worries about its quality and quantity. And for families raising bilingual or multilingual children, the language question adds another dimension of difficulty, especially if you are lucky enough to live in a place where you have lots of options. Matthew is four and a half. School starts at age three in France (although it isn't mandatory until age six).  Read more »

Help! My Bilingual Child Won’t Speak My Language

If you find your child refuses to speak your language, don't hit the panic button just yet. All you need is a little bit of patience and perhaps some organization too. As a parent of bilingual children, I have often heard parents bemoan the fact that their child refuses to speak back to them in their native tongue, preferring instead the language of the country they live in.  Read more »

Languages of the Mind and Heart: Growing up Trilingual in the UK

As someone who loves to write and read, a love of language and words fits naturally. My family is of Punjabi origin, hailing from Jhelum, Pakistan and therefore speaks a Patwari dialect of Punjabi. Growing up, I spoke Patwari with my mother and grandparents; this was the language they scolded us in (Danger! Animals!) and loved us in. The dialect they used is exactly the one they brought with them from Pakistan to the UK forty years ago.  Read more »

Raising Bilingual Children in Non-Native Language: Tools for Parents

So your kids have a ton of target language DVDs, books, websites and toys to fast-track their bilingualism, but what about you, the parent? If the target language isn't your native one, you'll be wanting to maintain and improve it any chance you get. But as we all know, being a parent doesn't give you the luxury of long stretches of free time for language-learning! The best way to keep up your language skills is to work it into your day-to-day life.  Read more »

Late Speaker and Bilingual? Changing a Common Belief

Popular wisdom would have it that bilingual children are generally late speakers. It was certainly my experience when my son at three didn't speak but a few words. People around me would tell me oh, don't worry it's because he's bilingual. My own doctor told me there was no need for concern as my son was learning two languages at the same time. Indeed, I met several parents of bilingual children who had the same kind of experience as me.  Read more »

Osmosis of Language

By the age of four, I had lived in three different countries and spoke pieces of three different languages. I was born in the former Soviet Union to an East German father and a Peruvian mother. My parents were university students in present day Ukraine and they communicated with each other in their only common language at that time, Russian. My first words were in Russian, although my father always addressed me in German and my mother in Spanish.  Read more »

Why I Want My Children to be Multilingual

Question: why is it important to me that my kids speak more than one language? I have to admit that I never really thought about this. When I married an Algerian woman I must have assumed my children would be multilingual. Or maybe I was so unprepared that I actually didn't have an opinion. But in hindsight it is obvious that there really was no choice for me.  Read more »

Another Benefit of Raising Kids in Non-native Language

In the beginning I often felt quite self-conscious speaking French in public, with my English accent and errors. But people have always been lovely--English people often try and say a few minority language (ml) words to the children, such as 'Bonjour' and 'Au revoir,' while French people are often curious about my decision to speak non-native French, particularly if they haven't spoken French with their own children! And an unforeseen benefit is that I feel less exposed when it comes to disciplining Schmoo in public! Schmoo sometimes teaches me new words now--a few days ago she kept referring to her pot of bubble mixture as a 'flacon,' a word I don't know and hadn't taught her.  Read more »

Reinforcing the Minority Language

Early on, I read quite a bit about language acquisition and discovered that children need interactive language exposure in order to learn a language. This means that sitting your child in front of the television to watch minority language (ml) programs alone will not teach them that language. Your child needs to be highly motivated to actually use the language in order to learn it, which is only possible if they are brought into contact with people who speak it and who they want or need to communicate with.  Read more »

Myths of Multilingual Families

In some families, children become bilingual. When a child interacts with one or more caretakers in a language on a regular basis, he or she learns to use that language. The key to learning languages in the home—whether one, two, or even more—is interaction. Interaction involves speaking and listening. In many intercultural families, however, children do not become bilingual.  Read more »

Adventures in Raising Trilingual Kids

Welcome to my blog! I am bringing up my children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, to speak three languages: English, Twi and French. I started learning French at school (age 11) and loved it so much I ended up studying it to MA level (age 26). So after all those years of struggling to learn another language I wanted to give my kids the easy option! As my husband grew up in Ghana, he speaks fluent Twi, so it was easy to add this third language into the mix.  Read more »
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Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.

Why We Need to Read Multicultural Children's Books

Children need to see the world around them reflected in books.

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

I am just another "farang" or stranger until my son starts speaking fluent Thai

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

What you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.

10 Best Children's Books for Gifts

Our Editors favorite multicultural books for this holiday season.

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

My wife thinks three languages will confuse our child. Is she right?

11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa

Try a few of these from this fantastic selection of African-American holiday books

What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal

How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?

10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry

We dare you to read these without a tear

Why This Mom Banned the Word ‘Weird’ From Her Kids' Vocabulary

One approach to explaining diversity to kids.

French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

How one mom in an intercultural marriage sees the differences between Italian and French parenting

The Cultural Battleground of Sleepovers

Should they be allowed because it's "normal?" Think again.

Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?

Would you pick up a stranger's child or is that invasive?

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

What's the best way to transmit the values we care about to our kids?

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Smarter, larger, better, healthier and more beautiful? A project that debunks stereotypes.

Dear White Officer, Please Don't Shoot

At what age does my darling black son begin to look like a threat to the world?

A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

A great pick for back to school season

My Daughter’s 10 Favorite Multicultural Books

Does your shelf have these kid favorites?

I was Diagnosed with Cancer at Age 37 while Abroad with Kids

Illness in a foreign country can be scary but it taught this mom a different meaning of family.

Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More

Win almost $300 in prizes from awesome globally-inspired children's products.

5 Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Healthy smoothies for summer your kids will like.

3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas

Beautiful children's stories from Nepal to Tibet

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Help Us Giveaway a Soccer Ball to Kids in Ethiopia!

Let's donate a ball to kids who need it in Ethiopia. Here's how you can help!

Tanabata Festival: July 7

A beautiful Japanese summer festival

Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

A simple homemade gift for kids

A Children's Book for Global Citizens: Everyone Prays

A celebration of faith around the world through simple text and rich illustrations.

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

What would you do? Your child won a place in the lottery, only problem is it's the wrong year!

After Her Husband’s Tragic Death, She Embraced a Religion and Culture Not Her Own

This Japanese mom embraced Judaism to give her son a piece of his father
Nice list! I'm not sure if you were focusing only on current cartoons, but The Proud Family on Disney was a great show featuring an African American family and friends, t...
From 7 Diverse Children’s Cartoons (where the main character isn’t the standard white one)
[…] yet different, their cultural practices and customs are. I also had to check out their list 10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry. Not that I like to cry all that much,...
From 10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry
[…] I love books with strong female characters! And along that note, I also noticed My Friend Mei Jing, a book that celebrates cross-cultural friendship. Told from the perspective of Monifa, w...
From A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship
[…] InCultureParent has a multitude of book reviews for parents raising little global citizens. Most of them feature multicultural characters, and a few really caught my eye. The Sofia Martine...
From The Sofia Martinez Series: Chapter Books for Early Readers
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/08/mothers-to-be-pregnancy-around-the-world/#slide1 […...
From Mothers-To-Be: Pregnancy Around the World
great article. I am still going with my 3 and a half year old - but just at night and when he awakens in the morning. I do however, limit who I tell this to as it is not the norm here in New Zeala...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
As a southern Italian woman I can say that your ideas in this piece are a little antiquated and overgeneralised. Perhaps this is still the case for men living in the 1950's and also for many migrant...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
I did this with my children, ironically because I was too young to know what else to d...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
I noticed that some mothers wrote, "I fed my child constantly and he/she still cried a lot!" Well, bottle feeding and breastfeeding are completely different. Did you "breastfeed" your child constant...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] also found this report depicting how children who do not speak the same language can still interact with each other. Once […...
From How Children Play Who Don’t Speak the Same Language
This article came right on time for me. It's amazing. We are a yoga mother Sun (14months) duo who will be relocating to Thailand in a little under 2 months. Not that I had any doubt in the world....
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
I would like to point out the fact that as I stated once before being brought up in the UK than moving over to France and me and my brother being disciplined the french way that is having to wear lo...
From Are French Kids Better Behaved Because They are Spanked?
Great article! I think there is also a big difference between the public parenting and at-home parenting in Japan. Foreign observers might be quick to make conclusions about parenting style, witho...
From Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection
@lemoncake: That was mean. Maybe instead of asking others to grow a thick skin, you could take responsibility for not deliberately hurting the...
From Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don’t Think I Speak Mandarin
I wish I could eat a vegetarian diet, but each time I've tried it's been immediately clear that I don't do well on it. I can't even safely skip meat for a whole day without feeling lightheaded, exha...
From Speak Up for the Animals, Mama! A Vegetarian in Africa
I think if I were being taught the customs of courtesy in a new culture (which is pretty much what all kids are doing when they learn manners), I wouldn't want to be left completely on my own to fig...
From I Was Wrong. Manners Do Matter.
they look either Scandinavian, Italian or eastern European.. isn't it weird how mixed white people look either more white or just completely whi...
From Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids
I love the idea of Jose at storytime with the girls. That is great. You will be a great Grandma sodemay!Summer,I haven't read piggies , but I've seen it, so I will get that one next time. Love the ...
From Buddhism and Parenting Attachment
that even if daycare gets to see the actaul firsts (and sometimes they did, which would crush me, but they always were careful to document everything for us) that we'd still get to see the firsts on...
From What to Expect From Daycare in a Non-Native Language
comment #4:Indeed!We have numerous etiicnhties whose masses are steeped in the music, art, and ethos that is native to them. But, how quickly the disturbed cry that's so Euro-centric' goes up when ...
From Cheerleading, Katy Perry and My Six-Year-Old
This was a great post. Black History shouldn't be ONLY cetearbled monthly, but daily. We've made so many contributions to society and do on a consistent basis so I believe that we should be recogni...
From 8 Children’s Books for Black History Month
Assalamualaikum, thank you very much for this inspirational writin...
From An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline
[…] How to Talk about Race in a Kindergarten Classroom […...
From How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race
I fully understand what you are saying here. I am also raising multilingual children and I had been faced with all those comments that you mention here. People can be very hurtful sometimes for no...
From 10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children
Bonjour madame Berreby, I'm a northern Italian woman married to a northern Italian men (both with 100% northern Italian ancestry). There is a huge difference between northern and southern Italy, w...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2013/07/6-favorite-childrens-books-about-ramadan/ […...
From 6 Favorite Children’s Books about Ramadan
[…] which reflect the diversity of our world, so I am glad that Stephanie from has put together this list of cartoons where the main character is not your standard white […...
From 7 Diverse Children’s Cartoons (where the main character isn’t the standard white one)
[…] Soyal (or Soyalangwul) is a major winter solstice celebration and feast observed by the Native American Hopi and Zuni people of the Southwest. It starts on the shortest day of the year in...
From Hopi Winter Solstice (Soyal): December 22
[…] It Keeps Babies Happy! – I remember reading the article Why African Babies Don’t Cry , written by a native African new mom who was currently living in the UK. She was comparing...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
This is a sad incident to read about and very unfortunate considering that you were at a new job, but unfortunately these things happen and the only thing a nanny can do is to prove herself through ...
From I’m Your Nanny, Do You Really Trust Me?
[…] On peut expliquer que c’est important pour nous de leur donner cet avantage fantastique de maîtriser plusieurs langues couramment. On peut aussi les rassurer que notre enfant n&rsqu...
From Do Bilingual Children Know Fewer Words Than Monolinguals?
[…] Via incultureparent.com […...
From Kids Playing Around the World
Interesting post. I am a Canadian born of Cuban and Jamaican parents and I have never had this problem. In Canada, specifically Toronto, we hold on to our roots so much that it is odd to hear anyone...
From Why People Tell Me I’m Not Really Jamaican
Love this article much, and completely envious! What a good start for you and your baby. I breast fed my son till 4 & half, my daughter currently 22months and still going strong but the social a...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Hi Chelsea, I did a Dip Ed at the University of Papua New Guinea and taught school in Papua New Guinea in 1970s. I was shocked how few children went to primary school and even less students to sec...
From Bilum Craft: Learning about Papua New Guinea
[…] InCulture Parent, an online magazine about global parenting, has posted an excerpt from Dina’s book and has also featured it in their New This Month category. Additionally, Adoptio...
From Finding Aster
This article is great and gives me hope that I can somehow get my marriage back on track after almost four years of living with my MIL. My mother in law is great and if I didn't have to live with he...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I'm half French, half Italian, raised in Australia - my husband, has Scottish and Maori bloodlines and was raised in Canada - We find that we tend to default to the Italian and Maori parenting style...
From French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family
I guess this is a common problem. I am American. She is from Europe. We had our (first) kid 11 months ago (I've been happier than I ever imagined at being a father. Let's see, what could ruin tha...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] Dunque ecco 10 valide proposte su come “uscire dal tracciato” e perché dovrebbero esserci più libri che puntano sulla  multiculturalità. […...
From Ten Reasons Parents Should Read Multicultural Books to Kids