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In my quest to raise my sons to be bilingual, I’ve spent a lot of time reading up on the science behind how children learn foreign languages—which, by the way, is (slightly) different from the ways in which adults learn languages. Of course, some of my first readings were grad school assignments, and I learned much from the textbooks and academic articles that I studied as I was working towards my PhD. However, if I’m being honest, since I became a parent, I haven’t re-read a single one of those articles.
Instead, I’ve found that as a mom, the most helpful resources aren’t necessarily those written by other academics. Time and time again, I tend to turn to resources created by my fellow parents. Blogs written by other multicultural families have given me the inspiration, advice, and practical ideas that I’ve needed for our family’s own bilingual journey. And today, I’d like to share some of my favorites with you.
If your family is studying a foreign language—whether your goal is to have your children become fully bilingual, or simply to help them gain exposure to other languages—I highly recommend the following four blogs, which are full of encouragement and creative ideas to spur you on in your language learning. I’ve been reading each of these blogs for years, and they are all consistently excellent resources, so trust me when I say that they come with my highest recommendation.
Bilingual Monkeys originally started as a blog and has since grown to be a vibrant community of parents committed to language learning. It’s run by Adam Beck, a guy who not only has a great grasp of the latest language acquisition research, but also a killer sense of humor. His site is a great place to start if you want to learn more about why your child should study a foreign language, if you are a bilingual parent whose child is resisting communicating in the minority language (ask me how I know), or if you’d like to know 96 creative ideas for incorporating language learning into your family culture. What I love about Adam’s site is that his blog posts are packed with powerful, yet easy-to-implement ideas that you can start using immediately to support your child’s language learning. And by the way, Adam is also the author of the book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, which I also highly recommend.
Multilingual Living, a blog connected to the (now defunct) Multilingual Living Magazine, offers a wealth of resources to parents who are serious about studying foreign languages in their homes. When you visit, don’t be intimidated by the articles on trilingual and quadrilingual families—there’s plenty of encouragement for those of us who are studying only one other language! Aside from the blog’s extensive resources on homeschooling and bilingualism, you might enjoy the personal narratives shared by the site's contributors, all of whom are raising their children to speak more than one language. For my part, I’ve benefitted immensely from Multilingual Living’s emphasis on biliteracy and its contributors’ practical suggestions for how to teach reading to bilingual children. And finally, don’t miss the back issues of Multilingual Living Magazine. All of them are available for free as PDFs on the Web site and they’re a great extra dose of inspiration for language learning families.
Spanish Mama is the blog of Elizabeth Alvarado, a Spanish teacher who, along with her Peruvian husband, is homeschooling her young children in English and Spanish. Spanishmama.com is the first place that I go to when I’m looking for creative activities to do in Spanish with my very young children—and if you’re looking for the same, I highly recommend it! Over the years, I've especially appreciated her suggestions for teaching kids about holidays in Spanish (including the best Latin Christmas songs and other great posts with authentic resources) and her very accessible craft ideas—like these super-cool Nazca craft lines—which are at just the right speed for this non-Pinteresty mama.
Monica Olivera is the brains behind the info-packed blog known as Mommy Maestra, which is an essential resource for any homeschool family serious about educating their children bilingually (in English and Spanish). At Mommymaestra.com, you can find detailed reviews of Spanish language curricula, Monica’s own tales of homeschooling her kids bilingually, and reviews of bilingual and Spanish language children’s books. Monica is also the author of the new book The Latino Family’s Guide to Homeschooling, a comprehensive overview of the “whys” and “how-tos” of homeschooling for Latino families. Given that 29 percent of homeschooling families identify as Latino, this is a much-needed and welcome resource for the community!
Do you have any blogs to recommend on multilingual living or language learning? I’d love to hear your favorites!