Variety of Language Learning Methods in Multilingual Homes

Variety Language LearningIf you follow my blog, you can see that I haven’t posted for some months. There are few reasons for that. And I am happy to make a comeback by participating in A to Z of Multilingual Children – a series organised by my blogger friend Annabelle of The Piri-piri Lexicon.
I got the letter V and I decided to talk about Variety of Language Learning Methods in Multilingual Homes.
I happen to start my multilingual journey when I was very young and I was growing up in a small town in Buryatia. We had neighbours who were local and who, apparently, spoke Buryatia language to me. My accidentally saw me replying to them and having a casual conversation.
I was 4+ when we left that area. And I have since forgotten the language. But I have always had a very strong attachment to new languages. I loved the sound of English, French, Hindi, Arabic – you name it.
And so when it was time for me to choose a profession, I became a teacher and a philologist.
I can’t say I am very consistent with teaching my mother tongue to my children. But until they were two, I spoke Russian to turn 90% of the time, with switching to English as it is our family language. Once they turned 2, they sort of chose English as it was the main language my husband and I speak to each other and to our friends.
So, you decided to raise a multingual. Where to start?
First of all, choose a method you want to follow. The variety of methods comes down to the following three:
– OPOL (one person -one language)
– Code-switching (when parents switch between languages they want their children to learn on daily basis)
– ML@H (minority language at home).
There are some variations to that where can dedicate a day or two every week to speak a particular language.
Second, have your family’s support. Or try getting it. People in your family – your spouse, you in-laws, and other relatives, have to understand that you want to raise your child a certain way. I am yet to meet a family where relatives opposed the child learning a language. Though, it is not unheard of.
And third, remember – it is never late to change your methods, or adjust it to suit best you family’s needs. There are so many ways to support language learning – you can find some in my article on 100 Ways to Encourage a Foreign Language Learning.
At the end, I’d like you to take a fun quiz to see what method suits you best!
Mark the statement with “yes”, “no”, or “not sure”
1. You speak more than 1 language (if yes, go to #3!)
2. You want to speak more than 1 language.
3. You want your children to speak more than 1 language.
4. When you are upset, you express yourself in your own language (if you answered “no” for #2, ignore this one!)
5. You have no one to speak your language with , so you hope your children will make up for it (if you answered “no”for #2, ignore this one!)
6. You want your children to speak a language that you always wanted to learn.
7. You want to have a secret way of communicating with your children.
8. You really don’t care who speaks what, you just want everyone to get along!
Now, check your results:
– If you answered “yes” to all or most, you can go ahead and chose any methods from the above. And you can’t hold me responsible!
– If you answered “no” to all or most, it is time to move abroad or send your children to a bilingual school!
– If you answered “don’t know” to all or most, I don’t know why you were reading it this in the first place! But I am grateful for your time!
P.s. this test was intended as a joke, and didn’t aim at offending anyone. Whatever method you choose to support multilingualism at your home, do so with confidence that it WILL be beneficial to you and your children.

the piri-piri lexicon

Tips on Motivating Your Child to Learn a Minority Language

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I have mentioned on several occasions that our family is multilingual. My husband speaks 5 languages. I speak fluently 3. Our children are growing up trilingual as well.

I will admit, though, that it hasn’t been easy for me  to maintain our minority language – Russian – in the family. I don’t follow OPOL, I switch languages. I am also not the most consistent when it comes to speaking Russian to my children.

Actually, I was quite consistent till my older 2 turned 2. Then, they just chose English as their main language as it is the language in our home, and most of our friends speak English, too.

I have many times felt guilt of not being more persistent with teaching them Russian. Until one day, my oldest, who went through a stage between 3 and 4 absolutely despising speaking Russian to showing high interest in it and picking up more and more. And even asking me to teach her in a more formal way!

And then, my 3 year old, who is still refusing to speak Russian, suddenly started reciting Russian alphabet and numbers 1-10. Which happened due to her always enjoying playing with a so-called computer – an interactive toy we brought back from our last trip in 2015, that allows you to listen to the letters and words associated with them; and has some matching and guessing games. So, she learned the alphabet and she can recognise the letters in a complete random order!

All of this made me think that unconsciously I have been actually helping my children become interested in their mother tongue, which has become the minority language.

And so, I tried several things that have since been motivating for all 3 kids (with the youngest still using more English but understanding and replying in Russian when asked to).

So, here are the tips that motivate my children to learn their minority language:

1. Having books in this language at home and actually reading them to your children. In our home we encourage reading in general and our kids love books. They often ask me to read something for them.

2. Showing them cartoons in this minority language. Something so simple like Masha And the Bear (in relation to Russian), where there aren’t many words but they are quite repetitive. Kids love it and the learn the words and phrases, and what meaning they are  associated with. At least once a week when they asked to watch TV I give them a condition that it should be a Russian cartoon. They can take it, or leave it. In our case it is a 100% success.

3. Meeting other people who speaks this language and having a conversation in front of the kids. It can be a real conversation or a Skype call with your family. Let’s face it: kids are curious! They always listen on the background what you are talking about. They may not seem to be paying attention, but they are playing and learning. And at some point they WILL ask you what you were taking about and you can encourage them to learn the language.

4. Playing with other children who speak this language. This is not always possible depending on where you live. But grab any opportunity! Kids learn from each other.

5. Using technology: online learning programs, apps and more. All of this in combination and in moderation raises awareness, promotes motivation to learn this language.

6. If possible and affordable – sign them up for special classes. My oldest is not having fun learning Chinese characters. So we signed her up for a special calligraphy class where she is enjoying painting and writing the characters more than ever.

7. Visiting countries that speak this language is very beneficial, too. It can also be a virtual trio!

8. Avoiding pushing. No, it doesn’t mean not to try speaking to your child in this language. It simply means if they child is feeling very strong and is refusing – do not punish him/her, do not get frustrated, or discouraged. Revisit it again.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please share your own!

D is for Diamonds

D is for Diamonds

As I got back into blogging full force, I have immediately started taking part in many exciting projects.

Today I would like to introduce to you another project I am taking part in: A-Z of Busy Bags hosted by Teach Me Mommy – a fellow KBN blogger.

My letter is D and I thought it would be fun to introduce Diamonds. I am not talking about stones, of course. I am talking about a diamond shape which is often is confused with a square or a rectangle.

In my mind diamond shape always associated with how we perceive the world in our childhood: diamond does look somewhat like a square but it is not. It is shifted, moved, almost disfigured. But it is nevertheless beautiful and creative.

So, I created a series of simple printables to put in a busy bag to use a diamonds matching tool. There is one printout in color, the copy of the same printable in black and white (for coloring), and several designs made out of diamonds that also teach and help practice numbers 5 through 10.

Click on the image below to be taken to the page to download the Diamonds Matching Printable!

Diamonds matching

These printouts are suitable for children from 1+ to 8 years old. They are a great addition to any math lesson, or a simple practice at home.

I do recommend printing out several copies of the diamonds in color. And I encourage you to let your child color the shapes, as well as the designs.

If you laminate the sheets, you can use them for a very long time. However, if the lamination option is not available, you can glue the sheets to some stiff paper, such as cardboard and cover over with clear contact paper – this will preserve the sheets for a long time.

What this matching activities promotes: language development (and you can use it for practicing a minority language in your household!); hand-eye coordination; fine motor skills; counting; creativity.

a-z busy bags

Follow us in the next couple of weeks to see what other bloggers have come up with! And don’t forget to stop by my blog around March 21st to see what I have come up for the letter U!

Five Things I learned Mothering Multilingual Children

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When I was little, I knew I wanted to learn foreign languages. I dreamed of traveling to other cities and countries. I was and I still am fascinated with travels and cultures.

I have asked myself a question when I was younger whether I saw myself getting married to someone from another culture, country and leaving my “nest”. It was some kind of distant dream and I was inspired by beautiful stories about such marriages from books and movies.

I can’t say that the reality is not exciting
or boring. But being in a multicultural marriage and bringing up a multicultural family is work. Being a parent is work, whether it is in the same culture or not. There are challenges, but there are plenty of rewards. The main one being assured that your children are growing up embracing the world as their home. Embracing all people as equal, despite the nationality. Despite the race. Despite the social status.

We are also fortunate enough to experience the world through an expat experience. I personally think it is even more challenging being a third culture kid (TCK) who speaks several languages. But again – there are great rewards and benefits in that.

My oldest speaks 3 languages. My second speaks 1, understands 2 more. And our youngest, who still doesn’t speak one, seems to have a good understanding of 3 languages as well.

Mothering multilingual children has some interesting sides and I wanted to share 7 things I learned so far in the process.

1. Choose a method for supporting your mother tongue that suits you the best: you can go OPOL (one parent – one language) and stick to it stricly; or you can switch languages – the results may or may not be the same. But the amount of exposure is great either way.

2. If your child is resisting speaking his/her mother tongue – don’t get upset. Keep up with it, encourage in gentle ways. You don’t really want your child to hate your language, do you? In reality, there WILL be time when the need will arise to learn and to speak it. And your child WILL show more interest.

3. We are raising global citizens. Exposing them to as many languages as possible will not confuse them: it will give them more chances to use different parts of their conscious and subconscious, develop them in the ways we never had a chance to develop.

4. Where there is a will – there is a way. We are so fortunate that we have tons of free and paid resources available for learning languages. And that multilingualism exists and is promoted all over the world. No matter how busy you are, there is always an opportunity to find these materials and use them.

5. Follow your gut feeling. And when you ask for advice on how to support a language at home – filter the answers according to what suits you and your family best. There will always be people giving you grieve about not being consistent with one language or another. Do not let them discourage you or worry too much. Everyone learns in their own pace.

Reading the above, you probably wonder why I am coming so strong with my statements and where I get these ideas. Quick look at my 3 children:

Miss T. Started off by speaking Russian to her but when we travelled to Russia I spoke English and I was told I was confusing her. She was 23 months when she chose English as her first language. At 3 she used to scream at me not to speak Russian to her. At 5 she was thrilled with the fact that her cousins speak Russian and insisted I teach her. She was already fluent in Mandarin by then. Now, at 7+ she is understands about 70% of what I say in Russian and responds in about 40% of times. She is still eager to learn. And we are working on it

Miss A. Spoke Russian to her and switch to English occasionally till she was 2. She didn’t speak much till she was 3. Chose English. Knows Russian alphabet and numbers, can recognize them randomly. Understands 70% of what I say. Refuses to respond in Russian. I am not pushing. She is also learning Mandarin Chinese in school. Has excellent memory and remembers all songs she ever learned in 3 languages. I suspect she also understands 40% of what my mother-in-law says in Farsi.

Mini Man. At 20 months he understands and follows 3 languages simultaneously: Russian, English and Farsi. He doesn’t speak much. But words he says, he speaks them in 3 languages. He will definitely choose English as his first because it is the language in the family. But I hope he will respond more in Russian and Farsi soon!

So, this is what I learned Mothering multilingual children. How about your experience?

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Please join us in celebrating International Mother Language Day on February 27th! Join our Facebook Group to see more posts dedicated to this celebration!

Daria Music App {Review}

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As I am catching up on blogging this year, I am working with some of the amazing bloggers, authors and artists!

Today I’d like to introduce you to an app that contains different music from around the world by my blogger friend and fellow MKB member – Daria of Daria’s Music!

I always liked Daria’s colorful and rich art: her DIY instruments, her sense of music, and, of course, her beautiful voice.

Her new music app combines lots of her creations that introduce folk and traditional music from around the world.

One moment you are in South America signing Bate Bate Chocolate, and another – in Arabia, singing along to Assalam Aleykum!

You can download the app over at Adroid Playstore, iTunes and on desktop computer by visiting Daria’s page on Playrific.

Enjoy the music from around the world and download this wonderful app for free! It is filled with songs, games and puzzles for you and your little one to explore!

Follow Daria’s YouTube Channel for more music!

MKB Vlogging Telephone 2015 – CWOV

I am happy to participate in the Vlogging Telephone project organized and hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs!

My answer is to the question by Sarah of A Life with Subtitles :
What are some of  the funny situations you’ve experienced with code switching and raising multilingual kids?

Vlogging Telephone: Code Switching from VaryaCWOV on Vimeo.

Watch my answer below and then stop by The European Mama’s blog to see my question and answer to it!

Below is the list of participating blogs in order of questions – answers!

MKB Vlogging Telephone: Raising Multilingual Kids

A Life with Subtitles on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Creative World of Varya
European Mama
Kid World Citizen
All Done Monkey
the piri-piri lexicon
La Cité des Vents
MotherTongues
Españolita…¡sobre la marcha!
Russian Step by Step
Multilingual Parenting
Bilingual Avenue
Tales from the Waygook Mama
Finding Dutchland

ABC Cards Games For Tots

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Today is the second day of Fun Ways of Playing with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer.

Today we are sharing about storebrought items that we can utilise and my category is tots!

I will introduce a few games that can be played with tots with ABC cards. They are simple and engaging and help developing fine and gross motor skills and language. These games are also great when emphasising a minority or a second/ third language.

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Note: go very slow with tots. Use not more than 1 or 2 cards at a time.
Avoid baby language – tots need to hear to say words clearly. You can emphasize your articulation and repeat your requests and letters several times.

“Pick Up the Card”

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Place a card on the floor and ask your tot to pick it up. E.g. “Pick up R for me please!” Praise and repeat!

“Give Me the Card”

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Ask your tot to give the card to you: ” Please give me R!” Praise and repeat.

“Where Is the Card?”
Show the letter card to your tot and then hide it behind your back and ask: “Where is R?” Look around with your tot, flash the end of the card from behind your back – encourage him to look for it.
Note: tots might be reluctant to give the card back to you. Give them time to play with the card, don’t push it.

“Swat the Card”
Using a sweater or a soft stick, ask the tot to swat the card: “Swat R!” Encourage and praise.

These are very simple games that any tot at any stage would like. Once they are able to repeat them, encourage them to say the letter with you!

Please stop by the Landing Page for Storebought Ideas to see what other bloggers shared!

Special Guest Thursday: Super – Noche {Kid World Citizen}

Welcome to Special Guest Thursday!
When I first started blogging seriously I virtually met some incredible bloggers and even wrote guest posts for them. One of them is Becky of Kid World Citizen – a blog and an amazing source for everything in regard of raising global citizens. I was impressed how easy going Becky was and how multicultural and accepting her family was.
Today I am very happy to have her as a special Thursday guest. Being a mom of 5 she shares some insights on and importance of family traditions and how to organise a date night with children!

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Becky is the mom of 5 multicultural kids, an ESL teacher, author of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners and founder of KidWorldCitizen.org. She is passionate about activities that teach kids cultural and global awareness, and shares them on TpT, facebook and twitter.

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Wherever I go, I am asked if I own a daycare or run a school. It could be because I have 5 kids (it’s only five though, we’re not as large as the  Duggar’s!)… or because the kids look like they are all almost the same age (our 9 year olds are 3 months apart and our 7 year olds are 1 month apart.. and we are fostering a baby boy). Probably though, it’s because our family has a mixture of cultures, and kids who are both biological and adopted, and it’s hard to believe: “they are all yours!?”

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When we were trudging through the immense amount of papers and social worker visits in order to be “approved” as an adoptive or foster family, we had to take hours of training on raising children. Due to the nature of adoption, our kids have been through traumas that have changed their little hearts and minds, in order to protect themselves.

The most important job of any parent is to surround our children with unconditional love, so they feel (and are) protected, attended to, accepted, and adored. Because the bonding process is intensified with kids who have lost the only family they have known, our training included ways to facilitate attachment, and to connect with our children. One of the most important ways to do so is to spend one-on-one time with each of your children, on a consistent basis- no screens, no phones, no interruptions.

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Agreeing that it’s necessary to give individual attention is one thing, but going through with it is the challenge- we’re all either working, hustling through chores, chauffeuring kids to sports and dance and violin, trying to get dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc. The list is endless! And yet- whether you are an adoptive family, whether you work inside the home, outside the home, whether you have 10 kids or a singleton, whether you’re a single parent, or you have grandparents nearby (well, then I’m really envious), – all of our kids can benefit from a little dedicated, individual attention.

One way our family has fun with this is to plan a“date night”— or as we call it in our house a “super-noche” (Spanish for “super night”).

We started off when the kids were little, as a way for either me or my husband to take one (or sometimes 2) of our kids on a special outing at night- sometimes even on  school night! Sometimes it’s dressing up and going out for ice cream or hot cider, other times it’s going to see a show, go on a long bike ride, or go dancing in the Town Square. It doesn’t have to be expensive- in fact my sons’ favorite super-noche is to go to a nearby stream and throw rocks in the water. We have spent hours walking by the water looking for baby alligators (we live outside Houston!) and talking about “stuff.”

Without the interruptions of the other kids, and with no hurry to get back, the conversation flows easily. We made a rule that anything we talk about on a super-noche is a secret from the other kids, and all of a sudden I’m hearing stories from school and the playground that they didn’t want to share at the dinner table: who likes who, or something embarrassing or silly. 

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Our date nights have become a family tradition that I hope we will continue throughout their lives. With our busy schedules and homework and crazy running after school, these special times are one way we reconnect with each of our kids. Thought our super-noches might only last about an hour, we hope the memories of the special times last much longer.

Special Guest Thursday: First Day of School {Russian Step by Step Children}

In some places school already started,  in others it is the middle of the term or the school is about to start.
Today I would like to share insights on First Day of School by my special guest – Anna from Russian Step by Step Children.

Anna has shared more insights on the subject over at Kid World Citizen,  so please stop by and check them out!

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Anna Watt is originally from Russia and majored in Education and Linguistics there.  She lived in France where she received her Master’s Degree in International and Interactive Communication.  Anna speaks fluent Russian, English and French and also knows some Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian.  Anna loves education, languages and technology, so she is always involved in all three.  Anna has always been involved in supporting and promoting the study of the Russian language, as well as introducing Russia’s language and culture to a variety of people world-wide.   As a mother of young girls her recent project is books and a blog Russian Step By Step Children geared towards kids living outside a Russian-speaking country. You can follow Anna on Facebook , Twitter , Goggle+, LinkedIn and Pinterest

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A while ago I came across a fun article on the blog of Transparent Language about a great first day of school tradition in Germany and their sugar cones [Zuckertüte ]. It was different from what we have in Russia, but still a definite celebration. As I met many people from different countries around the world I was surprised to find out that first, the tradition to celebrate the first day of school is not part of the norm in a lot of countries, and second, when and how the first day of school goes in different countries is different and interesting.

So I decided to share with you the information on the celebrations of the first day of school in some countries. The information I gathered was mostly from my friends but also from the students from the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

While some are rather informative, other are not, and depending on the age of the writer might be more outdated, but I found them fun to read and watch, hope you will too!

I will have a longer more detailed series of articles about the first of school celebration in Russia on my website Russian Step By Step Children.

Russia

Anna, Russian Step by Step Children

The school year always starts on the first of September. Always. Even if it’s a week-end. It is also sometimes called The Day of Knowledge. The school year ends either end of May or sometimes in June (if you are in a grade that requires graduation exams, they all happen in June).

The celebration takes place outside in the school courtyard. My very first day of school everyone still had to wear uniforms (brown dress with white apron for girls and blue pants and jacket for boys), later on, just nice celebratory outfits. Girls, especially with long hair, used to wear quite elaborate hairdos with lots of large ribbons made into huge bows.

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Our school housed 1st through 11th grade (all in one building). Each grade was divided into several groups (A, B, C, etc.). Each group will have a lead teacher. In the elementary school that is the teacher who teaches most of your classes. In higher grades it can be a teacher of any subject but he/she will be your group’s supervisor. Every group has exactly the same schedule: so you go to all the classes with your group and most of the time you stay with the same group from the first to the 11th grade. There might be exceptions when your group (usually about 30 people) is divided in half for some classes, such as foreign language. Otherwise you are always together.

On September 1st you are lined up with your group, usually the 1 graders are in front. You have your group teacher there with you and you always bring a bouquet of flowers for her/him. Everyone lines up in the school courtyard and there are some speeches given at the front steps of the school by the principle and sometimes some other teachers.

Then the first bell is rung. It is done by a first grader who is sitting on the shoulders of a student from the graduating class (usually a boy). The first grader has a metal bell that she (in my memory – always a girl) rings while being carried around along the front row of all the students lined up around the courtyard.

Usually all the students are coming with their parents. But the first graders can be accompanied by their expended family: grandparents, siblings, etc.

After the celebration is over the kids go to their classes but usually not much is done. General information about the curriculum, introductions of the class and other light activities are all that is done that day. The school lasts only for about a couple of hours, when everyone heads home.

It is a very big celebration and I was always looking forward to the day, the flowers, music, the feeling of comradery and seeing my school friends again after a long summer break. It was a fun day and a great way to start a school year.

Kuwait

Mohammad, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school year in Kuwait starts in mid-September and goes until June.
There is no special first day of school celebration, but there is preparation for that day in every family. First of all we have to buy new uniforms and when we get to school on that day we are excited to meet our friends. We start school at the age of 6 (or if you were born before April that year you can start at 5) and girls and boys go to separate schools, except for the International schools. Like in the US we have elementary (5 years), middle (4 years) and high school (3 years). Each takes place at a separate building that can be located at different places. Most classes will have 30-40 students. Everyone wears uniforms and for boys it is a white shirt and dark silver pants.
Republic of Congo

Marina, Learn French Like a Native 

The school year starts in October and end in mid-June. School starts at the age of 6 and is compulsory until 16 (six years of primary and seven years of secondary school).

There is a tradition in all public schools. All students from K-12 grade clean their classroom on the first day of school. A team of about 5-6 students is put together to clean the classroom throughout the year. The students choose which day of the week works best for them.

I was really ecstatic to go back to school, since we usually had a 3 months break—rightfully called “les Grandes Vacances” French for the Greatest Vacations.

The first day of school or should I say the first week of school was a no brainer. On the first day of school, the students were asked to write on a piece of paper, their name, dad name’s and job, mom name’s and job, their address and finally their age or date of birth. This information varied slightly per the teacher; like in middle school where students have an average of 10 different teachers, in different subject.

Then each teacher dictated or wrote on the blackboard a list of tools, notebook (number of pages) and the book needed for the subject they taught.

Finally, by the beginning of the afternoon, each teacher, started class by revising what was taught in the prior grade—which usually extended to the end of the week

South Korea

Shawn, student at the International English Center at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA

The school starts in March and ends in November. The long holiday takes place during the winter months. There is no celebration for the first day of school but a lot of great traditions for the end of the year. Normally the parents will bring the children to the elementary school and help them find their classes. The first day is usually awkward as you do not know anyone yet.

Here is a short interview with Shawn:

Iran

Saman

First day of school starts on first day of fall in Iran, but usually first graders’ first day is one day earlier than other students. The reason for this is that the principal, teachers and other staff spend more time with first graders to welcome them to school, to give them time to adjust to these changes and also explain to them the concept of school. On this day students get lined up based on the class they belong to, in school’s playground and listen to principal’s speech. After the speech, and the greeting celebration they follow their teachers to the class.

In the class, usually the teacher starts with introducing herself and then asks each student to introduce herself. (I have to mention that in Iran, schools are separate from elementary to high school for girl and boys). Usually first day for first graders is not a whole day. Usually is just couple of hours to get to know the school and their teacher.

During the celebration, before and after principal’s speech, there are some entertainment programs, like music about education and school. What I can recall from that day is, exactly the day after my first day of school was holiday. So when school was over, I was so happy that tomorrow would be holiday and I didn’t need to go to school, even though I was so excited to go to school. I remember I was singing “fitile Farda tatile”, which means “Hooray tomorrow is holiday”.

Last day of school in Iran is between the last two weeks of spring.

France

Marie, Teacher of French and Spanish at a high school in Remo, NV.

School starts early September, ends early July. First day or week of school? Nothing AT ALL. Everything is very low key, “discreet”. We do not like the “obnoxiousness”, loudness. At the same time, we do not have any school sport team. We do not do anything to create a “family” feeling among students and teachers. It does not feel like a community at all, compared to the US. I like the idea of getting up in the morning and going to work with a “community” where people actually care about you. However, I can never get used to the cheering and sport craze of the assembly, the popularity of such and such. I remember being excited to get to see all my friends again, since I did not see a lot of them outside school during summer break.
One memory as a student, starting 1st grade in a new city at a new school. I had jumped a year so I was 1 year younger than any other kid. I was at the end of the line of students before entering the room. 2 boys were in front of me. One of them turned around and called his friend, pointing at me. He said, laughing: “Hey! Look how small she is!”. I was traumatized! I still remember it, 32 years later, as if it were yesterday. I am still the smallest person in the room! I got over it

Diana, Translator, lives in Anger, France

It is true that there is nothing going on the first day of school but the children are happy to see their classmates and catch up.
At the end of the previous school year each teacher gave a list of supplies that are needed for the next school year and parents and kids buy those supplies, backpacks and new clothes for the school year. The books are usually provided by the school but in a lot of cases there are no books, but just pages that the teacher gives to the students to work on.  It is extremely low key. On a normal school day you bring the child to the gate of the school and they go inside by themselves, on the first day of school parents are usually allowed to enter the gate and get the student to their teacher, but that is it.

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Thank you,  Anna! I enjoyed reading this post and it brought back a lot of memories from my childhood!

When is the first day of school in hour country and how do you celebrate it?

Special Guest Thursday: Learning New Words Through Drawing {Multilingual Parenting}

Today I have a very special guest – Rita Rosenback from Multilingual Parenting!  Rita is a fellow blogger from Multicultural Kid Blogs Community I am also a part of. She is also a specialist in bilingual matters and I am very glad she agreed to share her wisdom with us!

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Children (and adults for that matter) learn better when they are having fun – this applies to any subject and for language learning this is particularly true. As a parent you are trying to come up with ways to engage your kids to learn, and especially if you are the minority language parent, you are constantly looking for ways to increase the language exposure time and to make sure that your child acquires an as extensive and varied vocabulary as possible.

One excellent way of learning new words is to draw a picture story together with your kid. – Before you say anything along the lines of “I can’t draw!” or “I wouldn’t know what to draw!” let me tell you that everyone can draw and your child will be delighted with anything you come up with. If you are really struggling with the start, cut our some pictures from a magazine or comic and build on those to make a combined storyboard and drawing. Also, don’t worry, your child’s imagination will lead the way in choosing what to add to your masterpiece!

Ask your child to choose a character who will be at the centre of your story, then place this animal, person, plant, car of whatever was chosen in the middle of the paper. Start expanding on your story by asking questions about your character. If you have a certain vocabulary topic in mind, steer the story towards it by making the questions lead the way. Let’s say you want to introduce different vegetables and fruits, make your character grow, eat, buy or sell them in your story. Or maybe your character could be a fruit looking for new friends! To make the words even more memorable you could have some of the fruits and vegetables ready as a snack for the day.

When speaking about the character use a lot of adjectives describing what it looks like: tiny, happy, surprised, yellow, round, soft and so on. Also make the verbs, the words for the action, more interesting by replacing the common ones with new ones: for example leap, bounce, skip, canter for jump; or stroll, step, march, stride for walk or go. If your child is a bit older you can use a dictionary to look up synonyms together.

After you have done this a few times you will have many lovely picture stories which you could put together as your very own picture book. Wishing you many creative moments with your little ones!

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The illustration is from Rita’s book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” with the subtitle “Navigating the Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration.” (picture © Rita Rosenback 2014)

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Rita Rosenback is the author of “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” and she blogs at www.multilingualparenting.com where you can find tips and advice on raising your children to speak the family languages. She also visits schools and community groups to give speeches and lead workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. Rita was born in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland and now lives in Derby, England. She is the mother of two adult daughters who speak Swedish, Punjabi, Finnish and English.
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