My son is about to start kindergarten and I must admit that I am as excited as he is. He is a big boy now. However, school can be a new environment for many children and as anything new it can be scary. They will have to get use to faces, make new friends.
My son goes to childcare and he is used to dealing with different carers, However, English is his minority language, he is fluent in French and in Spanish and his English is not at the same level of fluency as the other languages. He can understand everything and speaks well for a trilingual child that does not hear a word of English at home.
I figured that if I can get him more familiar with what is expecting him, he could focus more on learning new skills and making new friends.
We have been reading books together and we have been enjoying different stories in different languages.
I put together a few suggestions of books we carry:
Adoro a escola there are so many reasons why little rabbit loves school, nice new friends, nice teachers and so many new things to learn.
A rainha do recreio Magda does not like school. Everything bothers except during the breaks where Magda is the ‘queen’, always ready to organize a game. ” How are we going to get her interested in school? ” wonders her professor. One day, he has a funny idea … that will change everything!
La rentree des animaux Perfect book to get children ready for their first day in school. The parrot is learning the alphabet while the chameleon makes a colourful drawing and the monkey does gymnastics….
Big Nate – Le champion de l’ecole Big Nate is on a roll! Nate’s a big deal in his scout troop . . . until Artur—aka Mr. Perfect—joins up. Now Nate’s stuck in second place. And Artur means business.Will Nate take the grand prize? Or wipe out, big time
Tous a l’école de Trotro The “mini Trotro “, a series of small soft albums to learn shapes, numbers, colors, flowers, music and the alphabet with Trotro !
Les Zazoos – Vive l’ecole (bilingual English) The Zazoo are on holidays and they are bored. Therefore they decide to play school. Toudou the cat is the teacher and suggests many activites to his students.
Rita comienza el colegio Since today is Rita’s first day of school, she needs help packing her bag, and young readers are encouraged to lift this book’s flaps to help Rita find what she needs and use the pull-down shopping lists to test their memories. A backpack with all of Rita’s school supplies is included at the end of this charming first experiences book.
Bear’s school day Discover some activities, such as singing, sticking and even a nap that children will be doing in school. Bear is the teacher so it will be fun.
Zazoo – Wir gehen gerne in die schule (bilingual English) The Zazoo are on holidays and they are bored. Therefore they decide to play school. Toudou the cat is the teacher and suggests many activites to his students.
There are so many ways to introduce a different culture without speaking the language:
Through food, movies, music, games and my favourite ……books.
Have you checked our selection of English only books lately?
They are beautiful and tell stories from around the world.
We even have a World Atlas and its memory card game to learn about the countries’ landmarks and some geography or if you are after fun eco activities we have the perfect book to keep your children busy this summer.
Here is our selection for you, click here for much more.
For a free delivery over $80 purchase use the voucher Xmas. T&Cs apply.
Every Wednesday I take my children to the State Library of WA for the story time.
Why? Would you ask since they are already surrounded by books at home.
I have been reading to my children from day 1. I have been reading a variety of books, in all shapes and colours from around the world. So it is not really a surprise when I see that my kids are book lovers.
They get so excited when I get books delivered, they want to check them out and it does not matter which language they are written in. The other day I was receiving an order of Polish books and my son asked me to read one. I told him that I could not read Polish and he replied “it’s is ok mommy, you can read it in French”!
They cannot read by themselves yet but they love stories, they love the illustrations, they love all sort of characters from animals to dragons.
I am taking my children to the local library for a few different reasons:
They are exposed to different stories that what we have at home.
They are read to in English. At home we only read in French and in Spanish.
They mingled with other little book lovers and get to practise their English in a different environment than when they go to daycare.
I get to meet other parents who very often are also raising bilingual children and share some tips.
The benefits of early literacy are numerous. Children who are exposed to stories, songs, poetry… from an early age:
become better listeners as they can focus and concentrate longer,
develop a richer vocabulary
do better at school
are better at problem solving
can think outside of the box as they have been exposed to different stories with different outcomes
are better readers and writers
are better learners
The staff at the library is awesome and the children always have a good time. It is also a free activity.
The Better Beginnings’s program is a wonderful initiative that promotes early literacy. We are delighted to figure in their latest pack along with a few more regulars!
I wrote this post as a mother of multilingual children who uses games as a resource to get them to practise their minority languages. However, it could be used by anyone even a monolingual family, you can still enjoy the quality time spent together.
I am a mother of two trilingual toddlers. They speak French with me, Spanish with dad and English while at daycare.
My daughter is two and still naps in the afternoon. As we do not watch much television we get to do different activities with my son.
He is not into colouring in and tells me it is my turn every time I give him his crayons and a piece of paper.
He loves puzzles, so we spend a lot of time putting puzzles together with dinosaurs, numbers, the alphabet, the map of Australia, a world map or the solar system. My children are 2 and 3 and can identify and name the planets, moon and sun in French and in Spanish.
I thought it would be great to introduce some variety in our games. Before I start describing what our games are, I have to admit that it was not as easy as I thought it would be. The issue was not my son but me. I like to play by the rules and I had to rethink my strategy to take into account that my son’s attention span is not as good as what the game might required and as such I was taking all the fun out of the games and the time we were spending together.
Firstrule: Adapt the rules to suit your child’s ability to focus and tastes to make it fun.
Second rule: Come up with new rules so you encourage the practice of your target language. For example, when playing snakes and ladders, every time my son would fall on a snake’s head, I would ask him something in Spanish. Since his French is perfect for his age I want to reinforce his Spanish more. It could be ‘tell me the colour of an object that I was holding’, ‘count to 20’, ‘what do you do when you wake up’, ‘what do you play with at the park’…. If he was right he would stay where he was otherwise would slide down to the snake’s tail.
Third rule: if he is losing focus it is fine not to end the game as long as you get him talking. It is NOT important to pack the game up before it ended.
Fourth rule: try again, games and in particular board games are awesome in so many ways. You get to spend quality time with your child as long as he is not too competitive.They are great for problem solving skills, logic and building up concentration. If he/she likes the outdoor activities more, why not take a board game to the park to be used during a quiet moment.
Fifth rule: Do not have great expectations. If he does not want to play today he will tomorrow.
Sixth rule: Offer a variety of games, go to your local library or toy library and borrow them as they can be quite pricey if you are getting several from the shops.
Seventh rule:Always have fun and enjoy every minute.
Here are some of the games we play together and how we play them.
I always try to relate our games to either a story we read together or a fun fact. It helps children to memorise information by making it more relevant to them.
My son was completing his first puzzles by 14 months old. He is a good observer and has enough patience for the game.
We have over 20 puzzles at home, wooden puzzles, floor puzzles, with the alphabet, numbers, the Australian map, the world map which his favourite lately.
The world map is a French version. The countries are magnets that stick to the board so you can hang it to the wall. It makes it even more attractive. He plays very often with this puzzle and thanks to the books he has read and fun facts that we told him, he can now locate Perth, Australia where we live, Paris and the Eiffel Tower where my parents live, London and Big Ben, New York and the Statue of Liberty where his grandfather used to live, Lima and the Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, the Amazon forest, the Pyramids in Egypt and Mexico.
Those are places he wants to visit along with the African savannah.
We use a French version of the Junior Scrabble. He cannot spell words besides his name but we still play by adapting the game. On one side of the board there are drawings next to the written word just like a crossword for children.
We pick the letters, name them and place them on the board and see how letters put together form words. He enjoys it also because he can identify the words without reading them just by saying what the little drawing is.
It is an awesome game. We ordered it from the US, he does not exist here is Australia.
You need to make 3 trips around the board and pick up as many passengers as you can in your taxi, limousine and bus. You roll two dice, one gives you how far you can move forward and the other how many passengers will get on or off your vehicle depending on the plus or minus box where you landed.
You can speak about adding and subtracting, counting the dots on the die, describe which part of the town you are in. The school, the town hall, the supermarket, the passengers…
You can make your own, it is easy and laminated the cards are more durable or buy an already made one. You can either choose to have the cards on a single topic or a variety of topics.
Also very good to review the vocabulary they have learned and it is great fun when played in little groups.
We love construction games. Let him decide what it is going to be and if he requires your assistance. We have built dragons and their dens, towers, castles, forests for our plant-eater dinosaurs, dinosaurs, robots, houses and many more items.
Snakes and ladder
It is a fun game and at the beginning my son tried to fall on the snake’s head even after I told him the rules! After a while he loses focus so to end the game quicker, he has to answer a question in Spanish every time he lands on a snake’s head.
We get to do at least a couple of craft activities during the week. Once a week we go to the Library for story time (in English), my children do craft afterwards and every Saturday I take my son to the French and Spanish workshops for children I run where we also do craft to reinforce what we have learned during the session.
Outdoor – ‘I spy’
This is my little learners’ favourite by far. Last two terms as the weather warmed up we ran our language workshops in parks. Parents and children loved it. We would sing songs, learn vocabulary on the topic of the day then the children would have a short break in the playground. They would come back ready to focus again on an activity related to the topic we studied and for craft.
We were lucky to organise a few ‘I spy’ games. We went to the museum, to playgrounds with pirate ships and volcanoes and to Naturescape which is a park with a spring, a lookout, huts that children have to build, and many things to climb on and explore… I will give them a mission in the form of a laminated sheet with pictures and a short comment in Spanish and in English. They had to find all the items and tell me ‘I see and the name of what they found’. They simply loved it. A fun way to learn the language and they remain concentrated for the full hour.
Again you make your own or buy some already made. I have a couple of sets from Montessori and they are touch and feel ones to simulate writing. I also took the mega blocks and asked my son to place the blocks under the cards according to the number on the cards.
I made a few for my language workshops with everyday words and objects (house items, animals, toys…) and the ones in the above picture were about opposites. The children had to find the opposite cards to review the vocabulary they had just learned.
There are so many games that you can use but I will keep pictionary and the monopoly for when they are older.
At home as well as in my language workshops I teach with play based activities. Children do not even realise they are learning because it is fun. You do not want to make it tedious or they will be reluctant next time you want them to play with you.
A few weeks ago a couple of posts that I have written were published in the blog ‘Raising a trilingual child’.
I am myself the mother of two trilingual toddlers. I speak French, my husband Spanish and our children learn English from daycare which they attend twice a week.There is no English at home and we never switch to English at anytime. It is our wish to put more focus on the minority languages now before our children start their schooling in Perth, Australia.
My first post was more about my own journey from being raised bilingual Portuguese-French. You can read it here.
The second post is about some strategies that I use everyday to develop and reinforce their language skills in French and Spanish.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For great resources on how to raise multilingual children, such as radio for kids in different languages go to www.trilingualchildren.com
At Le Toboggan we love books and we love seeing children enjoy their stories. We all have different ways to read a book, some will read the story over again and again, fold pages to know where to pick up the story from, others take great care of their books and some like to eat them. The important is to read, read and read. A story never dies as long as someone is here to read it and share it around.
We want children to have fun reading, therefore we carefully select our publishers and the titles. We only choose books that we would like our own children to read.
This is why Le Toboggan is very proud to announce that we have been chosen to be the distributors in Australia of the following European publishers:
They all offer beautiful books and games that will stimulate little minds. Books are great resources to learn, teach and reinforce a minority language and they give us that very special time we get to spend with our children with no other distraction but our imagination.
Hamilton Hill Senior High, 8 Purvis Street, Hamilton Hill
For further information please contact Mary Baptista at 042 530 4018 or email@example.com.
LCF – Languages club of Perth teaches children 2 to 12. They offer classes in Mandarin, Italian, German, French and Spanish.
Their clubs run throughout the school year and they also organise holiday programs.
For further information please contact Vanessa Pietrasik at 0468 559 598 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will post further updates on partnerships as they are getting confirmed.
The language school members place their orders by using a voucher code waiving the Port & Handling charges.
This voucher code can be obtained either by requesting it to the language school coordinator or by emailing email@example.com
The books will be delivered at the school and the client will be notified when the orders are ready for collection. You will be requested to show a copy of the invoice to ensure you are receiving the correct order.
There is one delivery a week either on Wednesdays or Fridays.