5 Easy ways to celebrate your bilingual journey

October is here!

Did you know that October is the month of the Bilingual Child?

It’s easy to focus on the challenges of raising a bilingual child but are you taking the time to celebrate the journey?  Are your talking to your kids about the power of what it means to be bilingual?

Make sure you set the time aside to do so and what better time to do so than during October, the month of the Bilingual Child!

Set aside a dedicated time with your kids for the celebration and any loved ones willing to participate! Don’t shy away from inviting friends who speak the target language and have been helpful in helping you raise bilingual kids.

Here are five easy ways to celebrate your bilingual journey with your family!

1. Take turns sharing

Ask your kids to describe one thing that they like about being bilingual. I have been surprised to see how much my five year old has internalized the benefits of being bilingual.  She came home the other day telling me how excited she was that she was one of the two kids in the class that could speak the most Spanish.  I loved seeing the pride that she had.  It made me realize that I should open the door for more conversation on this topic. 

If your little ones are not talking as much or are not able to vocalize how they feel about bilingualism help them out.  Highlight for them some of the things that they have been able to do because they are bilingual.  Are they translating what you are saying to your spouse? Have they understood someone else speaking the target language? Play it up!

2. Prepare a traditional meal

Whether your target language is one that has been passed down by generations or it is a language that you acquired later on, find a way to incorporate food into your celebration.  Find a dish that the family will like and offer it at your celebration.  Talk about where it comes from and how connected language is to culture.  If you can get your little ones to join you as you prepare it then even better!

While you are it, find some songs in your target language and play them at the celebration.  It will add to the fun and provide additional exposure.

3. Read to each other

Ask your kids to pick out a favorite book in the target language.  Take turns reading from it as a group.  Even if your little ones are not yet reading, if it’s a favorite there is a good chance that they will know some parts of the story by heart.  Ask them to “pretend read” for the group.  This is such a gentle way of creating a need for kids to use the target language in a friendly and comfortable environment.

Also, use this opportunity to show them one of your favorite books.  If possible, do not choose one of your children’s books. Instead, pick out a chapter book that you have actually read and talk about how it is different from theirs.  Flip through the pages and show them how the book it is structured.  It will serve as a great way to foreshadow what they will be able to read as adults by staying on the language journey.

4. Learn a new word

Invite your kids to use this opportunity to learn a new word.  Ask each one to select a word that they would like to have translated in the target language. Teach them the new word and if possible look it up in a bilingual dictionary. This is a great way to incentivize them to always have a thirst for learning new words.  It is also a fantastic opportunity to show them how a dictionary works. 

Make sure you are modeling your own learning.  Flip through the dictionary until you find a new word for yourself.  It is important for our kids to see that even we as adults are always learning new words as bilingual individuals.

5. Document the celebration!

One of the best ways to stay motivated on the language journey is to document and track your progress.  Documenting celebrations are no exception.  Make sure to take pictures and capture the moment.  But here is the real challenge. Do not just leave the pictures on your phone.  Make it a goal to print them out and consider even making a book together.  If possible, display at least one image somewhere in your home so your kids can have a reminder of your celebration.  These intrinsic motivators go along way with children.

So what are you waiting for? Do not overthink it!  Keep it simple, set some time aside and go celebrate with your kids.  Make it a tradition and do it every year, I am confident that your children will enjoy the experience.

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