Category Archives: Bilingualism

Speaking Two Languages Strengthens the Mind



It has been already proven that speaking two languages delays dementia. A research team from Scotland provided further evidence to this fact by conducting another study with 835 subjects where they controlled the early childhood IQ. They measured the cognitive abilities of the participants when they were 11 and after they reach their 70’s. The findings indicated that whether subjects learned a second language early in their lives or during adulthood, those who speak 2 or more languages had stronger cognitive abilities. The study is published in Annals of neurology. For more information, check out Sciencedaily

What to do when bilingual kids mix languages (code-switching, a.k.a. code-mixing)

What to do when bilingual kids mix languages (code-switching, a.k.a. code-mixing)

• Don’t worry if your child mixes languages—language mixing is a common (and typically short-lived) phase of bilingual development.

• Trust your child is not confused—she may not know (or be able to explain) that she’s using two languages, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that she has two linguistic systems.

• Understand a bit about how and why children mix when evaluating your child’s language use.

• Minority languages may need extra support, and frequent use of both languages together can make it difficult to keep an eye on the support for each language.

• Set realistic expectations for your young learner—there are no perfect bilinguals in the world, and remember that language learning is a lifelong process—it’s never done.

Source: King, K., & Mackey, A. (2007). The bilingual edge: Why, when, and how to teach your child a second language. New York: Collins  (p.184)

How to motivate children to learn a 2nd language (p.267)

how to motivate children to learn a second language

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Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power – NPR

One in five Americans speak another language besides English at home. Two thirds of the world’s children are brought up bilingually. Scientific evidence points to the advantages of being bilingual. Read more here

English lessons for kids 

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How to Raise a Bilingual Child: The Key to a Happy Bilingual Family

So far there has been quite amount of literature on second language acquisition in bilingual families. In the past there was a widely held belief that learning a second language during very early childhood might cause speech delay or cause some mental impairments. After hundreds of scientific studies these both notions were proved to be wrong!

Then the question becomes, how parents who speak different languages should help their child learn both of the languages and even a third language? There are two major methods

One parent one language (OPOL) : Parents talk to their kids only and only in their own native language constantly. Kidss naturally get used to hearing 2 different languages at home and eventually pick up both languages.

Two parents two languages: As the name suggests, both parents talk to their children in both langauges.

Minority language at home (ML@H) : Parents talk to their kids only in the language that the child has limited opportunities to learn (e.g. Both Italian father and French mother talking to their child in French while living in Italy). The idea is that, kids learn the majority language at school or even by just playing at the park anyways, so the minority language should be spoken at home. However, this method is uncommon because most parents fear that their children migh fall behind if they don’t have the command of the majority language.

And research shows that one parent one language is the most effective and succesful way of rasing a bilingual child. (Taeschner, 1983; De Houwer, 1999, Barron-Hauwaert, 2004). However, this method also seems to be the most demanding and a difficult way of teaching a language (Dopke, 1992). Dopke, 1992 emphasized that parental interaction is the key. What is more, by using this method some children might grow up to be a passive bilingual (understands the 2nd langauge but does not speak). Additionally, although one parent one language method (OPOL) is the most popular and most recommended method. There are some studies which suggested that minorty language at home is the best method (regardless of parents 2nd language proficiency and gender!).

Following is the excerpt from Jackson’s  (2006) doctoral study

Several Japan specific studies, however, have questioned both the practicality and effectiveness of the OPOL strategy (e.g.: Hoffman, 1985). For example, in her comprehensive and intriguing exploration of language use in intermarried families in Japan, Yamamoto (2001) found that the use of the OPOL strategy does not guarantee active bilingualism. Her data suggests, rather, that both parents using the ML@H strategy is more effective in fostering active bilingualism. Billings (1990) also administered a questionnaire to Japanese-non-Japanese interlingual families comprised from a range of  linguistic backgrounds, and reported that ML@H is the most likely strategy to lead to active bilingualism, whilst OPOL leads to either active or passive bilingualism.

Similarly, Noguchi (2001) goes so far as to say that OPOL is not shown to positively promote bilingualism, but rather, in concurrence with Billings, posits that families adopting the ML@H are far more likely to support active bilingualism in their children. Regarding the so-called mixed strategy, while Noguchi finds that the parental mixing of languages can in fact be viewed as providing a positive model of bilingualism, Billings claims that families who use a mixed strategy tend only to support the acquisition of passive bilingualism.

This tendency of the Japan specific studies to contradict the widespread belief propagated in studies from other contexts (i.e. that OPOL is the most effective language strategy in cultivating bilingualism) suggests that the effectiveness of any given language strategy is context specific. It could be supposed, therefore, that socio-cultural factors particular to Japan may render the implementation of the OPOL strategy both impractical and ineffectual. This question of why OPOL does not appear to ‘fit’ the Japanese context warrants investigation in future studies.”

Source: “Daddy, nani itteru no?”– Native English-Speaking Fathers and Bilingual Childrearing in Intermarried Families in Japan.

German Lessons for kids
Japanese Lessons for kids
Dutch Lessons for kids
Polish Lessons for kids

Lachlan R. Jackson.

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!

Can Language DVDs teach Babies? Do Infant-Directed DVDs Work? A Closer look at Baby Vocabulary and Baby Media

The short answer is yes, simply because language DVDs make babies process audio information coupled with visual information either passively or actively. This process in turn influences the phoneme differentiation (which naturally deteriorates after 8 months of age) and increases familiarity with different sounds. When children pay attention to the material, they acquire receptive or expressive vocabulary easily as explained below. If they don’t pay attention to the program, they still can improve since studies show that even background TV does improve vocabulary (Robb et al., 2009).

Perhaps the earliest proponents of vocabulary learning from children’s programming were Rice, Huston, Truglio and Wright (1990) who found that children aged between 3-5 improved their vocabulary significantly after constantly watching Sesame Street for 2 years. Furthermore, Linebarger and Walker (2005) observed that babies aged around 30 months were able to express a higher number of words after being exposed to educational TV shows like Dragon Tales, etc. More recently, Dr. Krcmar and her colleagues(2007)  found that televised instruction can teach babies new words although it might not be as effective as live instruction.  In 2008, Carlson and Strattman reported that babies who watched vocabulary DVDs scored higher than babies in the control group. Lastly, Dr. Krcmar’s student Amy Rush had demonstrated that babies aged 4-24 months can learn new novel words from infant-directed DVDs.

There are a few studies which found insignificant effects of DVD exposure and vocabulary learning. However, most of these studies used Baby Einstein WordsWorth videos which are not necessarily produced by scientific guidelines. Additionally, these studies failed to provide a theoretical explanation why audio-visual exposure is inferior to zero exposure even though it is scientifically proven that babies are extremely sensitive to sounds in their immediate environment.

Here are  the studies cited

Carlson, T.  & Strattman, K. (2008). Do Babies Increase Vocabulary by Viewing Baby Media? Paper Presented at the Proceedings of the 4th Annual GRASP Symposium, Wichita State University.

Linebarger, D. L., & Walker, D. (2005). Infants‟ and toddlers‟ television viewing and language outcomes. American Behavioral Scientist, 48(5), 624-645

Krcmar, M., Grela, B., and K. Lin (2007). Can Toddlers Learn Vocabulary from Television? An Experimental Approach, Media Psychology 10, 41-63.

Rice, M. L., Huston, A. C., Truglio, R., & Wright, L. C. (1990).  Words from Sesame Street: Learning vocabulary while viewing. Developmental Psychology, 26, 421-428.

Robb, M., Richert, R., & Wartella, E. (2009). Just a talking book? Word learning from watching baby videos. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 27–45.

Rush, Amy (2011).Can toddlers learn novel words from educational videos? A study using repeat exposure to assess infant’s use and understanding of television. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Wake Forest University, NC.

Here’s the abstract of Amy Rush’s Thesis

“”The current study employed a mixed design to assess word learning in infants under the age of two. Four conditions were used to see if babies who watched an infant-directed DVD at least six times over two weeks, or who watched an infant-directed DVD with parental mediation at least six times over two weeks, learned more novel words from the DVD than infants in the control condition. The current study was unique in three ways. The present study used a DVD very similar to an actual Baby Einstein DVD and the study used repeat exposure to explore whether showing the same DVD to a child multiple times could increase word learning. Finally, this study sought to determine if parent mediation could enhance children’s viewing experiences. Results suggested that repeated exposure to the DVD did have a significant impact on word learning for infants aged four months to twenty-four months compared to children who had not seen the DVD. Results also showed that while the interaction between age and condition was not significant, the means were in the predicted direction and thus infants aged eighteen to twenty-four months did learn more novel words than the younger infants. Lastly, results showed that children in the treatment group with mediation did learn more novel words than children whose parents did not provide mediation of the DVD for them; however, the effect for word learning was not significant.””

Germen lessons for kids

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Conflict in Mixed Families and Conflict Resolution with Foreign Partners

How to deal with conflict in mixed marriages
  1. •Don’t give examples from your own country
  2. •Apologize even if it means you’ll lose the face
  3. •Never use generalizations about his/her country/culture/family even if he/she previously accepted that (e.g. we,…s usually are not punctual)
  4. •Don’t touch and don’t get so close, different cultures have different use of proximity
  5. •Check your voice and make sure you’re not too loud according to your spouse’s culture
  6. •Don’t talk about the past that (naturally) cannot be changed
  7. •Don’t say it was a misunderstanding or a language problem
  8. •Try to think like a person from his/her culture (force yourself)
  9. •Try to find something (even 1%) of what he/she says and agree with it 100%
  10. •Don’t interrupt and listen very carefully
  11. •Rephrase his/her problem in your own words
  12. •Never try to WIN the argument (when you win the argument, relationship loses)
  13. •Instead of YOU statements try to make I statements
  14. •Think about alternative solutions to the problem
  15. •State that you understand the other side and you are willing to solve the problem
  16. •Remember some people overreact when they lose face (e.g. when their mistake is revealed)
  17. •Remember different cultures have different values (e.g. yes, in some cultures work/responsibility comes before family)
  18. •Remember most conflicts arise because one side misinterprets the other side’s true intention
  19. •Remember, sometimes it might be a gender difference issue (men and women think differently) or a personality issue (introverts and extroverts act differently) rather than a cultural issue.
  20. •Don’t avoid conflict see it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship.
marrying a foreigner

marrying a foreigner

About Dino Lingo

Dino Lingo, language for children. Award winning language DVDs, books, CDs, flash cards, songs,  online videos and games for kids. DinoLingo language lessons make learning fun for children and easy for parents.Now, babies and children can master any language. Available in 20 languages.

Select the language you want your child to speak and enjoy the ride.

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!


Bilingual Kids Do Not Mistake: Unique Language Sound Structure

According to Kansas University psychologist Michael Vivevitch, bilinguals do not confuse the languages they speak mostly because each language has a unique sound neighboring system. In other words, just like human DNA where A, T, G, C have an ideintifying order, the sounds that follow each other in Spanish and English are different. Thus, bilinguals can easily distinguish which word to use or which language they are spoken to.

This is What Michael Vivevitch wrote

“A corpus analysis of phonological word-forms shows that English words have few phonological neighbors that are Spanish
words. Concomitantly, Spanish words have few phonological neighbors that are English words. These observations appear to
undermine certain accounts of bilingual language processing, and have significant implications for the processing and
representation of word-forms in bilinguals.”

“The results of the present corpus analysis show, in several ways, that words in a foreign language do not “invade” the lexical neighborhoods of another language. That is, for the two languages examined here, there are few words in one language that are phonologically similar to words in the other language. This simple observation raises a number of important and fundamental questions about lexical retrieval and language processing in the bilingual. First, the minimal amount of phonological overlap between the two languages essentially creates two separate – or perhaps, easily separable – lexica. (Note that other lowlevel phonological information might further contribute to the separation of languages; see e.g., Ju & Luce,2004.) The D E FAC TO separation between languages based on their phonological characteristics raises a question about the need for explicit representational schemes, such as language tags (Green, 1998) or language nodes (Dijkstra & van Heuven, 1998), or other cognitive mechanisms (e.g., Bialystok, 2010) designed to keep the word-forms of one language separate from the wordforms of another language. If one considers the small number of words that might benefit from such measures, these approaches to language processing seem cognitively and computationally expensive (and seem increasingly expensive for the individual who knows a third, or fourth, etc. language).”

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!

Visit Dino Lingo to learn more about available language learning programs for your child!


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