Harmonious Bilingualism: A Chat with Dr. Annick De Houwer

Why do some children who grow up hearing two languages only use one? Our guest, Dr. Annick De Houwer, has been researching this question for years. De Houwer is a professor of language acquisition and multilingualism at the University of Erfurt in Germany and the founder of the Harmonious Bilingualism Network (HaBilNet). We spoke to her about her work, bilingual language development, and what she calls harmonious bilingualism.

© Nadia Frantsen, University of Oslo

De Houwer has conducted extensive research in the field of bilingual acquisition and language development. Her 1990 book “The acquisition of two languages from birth” is considered pioneering work in bilingual acquisition. In addition to her linguistic research, she also examines the socio-emotional aspects of early bilingualism. De Houwer introduced the concept of harmonious bilingual development in 2006.

Additional Resources

Parenting with an accent: A conversation with writer Masha Rumer

Raising children with two languages and cultures may sometimes feel like a constant negotiation between the two. In this episode, writer Masha Rumer talked to her about her experience raising English-Russian bilingual children in the U.S.

Masha Rumer

Masha lives in the Bay Area, where she writes about parenting and the immigrant experience. She is currently writing a book called Parenting with an Accent, which will be published by Beacon Press in 2021.

Mentioned in this episode

My Kids Can’t Sing Along to Sesame Street, But They Know Our Family’s Culture by Masha Rumer, Parents

Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability by Adam Beck

Bilingual: Life and Reality by Francois Grosjean

Being a teacher during COVID (and fighting my way through it)

By Mely Martinez

I must confess, when I first read the news that our school was shutting down due to COVID and that we were all to learn the ins and outs of Google Classroom, Loom, and the likes, my first thought was: may I be exempt? I teach Spanish at a small private school, and since my class is just an elective, surely they could do without it…right? The answer was no, of course. All elective teachers were required to teach their courses as regular.

This was my main reason for resisting to teach an elective during COVID: do kids really need it? I know why electives are important. They’re an essential way to broaden a child’s horizon and provide them with a well-rounded education. But during a pandemic? Pandemic means (or should mean, anyway) going back to basics. Keep your essentials, forget the rest. Learning a second language hardly seems like an essential during a global emergency. Not forgetting how to add and multiply? Yes. Reading? Definitely. Conjugating Spanish verbs? Not so much.

I fought long and hard to convince my principal that I was not an essential worker during this pandemic. But alas, my objection was in vain. I was expected to pick up my textbooks from school, learn how to upload worksheets, record myself teaching, and be available to answer students’ questions at least three times a week. I negotiated, again. I would teach upper-grade levels what they were supposed to learn from the textbook without using a textbook, and I would review everything we had already learned in lower grade levels so that language acquisition would not be lost, but I would not teach any new concepts or vocabulary. I would not quiz or test. My requests were granted (mainly because my supervisors had so much to take care of, they probably skimmed through my long texts and replied “okay” without much thought).

Continue reading “Being a teacher during COVID (and fighting my way through it)”

Finding social connection while physically distancing

In times of physical distancing, everyone seems to be looking for ways to connect socially. From Zoom happy hours to birthday parades, we’re all adapting.

Paula

Trying new things

For E, it’s been hard looking out the window and seeing the neighbors that she typically plays with and not being able to join them. Early on, we allowed bike riding with neighbors, but with time, we’ve cut back. There have been a few times when we’ve run into them while walking our dog and the girls end up riding around the block. This small amount of contact with her friends does wonders, but it doesn’t happen very often anymore.

Most of her socialization in the past two weeks has come from Minecraft. She didn’t play video games before this but her friend down the street invited her to play and it has become their social hour. They talk to each other as they work on building tree houses and hiding spots out of virtual chunks of stone and wood. It’s the closest thing to building the pretend houses they used to build when they had in-person playdates.

Another thing we’ve done is play bingo with my family in Colombia. I use a bingo card generator, which gives you bingo cards and the ability to call the numbers on their site. During the Zoom call, I share my screen so they see the numbers as I’m calling them. It’s been a hit and we’ve been playing once to twice per week, but E usually plays a couple of rounds and is then off to do something else.

And then there is FaceTime. We’ve been using it a lot more than before with my parents, who also live in Houston, and with family in Colombia. An added bonus has been that all of her conversations with them are in Spanish at a time when she’s missing on the Spanish input she would get in school. None of these options replace face-to-face interactions, of course, but it’s what we have to work with for now.

Monika

Strange but necessary

We are still finding our space in distance connections. The one-on-one interactions we’ve had with family and friends tend to go better since the interaction allows for plenty of two-way input. I have a tiny extended family, so now that we’re home, we speak on the phone daily. Z is a part of these conversations, she pops in from time to time to say hi. It works because I let her come in and out as she pleases. As time goes by, we will have to get more intentional with these interactions. Our family conversations are our primary source of Spanish input, and they continue to be crucial as Z develops her language skills.

We used to be a low-tech house, opting into more hands-on experiences. Now, Z has a Chrome book and uses it for at least two hours every single day. This is undoubtedly weird but necessary as there is no other way to reach out to the world outside. A few weeks ago, we video called one of Zoe’s preschool friends for a chat. The call turned into an almost two-hour-long drawing session where they were telling each other what to sketch and then comparing their works. In between they would talk about their life: school, friends, what they ate, their favorite movies, everything. It was a moment of peace for everyone involved. As parents, we were so happy to see our kids at ease and engaged without much adult intervention. That was the first and last time a virtual connection went smoothly, but we’re hoping for more.

Language learning, family-style

Moving to another country where you don’t know the language can be challenging. Today’s guest, Elizabeth Quintal, did just that. Two-and-a-half years ago, she moved from Houston, Texas to Madrid, Spain with her husband and son, Grayson. We spoke to her about the transition and how they’re managing the strict lockdown due to COVID-19.

Elizabeth and her family in Paris.

You can find Elizabeth in several places on Instagram. She’s worth a follow for her poetry writing (@elizabethmquintal) and her family adventures and tips on advocacy and raising kind, empathetic kids (@cheekydays). She and her husband, Aaron, run a visual creative agency called The New Antiquarians.

Elizabeth’s poetry will also be featured in Alegria Magazine’s upcoming The Latinx Poetry Project, an anthology of poems by Latinx authors. The book is now available for pre-order through this link.

A Challenge from Imago for #StayAtHome Days: Day 4

Listeners of our show may have heard Monika mention Imago in Miami, a wonderful creative space where kids can learn and enjoy activities in Spanish. While they’re currently closed, they’re offering a series of activities to do at home and, luckily, those of us who don’t live in Miami can partake. So, join us as we participate in the ImaGO Challenge, an effort to document our days at home.

Here’s how it works (translated from Imago’s post):

¿What did you do during the day? Draw it.

Steps:

1. One drawing per day.
2. Add your name and the date.
3. Share it on Instagram and tag @imagoartinaction.
4. Use hashtags #imaGOatHome #imaGOchallenge

We’re together in this. Share this post and more people will draw their days at home. And remember to wash your hands!

Life in the Times of Coronavirus: Day 2

Hola Entre Dos Community!

As we mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, we want to be a resource to you during these unprecedented times. We will be posting resources we find interesting to help you keep your kids engaged – and practicing their language – while they’re at home. Our goal is to post daily but we’re taking it day by day.

An upside of all of this is that people are being very creative and generous with their talents, offering virtual story times, concerts, classes, and more. Here’s what we’re loving today.

COVID-19 Explainers

Talking to your kids about the virus may help them process what is happening.

COVIBOOK – Colombian psychologist and play therapist, Manuela Molina created a book to explain the virus to kids and to gauge the feelings they may be experiencing as a result. You can view the PDF in Spanish here. Other languages are available for download on this page.

El Coronavirus explicado para niños – Colombian newspaper El Espectador published this comic-format explainer.

Continue reading “Life in the Times of Coronavirus: Day 2”

Effects of Bilingualism on English Reading Ability

Dr. Jackie Relyea

In this episode, we spoke to Dr. Jackie Relyea, assistant professor of Literacy Education at North Carolina State University. Her research looked at English reading growth in Spanish-speaking bilinguals.

Additional Reading

Reading in any Language Improves Reading Levels in English, Language Magazine, Sep. 27, 2019

English Reading Growth in Spanish‐Speaking Bilingual Students: Moderating Effect of English Proficiency on Cross‐Linguistic Influence, Child Development, July 16, 2019

Your Holiday Traditions

We’re in the midst of the holiday season and with that, all of the traditions that make them special. In this episode, we wanted to showcase traditions from our listeners, specifically the ones that help keep the heritage language and culture alive.

This will be our final episode of 2019. In the meantime, find us in our Facebook group and on Instagram. We’re excited to return next year. Thank you for your support!

“Story & Pictures By” – A Chat with Joanna Rudnick

In this episode, we talk to Joanna Rudnick, an Emmy nominated director and producer who is currently working on a documentary exploring the power and reach of children’s picture books: “Story & Pictures By.

Joanna Rudnick, Director & Producer of “Story & Pictures By”

The film follows three contemporary children’s book authors/illustrators – Mac Barnett, Christian Robinson and Yuyi Morales – as they craft new books and interact with kids across the country.

It’s no secret that we are big believers in the power of children’s books, not only to help kids develop language, but as vehicles to shape their world, unleash their imagination, and foster literacy. So when we learned about the film, we wanted to learn more.

If you love this idea as much as we do, consider supporting the film’s Kickstarter campaign. There are only three days left (until Nov. 22) for them to reach their goal of $40,000 so they can continue production.

Mentioned in this Episode

Habláme Bebé: A Chat with Dr. Melissa Baralt

We know that giving bilingual children exposure in the minority language is crucial for their language development, but for some parents speaking their heritage language to their children in an English-dominant society is challenging. In this episode, we speak to Dr. Melissa Baralt, an associate professor of applied psycholinguistics at Florida International University, and the creator of Háblame Bebé, an app aimed at helping Hispanic families foster language development in their children.

Dr. Melissa Baralt

Through the app and her research work, Dr. Baralt has focused on empowering parents to pass on their heritage language to their children and to develop a positive socio-linguistic identity.

Mentioned in this Episode


Join the Entre Dos Facebook community to share your experiences, questions, and discoveries with us and other parents raising bilingual kids.

What Kind of Spanish Do You Speak? The U.S. as a Spanish-Speaking Country

Have you ever thought of the U.S. as a Spanish-speaking country? Our guest, Emily Hunsberger, a bilingual communications professional, mom of bilingual kids, and host of Tertulia Podcast, does. In today’s episode, she spoke to us about embracing and changing the perception of Spanish spoken in the U.S. – the Spanish that our children are growing up with.

Emily Hunsberger

Our conversation with Emily is a follow-up to our previous episode What Kind of Spanish Do You Speak? Language and Social Perceptions with guest Salvatore Callesano.

We also spoke to Emily – en español – for her podcast. Make sure you listen to the episode, Los Guardianes Invisibles del Idioma, over at Tertulia Podcast.

Mentioned in this episode


Join the Entre Dos Facebook community to share your experiences, questions, and discoveries with us and other parents raising bilingual kids.

What Kind of Spanish Do You Speak? Language and Social Perceptions

Our perceptions about what kind of bilingual we want our kids to be are rooted in what we feel is acceptable Spanish. But where do these ideas of what is “correct” or “incorrect” come from?

In this episode, we speak to Salvatore Callesano, a sociolinguistic researcher and instructor at The University of Texas at Austin, about the relationship between linguistics and social perceptions and the effect these can have on bilingual children and youth in the US.

Salvatore Callesano

Mentioned in this episode

Additional reading


Join the Entre Dos Facebook community to share your experiences, questions, and discoveries with us and other parents raising bilingual kids.

A Conversation with Parenting Expert Maritere Bellas

As mothers of relatively young children, a lot of the conversations we have are about what will become of our bilingual, bicultural children’s future. For this episode, we called on Maritere Bellas, an award-winning author and parenting expert, who raised bilingual and bicultural children in Los Angeles, to share with us her wisdom and experience.

Maritere R. Bellas

Maritere has written extensively about parenting for newspapers and online outlets, and is the author of the books “Raising Bilingual Children: A Practical Guide,” “Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie,” and “Luisito’s Island.” After we recorded this episode, she also launched a multicultural parenting podcast in Spanish called Mamás 411.

Additional resources

What We Love: En la Radio by Nathalia

Joanne Leung Photography

Not too long ago, LA-based singer/songwriter Nathalia shared with us her upcoming bilingual album: En La Radio. While we typically don’t write reviews on the blog, we had to tell you about this album, because we loved it that much.

Nathalia is a Colombian singer/songwriter, music therapist and early childhood music educator who has produced four albums for children. Her newest one, En La Radio, has 10 original songs in English and Spanish spanning a variety of music styles from the US and Latin America.

“It doesn’t sound like kids music,” Paula’s husband said when she played it. He meant it as a compliment. Play the album and chances are you’ll be as hooked as your kids. 

Continue reading “What We Love: En la Radio by Nathalia”

What We Love: Tres Cuentos Podcast

In this episode of What We Love/Lo Que Más Nos Gusta, we talk to Carolina Quiroga-Stultz about her podcast: Tres Cuentos. In Tres Cuentos, which means three stories, Carolina tells stories, myths and legends from Latin America in Spanish and English.

Carolina Quiroga-Stultz, creator of Tres Cuentos Podcast.

While most of the stories on Tres Cuentos are geared toward older children and adults, Carolina recently launched a summer series with stories geared toward younger children called Niñez Heroica/Children Heroes. Each episode includes a story followed by a few interesting facts about something related to the story.

In this episode …

The audio clip you heard at the beginning of this episode comes from the Tres Cuentos episode “Mitos de Creación: Cuando los ancestros bajaron del cielo“. You can listen to the same story in English here.

Carolina launched her children’s summer series after we spoke. Below are the two episodes she has published so far:

To find out when new episodes are published, follow Tres Cuentos on Facebook.

One Year of Entre Dos

Today we’re celebrating one year since we published our first episode, a totally unscripted introduction to Entre Dos. This year has been fun and eye opening. We’ve learned a lot as moms and podcasters, and we have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received and the connections we have made.

To commemorate this milestone, we thought we’d leave you with the seven most-listened-to episodes in our first year.

Thank you to all for listening. Here’s to another year!

~ Paula & Monika

Top 7 Entre Dos Episodes

  1. Bilingualism and Speech Delays: Dispelling Myths
  2. Decoding the Bilingual Brain: Part I
  3. Raising Bilingual Readers
  4. On Heritage, Language and Identity
  5. Bilingual Homeschooling
  6. Canticos: Sharing culture and building connections through music
  7. Family Dynamics & Bilingualism

Public libraries: Allies for bilingual families

Public libraries are one of our nation’s most important resources. They support literacy, act as an inclusive gathering space for the community, and provide a plethora of public services. In this episode, we dive into how public libraries have been supporting bilingual families and how they can support you in your community.

City of North Miami Public Library
Continue reading “Public libraries: Allies for bilingual families”

Bilingualism and Speech Delays: Dispelling Myths

A common misconception or myth about bilingualism is that it causes speech language delays. In this episode, Claudia Serrano Johnson, a speech language pathologist (SLP) and founder of Laleo Therapy in Virginia breaks down these misconceptions and shares red flags parents should look out for in their child’s speech language development. You’ll also hear the experience of Zayra Marrero Burgos, an SLP who has a son with developmental delays.

Claudia Johnson (left); Zayra Marrero Burgos (right)

Mentioned in this episode

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) – this professional, scientific and credentialing association has a directory of certified professionals.

Additional Reading

Learning Two Languages, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

How do you know when it’s a language delay versus a disorder?, Leader Live, April 14, 2015

Does Bilingualism Cause a Language Delay?, Multilingual Living, May 31, 2010

We Need Your Help!

We have a big favor to ask: last fall, we applied to the first round of the Google Podcasts creator program – a program that “seeks to increase the diversity of voices in the industry globally and lower barriers to podcasting.” While Entre Dos wasn’t selected, we made it to the semi-finalists round, meaning we were in the top five percent!

Well, applications are now open for the second round and we want to try again, but to do so, we need to know more about YOU, our listeners.

Please visit entredospodcast.com/survey and answer a few questions.

If you like what we do and want to support our podcast, this is the best way to do it. The three minutes it takes you will help us tremendously, not only to apply to this program, which could get us seed funding and intensive training, but also to improve our podcast.

Your answers are completely anonymous unless you choose to share your contact information with us.

¡Gracias!

Paula & Monika

The Bilingual Revolution, Part I

Dual language education can be a good way to both sustain a cultural heritage and acquire a second language. But if you’ve spent any time looking into these programs, you may have found that they are not easy to get into or they simply don’t exist where you live. In this episode, we speak to Fabrice Jaumont, a French educator, researcher, and author of the book “The Bilingual Revolution.”

Fabrice Jaumont
Photo by Jonas Cuénin

Fabrice has helped start multiple dual language education programs in New York, and his book serves both as a testament to what a group of parents can do to bring these programs to their public schools and a guide for those who may want to replicate those efforts elsewhere.

Continue reading “The Bilingual Revolution, Part I”

On Heritage, Language and Identity

Are your motivations for raising bilingual children emotional or pragmatic? Maybe a little bit of both? We had an interesting conversation with Sabine Little, Lecturer in Languages Education and Researcher at the University of Sheffield, where her research explores the ties between heritage languages and identity.

Continue reading “On Heritage, Language and Identity”

A Matter of Exposure

If you’re raising bilingual children, you’ve likely heard the word exposure over and over again. We need to give our kids exposure to the target language, right? But what is exposure? How is it defined in the context of bilingualism? And more importantly, how much is enough? Does quality matter more than quantity?

Continue reading “A Matter of Exposure”

Our 2019 Bilingual Parenting Resolutions

Happy 2019! It’s the first full week of the year and we’re ready to get back to work. We’re also ready to continue traveling down this bilingual parenting path with our daughters and our small community of listeners and followers.

In our last episode, we shared the lessons we learned from seven months of recording the Entre Dos Podcast. It turns out that they also make good resolutions, so we wanted to share them with you here on the blog. We hope these five lessons will inspire you and motivate you in 2019.

Continue reading “Our 2019 Bilingual Parenting Resolutions”

Music and Bilingualism

Music is one of the easiest ways to start building a connection to language. Even if you’re not a musical person, there’s a universality to music that makes it an effective tool for transferring knowledge. We’ve seen it in our homes.

In this episode, we spoke to Dr. Susanne Reiterer, associate professor at the Faculty of Philology and Cultural Studies and the Center for Teacher Education in the University of Vienna, and to Will Stroet, an award-winning multilingual children’s music singer-songwriter and educator based in Vancouver.

 

You’ll hear about the connection between musicality and language learning and how music can be an effective tool to teach languages.

In preparation for this episode, we asked our listeners to share their favorite music and artists to listen to in their target language. See the full list of bilingual music recommendations. It’s a good one!