Raising Bilingual Kids

Jenna Francisco, an ESL Educator, recently published an article on our site about raising bilingual kids. Jenna not only talks the talk, but walks the walk – her kids are bilingual! This is something I always wanted to do, and am trying to catch up with our daughter, now.


Here are Jenna’s tips on raising bilingual kids…


Bring up teaching children to be bilingual and you are bound to hear something like “Little kids are just like sponges—they pick up languages so easily.” While it is true that the child’s brain is more capable of learning language than an adult’s and that they hold the special ability to learn a language as a native, it is actually quite difficult to raise a bilingual child. The reasons for this are that children are usually hesitant to actually speak one of the languages and will often drop the language in favor of the one that their peers speak. Also, while we adults know what a wonderful skill bilingualism is, children are not interested in having “skills.” Instead, they want what feels good and natural, so the main challenge is making the languages something that the child loves and won’t feel overwhelmed by having to deal with every day.


However, if you would like to raise a bilingual child, here are some tips based on linguistic research and my own experience raising two bilingual children.


Tips for raising bilingual children
Note: Normally when a child is bilingual, one language is dominant. This depends on many factors, especially where the child is living. I will refer to a “non-dominant language,” which means the language that the child receives less exposure to. Often the child does not receive equal input of the 2 languages. It is not, however, a “second language” because a second language refers to one learned after the first, whereas bilingual children normally learn the two languages simultaneously.


1)    The most important factor in your child’s success is having a strong cultural connection to both languages.
Research in language acquisition has proven that a bilingual child has a cultural and emotional connection to both languages. A child who is being “taught” a language for which there is not a meaningful emotional connection will lose interest or rebel against the parents’ wishes. This is especially true when children start attending school and are surrounded by kids who don’t speak the non-dominant language.


One of the best ways to help your child’s language learning is to travel abroad and spend a good amount of time in the other country. My son understood Portuguese perfectly but did not start speaking until he had been in Brazil for 4 weeks when he was almost 3 years old. All of a sudden, it was like a floodgate was opened; the Portuguese just came pouring out, and he has been perfectly bilingual since.



Click through the top to read more of Jenna’s fantastic tips!



29 stops on the London Tube

Nadia Adusei-Boateng, a student in our teen travel blogging class, recently completed an assignment to talk about travel and the 5 senses. Nadia humorously chose to detail a 29-stop tube ride in London – complete with sights, sounds, smells, and more. Take a look…


Everyone has either been or heard of the underground before. Americans like to call it the ‘Subway,’ and it’s just an easier way to travel throughout London.


On my way to Uxbridge (a town in West London), I had to get the Underground/tube to meet the rest of my family as we were taking my sister to Brunel University. I didn’t realise on my journey that I would discover how weird the tube is.


Piccadilly line, London. Flickr creative commons: flickr.com/photos/by-jack/7555185540/

Piccadilly Line, London



I left from King’s Cross St Pancras tube station. Going down the escalator, l felt the icy, bitter temperature from outside slowly fading away as the warmth and humidity filled the air. As I stepped off the escalator, a damp but warm smell wafted through the air, seeping through my nose. I knew I wouldn’t see daylight for a long time, as I had 29 stops to Uxbridge.  On the platform there were many eager people waiting for the tube – and I was one of them. As I looked at the time the next tube was due to come, I knew I had to get on the one that was approaching. When the tube came to an abrupt stop, the doors beeped open and a rush of people jumped on and started searching for a place to sit. Having 29 stops to ride, I made sure to position myself in the best place possible to be able to grab a seat when someone got up to leave.



Click through to read more of Nadia’s tube experience!

Sage Advice: Avoid Scammers in Paris

It all comes from personal experience. Austin Weihmiller, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, spent the summer in Paris. Now, while he had amazing experiences (of course), he also had a few learning ones. What makes me smile, and think what a great writer he is, is that he’s turned these learning experiences into one great story. Take a look…




Paris is a magical city. One of light, food, art, and vagabonds. I had the privilege of spending the month of July in the city. Had the chance to get fat in the patisseries, had the chance to dance along the Siene at night, enjoy good company, and become quite the croissant snob. I also had the exclusive privilege of learning how to be scammed. This one is for the people who have been pick-pocketed already, and are ready to advance on to the next level of being scammed.


The One and Only Eiffel Tower

The One and Only Eiffel Tower


A friend of mine had taken the train down from Germany a few days earlier. She was going to be spending five or six days in our apartment in the 5th. We were still jazzed from the day before, Bastille Day. We had gotten into the Louvre for free because of the holiday, and had gotten to view the Mona Lisa with a manageable crowd. Only six or seven people deep, versus the normal bedlam of twenty or thirty people deep.



Click through to read the rest of Austin’s advice!

Visiting Cardigan Bay, Wales

Harriet Willis, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, takes us on a journey to Cardigan Bay, Wales. Although camping isn’t my thing, she certainly makes it seem idyllic…


Although Cardigan Bay in Wales may not come to mind immediately as the perfect holiday for everyone, if you enjoy waking up early to catch the glorious sunrise, sitting round a warm campfire, or listening to the peaceful sounds of nature in the evenings, camping by the coast of Cardigan Bay in South Wales could be the perfect holiday for you.  Let me tell you about our experience in Brongwyn camping park, located in Cardigan Bay, Wales.


Our holiday began by waking up in a tent at around 7am.  Although a little breezy outside, it didn’t matter because we enjoyed delicious hot toast, melted butter and strawberry jam!  These basics can be bought from the campsites small village shop for a low price.


Once you have eaten, whip on your walking boots and prepare yourself for an exhilarating mountain or hill walk, as there are plenty of them for you to accomplish.  Or, taking a simple stroll in one of the nature-filled fields is a great way to begin the day.  Rare butterflies and birds are often seen which can add to the experience.


Cardigan Bay, Wales

Early morning walks are always glorious no matter what the weather.



To read more of Harriet’s climb up the mountain in Wales, click through!

Hate long layovers?

Drew Haines, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, will change your mind. She outlines the reasons she LOVES long layovers – and it’s pretty funny. Take a look:


While some people don’t like layovers, I love them – especially long ones! Here are 4 reasons why:


1.    More fast food: I like layovers because I can eat out at all the fast-food places.

2.    Easier to sleep on the plane: After a recent long layover, we were all very tired when we got on the plane. It was night-time and I fell asleep before the plane even took off. When I woke up, I looked out the window, and said: “Oh come on! We haven’t even taken off yet?!” Mom looked at me kind of funny and said, “Honey, we’re in Ecuador.” Well, that surprised me! It felt as if we were still waiting to take off in Miami! So you get where you’re going faster, sort of.



Read the rest of Drew’s tips – and see a gorgeous photo of Ecuador – by clicking through.

The most famous street in Amsterdam?

Harriet Willis, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, recently completed an assignment that focused on Amsterdam. Now, not only did she talk about the great things about this street, but recommended some great food! That’s my kind of article. Take a look…



Slowly the boats drift down the canals and the trees sway gently in the summer breeze.  The sunlight dances on the water and creates a glistening effect.  Up and down the streets, there are brightly coloured, tall houses with beautiful architecture.  Whilst you enjoy a coffee and a pancake, you can hear the sound of families and friends chatting away, you are on Prinsengracht Street, situated in the delightful city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


View of one of the many picturesque canals in Amsterdam

View of one of the many picturesque canals in Amsterdam



Situated in the middle of Amsterdam is The Pancake Bakery, known as possibly the best pancake house in Amsterdam.  Every day, the Dutch and tourists alike fill the seats and gaze onto the scenic canals and green trees whilst, of course, enjoying a pancake with perhaps Nutella and banana, peach, or even a selection of Egyptian inspired meats with salad!  A couple of Euros can easily get you a delicious pancake.



Click through to read more of Harriet’s observations on Amsterdam…

Costa Rica/Panama Borders

Joy Whitehead, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, shared a border run trip for a recent assignment. She talks about heat, and restaurants, and truly gives a local flavor…


On the first trip we took to renew our Costa Rican tourist visas, we went to Panama.


It took us five hours from Turrialba, where my great-aunt lives, to drive in a taxi to get to the Costa Rica/Panama border. The scenery on the way there was beautiful! There were several deserted beaches, banana plantations and a few pineapple plantations, too.


When we got to the border, we got our exit stamps for Costa Rica and crossed the wood and steel bridge separating the two countries.


It took us a while to get our passports stamped and to fill out all of the forums to enter into Panama, because we have seven people in our family.  If you pay the officials a bribe though, you can get in to an air conditioned office while you get everything taken care of.


Costa Rican beach on the way to Panama

Costa Rican beach on the way to Panama



Read more of Joy’s trip from Costa Rica to Panama..

Tips for the London Tube

Taking the tube is quite the experience – and student Katie Wellman provides both humorous and helpful tips, in a recent assignment.



Subways in London are essential.




No matter where you go, there are subways everywhere. Be it the park, the pizza parlor, or the theaters , there is usually a subway or “underground” someplace nearby.



The subway is better than taking a bus, taxi, or (worst of all) driving because:


Busses are hard to catch at the right times and places, whereas subways are close and a subway car comes around every fifteen minutes or so.


Taxis tend to drive crazy fast and seem to want to wreck the car before you get anywhere. Not only that, but they are also overpriced (but if you are in a hurry and in a “follow that truck!” moment, I highly recommend them).



Katie has more helpful tips – click through to read…

Tips for Staying in Fussen, Germany

Will Wellman, a student in our teen travel blogging class, recently reviewed a hotel in Fussen, Germany. I love that he told both the pros and cons of this particular hotel, as well as things to do in Fussen (of course, visiting the famous castle!). Here’s what he had to say…


Fussen, Germany. You’ve probably only heard about it for one reason, if you’ve ever heard of it at all. It happens to be the closest town to Neuschwanstein, the gleaming white castle constructed by the mad king Ludwig, which has been a tourist attraction since 1886. On some days, over six thousand people visit this popular German attraction. Because of Fussen’s proximity, it is a commonly chosen location to stay the night, and as such, there are many hotels. But, when you consider cost against quality, the hotel called the ‘LA House’ stands out. The LA House is located near the center of Fussen.


flickr creative commons:  flickr.com/photos/mathieubouchard/314023036/

Neuschwanstein Castle, Fussen, Germany



Wonder more about the hotel? Read on!

From London to Paris…

Nadia Adusei-Boateng, one of the students in our teen travel blogging class, completed an assignment with a tale of a road trip from London to Paris. She notes great things to do in Paris, and hits the highlights on her trip! Take a look…


Everybody knows England and France are practically next door neighbours. So when my mum suggested the idea of driving to Paris by using the Euro tunnel (a train which takes 30 minutes to reach Calais), my family and I were up for it, as it wasn’t going to be a long drive from London.


Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

Driving to France, we saw a lot of beautiful scenery – fields, cottages, cows, and horses; it was a very nice view. When we got to Paris, of course we wanted to go and see the Eiffel Tower. Before we reached the Eiffel Tower, we took the scenic route and walked around on The Avenue des Champs-Elysées – seeing a lot of designer stores and historical French land marks like Champ de Mars. Finally we reached the iconic monument.



Nadia saw and did more in Paris – click through to read…