Joyeux Noël & A Podcast about Our Family Language Trip

Joyeux Noël, les amis! Yes, Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas! I have a little gift for you if you listen to podcasts and are interested in traveling as a family to help you or your children improve your bilingual skills! You see, Marianna DuBosq at Bilingual Avenue has just released the 100th episode of the Bilingual Avenue podcast, and in this episode, Polish mama & translator Hanna Cheda and I share about how we took our families overseas for amazing language immersion experiences. I give details about how we saved money for the trip, how my children handled the experience, and how I enrolled my daughter in a French school. Hanna shares about locating affordable family housing and finding free immersion experiences for children. I hope you love what you learn!

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Visiting Iceland with Young Children: Tips & Activities


Halló from Iceland! We're in Reykjavic on a five-day stopover before we continue on to France. Did you know you can stopover in Iceland for free when flying Iceland Air to or from Europe? This is our first time doing so, and we've had an amazing experience. We exchanged homes with an Icelandic family through and staying in their home has been one of the best blessings of our stay. We've also had a chance to visit one of our former exchange students and her family, so we've truly had a great time! In case you get a chance to visit here or know someone who will, here are our tips for a great family vacation in Iceland:

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Why I Try to Avoid Spanking

As parents, we either respect or reject the way we were raised. My parents were fairly authoritarian and followed the advice of Dr. Dobson, whose book The Strong Willed Child was a bestseller in the '80s. They believed in the adage "spare the rod and spoil the child;" and in our household, the rod was a wooden spoon or a yardstick. But we three daughters rarely needed such correction. When we were disciplined in this way, my parents always prefaced it with an explanation of what we did wrong and a reminder that they loved us.

As an adult now, however, I can't recall more than one or two reasons why I was spanked. Instead, what I remember is the boiling anger and resentment it stirred up in me. I certainly don't recall deciding to change my behavior as a result, only trying to avoid getting caught. Psychology backs this up, showing that punishment motivates a child to avoid future punishment but it does not effectively change behavior by itself.

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How Children Learn to Entertain Themselves Without Screens

We were five days into a week-long family vacation at the Oregon Coast when it dawned on me that our hotel room did not have a TV and we had not missed it. At home we have cable programming, but my husband is the only family member who turns on the television, mainly for a few hours of sports programming each week. He also watches DVDs with our children, but they rarely watch movies during the day. Instead, our children habitually find ways to occupy themselves with creative pursuits. I don't credit myself for their activity choices, but here's what has helped them become skilled at independent play:

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Daddy Doesn't Speak French: How He (Still) Supports Our Bilingual Children

My husband grew up speaking Thai at home, but he's most comfortable speaking English because he was raised in the U.S. (This comfort factor is why he chose to speak English to our children.) His French knowledge is limited to what he's learned in hearing me speak it with our kids, and yet he still manages to support our children's French acquisition in ways I truly appreciate. Here are five awesome ways he supports our children's bilingual development:


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The Art of Storytelling: Orality for Parents and Children

My dad is an amazing storyteller. As a child, I loved the stories of his childhood experiences among seven siblings, but his fictional tales were just as engaging. (They featured a naïve kid named Billy who made poor choices and faced amusing yet believable consequences; my dad often retold the stories twice in a row, with Billy making different decisions and arriving at better outcomes.)

My own storytelling skills are weak. With a Bachelor's Degree in English, I've read plenty of choice stories, but literacy differs from orality. Storytelling is an art that is improved with practice--and practice is what I need. I'm going to make frequent storytelling a focus in the next few months. Here are some tips I'm learning:

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