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Useful links and resources

Compared to twenty years ago, resources are so much easier to come by, thanks to the Internet – in fact, the problem is often not too little information, but too much!

 

But on balance, the Internet is such a fantastic tool not only for finding books, study materials, worksheets and the like, but perhaps even more importantly, for connecting with other families who are also trying to raise their children to speak more than one language.

 

This list will be updated regularly as I discover new gems for multilingual families!

 

An important disclaimer: all the comments I’ve added below reflect my honest opinions on each resource. I have not been paid by anyone or any company, and am not affiliated with them in any way (maybe one day ;P )

 

Books

 

- Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids by Adam Beck

In my opinion this is one of the most accessible books on the subject, with lots of practical and motivational advice.

 

- Be Bilingual - Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families by Annika Bourgogne

A very accessible book on the subject, which does a great job balancing academic research (in sections titled “Words of the Wise”) and practical ideas (in sections titled “View from the Frontline”).

 

- Trilingual by Six: The Sane way to raise intelligent, talented children by Lennis Dippel MD

Some interesting insights and ideas, especially for trilingual families.

 

- The Bilingual Edge, the: Why, When and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language by Kendall King and Alison Mackey

 

- 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner

 

Online language-learning programmes

 

- Duolingo (duolingo.com)

Duolingo is one of the most popular and well-known online language-learning programmes and it’s 100% free! At the time of writing it offers courses in 37 languages including all the major modern languages, plus some pretty niche ones like Esperanto and Scottish Gaelic. It’s mostly targeted at adult learners but the attractive interface and extensive use of cartoon characters will appeal to children too. Just a small caveat – it is primarily a text-based programme, which means your child would have to be able to at least read some basic words in the target language to benefit from Duolingo. The unique selling point of this programme is that each course is divided into manageable chunks and is designed based on the principle of spaced repetition. Just 10 minutes a day can really help you build your vocabulary.

 

- Dinolingo (dinolingo.com)

Dinolingo (not to be confused with Duolingo!) is one of the largest online language-learning programmes for children, and is available in 50 languages. I subscribed to the Chinese programme for six months when they were running a special promotion (I think I paid the equivalent of £10 a month) and found it to be one of the better programmes of its kind. The content is pretty good overall and most importantly, my kids enjoyed the videos and the games in particular. Personally I found the graphics very dated but it didn’t seem to bother my kids! It has a very good Smartphone app too which you don’t have to pay extra for. The monthly subscription price is currently $19.99 a month but make sure you try the free trial first. 

 

- Muzzy BBC  (muzzybbc.com)

Available in 7 languages. It’s similar to Dinolingo although, in my personal opinion, not quite as good. During my one-week free trial, again I found the graphics and interface very dated. The games also felt somewhat repetitive. The good thing is that it’s slightly cheaper than Dinolingo – a one-year subscription works out to be US$8.25 a month. Definitely sign up for a free trial before subscribing though.

 

- Little Pim (littlepim.com)

Available in 12 languages. I haven’t tried this programme myself but according to their website, it is specifically aimed at younger children, ages 1—5. The programme is said to teach children 360 basic words in the target language, which should be an excellent starting point. Subscription starts from $9.99 a month.

 

- FluentU (fluentu.com)

I’ve been using FluentU to help improve my Russian and it’s really exceeded my expectations. I was slightly put off by the high subscription cost (which starts from $20/ month) but after a two-week free trial, I can really attest to how much effort the FluentU team have put into creating a truly user-friendly product, which combines authentic real-life materials (clips from real movies and music videos, for example) and language-learning functionalities (interactive subtitles with option to add new words to flashcards). This programme is geared towards adults but can also be useful for slightly older children – a lot of the videos are clips are from popular cartoons. I would highly recommend signing up for a free trial.

 

- PetraLingua (petralingua.com)

This learning programme is aimed at children aged 3—10, with a focus on vocabulary building. It offers courses in English, Spanish, Chinese, German and Russian. Each course includes around 500 basic words, 80 language-learning videos, 11 language-learning songs, 140 interactive online games and a talking picture dictionary. I haven’t tried this programme myself but the relatively low subscription cost (from $3.99 a month) makes it an attractive option.

 

- Languagenut (languagenut.com)

Languagenut mostly offers digital language resources for primary and secondary schools, but a subscription option for individual users is also available. At primary-school level (both for schools and individual users) it gives subscribers access to 22 modern foreign languages including French, German, Spanish and Mandarin. Each course comprises 1,440 words and phrases, verb conjugation activities, interactive games and others features, all packaged in an attractive, modern user interface, complete with a mobile App. I haven’t tried Languagenut myself but must admit that it looks like one of the better programmes of its kind. At the time of writing, a primary/elementary school subscription for individual users costs £19.95 per year, which is very competitive. No free trial is available though unfortunately.

Websites for multilingual families

-College Cliffs - Resources for Learning a Foreign Language

Thanks to a reader who got in touch with me via email and alerted me to this wonderful resource! This page contains a comprehensive list of useful links and resources for multilingual families/ individuals who want to learn a foreign language. Definitely worth checking out!

 

- Chalkacademy.com

Best for parents who are not native speakers of the target language(s)

The CHALK Academy website (“CHALK” stands for Child-Led, Hands-on, Active Learning for Kids) offers a wealth of resources for multilingual families, from practical tips to motivational articles. The actual learning materials are specific to the Chinese and Korean languages but she shares lots of useful tips on raising bilingual/ multilingual children based on her own experience as a third-generation Chinese American who’s not fluent in the language herself.

 

- Bilingualfamily.eu

Tons of free resources for EU languages

his website is the online platform for the PEaCH project, which stands for “Preserving and promoting Europe’s cultural and linguistic heritage though empowerment of bilingual children and families” (Yes, an acronym is much needed here). In essence, the EU-sponsored project supports European families raising bilingual and multilingual children with ample resources, including a free downloadable handbook for parents, informative videos and an online collection of ready-to-use materials in all 24 EU languages. Definitely worth checking out.

 

- Bilingualmonkeys.com

Lots of useful tips and a forum for bilingual families

blog created by Adam Beck, the author of Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability, with lots of interesting articles and useful tips for bilingual families. Also features a forum called “The Bilingual Zoo” for families to connect and share their experiences and tips.

 

- Multilingualparenting.com

Useful information for multilingual families

ere you’ll find a substantial collection of articles covering a wide range of topic related to multilingual parenting, from family life to raising bilingual teenagers, all sorted by categories for easy navigation.

 

- Incultureparent.com

Strong focus on the cultural aspect of multilingualism

As a website dedicated to “parents raising little global citizens”, InCultureParent has a strong focus on the cultural aspect of mixed-heritage parenting but if you’re specifically looking for advice on the bilingualism, the “Language” section of the website offers lots of useful information and interesting articles.

 

Other online resources

 

- International Children’s Digital Library (en.childrenslibrary.org)

Throughout this book I’ve stressed the importance of reading for your child’s linguistic development. If you struggle to source books in the target language, then this website could really come in handy! It’s an online library of thousands of children’s books, available in 18 languages including all the major European languages plus Chinese, Farsi, Mongolian and others. Although not all books are available in all the languages (in fact, there are only a measly eight books in Chinese!), it’s still a fantastic resource for parents, especially considering it’s free! You can filter books by language, age and theme (and even, quite randomly, the colour of the book cover), which makes it super easy to find a suitable book for your child. I highly recommend this website to all parents.

 

- Epic (getepic.com)

I discovered this website during the first lockdown in the UK last year. And honestly, I can say with absolute confidence that this is one of the best subscription services for families out there, and is worth every penny in my opinion. It’s basically an online library of over 40,000 books and learning videos, all presented in a highly visually attractive interface. Kids can earn points and badges with every book they read, which is a great motivational feature. The best thing for multilingual families is that the website also offers a large number of books in languages including Spanish, Chinese and French! As I can sometimes be a bit too lazy to source Chinese books for the kids, Epic has really been a godsend. Subscription costs $7.99 a month after a one-month free trial. I have no plan to cancel our subscription any time soon!

 

- iTalki (italki.com)

This is a fantastic platform for language learners to find the perfect teacher. I discovered this website five years ago and found a wonderful Russian tutor from Azerbaijan with whom I had Skype lessons twice a week during my first pregnancy. As the teachers on this website come from all around the globe, you can often find teachers based in less expensive countries who charge very low rates by western standards. The booking system makes it all very simple and straightforward. If you’d like your child to have some extra one-on-one interaction in the target language, this could be a great option. If you’re looking to improve your own proficiency in the target language, you’ll definitely benefit from some low-cost, one-on-one lessons!

 

- The Mixxer (language-exchanges.org)

This free virtual language exchange site is designed to connect language learners around the world so that, as stated by the website, “everyone is both student and teacher”. This is great for older children, or for parents who want to brush up their own language skills!   

 

- My Language Exchange (mylanguageexchange.com)

This website prides itself on being “the only website with a proven language exchange method and lesson plans”, which have been created by a qualified language teacher specialising in language-exchange learning. This should be perfect for those who want to benefit from language exchange in a more structured way.

 

- Global Pen Friends (globalpenfriends.com)

What better way to improve your language skills than by writing to a pen pal, either by email or – even better – by actual snail-mail? It’s worth giving it a go just for the sake of reviving the lost art of letter-writing! Again, this is one for older children and possibly parents who want to improve their own language skills. You or your child may even meet some interesting people along the way. 

 

- Free English Books for Children Aged 4 to 8 (https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/learn-english-free-books/)

One of my readers emailed me to point me to this particular resource - thank you! This page offers dozens of free books in English aimed at children aged 4 to 8, including story books, printouts and phonics worksheets.  

- Beyond Books: Libraries as Language Learning Centers

(https://librarysciencedegreesonline.org/libraries-as-language-learning-centers/

A reader reached out to me about this particular resource - it's all about utilising libraries as a hub for language learning, an ethos that deeply resonates with me. I encourage readers to seek out their local library and also check out this link for tips on how to make the most of their library to level-up their language learning.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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