Raising Multilingual Kids Blogging Carnival: Hidden Opportunities

freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

Welcome to the July edition of The Raising Multilingual Children’s Blogging Carnival.  This month’s theme was Hidden Opportunities where I asked people to submit blogs based on the unexpected occurrences of bringing up multilingual children.

Opportunities for the Kids

Spanish Playground opens up this month’s carnival with some encouraging news for anyone still struggling to teach two or more languages: she has been there and done that and now has three grown kids.  In her post Teaching my Children Spanish – A Few Observations Now that they Are Older she identifies the advantages they now have, some of which she never ever dreamed of when she started out on the road to bilingual education.

Came to Find – Vim Encontrar is nowadays a grown up bilingual English and Portuguese speaker.  She writes about the day that changed her life and all of the opportunities she has now that she is bilingual.  And just to prove the point, you can read Perks of Being Bilingual in English or Benefícios do Ser Bilíngue in Portuguese.

Over at Kids Yoga Stories we hear how Integrating Spanish and Yoga made for remarkably effective learning opportunities.  Like all the best ideas, it seem that this was devastatingly simple once the connection had been made.

And if you aren’t quite ready to do the downward-facing dog then maybe you can exploit a different strategy to keep your child interested in another language just as Open Hearts Open Minds describes in Hidden Opportunities in Bilingual Parenting.

Mmmmmm europeanmama.eu

Mmmmmm europeanmama.eu

What Do Multilingualism, Video Games and Sweets Have in Common?  If you want to know the answer you’ll have to read  The European Mama. As you do so you’ll also find that she had to break some rules to find a much more sensible way of eating, playing and using languages.

Expat Since Birth had a family dilemma; how to find the time to fit 5 languages into their busy schedule.  She ignored all professional advice, and her own professional training, to find a new path to being truly multilingual in When you End up Talking Another Language with your Kids.  It seems that breaking the rules is a common experience among many multilingual families

Despite serious health problems, Adventure Bee decided to experiment with realising some of her life’s dreams in her Hidden Opportunities post.  In doing so, she discovered unexplored depths in her daughter’s ability to understand American history and an awareness of what they both need in order to grow and be challenged.

Look what I got! Spanglishbaby.com

In The Day my Daughter Learned it Pays to be Bilingual  a very proud mum from SpanglishBaby tells a great story about the day it dawned on her daughter that there are distinct upsides to being bilingual.  Parents know that being having more than one language increases your worth in the job market, but not all kids know that.

When you are your partner are monolingual you have to actively hunt down as many opportunities as possible in order to give your child the best possible chance of growing up multilingual.  That is exactly what SoulTravelers3 had to do and in this post, Bilingual Baby – Learning Spanish as a Second Language, she gives the benefit of her experience and shows just how possible it is.  If you are short for time, you could just check out her video for how it is done: Teach Your Child Spanish – Multilingual Kid.

Choosing a name for your new child is always an important decision, especially so if you are trying to reflect more than one culture.  The name All Done Monkey chose for her son has turned out to have more importance than most as you can read in The Boy who Couldn’t Say his Own Name.

Opportunities for the Parents

Of course, it isn’t just the children who can make the most of those hidden opportunities.  MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures explains how she has benefitted from having a multilingual daughter in her article called Learning Another Language After Turning 40.  She might be a bit slower than her daughter, but she’ll get there eventually.

It can sometimes be hard to tell if all the effort we are putting in to include other languages in our families is actually working or not.  In Culture Parent describes an experience when she could answer the question Is all the Hard Work of Bilingualism Paying off? in the affirmative.

The Art of Home Education reports on a lesson that she has learnt through home schooling.  It seems from Learning to Let Go of my Learned Beliefs and Trust on his Curiosity that, just like many of us, it seems to be a lesson she has to learn over and over again.

Bilingual Monkeys

At the zoo with the Bilingual Monkeys

From Bilingual Monkeys we hear a wonderful story of creativity and how all bilingual parents need to be able to ‘think outside the swan planter’ in order to find as many opportunities for language development as possible.  Bilingual Monkeys was one of the first sites I came across when I first started to read about multilingual families and I have learned so much from it that it is now an honour to be able to host Outside the Box: Creative Solutions to Challenges Raising Bilingual Children.

LadydeeLG has got a tremendous amount out of raising her son to be speak Spanish and English.  As well as a bilingual child she has set herself ambitious goals and been successful in meeting them.  You can find out how she accomplished this in You Never Know Where a Blog Will Take you.

A Blogger and a Father looks at the bigger picture for some of the reasons he would like his kids to speak his native language in Why Raise Bilingual Kids.  While he starts off thinking about the advantages for his children, we also get to see potential global improvements and eventually how it connects the father to his younger self.

It1s never too early to start volunteering. babylingual.blogspot.com

It’s never too early to start volunteering. babylingual.blogspot.com

When Babylingual started volunteering at her local library she had no idea where it would lead her to.  Nowadays she has at least four jobs (two of which are paid), discovered new passions and provides invaluable support to the community.  In her words, her only regret is that I Just Wish I Had Started Volunteering Sooner!

We started off this carnival with a report on what it is like when you have raised your multilingual kids.  We (almost) finish with Dads The Way I Like It who is at the other end of the journey: right at the beginning.  I’d like to wish him good luck as he and his wife find out that having a bilingual child can help them integrate even more into the local community in Being a Bilingual Parent.

And last, and probably least, is my own effort.  Our son was introduced to cars by his vovo (granddad) and this quickly turned into an obsession.  Take me Riding in the Car Car describes how what  could have easily become very tiresome has actually turned out to be a wonderful learning opportunity.

And thanks to…

I would just like to thank everyone who took the time to submit posts to this carnival.  I have had a great time reading through all of them and I strongly recommend you all have a go and hosting one in the future.  Big thanks go to Piri-Piri Lexicon for organising the whole carnival and for giving me a the politest possible kick in the pants to get myself sorted out.

blogcarnival2This is the latest installment of the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival, re-created by Piri-Piri Lexicon.  For more information on the carnival, including  how to get involved, visit the carnival’s main page. You can find past editions of the carnival here:

All Done Monkey – Travel and Multilingualism

The Piri-Piri Lexicon – General Theme

Multilingual Mama – Looking Back  

Take me Riding in the Car, Car

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Not a Chrysler PT Cruiser, but a vovo car (Wikipedia)

When Mr. T was still quite small his vovo took him out to sit in the front seat of his car and pretend to drive it.  We didn’t think anything of it at the time, and to be honest we were glad of a bit of peace and quiet as we had been at a family get-together at a restaurant and Mr. T was beginning to get a bit cranky.  Little did we know the consequences that this small act would have.

An Obsession Grows

The immediate result was for Mr. T to develop an obsession with cars.  At first he wanted to be able to sit in the driver’s seat in our car, his vovó’s car, vovo’s car and just about any car that he ver saw.  This meant that friends and relatives bought him toy cars and clothes with cars on them, which in turn fuelled his obsession.

When we went to the UK for the first time my brother put Mr. T on his lap and sat in the driver’s seat of his white van, and so started a new path: naming cars.  A van of any description is a ‘Noel car’, a 4×4 is a vovó car, a silver Sandero is usually a ‘mamãe car’, but sometimes a ‘daddy car’.  When he sees a bus on the street he shouts ‘tchau tchau Mimi car’, or he enthusiastically waves at every ‘tru’ or truck.

Learning Opportunities

Lightning McQueen

Cars 1 & 2 recorded and ready to go (Wikipedia)

We thought that was going to be about it.  The next couple of years would be filled with playing with cars and watching Lightning McQueen over and over again.  But then we realised that this obsession was actually leading to him learning all manner of other things.

As soon as he learned the word ‘bee’ for ‘big’ he used it to describe trucks.  Whenever he sees a blue tractor he shouts out ‘blue tractor’ and if a car is anything but spotlessly clean he will tell anyone who can hear that it is ‘dirty’ with such a disappointed voice that I almost want to go and clean it myself.

He has developed a fine motor skills by trying to ‘park’ his cars in just the right place.  He has developed metaphors by saying that the car is ‘doi‘ (hurt) when he has crashed it into a toy bus.

The truck is too big for the car wash.  Or is the car wash too small for the truck?

The truck is too big for the car wash. Or is the car wash too small for the truck?

He has developed concepts such as ‘on’, ‘in’, ‘under’, ‘too big’ and ‘too small’ by playing with his cars and experimenting with different positions.

His obsession has also fuelled his imagination.  For a long time he has asked us to draw cars or planes or the odd bus.  One day I drew a driver and asked him who was driving and then I said it was Mr. T.  Ever since that day if we don’t draw a driver he attempts to draw one and then he tells us who is driving.  If the windows are empty on the bus he will get a crayon and make a mark to represent passengers and then tell us who each of the passengers is; mamãe, vovó, daddy…

One of the first ways I got him to say ‘please‘ was when he wanted me to make a model of a car from play dough.  Now, whenever he wants anything, he is sure to say please.

A Lesson Learned

What started out as a simple way to get a few minutes to chat with friends without a moody baby first turned into a tiresome obsession but has since become a gateway to learning so much about the world.  Not only has our son learned a lot, but I also learned to encourage his interests, no matter what they might be, because there is always something that can be learned from and through them.

Car Song by Woodie Guthrie


This post was written for the July edition of the Raising Multilingual Kids Blog Carnival, which I was privileged to host and will be published on July 29th.  The theme for July was ‘Hidden Opportunities.’

For more information about this carnival, including how to become a part of the next one, please go to The Piri-Piri Lexicon .  You can find past editions of the carnival here:

All Done Monkey – Travel and Multilingualism

The Piri-Piri Lexicon – General Theme

Multilingual Mama – Looking Back

Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Clue

Multicultural Kid Blogs

Week Two of the Pinterest Scavenger Hunt starts here.  If you missed any of the clues from the first week you can find them all here along with a list of the fabulous prizes available.

There are two clues today, so make sure you head over to Marocmama for the other one.

Head of the Heard’s Pinterest Scavenger Hunt Clue:

A round of applause after two years

 Here’s how it works:

Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board “Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt.”

Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed. Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue. (Any image from the post is fine).

In the Rafflecopter below, enter the link to the Pinterest board you created for this contest. The Rafflecopter will also have lots of other ways to earn extra entries. The only required entry is the link to your Pinterest board.

Please note: You can enter the Rafflecopter at any point during the contest. Obviously your board won’t be complete until the end of the contest, but you can enter the link in the Rafflecopter before then. If your name is drawn at the end of the contest, we will check your board at that time.

The final clue will be given July 28. Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards. The drawing will take place on August 1.

Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn.

This is the link to the Rafflecopter page.  You will need to register your Pinterest board here.

For the full prize details, schedule of all the participating blogs to find daily clues and the rafflecopter to enter your Pinterest board, click here.

A Big Hand to the Birthday Boy

white dog sleeping on pavement

I know exactly how he feels (epSos.de)

Some people say that the time flies by when you have kids, but I have to disagree.  It is two years today since Mr. T was born but sometimes it feels more like 5 than just the two.  A lack of sleep, me time and beer will do that to anyone, I reckon.

During the last few days I have been reminiscing about the last couple of years, about the things we have all learned, the good times and the bad times (there have been plenty of both) and how much things have changed.  Sometimes these memories have been set off by looking at pictures, or talking about the changes.  Occasionally they happen completely out of the blue because of something Mr.T has done.

Yesterday morning he was busy moving two small identical chairs around.  His objective was to move them so that Chair A would be in the place that Chair B was in, and Chair B would then be in the place that Chair A originally occupied.  I have absolutely no idea why he wanted to so this, but he set about the task with quite some gusto.  I had never quite considered the immense logistics involved in such an operation to a two-year old; he had to deal with an uneven floor surface, intermediate positions for both chairs, weight and balance issues when holding the chairs, getting his feet out of the way of the chairs…

Much better this way around

Much better this way around

Eventually he managed to get the chairs where he wanted them and he stood back, gave them another look just to check everything was satisfactory and then give himself, or the chairs, a quick round of applause.  That was when the memory came bursting in.

He can’t have been much older than 5 or 6 months and we were in our flat changing his nappy.  My wife had designed a cool little changing table in the wardrobe that could be hidden with the door when we weren’t using it.  it was safe because there was next to no chance of him rolling off, organised (as only my wife can be) with everything near to hand and also had funky little pictures around to keep our bundle of joy occupied.

The pictures didn’t always work, so if I was around I would also try to distract from the job at hand.  On this particular occasion I was clapping my hands and saying ‘clap, clap, clap’ to get his attention.  He started trying to copy me and then I just stopped clapping but continued to say ‘clap, clap, clap’.  He looked at me strangely for a second and then clapped.  I loved it, but wasn’t convinced he was reacting to my words so I said ‘clap, clap, clap’ again and he immediately clapped his hands.

I think it was seeing me do the action while saying the words, plus my response to his claps that motivated him to do it again.  After that he often clapped when I asked him to, and then that evolved into clapping things he liked until today when he claps himself for a job well done.

So I hope you will join me in giving a big hand to Mr. T on reaching the very so important milestone of 2 years of age.


Playing With Language


Everyday now, Mr. T is gaining in confidence with his language skills.  I still don’t think he has realised that he is learning two different languages, but he is picking up more words and experimenting with more sounds all the time.  One of the joys of this has been to see he creativity with language and his ability to play with it.

On The Bus

One game that we developed totally by accident is a sort of ‘follow-the-leader’ or listen and repeat game.  One of his favourite toys is a London tour bus he got a few months ago.  Of course, his word for bus is ‘Mimi car’, which has no relation to the English word or the Portuguese ‘omnibus‘.  One day he was messing around with one of his toys and putting it on the bus and saying ‘Mimi car,’ so to annoy him I said ‘on the bus.’  He repeated ‘Mimi car’ and I insisted it was ‘on the bus.’

He quickly realised that whatever way he said ‘Mimi car’ I would copy him.  If he shouted it, I shouted back.  If he whispered, so would I.  If he said it very very slowly I tried to mimic him.  He thought this was the greatest trick ever.  The next stage was to get him to copy me, which didn’t take too long at all.

I didn’t do this in order to correct him.  I reckon he’ll figure out in his own sweet time what the ‘real’ words for a bus are.  It was just something to pass a few minutes and interact with him.  We end up doing it now at least once a day.  I was doubly fortunate because the English sentence ‘on the bus’ sounds suspiciously like the Portuguese word ‘omnibus’ so even my wife can join in this game without Mr. T. realising it is slightly different.


Every kid learns to say ‘No’ pretty early on, possibly because, at least in Mr. T’s case because that is probably the word he hears the most.  One of his favourite games has always been to play with his cars on the coffee table and to roll them across and let them fall on the floor.  As they were rolling I used to shout ‘No!’ in an overly dramatic way before they hit the floor.  Mr. T has now taken to holding a car on the table and imitating my plaintive cry of ‘No!’ and then  squealing with delight as it crashes into the ground.  He has even started to build the tension by saying ‘no’ a number of times, each time building up the volume and pitch until the car eventually rolls over the side.

It’s a bit like watching this:


Abou is Mr. T’s word for acabou, which is Portuguese for ‘finished’.  His favourite practical joke is to have a cup of water or juice which is obviously half full and then shout ‘Daddy, abou’.  I look at him and ask him ‘Is it finished?’ at which point he looks at the cup, looks at me and says ‘Nooooo!’  Once he has finished giggling to himself he then puts the drink back in his mouth.  If he is in the mood this can go on for ages.


A note on the image used above.  I have tried to find who produced the photo but so far I have been unsuccessful  If you created it, please let me know and I will be only too happy to add a credit.

Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival: July Edition

freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles

I am very proud to announce that I will be hosting the July edition of the Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival.  The carnival is an excellent opportunity for anyone associated with bringing up bilingual and multilingual families to share ideas and experiences.  If you would like more information about the carnival in general, including past editions, please go to the Piri-Piri Lexicon.

This month’s theme is ‘Hidden Opportunities’.  Have you set out to teach your kids something, and ended up teaching them a totally different lesson?  Have you accidentally learnt more than you taught?  Did you go on a boring errand but ended up encountering something that more than made up for the drudgery?  I’d like to hear what Hidden Opportunities you have discovered on your path to bringing up bilingual or multilingual kids.  It could be something huge and life-changing, or small and insignificant, it makes no difference.  Any and all tales of the unexpected are welcome.

Please send me your entries by Thursday 25th of July for inclusion.  The carnival will be published on the following Monday, 29th July.

If you have any doubts or queries please leave  a message in the comments section below.  Alternatively, you can email me at stephen@headoftheheard.com

Related Articles

June Edition – All Done Monkey

May Edition – Piri-Piri Lexicon

April Edition – Multilingual Mama

Festa Junina in Curitiba

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

What else are you going to do when it is chucking down?

June is not the most pleasant of months here in Curitiba in the south of Brazil.  It has been very wet and chilly, especially in the last two weeks as it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining for more than 10 minutes.  In Europe they cheer themselves up during the long cold winters with Christmas, New Year and various other holidays.  Here we don’t have such harsh winters, but we do have Festa Junina, or June Party.


All the clothes are based on a caricature of caipira (sort of country bumpkin) costumes.  Lots of checked shirts, red neckerchiefs and patched up jeans for the boys and very colourful patchwork style dresses for the girls.  The parents were encouraged to dress up as well with varying degrees of success.  One couple really went for it and won the prize, but most of the time if anybody made an effort it was the wife.  Most of the men (me included) put on a checked shirt and lots of them had a straw hat as well, but that was about it.

Take your partners by the hand

Take your partners by the hand


Absolutely awful is the only way to describe it.  Think of the very worst country and western music you have ever heard.  Make it worse so that it is suitable for little kids and then have them dance in bad approximations of line dancing and you are only half the way to imagining how bad it can possible be.  I could have just about handled it when my son was dancing, only he decided he hated it more than me and cried his heart out and refused to dance.

A large part of me was very proud of him.

This is an example of some dreadfully bad music that might have been played at the party I went to, but it all sounded the same to me.

Food and Drink

Very sweet cakes.  Hot dogs with everything on them, including sweetcorn.  Sweet rice (a bit like rice pudding, only a lot sweeter).  Pé de moleque (Literally ‘street children’s feet’: made of peanuts and melted sugar).  Popcorn (probably with added sugar, but I must confess I didn’t try it).  Basically, whatever you can find but put a load of sugar in it.

The main drink is quentão, or ‘the big hot one’.  In the rest of Brazil this is made from cachaça, but in the south it is made from red wine.  It has to be served hot with ginger, cloves nutmeg and various other spices that can be found.  If done well, this can be drinkable, but you are pretty much guaranteed a hangover if you drink too much.  I already had a hangover and was the designated driver, so I cut back on the sugar and stuck to Coke.


Bingo!  Lots of bingo.  I lost count of how many games were played.  They had a funny way of playing as well in that, instead of crossing off the numbers they put stones on them instead.  A great idea until a kid bombing from one side of the room to the other bangs into your table.  At least when they were playing bingo, though, it meant they turned the music off.

There were also a couple of games for the kids to play.  They had a fishing game where you had to hook a plastic fish, a chicken game that involved throwing a rubber chicken into a tin and one where you had to knock over tins by throwing balls at them.  There was also a tent with a witch inside it, but our son wasn’t going anywhere near that one.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.

Lots of prizes to be won in the bingo.


I went to my son’s school’s Festa Junina because there was no way of getting out of it.  If you are Brazilian and you grew up with this kind of thing then I suppose it makes sense.  You probably get all nostalgic at the thought of wearing clothes that a country yokel would deem beneath him.  The food is either so sweet it will take the enamel off your teeth or so bland as to taste of cardboard.  The bingo goes on forever, and just when you thought it was all over, along comes another game.

I have to say, though, that all the kids seemed to have a great time and I suppose that is what it is all about.  It was also very well organised by the school and it was obvious that a lot of effort went into getting everything to work well.

Unfortunately, there is no pleasing some cynical Englishmen.