7 GIFs For Raising Bilingual Kids

Raising bilingual kids is fun, and it's a lot of work. And sometimes it feels like it falls by the wayside amidst all the other things we're hoping to teach our children. (Like "don't put toothpaste in your hair" and "sometimes when we wear a sequined top it's okay to wear shorts that aren't so loud.")

But if there's one thing I've learned in our 5 years and counting experiment of language learning, it's that consistency is key. And we are consistently recommitting and restarting our efforts to raise bilingual kids. Here's some GIF fun for all those parents hoping to do the same!

#1. When they refuse to speak in the second language.

#2. When they totally mess up, but you know you shouldn't laugh because at least they're trying.

#3. And when you just can't help it.

#4. When someone speaks to your kids in their second language, and they be looking like: 

#5. When they unexpectedly start speaking in the second language without prompting. 

#6. When you realize your kid might be more bilingual than you.

#7. When you stand in awe of their little brains. 

Which one is most familiar to you? What did I miss?

Thanks to Giphy for making all my gif dreams come true!

The All-American School Experience

This week we visited Gabriella's soon-to-be school. She sat dutifully through the parents' meeting, only talking above a whisper 75% of the time. Then she packed up her books and excitedly hopped up for the school tour.

She was so thrilled, in fact, she seemed to have misunderstood and thought they asked her to lead the school tour. I spent most of the time saying, "Gabriella, please come back here. Stand near me." The rest of the time, I tried to pretend I hadn't brought my kid with me and who was that crazy child announcing misinformation about what we were seeing?

My favorite was when we walked through the middle school hallway, which was lined with grey lockers. "This is the where the high schoolers are," Gabriella bellowed for all to hear. "And I know that because of these." [Insert grand, sweeping gesture to the lockers.] "High schoolers use these."

Well, I can only assume that knowledge came from a "movie night" phase we went through with High School Musical. Apparently, it made a huge impression on Gabriella. (Not only does she know all when it comes to lockers, but it really bothers her when I wear red tennies because those are "boy shoes." It seems Zac Efron wears some bright Converse, and he and I are basically one in the same.)

That movie also made an impression on Billy. At one point, he asked me, "Was this what your high school was like?" Oh, how I wish. Choreographed dance numbers? Sign. Me. Up. But alas, it wasn't to be.

It's interesting sometimes to realize how much Hollywood speaks for Americans to the rest of the world. Gossip Girl. One Tree Hill. Clueless. And whatever-is-popular-now. These teenagers and their schools are held up as the quintessential American experience. But how true is that?

Movies and TV hardly replicate my own memories of high school. The closest representation for me would probably be Friday Night Lights. You? I have a feeling the majority of what's out there is not a true picture of the average American experience.

Much of Hollywood's school culture certainly won't represent my daughter's experience. She is a Guatemalan-American girl attending a predominately black school where everyone - Kindergarten through 8th grade - spends an hour a day studying Mandarin.

And in some ways, her diverse, mashup classroom may actually be the new all-American school experience. The curriculum highlights our global world and encourages students to be internationally minded. Perhaps, in our globalizing world, Hollywood's picture is a little outdated. And personally, I think it would be fun to see a class like my daughter's featured on the big screen. If anyone has any Hollywood connections, feel free to connect me to pitch this idea!

What TV or movie best represents your high school experience? How is it different (or the same) from your kids'?

P.S. This post was partially inspired from an episode of The Popcast about Hollywood high schools. You can find it here.

Photo credit: Gordon Lew

My FFW Inspired Reading List

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I attended the Festival of Faith & Writing last week. It was my first ever writer-y conference, and it was truly a gift.

I met several online friends in person, including Cara, Jody, Heather, Cindy, and more. So wild and wonderful this Internet of ours. And a crazy treat to meet many of these online friends IRL. (I know... that means "in real life." I'm basically a tween.)

While I had a lot of conference takeaways about writing, I also got some fantastic reading inspiration that I wanted to share with you. All the books!

Wanted: A Spiritual Pursuit Through Jail, Among Outlaws, and Across Borders by Chris Hoke 

This book was listed on the pre-festival reading list as author Chris Hoke led several sessions. I recognized his name as a fellow Mission Year alum, and I was very interested in this memoir about his work primarily with Latino gang members in Washington State.

Wanted is thought-provoking and insightful and haunting. Fair warning: it includes language and violence. But it paints a portrait of inmates that is nuanced and complex and a welcome narrative when so many people are reduced to their rap sheet.

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber is funny and honest, two of my favorite characteristics in a writer. (In fact, she used to be a stand-up comedian.) I never read her memoir Pastrix, so this book was my first exposure to her. She was also a speaker at the conference.

I am drawn to stories of everyday encounters with flawed people that point to our God. And I appreciate Nadia's openness about how people in our lives can drive us nuts. Again, I should probably add a disclaimer here as it's got language.

Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin

Shannan and I ended up staying in the same house, thanks to our mutual friend Becca. She is a gem. Her book releases this September (you can preorder, which is my plan). I'm excited to read it. Here's what Amazon says:

Falling Free chronicles the Martin family’s pilgrimage from the faulty, me-centric wisdom of this world to the topsy-turvy life of God’s more being found in the less, challenging readers to rethink their own assumptions about faith and the good life. Anyone who yearns for something beyond status quo, middle-class Christianity but hesitates out of insecurity or safety concerns will find encouragement, food for thought, and practical guidance in this sweetly subversive book.

Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith by D.L. Mayfield

Another goodie that's available for preorder is this upcoming book from D.L. Mayfield. I have read her writing on immigrants and living cross-culturally for a while, and I've always appreciated her insight and thoughtfulness. (This piece stuck with me long after I read it.)

In this book, she unpacks the ways she's been impacted living among the poor. She writes, "And the more my world started to expand at the edges of my periphery, the more it became clear that life was more beautiful and more terrible than I had been told."

So these are a couple books I've been reading lately and a couple I'm looking forward to this year. What's on your reading list?

P.S. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Any books you buy through the links support A Life with Subtitles. Thanks!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.