Published by under categories Bilingual Baby, From Lina | comments Comments (2)

Now and then, I like to steal some time to visit Sarah’s blog brining up baby bilingual. Sarah, a former French teacher, now a mom and part-time public library reading program coordinator, writes down her exploration of raising children with more than one language and her efforts to teach French as a non-native speaker to her son Griffin, her nephew Carl, and assorted kid and adult tutees.

On her blog, Sarah also puts on profiles of bilingual and multilingual families, resource recommendations, book reviews, discussion prompts, descriptions of games and language learning activities, and—of course—stories about Griffin and Carl!

I always get useful information from Sarah’s blog, even for learning Chinese!

This time, I run into a post that really caught my attention. It is about a profile of Susan Herrick Siu and her multilingual family.

Susan H. Siu?! Is she the Susan H. Siu whom I work with for the bilingual book I drink mommy’s milk?

The answer is yes.

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I have been amazed at Susan since the first day I met her via my blog (more details will be unfold later). I know she has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa and five years of experience teaching French, rhetoric, communications, nonfiction writing, and business communication at the college level and about ten years of freelance academic editing experience.

She has lived in four different countries and six states. She can speak fluent (but somewhat rusty) French; intermediate-level Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, and German; and bits and pieces of other languages. Currently, she is a writer, chief-editor and publisher of her own publishing company, World’s Edge Books & Publishing (quite impressive, isn’t she?).

Therefore, with little doubt, Chinese is one of the languages Susan wants her children to master. And it looks like her children are doing quite well in acquiring three languages at the same time.

In the profile, Susan advises us not to be shy, and take every opportunity that comes your way to give your children practice in the language(s) that they are learning.

What touched my heart deeply was Susan’s suggestion to getting other parents, schools, communities, and the nation at large involved. I cannot agree more with her opinions. Yes, we need to work with local community to get our voices heard, use and create more resources for kids for learn foreign languages. We parents have to take the first step.

With Sarah’s permission, I quoted Susan’s advice here, hoping to spread her words so that more and more bilingual family or parents who want to raise children bilingual can work together to get support.  You can read Susan’s complete profile at  profile: Susan’s multilingual family.

“Parents can teach languages to their children at home, with help from tutors, books, videos, and so on, but another important part of the parents’ job as second-, third-, and fourth-language educators is activism—getting other parents, schools, communities, and the nation at large involved. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• Contact your local and state legislators to tell them that you want more extensive second-language offerings in your local public schools. I was recently talking to one of my state senators, and she claimed that she really does listen when she receives a letter or a phone call from a constituent. If two or three people call her to make the same point or request, she’ll tell her colleagues that the phones are ringing off the hook. So one voice really can make a difference!

• Talk to librarians at your local public library to suggest that they expand their foreign-language collections or purchase specific items that would be helpful to you and other parents in your community.

• Get involved with and support existing language-heritage organizations in your community.

• Build networks of like-minded parents nationally and internationally over the Internet (and through other channels).. If you homeschool your children, you may be able to form a cooperative lesson-exchange group.

• Start a club or language-tutoring exchange or find a teacher to offer lessons or conversation practice to a small group of children.

• Even better: start an immersion charter school, private school, or cooperative preschool in your town and then teach others how to do the same. The school doesn’t have to be big or impressive—especially not at the beginning. You could start with one teacher teaching four or five children three days a week (perhaps in someone’s house) at the preschool level, for example.”

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Related posts:
Bilingualism and cognitive development
More resources on bilingualism and its effects
Why my baby isn’t talking yet?
An excellent resource for Chinese learning


  1. 1
    Angelika At WorldSpeak // April 2nd, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Hi, Lima,
    Thank you for your blog. I Love it! This post is great cause it gave me more ideas of what to do in the community. I already started a multilingual preschool (4 languages) 10 years ago in LA and taught few other teachers to start there owns; and I have my own son I am bringing up in 4 languages. I loved the idea of bringing the work up even further – on community and city level. Great post. I would like to create a link to your books from my new blog “Multilingual Parent R Us” (http://AngelikaAt WorldSpeak/ Thank you for great encouragement. There is so much to be done here in this country! But things started moving more lately. More schools opens up, etc 🙂

    Here is my question.
    You said, “start an immersion charter school”. Does anyone here have any experience with that? Any advises? Seems like a huge project to me. Is it very hard? Thank you. 🙂

  2. 2
    Lina // April 2nd, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    @Angelika At WorldSpeak: Thank you for the warm encouragement! I am so impressed that you brought your son up in four languages. It is harder to do than to say. How did you achieve that?

    Also, how do you run the multilingual preschool? Did you have your own textbooks or you use somebody else? How do you treat the classes for kids of different ages with different language levels? There are so many questions to start a school, even a very small one.

    For your question, I don’t have any experience for immersion charter school. I think I’d better ask Susan, who was brought up in an immersion school and has the ambition to start one. I also hope more parents will join in this topic and throw in more ideas, to help our own kids and help build our community!

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