Raising a Super Hero

a blog by Penyo Pal

Dear Photograph Translation Practice for Language Learners

Dear Photograph 

We use Dear Photograph by choosing 1-2 photos, explaining how we interpret the message, and then attempting to translate the caption into another language (in our case Mandarin) using a trusty dictionary.  Mom, Dad and/or the language teacher can then help provide some edits on the translation.  What makes this activity so meaningful for children is that they are learning about real stories from real people, not just an irrelevant textbook.  It also transforms them from just passively consuming language instruction to actively trying to apply it.  Once they’ve got a great passage, encourage them to post it in the comments beginning with: “I loved this photograph so much I wanted to translate it so others can hear the message.  Here is the translation in XYZ: “.

The internet is a pretty powerful connector, put it to use as a facilitator and motivator for language learning.  Good luck and have fun!

What you and Madonna have in common - Famous bilingual families

Okay, okay, we confess.  Sometimes we spend a few extra dollars at the checkout to buy a sleazy celebrity magazine or we secretly skim the “Entertainment” section of the newspaper.  Celebrity gossip can be kind of fun so here’s our fun break for today.  Here are some celebrity parents who are giving their children the same gift you are: a chance to learn another language and discover another culture.

Gwyneth Paltrow has her little ones learning their way to trilingualism.  Her tactic is only letting her kids watch TV when it’s in French or Spanish.

The Victoria Secret model, Heidi Klum, speaks mostly German to her children. “You owe that to your children if you have the ability to speak another language” she explained to US Weekly.

Jessica Alba hired a Hispanic studies professor to teach her daughters Spanish.  It’s something Alba felt was missing from her own life, saying ”God knows that I wish I was raised bilingual” to People Magazine.

Madonna enrolled her daughter in French immersion in both New York and London and took her on regular trips to France to ensure her daughter was bilingual.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have their brood learning French enrolling them in French immersion classes in New Orleans and of course, purchasing an estate in France.  Brad Pitt told People “even the twins as babies would say certain things to each other in French.”

So while not everyone can afford private language-focused schools, doctoral level private tutors or weekend jaunts to Paris, it is reassuring to know that the world’s wealthiest are also trying to give their children the gift of language and bilingualism. So next time you see Madonna or Jessica Alba on the covers of those magazines, know you have an ally in them.



Psst .....How to use PostSecret to teach your kids about language & life

Each week 1,000 people from around the world open up and share a piece of themselveto find closure, peace and potentially share it with 100,000 strangers from around the world.  This social experiment turned blogosphere fixture is PostSecret and it can be a phenomenal tool to start the conversation with your children about sharing secrets and how everyone has their own insecurities or mistakes they would rather forget. I love sharing a few of the family-friendly ones with the little ones in my life because we each guess where the postcard was sent from and then confess a secret to one another ("I eat too much peanut butter" or "I used to feel like the odd girl out in elementary. It's okay but it hurt sometimes").

One fun way to get the little ones (and myself) to brush up on our Mandarin was inspired by this PostSecret of leaving random gifts of happiness around town.  We purchased a few $2 coffee gift cards and wrote an inspirational Chinese quote (笑一笑,十年少, just one smile can gain you 10 more years of life) in them and left them in bus shelters.

Using PostSecret can be a great conversation starter, and since the messages are often bite-sized, they are great translation practice for your children if they are learning a second language.  Here are a few of the best kid-friendly ones we’ve curated to get you started.  One word of caution, there are usually a few postcards posted each week that are for adult-eyes only so I would just carefully skim them before going through them together, unless of course, you are prepared to chat about some birds and bees.