Archive for Bilingual babysitter

Introducing a Third Language

Hello Max,

I’m glad to hear the book is helpful – It’s always exciting to make contact with people who are reading it! You can definitely introduce Hebrew to your daughter, with no hesitation. I would recommend it in the evening, for example, to make it a nice bonding time, maybe introduce songs or read her stories. It will not confuse her. The only thing that researchers don’t recommend is to switch languages completely on a child, especially before the age of 6, but adding a language is wonderful! Don’t worry about your fluency just yet. Share as much or as little as you feel, it’s all up to you. If you can complement her exposure to Hebrew by hiring a babysitter, that’s a wonderful way to do it. I would try to find someone who speaks it relatively well, without too much of an accent. If she had lots of exposure to Hebrew, I would not say this because she would learn it well from the majority of the speakers around her and one person with an accent would not be a big deal. But if that’s the only exposure she gets, I would try to find a close-to native speaker.

Can you start a small playgroup with other children from a nearby synagogue? My resources in France are not as thorough, but I have someone looking to see if there is an equivalent to the MLA map – it’s a wonderful tool! I’ll post it when we find it! Are there publications – magazines, newsletters – that are published by someone from the Jewish community? Sometimes the editorial staff can be very helpful in putting you in touch with other families.

There are two organizations that I just joined that you should check out as well. They’re both in France. One is at – The contact is Olivier. They’re also on Facebook. The other one is created by Barbara Abdelilah-Bauer, the author of the French book “Le Defi des Enfants Bilingues” (A great book!) You can meet a lot of parents and exchange ideas on resources in France. I know you’ll find more ideas in the book but I hope this helps!

Au revoir et bonne chance!

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Increasing second language exposure

How can a family build on second language exposure when it’s only provided by a nanny or babysitter? Great question, Yvonne.

First, it’s clear that any amount of language exposure is great for children! It’s good that you’re giving them a chance to hear and speak some Slovak on a regular basis. There are a few things you can do as a family to increase their interest and their exposure to this beautiful language.

First, you and your husband can try to learn it along with your children! It can start with an evening a week learning new vocabulary words together from a great children’s book or listening to a CD of children’s songs. The point is to show your children that you think this language is valuable and worth learning. Don’t ever worry about mispronouncing words in front of them; they’re hearing it correctly from their babysitter and from any CDs you get, which more than compensates.

The other step you can take is to get to know more of your babysitter’s friends and family who also speak Slovak. Have a small group over for coffee to soak up the language! You can even ask for family lessons once or twice a month. You can also celebrate some of their holidays at home as a family, to teach your children more about the culture of the country and its history. You can print cultural info from the Internet, and open their minds to a new perspective.

There are great VHS tapes (we still sometimes use those at our house!) or DVDs available in many libraries that introduce children to different cultures. A great series is “Families of the World”. Also, check out – they have a great catalogue of tapes and books to raise multicultural awareness in children. They have bilingual books in English and Slovak.

And last, I would recommend finding bilingual pen pals (living in Slovakia, and learning English in school for example) for your sons to write letters or emails to and practice some of their vocabulary words, even if the conversations are very basic at the beginning. They’ll get to know how children live in Slovakia and maybe one day they’ll ask you if you can take a family trip together to see their new friends! Hope this helps, have fun!




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