“I’m American and Brazilian too!”

I’m American and Brazilian too!

That’s the answer my 6-year-old daughter gives anyone who questions her nationality. It may sound strange to some, but it is perfectly normal to her and to me.

My husband is American and he doesn’t speak Portuguese. We live in New Jersey, USA, where our daughters were born. Juliana (5) and Marina (2) are bilingual. They speak Portuguese and English perfectly for their age. With their aunts, Brazilian grandparents, the nanny, and myself, they speak only in Portuguese and rarely mix in any English. With their father, his family, and other American children they speak English.

I chose to raise my children bilingual from birth for two reasons:

1. Bilingualism will give them a lifetime advantage.

  • They will be able to (and already can) communicate with more people, including their Brazilian family.
  • They will have greater interest and ability to learn other languages.
  • Being fluent in Portuguese will help them be admitted to good colleges in the United States, Brazil, or other countries.
  • They will have more job opportunities in the United States and abroad.
  • They will adapt more easily if they choose or need to live in Brazil or another Portuguese speaking country.
  • They will be able to see and understand the world with a different perspective: one that is more open and inclusive (this is already true).

2. Portuguese is an inheritance they have a right to call their own.

When I received Juliana’s Brazilian passport at the Brazilian Consulate in New York and read, “Nationality: Brazilian,” my eyes filled with tears. I still get emotional when I remember that moment. Juliana, my first daughter, was only a few months old at the time. I thought to myself:

My daughter was born here in the United States, she is American, but she is Brazilian too! Since I am Brazilian, she was born with the right to be Brazilian. It is my duty as a mother to teach her the Portuguese language, so that she may not only know but also understand Brazilian culture and the social problems of Brazil. As a result, she will be able to exercise her right to Brazilian citizenship in any way she sees fit.

If I fail to teach Portuguese to my daughters, I will be taking away something that is rightfully theirs without asking for permission. I want my daughters to grow up proud to be American and Brazilian too! That is their identity. I want them to know where they come from so that throughout their lives it can be easier to choose where they want to go and which path to follow.

Portuguese as a heritage language and the opportunity to raise bilingual children

Portuguese is my native language and I am proudly fluent in it, as I am fluent in English, my second language. Despite speaking English every day at work, with my husband at home, and with everyone around me, I don’t allow that to influence my communication in Portuguese with my daughters.

I have spoken only Portuguese with my daughters since they were born, and that’s why they have learned their heritage language. It is a cultural and linguistic inheritance. It is a legacy that will always be part of their nationality and identity.

Many times, parents miss out on the opportunity to teach our children our native language while they are still young and able to easily learn the language.

Babies and children learn two or more languages at the same time naturally. They intuitively learn to switch from one language to another depending on the situation or the person with whom they are speaking. When it comes to learning a second language, we know that the best results come from early exposure. However, I also believe in the saying that it is “better late than never.”

If you are a Brazilian parent living abroad and want your children to grow up bilingual, choose to speak in Portuguese to them as much as you can. Educate yourself and get used to speaking to your children primarily in your native language, just as you would do it to a relative in Brazil. Read books and watch cartoons and children’s TV shows in Portuguese in order to encourage language development and to maintain your children’s bilingualism.

Daily exposure to different languages and cultures teaches children to be inclusive and to become adults with a better understanding of multiculturalism. Growing up bilingual is a special gift that I can give to my daughters and that you can give your children as well.End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

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Sapo Cururú

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Alecrim Dourado

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Alecrim Dourado

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Sapo Cururú

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$14.99 $9.99

Born in Brazil, Ana Cristina moved to the United States in 1999. Following the birth of her first daughter in 2011, she realized how important it was that she pass on her native language and culture to her children. As a result, she decided to create her own line of books and founded ABC Multicultural (former Little Gringo) in 2013.

Social pressure: A reason why bilingual immigrant parents raise monolingual children

Social pressure is, in many cases, a reason why bilingual immigrant parents raise their children monolingual. The United States has the highest number of immigrants in the world. Yet, it is the country where the vast majority of children are still growing up monolingual – speaking English only.

Living in the United States for over 17 years, I’ve met many immigrants like myself, but also many American-born people with at least one immigrant parent. A lot of these people regret not learning their parents’ native language. Others, who have learned, are happy to have had this opportunity.

Unfortunately, many parents give up on speaking to their children in their own language because they feel a social responsibility to speak the majority language instead. These parents miss out on the opportunity to raise bilingual kids because they feel pressured to speak only in English by an American spouse, by the new American side of the family, by the pediatrician, by the teachers at daycare or school, by the other parents, by friends, etc. Social pressure hurts and we don’t want to feel hurt. Moreover, we don’t want our children to feel hurt.

Many times, when this kind of social pressure arrives in a multicultural family, the parents end up making the decision to stick with the majority language: ENGLISH. They think that by doing so, they will create a comfort zone for their children. So their children can “fit in” and grow up just like most American children: MONOLINGUAL. They can “feel the same” instead of “feeling different”.

If you are an immigrant in the United States, chances are that most of your family live abroad. Chances are that you have many friends here or back home that speak the same language as you do. So, the comfort zone you created to put your child in it and protect him or her against being “different” is not the zone you live in.

If that is the case, how fair and comfortable do you think it is for your child to grow up unable to communicate with your family abroad? How fair and comfortable it is for your child to grow up hearing mom or dad often speaking a language which he/she cannot understand?

Well, the reality is that bilingual children have some powerful health and well-being advantages that monolinguals don’t! That’s because speaking a second language improves cognitive skills such as problem-solving, multitasking and decision-making. Being bilingual also opens up infinite social and cultural opportunities. Have you heard about The Bilingual Advantage? Bilingualism is an amazing gift that immigrant parents should give to their children. Read this to learn why.

A child of a bilingual immigrant parent (or parents) who was not brought up to speak his or her heritage language will miss all the benefits that bilingualism can bring to life and, even worse than that, this child will lose a part of his or her identity. Our identities are formed by all the things we learn and experience. Our family, our friends, our relationships, the books we read, the places we travel to and, especially, the languages we speak. All these experiences and the feelings associated with them come together to make of us who we are.

It’s very hard to hear that you are making a mistake in the way you are raising your own children. I’m a mom, so I know that. But, think about all the advantages and benefits that a heritage language can bring to your kids… If you are a bilingual immigrant parent raising monolingual children, maybe it’s time to reconsider the reasons behind your choice. Your children deserve the gift of bilingualism.

End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

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Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
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Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

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$14.99 $9.99
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$8.99
New
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99
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Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
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Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99

Born in Brazil, Ana Cristina moved to the United States in 1999. Following the birth of her first daughter in 2011, she realized how important it was that she pass on her native language and culture to her children. As a result, she decided to create her own line of books and founded ABC Multicultural (former Little Gringo) in 2013.

5 Reasons Why It Rocks to Grow Up Bilingual

5 Reasons Why It Rocks to Grow Up Bilingual

Are you raising your kids bilingual? They will thank you in the future!

Here’s why:

1. Bilinguals are smarter.

Studies show that bilingualism improves the brain’s executive function, which is responsible for planning, solving problems, and performing other mentally demanding tasks. Compared to monolinguals, bilinguals are better at ignoring distractions in order to stay focused, switching attention from one thing to another, and remembering information. In other words, bilinguals’ need for knowing how to switch back and forth between languages makes them better multitaskers, a skill highly valued in the job market.

2. Bilinguals make more money.

A study from the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada, found that bilingual employees earn 21% more than their monolingual colleagues. This holds true even when the use of another language is not a job requirement. Researchers believe this is because employers see people who can speak more than one language as having other marketable skills, such as good language ability, perseverance, and quality education.

3. Bilinguals are more understanding.

Raising your children bilingual will improve their chances of having healthy relationships as well as their job prospects. Researchers have found that children who have been exposed to two or more languages are better at understanding other people’s perspectives. This makes them more understanding and better communicators.

4. Bilinguals age better.

The benefits of bilingualism extend all the way to old age. A study done by the University of California, San Diego, found that people with higher degrees of bilingualism had later onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

5. Bilinguals have richer relationships with foreign family.

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing children interacting with grandparents, aunties, and uncles from overseas while using a heritage language. Teaching your kids the language of their ancestors will strengthen family bonds and give them a stronger sense of identity. Languages open the door to endless cultural opportunities. While monolinguals tend to be steeped in one culture and worldview, bilinguals have access to the customs, cuisine, literature, music, and cinema of multiple cultures.

So, next time your kids complain about having to speak a minority language with you, remind them of the 5 reasons why it rocks to grow up bilingual!End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

New
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Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
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Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Rated 5.00 out of 5
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Rated 5.00 out of 5
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Alecrim Dourado

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Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99

Silvia is a Brazilian journalist, teacher, and mom. She grew up in Canada as a bilingual child, speaking only Portuguese at home and English everywhere else. Throughout her adult life, she has lived, studied and worked in both Brazil and Canada. Silvia thinks that bilingualism has opened so many doors for her and she wants the same for her children.

5 Benefits of Raising Bilingual Children

raising bilingual children

The ability to speak two languages fluently can be acquired from education, immigration, from being born or residing in bilingual countries, or from being born in a multicultural family. The advantage of being born in a multicultural family is the case of hundreds of thousands of children here in the United States. Parents who opt to raise their children bilingual are giving them great benefits, including the following five, which I consider very important:

1. Increased cognitive development

Bilingualism increases stimulation in the short memory that works in the storage and processing of information. This contributes to cognitive development, which drives the attention processes that the brain uses to understand, solve problems, evaluate, judge and make decisions. That said, we bilinguals, are ‘scientifically’ considered more intelligent than monolinguals. This is not a merely opinion, but a finding made by scientific research conducted in this area, such as: Working memory development in monolingual and bilingual children; Bilingual Kids Show Cognitive Advantages; Bilingual Effects in the Brain; The Bilingual Advantage; etc.

2. Increased intellectual development

Bilingual children tend to perform better in school, they reach higher grades on tests and exams, something showed in studies that compared the performance of bilingual and monolingual children, as for example: Bilingual pupils do better in exams, report finds; Bilingual classes ‘raise results‘; Bilingual kids do better at NAPLAN; etc.

3. Heritage preservation

For many parents, the greatest benefit of raising bilingual children is to preserve the family’s heritage and affectional bonds with family members living in another country. In most cases, the communication of bilingual children with grandparents, uncles and other relatives is only possible because of the fluency in the language inherited from the mother, father, or both. In an increasingly globalized world, people who fluently speak more than one language, whatever language that is, expand their ability to communicate in different cultural contexts and situations. This is an obvious benefit for anyone’s personal and professional life.

4. More professional opportunities

Being fluent in more than one language, no matter which language that is, always was and will be an additional qualification in one’s resume, which in many cases is crucial to getting a good job. Companies value people who have the ability to communicate in more than one language, as globalization is very present in the business world now a days. Bilingual people, especially those with dual nationality, expand their job opportunities within and outside of the United States.

5. Culture acquisition and self-identity

Bilingualism helps to build personality and self-esteem on children growing up in a multicultural family. Children who are able to communicate in their parents native language feel more confident, specially when around family and relatives who can’t speak the children’s first language. Understanding the language and culture inherited from parents give children a sense of personal identity. Finally, being bilingual is having the opportunity to experience other customs, other tastes, other beliefs. Bilingual children grow up emerged in cultural diversity and therefore learn to be inclusive very early in life. They appreciate
the multiculturalism existent in their families and in the world.End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

New
Sale!

Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$8.99
New
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99

Born in Brazil, Ana Cristina moved to the United States in 1999. Following the birth of her first daughter in 2011, she realized how important it was that she pass on her native language and culture to her children. As a result, she decided to create her own line of books and founded ABC Multicultural (former Little Gringo) in 2013.