Teach Kids About Africa As If Our Lives Depend Upon It – And Maybe They Do

On top of the shear panic unleashed by the horrific spread of the Ebola virus from West Africa, an astonishing amount of ignorance has reared its ugly head. As some have commented, this ignorance may be more dangerous to millions of people than the actual virus, and the unfamiliarity could even make matters worse, by focusing our concerns in the wrong direction.

When my family was getting ready to live in West Africa a few years ago, it felt like everyone would ask us about the animals – but that part of Africa has virtually no exotic animals roaming around and “it’s not the Lion King set!” as my then-eleven year old daughter would exclaim in exasperation. The other common reaction revolved around the astonishment that we were going to “Africa, Africa?!” “It’s so far away.” “I can’t imagine ever going there.” Or “That’s my life-long dream to go there” (often followed by a sigh that it would never happen).

In reality, as lapses in wisdom over air travel among some passengers have shown, people are going back and forth all the time, making the continents feel like they are closer together, and seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world this year are in Africa. Yet popular media rarely cover that story, and instead often reinforce the pity and ignorance, from now-famous pronouncements that “these countries they do not believe in traditional medical care…” (In reality, as many kids aren’t vaccinated in wealthy pockets of Los Angeles as in South Sudan or Chad, among the poorest, most war-torn countries in Africa.) And a virtual army of emergency workers and law enforcement greeted a plane landing in LA from NY after learning a woman coming from “Africa” had been vomiting on the flight – in reality she had air sickness (and a history of air sickness), and came from South Africa. Johannesburg is farther away from Freetown, Sierra Leone than Dallas is from Lima, Peru, in the middle of South America.

Ignorance on such a basic level as each of these examples feeds prejudice, hurts economies that are actually rebounding from their own difficulties (e.g., bookings for safaris in East Africa are way down, let alone a standstill in West Africa’s commerce and investment), and can fuel fanaticism by preventing personal relationships and trust from forming, not to mention the commentary on our global and geographic illiteracy.

This is all the more frustrating since this type of ignorance literally could be stamped out by Kindergarten.

Next time you have an opportunity to teach or learn about Africa, consider these points:

  • Go beyond the animals and the tragedy. It’s common for U.S. schools to teach about Africa through “safari” animals.  This could turn into a valuable lesson on biodiversity and protecting their environment, but wildlife in Africa shouldn’t be the sole focus of a study on culture or a continent. Other times, children hear about poverty or disease, like the AIDS crisis and now Ebola, which exist in some regions but do not define an immensely diverse continent.
  • Fight the urge to refer to “Africa” as a country or single entity. Did you know Africa has over 2,000 languages and many more ethnic groups, in its 54 countries? So, when teaching about the region or a specific country, be careful not to generalize information and refer to “Africa” unless you are consciously referring to the continent.
  • Get to know how big Africa really is, relative to other countries and continents: (Just pause and take this in for a few minutes. It’s true that the West African region struck with Ebola covers a land mass comparable to the southwestern US, but look at all the other countries and regions that fit inside this one continent!)

    Figure 1: Kai Krause, "The True Size of Africa"

    Figure 1: Kai Krause, “The True Size of Africa”

  • Dispel stereotypes by teaching a variety of stories from different countries in the continent.  One book that counters stereotypes, “Africa is Not a Country” by Margy Burns Knight and Anne Sibley O’Brien, gets to the heart of modern Africa: rural and urban families, living contemporary and traditional lives, and the children in their homes, enjoying their families, going to school, and playing with their friends. As an introductory activity (the book touches on 25 out of the 54 countries in Africa), kids can listen to the book and then can locate and color individual countries on a printable map of Africa as they hear them mentioned in the story; then when they really learn the geography, they can color blank maps. (Here’s a resource for labeled and blank maps of continents and regions). The entire activity is explained here on this Kid World Citizen page.
  • Choose a specific country and dive deep. Look for books that showcase rural and urban kids, fiction and non-fiction stories, folktales, biographies, history, and stories on innovation. For example, this list helps children explore many aspects of South Africa through appropriate children’s literature, and the Global Education Toolkit’s multicultural book list has dozens more. Use Google Earth streetview to take a “walking tour” of major cities, national parks, and landforms. Find some major festivals and talk about the values and traditions that are celebrated, and for higher grades, look at the role of religion.
  • Tie in lessons to your curriculum: if you are studying biographies, read Nelson Mandela’s abridged biography for kids, or learn about the other TEN Nobel Prize winners from South Africa. Other important biographies can include Nobel Peace Prize winners like Wangari Maathai (Kenya), Kofi Annan (Ghana) and Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) or Nobel Literature laureates like Wole Soyinka (Nigeria) and Naguib Mahfouz (Egypt). Apartheid and various nations’ independence movements can illuminate a study of Civil Rights. Science classes can look at poaching of the rhinos, desertification, water resource challenges, alternatives to the electric grid in the United States, or compare National Parks in various countries.
  • Make it personal. When kids feel a personal connection to a place, ideally through a friendship or someone’s life they connect to through blogs, stories, social media, art, music, food, and sports, then empathy, compassion, and respect can build. It starts to feel silly to generalize a whole continent when your friend, favorite team, or artist is Nigerian or Gambian, Tanzanian or Congolese. Thanks to digital technologies, it’s never been easier to connect to real people and make friends.


What are some of your favorite ways to dispel myths about Africa? Do you have a favorite book, resource, recipe, or song to recommend?

The suggestions in this piece are derived from The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners, which includes many more ideas for lesson planning, technology integration, classroom and school-wide projects, parent engagement and service-learning.

Homa S. Tavangar


Written by Homa S. Tavangar, Author, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World (Random House/Ballantine Books) and The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners (Corwin Press, 2014), www.growingupglobal.net @growingupglobal



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Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #20

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop Featured Post #20Hi, and welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can’t wait to see what you share this time!
Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son’s Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It’s very easy, and simple to participate!
Just follow these simple guidelines:

  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you’re following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop

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  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don’t be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you’re featured, don’t forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
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Here’s my favorite from last time:


As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Spanish Mama put together a tutorial with free birds printable for this great tropical birds mobile inspired by the tropical birds in the jungles of Peru.

Thank you for linking-up, and we can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to!

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Chestnut Zoo: Fall Crafts with Kids

There is something about having children that makes you think back and reminisce about your own childhood. Taking our baby daughter for a walk through the park on an uncharacteristically lovely North German autumn day, hubby noticed the abundance of chestnuts on the grass. “Have you ever made little animals out of chestnuts?” he inquired. “I don’t think so…” I replied but, as he continued explaining what exactly he means by chestnut animals and how they are made, old memories begun resurfacing.

Of course I know what chestnut animals are! However, in my childhood autumn crafts I used acorns more often than chestnuts. In fact, one of my favorite childhood stories was about the adventures of a little acorn man, “Zīļuks” in Latvian.

Chestnut ZOO

We spontaneously decided to gather some chestnuts and acorns to make fall decorations for our home. Who cares that our baby daughter is still too small to participate, it should not stop us from reliving our childhood memories, right?

We had a lovely evening creating little animals from the chestnuts and acorns. Half the fun was trying to figure out what it is that we had made: is it a caterpillar or a snake? A goat, a horse, or a donkey? Hubby even created the little acorn man from my childhood fairytale!

Making little figurines out of acorns and chestnuts is a typical activity for kindergartners’ and pre-schoolers’ both in Germany and Latvia, and I am sure also many other countries. It gave us adults a lot of fun and it is a truly great fall activity for doing with kids: first you get to run around in the fresh air to hunt down the nearest chestnut trees and oaks, and then you can work together and let your imaginations run wild to create the cutest little animals or other figurines. Here is how.

necessary itemsYou will need:

  • Chestnuts and/or acorns
  • Toothpicks or matches
  • A tool for boring small holes
  • A scissor or a nail cutter
  • Some glue
  • (optional) glueable googly eyes
  • (optional) a white or silver permanent marker

The creation process is fairly simple and straightforward. Both chestnuts and acorns are soft so holes are made easily. You can make holes in each side of the chestnuts to connect them to one another with the help of matchstick or toothpick pieces to create a caterpillar or a snake. You can make many little holes and stick in toothpicks to create a hedgehog, or put a chestnut on four skinny legs and attach an acorn head to create a four-legged animal of your choosing.

If you have also found some acorn tops, they make great hats or shoes for the figurines and are best attached with some glue. Once your little animal is done, you can decorate it with a pair of googly eyes or draw its eyes, nose, and mouth with a white or silver permanent marker. It gives them more personality, don’t you think?

This is our little zoo:

zoo_togetherHave fun creating your own chestnut and acorn animals! If you need more inspiration, just do an image search for “kastanientiere“.


Ilze IevinaIlze is a social researcher, a mom, and a blogger. Originally from the small Baltic country Latvia, her path of education brought her to Northern Germany where she met her future husband and decided to stay for a little longer. Ilze blogs about her adventures in expat life, as well as trilingual and multicultural parenting at Let the Journey Begin. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Families Around the World – MKB Instagram Blog Hop!

Families Around the World: MKB Instagram Blog Hop!We here at Multicultural Kid Blogs are in party mode! We are celebrating our second anniversary. We are so thrilled that our community has grown to include bloggers and families from all over the world! These last two years have given us opportunities to learn from each other, support each other and help us in our mission:  raising world citizens, through arts, activities, crafts, food, language, and love. 

Being a part of this group for me is very special. I love hearing how parents from all over the world nurture and care for their children… while our methods might be different depending on where we are, one thing remains true… all roads lead to the same place: we all want healthy, happy children. We all want to keep our children safe and give them a good future.

So to celebrate the beauty in our diversity, we are hosting an Instagram Blog Hop to celebrate Families around the World.

Personally, I’m super excited because I LOVE photography and I love INSTAGRAM. Capturing moments through photography is something that I’ve always been a fan of, even since before we had digital equipment or smart phones. I think I owe this to my mother, who took many pictures of us growing up, and who also shared many pictures of her youth with us. Pictures allow us to share with our little ones special moments in time. They can evoke all sorts of emotions and they can transport us to a special time and place. They help us remember loved ones and keep traditions alive.  It’s true what they say, a picture is a thousand words.



obligatory family vacation picture #findingdutchland #travel #Italy #athomeintheworld #CinqueTerre

View on Instagram

A family is the basic building block of our society. A family is the place where children learn to interact with the world around them. Families may be big or small, depending on cultural or religious traditions, or where you live…. but do you know what binds families together? That all families, whatever their size, color of skin, religion, ethnicity, location, or composition usually have one thing in common: they are made up of loving people who may disagree, and not want to share their toys, and argue at times, but families are full of love.



Earlier today spending time with his Papi. #familia #Guayaquil #abuelos #babyenzog View on Instagram

We want to see your family, and the beauty of diversity… help us showcase families from all over the world! Join us for an Instagram Blog Hop honoring MKB’s second anniversary and families around the world!

How to Join In

Be sure to visit our wonderful co-hosts, plus enter our giveaway and link up your Instagram profile!

Follow and use #mkbkids on Instagram!  We’ll be sharing our favorite Instagram photos with this tag on the MKB website and Facebook page!

Blog Hop Co-Hosts

Be sure to follow them all in the linky below (#1-18)!

Multicultural Kid Blogs
Sand In My Toes: Five Traveling Families on Instagram
Mama Smiles: Families Around the World
Kid World Citizen: Follow Global Families on Instagram
All Done Monkey: Top Hashtags on Instagram for Multicultural Families
In The Playroom: Multicultural Kid Blogs and Instagram
the piri-piri lexicon: feeling homesick?
Finding Dutchland: Families Around the World
European Mama
MarocMama: Travel Around the World on Instagram
Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Happy Anniversary MKB!
Lou Messugo: Instagramming Families
American Mom in Bordeaux: Global Families
The Mommy Factor: Connecting with Other Mixed Race Families on Instagram
World Music for Children
My Favorite Multicultural Books
Chasing the Donkey: Multicultural and Expat Families to Follow
For the Love of Spanish

Smart Tinker: Our Family Across the World in Pictures
Raising World Citizens: I Travel Around the World Every Day
Entre Compras y El Hogar: Celebrate the Beauty in Diversity

Our Prize Package – Enter for a chance to win!

One winner will receive this fabulous prize package!  It includes:

Green Kid CraftsA 3 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts, valued at $60.  For three months, you’ll receive a different-themed Discovery Box packed with 3-4 unique and engaging activity kits designed to foster a child’s creativity and confidence while helping to raise the nation’s next generation of creative leaders. For kids ages 3-10. US Shipping Only

Little HumansLittle Humans by Brandon Stanton, donated by Smart Tinker.  From the author of Humans of New York, this new work from photograph Brandon Stanton focuses on “littlest humans of New York – the ones who get back up when they fall, who have an impeccable taste in fashion, and who love with all their hearts. With spare text and a mix of all-new exclusive photos and fan favourites, Little Humans is sure to appeal to fans of HONY and those who have yet to discover it.”

Birds of Love | Elika MahonyDigital download of the album “Birds of Love” by Elika Mahony.  “Birds of Love” is a treasury of uplifting words and inspiring songs on the theme of love and marriage. It includes a diverse five song album from varied sources with five additional instrumental tracks for live performances and background at special events.

Please note: The subscription for Green Kid Crafts is for US shipping only.  In the event our winner is located outside the US, s/he will receive the remaining items, and we will draw another winner from the US for the Green Kid Crafts subscription.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Call for Bloggers: Beautiful Rainbow World Book Tour

Call for Bloggers: Beautiful Rainbow World Book TourTHIS PROMOTION IS NOW CLOSED TO ADDITIONAL REVIEWERS.

We are so pleased to announce the launch of a world book tour for Beautiful Rainbow World, part of our Multicultural Kids Product Promotion Services!

Join the World Book Tour

If you are a blogger, join our world book tour to promote the incredible book  Beautiful Rainbow World, by Suzee Ramirez and Lynne Raspet, based on the song by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou. Sign up below to participate. Once you receive your copy of the book, write reviews on your blog and Amazon and promote through at least one social media platform. Once you have completed your promotion, email your links to multiculturalkidblogs(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hard copies will be mailed to reviewers.

DEADLINE to complete your promotion: November 24, 2014.

About the Book

Celebrate diversity with this beautiful photo book of children from all around the world. Gorgeous pictures of children from various countries and cultures are the visual images and the text of the book is the lyrics of Daria’s popular children’s song “Beautiful Rainbow World.”

Simple but elegant, this 77 page book shares a vision with teachers, parents and kids of a world where no one is lost or left behind and everyone is included and appreciated.

Who says a children’s song or book can’t change the world? A free download of the “Beautiful Rainbow World” song is included with the book.

What Others Are Saying:

Amazon.com reviews:

- I absolutely love this book. The photographs are gorgeous and the children are just precious – just as they are! I have purchased this book as a baby gift but have also shared it with adults as the general theme of each child’s uniqueness, while still all similar in their youth and innocence, is so heartwarming.

- A very important message in an easy to enjoy format. Beautiful and inspiring. I plan to share with adult friends as well as giving the book as a baby shower gift.

- “Beautiful Rainbow World” is a gorgeous, poetic celebration of life. It’s about love and connection and “being peace.”

Where Beautiful Rainbow World can be found:

From Amazon.com

From Teachers Pay Teachers

From DARIA’s Little Village Store

Readers can also win a copy in this giveaway from DARIA’s music!

Lyrics/text of the book are:


Today I woke up to see
A beautiful rainbow world
Won’t you dream it along with me?
A beautiful rainbow world

Beautiful rainbow, beautiful rainbow
Beautiful rainbow world

Red, black, yellow, brown and white,
A beautiful rainbow world
Dancing together in the light
A beautiful rainbow world

No one lost or left behind
Beautiful rainbow world
Each one their own treasure finds
A beautiful rainbow world

Looking through eyes, brown green or blue
A beautiful rainbow world
And hair that’s perfect just for you
A beautiful rainbow world

Languages and customs, all delight A beautiful rainbow world We’re so different, yet so alike
A beautiful rainbow world

Joyful laughter as we play
A beautiful rainbow world
Hugging and loving, every day
A beautiful rainbow world

Words and music by Daria Marmaluk-Hajioannou
New Additional Verse By Suzee Ramirez

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Easy Crockpot Stew

I think that Autumn might be my favorite season. I love watching the leaves on the trees change colors, wrapping up in warm sweaters, drinking seasonal lattes, and eating warm, comforting foods. Sadly I haven’t ever really lived anywhere that I can actually see Autumn in its full glory, so maybe I like the idea more than anything else. But seriously, I think there is something exciting and romantic about this season. So, even though the temperatures are still in the nineties here in LA, I have really been craving a good stew or bowl of chili. Then, yesterday, out of the blue, my husband asked me to make my special stew. I gladly did that for him and thought I would share it with you too.

I’m not sure why my husband thinks that my stew is special, because the truth is I almost never make the exact same stew twice. The reason for this is because I really just throw whatever I happen to have in the fridge in the crockpot. This is actually something I learned from my mom. While growing up, my family often had “clean out the fridge soup” and it was usually awesome. Today I had beef short ribs, potatoes, and a lot of vegetables that needed to be eaten. So I just threw it all together and let it simmer for eight hours.

Crockpot Stew:

Crockpot Stew

1. What I have here:

- Short Ribs
– Half a bag of baby spinach
– 2 Stalks of celery
– 1 Tomato
– 1/2 Zucchini
– 1 White onion
– 1 1/2 Cup baby carrots
– 2 Potatoes
– 1 Red Pepper
– 1 1/4 Cup sliced mushrooms


Crockpot Stew
2. I put everything in the crockpot. The meat was put on the bottom and I left the meat on the bones to add more flavor to the stew. I left the spinach out until the last hour because I have learned that it will completely disintegrate if cooked too long.


 Crockpot Stew
3. Now for the spices. First I put two cups of water in the crockpot. Then I got another two cups of water, beef bullion cubes, salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, rosemary, basil, cumin, and cayenne pepper.


Crockpot Stew
4. Add four cubes of beef bullion (or 1 cube for every cup of water) to two cups of boiling water. Stir it until the cubes are totally dissolved. After that, add and stir together:
          – 2 tsp. Salt
          – 1/2 tsp. Black pepper
          – 1 Tbs. Garlic
          – 1 tsp. Cumin
          – 1 tsp. Rosemary
          – 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper
          – 1 tsp. Parsley


Crockpot Stew
5. Just put one bay leaf in the crockpot and pour your spice mixture over everything. Set the pot to low and allow it to simmer for about eight hours.


 Crockpot Stew
6. After eight hours we had a delicious, warm stew. Enjoy!

For More Reading Pleasure:


Bethany Wu from My Multicultural World
Being a Third Culture Kid, I have lived a very multicultural life. Now that I am in an interracial marriage, my cultural world continues to grow in exciting (and sometimes a little bit intimidating) ways.



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How does a Person become Multilingual? When does the Language Learning start?

MulitlingualThere are different ways for a person to become multilingual.

I would like to look at them by looking at the real life examples – our amazing Multicultural Kid Blogs members. They not only write fabulous content, but also speak several languages! In fact, many of our members speak more than two languages and there are even a few super polyglots!

Here is how the multiple languages acquisition started for them.


Some of us are lucky to learn to speak several languages right from birth from parents and the community. I am raising trilingual children myself and I see how easily they absorb the parents’ languages ( Russian, Italian and English). One might think this is too much for a little brain. –  Absolutely not! The babies, on contrary to adults, can distinguishing several languages they hear.

I will start with truly multilingual Ute Limacher-Riebold (blog – Exspatsincebirth)! She learned German and Italian, as she says, “naturally” from birth. She communicated in German with her parents and also studied it at European School in Italy. Italian was the community language. At the age of 6 she started studying French, and at the age of 10 – English, first at school and then at University. She also speaks Swiss German, which she learned by watching Swiss German TV as a child (in Italy) and then while living in German part of Switzerland for 16 years. She speaks Dutch (note: it is her sixth language!). Ute started learning it as a child while playing with her Dutch peers at school and while spending her holidays in Netherlands. It was enough for her to start using the language from the day one when she moved to Netherlands to live with her family in 2005. She learned Dutch and now she has been learning Spanish autodidactically. Her 8th language is Old French (Ancien Français and Ancien Provençal), which Ute learned at University while studying old french texts. “Occitan” is still spoken in some parts of Southern France, so she is able to practice times to times with some native speakers.

Cordelia Newlin de Rojas (blog -Multilingual Mama) is bilingual from birth in French and English. She learned French from her mother, mastered it at French school and practiced it during summers in France. She learned English from her father and by growing up in NY. Cordelia also speaks Spanish with her husband. She learned it by taking Spanish classes and from her mother-in-law. She also has been studying Thai.

Rita Rosenback (blog – Multilingual Parenting) learned Swedish from her father and Finnish from her mother while living in a Swedish-speaking part of Finland. Later she learned English at school, German – at college and by practicing it during her stays in Germany. She also speaks some basic Punjabi, which she picked up from her spouse. Some French, that she learned at school and University and a little Spanish and Dutch.

Olena Centeno’s (blog- Bilingual Kids Rock) mother tongues are Ukrainian and Russian. She says: “Growing up Soviet Union Ukraine I used these two languages interchangeably. My academic studies though were all done in Ukrainian. I started to learn English in grade school, but was not able to communicate in it when I met my future husband (I was 20 at that time). My English greatly improved when I had a need to understand him. Now living in USA my English improves every day.”

Diana Limongi Gabriele (blog Ladydeelg) speaks Spanish, English and French. She learned Spanish at home with her parents, and English in kindergarten. She says: “I consider English to be my “first language” now (the language I use the most, feel most comfortable in). I started learning French in middle school and then lived in France. It helps that my husband is French so I can keep up with it now! “

Maria Babin (blog – Trilingual Mama) was born in Southern California to a Peruvian father and a Mexican mother. She says: “I grew up bilingual: English, Spanish with an early curiosity about French that eventually became a passion. I learned French in high school and at BYU where I met my Frenchman! We quickly fell in love, married a year later, had two children in Provo, Utah and then moved to Paris, France where we had two more children. Our children are being raised trilingual, following an adaptation of OPOL, with a two week rotation system.“



Children can start learning a second language early in life by being exposed to them passively. One should not underestimate the positive impact of this kind of learning. Passive learning provided a very good base for further language learning.

Annika Bourgogne (blog – Be Bilingual) native language is Finnish. She was exposed to Swedish passively from birth. It was her mother’s language. However, she really learned it as a teen at school. During school time Annika also started learning English (from 9 years old) and French (at high school). She practiced English abroad by spending a summer in the UK and a year in the US as a teen. Later she studied it at the college as well. To enhance her French Annika went to France as an au-pair for 6 months. She also studied French at the University. Her rendez-vous with French language did not end there. Annika has been married to a French man for almost 20 years now and raises bilingual in Finnish and French children. She also tells us: “I can manage in Spanish and understand (at times) German and Italian. I love Spanish as I have many great Spanish friends, but haven’t really been able to practice since my 20’s when I took some classes at the University and traveled there a lot. “



Children acquire new skills fast especially if they learn them from each other. They do it with languages too! Peer–to–peer interaction is often used in classroom settings for second language learners, but it does not have to be limited to the walls of the classroom.

 Ute, who is also bilingual from birth (see her full story above), picked some Dutch from her school friends.

Amanda Hsiung Blodgett (blog- Miss Panda Chinese), whose mother tongue is Mandarin Chinese, speaks some Taiwanese. She learned it from playing with neighborhood kids and watching puppet show on TV. She learned English at school. French – at University and practiced speaking it in Morocco and Montreal, Canada. She also speaks very basic Spanish.



It is well known that children who receive language instructions in early childhood can master pronunciation better and have native like proficiency in the language. Learning a second language earlier in life also opens the doors to more language acquisition.

 Olga Mecking (blog- European Mama) was born in Poland, her parents spoke Polish to her. When she was 3 years old, her mother started teaching her English. Later she took some English language classes. Olga speaks German. She went to a German kindergarten, spoke the language at home, at school and at University. She speaks French (extended family and later language classes) and Dutch (language classes, talking to people).



The overall statistic for language learning at schools is not very good. But there are exceptions. One can be lucky and get a very good language teacher, attend a school specialize in a particular language, have a possibility to support the studies with even short language immersion trips. In any case some of our MKB group members not only were able to learn a foreign language at school, but also learn many more languages after it.

 Ilze Levina (blog -Let the Journey Begin) says: “I speak Latvian (my native tongue), English (school and international NGO since the age of 11, later did my MA and PhD studies in English), German (first school and now living in Germany), Russian (TV as a child, later some formal instruction to learn to read & some basic grammar), French (high school).”

Anna Watt (blog – Russian step by step) speaks Russian, English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. She was born in Russia and Russian is her mother tongue. She started learning English at school at the age of 9 and continued studying it throughout the college. She lives in the US now and speaks the language everyday. She studied French at the French Cultural center in Moscow, had multiple trips to France and did her Master’s degree in Lille. This is what she tells us about how she learned other languages: “Spanish – at the University and many trips to Spain, now practice with people in California (lots of Spanish speakers here), German was my second language at the University but as I do not get to practice at all in the US, the most degraded, still can follow a conversation in High German and survive on the streets when visiting. Japanese – studied for 3 years in my late twenties with a goal of visiting Japan, until my first kid was born, then the second, so that trip is still in my plans. Italian – studied for about 6 months total throughout my life, visited Italy and can understand a lot (thanks to Latin, French and Spanish) and communicate the basics.”

Valerie and Alex Melzer  (blog- Glittering Muffins)  learn English at school. They also speak each other’s mother tongues: French and German respectfully. Valerie learned German in Germany, from Alex and with online courses.

Anna Vinogradova (blog – Multicultural Kitchen), whose native language is Russian, also speaks fluent English that she learned at school. She speaks “Spanish (upper intermediate) – self-taught with extensive summer course, Mandarin Chinese (basic) – at language academy”.

Eolia Scarlett Disler’s ( blog- La Cite des Vents) native language is French. At school she learned English and German. She says: “Let’s just say that I pick up English better than German. Listening to songs and watching movies in VO helped me a lot. But the best way for me to improve my English comes from my Church: I speak to american and english people every week and I read a lot of articles and spiritual talks! Since my husband found a new job near Frankfurt, Germany, I learn (again) German. I have studied Latin at school, so it helps me to understand a bit (just a tiny bit) Italian and Spanish.”

Varya Sanina-Garmroud’s  (blog – Creative World of Varya) native language is Russian. She started studying French at school at the age of 9, and majored in it at the university. Knowledge of French helps her to understand written Spanish and Italian. Back at  the University she also learned  English, which she speaks on native-like level. She has been studying Mandarin Chinese – “Intermediate in speaking and elementary in writing, self – taught in the environment (been living in China for 13 years).”  Back at school Varya was very passionate about India and its art of dance and music that she self-taught Hindi and can read and write in it.

Yzabeau On (blogs – Multilingual Education Café and Expat Lang) was born in France. She learned to speak English, German and Dutch at school and college. She says: “I have travelled a lot and lived in the various countries where those languages are spoken (Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland…) I can also understand Italian and wrote a website to learn Afrikaans. Planning to learn some other languages. I do not live in my home country at the moment.”

Analia Capurro (blog – A Teachable Year) is from Argentina. Her mother tongue is Spanish. She learned to speak English though languages courses, tutor and self-studying.



This is probably the best method to learn any language both for children and adults. It keeps the language exposure to maximum and, thus, provides maximum result. With this method one can start speaking the language in less than 6 months! One does not have to move to the country, its language she or he studies, to live in order to receive all the benefits of full immersion. Making short trips also dramatically helps to master the language.

Full immersion is the way I learned all the four languages I speak. I was born in Russia and studied French at school. When I moved to the US, I did not speak a word of English. I learned it there through immersion and language classes on site. After 6 month I was already working and supporting myself. I started studying Italian back in the US and when I was finally speaking it, I moved to Germany, where I studied German. Thus, I speak four languages: Russian, English, Italian and German, unfortunately not French.

MaryAnne’s  (blog – Mama Smiles) first language is English. When she was 9 years old, she moved with her English speaking parents to France. There she learned to speak French by attending a public school. After leaving the country (MaryAnne lived there for 3 years), she continued to read and study the language. She lived in Guatemala (1,5 years) and Bolivia (2 years in Bolivia) and became fluent in Spanish. MaryAnne speaks intermediate German. She writes about her experience living in Austria: “I lived in Austria for four years but went to school in English and didn’t have close German-speaking friends (well, I did, but their English was much better than my German).” MaryAnne speaks basic Russian (studied for two years in college) and Serbo-Croatian (self-taught in order to complete grad school research in Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Leanna (blog – All Done Monkey) speaks English (from growing up in the US) and Spanish. She studied Spanish starting in junior high, but really learned it when she spent 8 months living in Bolivia, when she was 20. Leanna also speaks functional Portuguese from taking a semester in college (and because it’s so similar to Spanish).

Adriana Kröller (blog – Changing Plate) is from Costa Rica and Spanish is her mother tongue. When she was 6 years old she moved to Guam, where she learn English by attending an American school. Now Adriana lives in Germany and has been learning German.

Stephen Greene (Head of the Heard) is on his way to be fully bilingual in English and Portuguese . He currently lives in Brazil and is immersed in Portuguese.

Becky Mladic Morales (Kid World Citizen) grew up speaking English. She learned Spanish in Spain and Ecuador, and by spending summers in Mexico with her husband. She also speaks some Portuguese. She says: “a couple of my best friends are Brazilian and I am always trying to practice with them, even though it sounds more like “Portuñol” as they say :)”

Elisabeth Edwards Alvarado (blog – Spanish Mama) shares her story of learning Spanish through immersion: “English is my native language and I learned Spanish from living in the Peruvian jungle for two years while teaching English. I also married a Peruvian and we speak mostly Spanish in our home. It was definitely immersion that did the trick for me!”

I hope this article on how one can become a multilingual gives a good overview and  serves as an  encouragement to parents and language learners. As you can see from the real life examples above, you do not have to be born into a multilingual family to learn to speak several languages. That said, an early start in language learning would be advisable. Learning more about other cultures can trigger child’s true interest in languages learning.

Galina Nikitina author of Raising a Trilingual Child

Galina Nikitina – author of Raising a Trilingual Child

Galina Nikitina is a multilingual mother, who is successfully raising trilingual children in Italian, Russian and English. She is passionate about helping other parents, who are bringing up their children in more than one language. Galina blogs at Raising a Trilingual Child. Connect with her : FacebookPinterestTwitterBlogloving - Google+

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Birth Experiences From Around The World


When few months ago before I had the baby MKB organized a Virtual Baby Shower for all the pregnant MKB bloggers, I felt it would be nice to take it further a notch. But wasn’t sure what could be the next step.

Recently I’ve been posting about birth and postpartum topics on my blog, and a fellow blogger suggested to make a roundup on birth around the world. And… so here it is!

We haven’t covered all continents in this post – just a few countries. But here are some highlights from fellow MKB bloggers by country:


Varya of Creative World of Varya

“In public hospitals you are not offered much support by medical stuff, just monitored from time to time, checked for dilation. Chinese women tolerate contractions very quietly, practically without any sound. Many women here opt for cesarean as in their opinion it saves time and they can avoid the pain of the natural birth. Birth is given in hospitals and assisted by doctors and nurses. Obstetric care is done only in hospitals by obstetricians. In public health midwifery is not an option, nor is home birth (but it can happen from time to time due to how rapid it can progress). Postpartum care is given by family members or yuesao – a trained pediatric and obstetric nurse who cares for a mom and newborn from birth to at least 1 month postpartum. You can read more about Chinese hospitals in my China 101 series“.


Alison of Mon Acouchement Serein – Alison blogs in French about birth and pregnancy. She a lot of useful information on giving birth in general and giving birth in France.

Carrieanne of French Mama – she shares her own birth story in France and how natural the whole experience was for her and her baby.

Maria has 2 blogs – Busy as a Bee in Paris and Trilingual Mama – where she described her birthing experience in France (don’t forget to scroll down and click through the related links – there is a lot of useful information!) and obtaining American citizenship to an American baby born abroad.


Annabelle of The Piri-piri Lexicon – Annabelle wrote an excellent article comparing birth in UK and birth in Germany.

Ilze of Let the Journey Begin – Ilze has wonderful series on giving birth in Germany (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 ) where she describes the type of prenatal care you can get there and how you get to prepare for birth there and where you can learn what Mutterpass is and how the baby can be “ordered”!


Amanda of Expat Life with a Double Buggy – shares her personal experience of giving birth in Netherlands with a doula by her side and on kramweek after birth.

Olga of The European Mama – Olga writes a lot about pregnancy and birth and her posts are all very well-thought. She advocates for women to have better prenatal care and birthing choices. You will enjoy reading her posts on pregnancy and birth.

United Kingdom:

North Wales:

Jonathan of Dad’s the Way I Like It

Jonathan is from Scotland and raises a bilingual family in North Wales posted few articles from a point of view of a father and on paternity leave in the UK. You can find lots of thought and experience sharing on fatherhood on his blog.

United Kingdom of Great Britain;


MaryAnne of Mama Smiles – MaryAnna shares her birth experience in Scotland where she gave birth to her first child. Ever tried running for the bus while being on a verge of giving birth? Well, she did it!

United States of America:

Elisabeth of Spanish Mama – Elisabeth had her baby via water birth in a birthing center and it was a beautiful experience!

Leanna of All Done Monkey – Leanna shares her experience of birthing at birth centers and on how a mom’s intuition is often more correct than professional expertise when it comes to birthing process.

Veena of Tiaras to Babies – Veena shares how she delivered her baby via c-section and her first reaction when seeing her baby and realizing that they had started a family.

This list is short but we hope to add more stories and useful tips based on your personal experiences. Please comment under this post with your birth story and country of residence/country where you have given birth. We would love to hear from you!



Varya blogs at Creative World of Varya. She is a mom to 2 children, early development specialist, baby massage and perinatal fitness instructor, breastfeeding consultant. Varya has been living in China for the past 13 years working and raising her multicultural family.



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Autumn in North-East Scotland

Autumn has officially arrived in North-East Scotland.  Did you know that autumn begins officially on September 21st?  We spent that day in the “Duff House Woodies” as our local forest is known.

 Malika and Ameenah loved collecting conkers, leafs and a whole host of other Autumn goodies such as oak tree leaves and pet worms!

 We decided to get crafty with out Autumn Goodies and used this 10 minute craft book for inspiration.

These bookwork caterpillar leaf bookmarks are easy to make and really really beautiful!

 Although our bookmark turned out rather large!

Last week I ran an art class for adults with learning disabilities in our local Banff Castle.  They all loved this activity also and really enjoyed all the stages from gathering leaves to choosing their favourite buttons for decoration.

Malika learned this Harvest song at school and I think she sings it beautifully with help from her wonderful assistant Ameenah!

 Did you know in Scotland children get two weeks holiday in October called the “Tattie holidays.”  “Tattie” is Doric (our local dialect) for potato and this holiday was originally given so that children could go and help harvest potatoes to keep Britain fed in the 1940’s!

 From first light children as young as primary age were out in frosty fields doing back-breaking work, but they and their families were happy for the money — and a hard worker could make a decent day’s pay.

At its post-war height in 1949 nearly 44,000 Scottish school children flocked to the country’s potato fields to take part in a crucial harvest that helped keep Britain fed.

 Thankfully times have changed and now the “Tattie holidays” are really about having time off school and having fun…We are going to Belgium this Tattie holiday to stay with my best friend, and Malika’s god-mum Pammy, who is a Michelin Star chef!  We can not wait and are grateful that we don’t have the spend our holidays digging potatoes anymore!

“Enjoy these beautiful Autumn Days wherever you are in the world”

Love Malika and Ameenah xxx

Multicultural Kid Blogs

Thank you Leanna at Multicultural Kid Blogs for asking us to join the Autumn Blog xxxx

Emma Afif-Watt is a mum of two half-Moroccan daughters, Malika and Ameenah.  She is currently studying for a Masters in Social Work and has spent the last five years working with adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues.  Emma and her family recently lived in Finland for four months whilst she was on social work placement.  Emma blogged about their experiences over at Family in Finland which offered insights into family life in Finland, travel, crafts and much more…..


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Day of the Dead | Guatemalan Traditions

Day of the Dead | Guatemalan Traditions

Hello, I would like to take a moment to share the traditions practiced in Guatemala during Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos. Originally form Guatemala, I have true connections with my beloved Tierra of Guatemala. So, please take this beautiful journey with me, Ana Alarcon from Ana & Zelli and Alarcon Restaurants (Alarcon Restaurants on Facebook) – Wisconsin mom blogger and restauranteur.

Day of the Dead is actually a three day celebration, starting from October 31st to November 2nd. October 31st being used for preparation for all the festivities and to start the mourning of passed loved ones. November 1st being All Saints’ Day being dedicated mostly to the memory of beloved children – angels. November 2nd All Souls’ Day being dedicated to all passed loved ones and family. All three days are mainly celebrated at grave sites and enjoyed with family and it is truly a time for celebration and should not be mistaken as a time to be scared or sad.


Example of an alter we have done at our restaurants.

The four elements, plus other traditional items should be represented at these celebrations. Fire, is represented by the burning of candles, to help guide the dead to be amongst the living for the festivities. Water, is represented as an offering to go along with food offerings. Earth, is represented through food like Tamales, Ayote en Dulce, Fiambre and Pan de Muertos (day of the dead sweet bread – not too sweet); the aromas are also used to invoke spirits. Cempazuchitl or marigolds – the yellow flower of the dead is used to decorate the graves. Air/Wind, is represented through Papel Picado – cut out tissue paper and in Guatemala through kite flying. At the altars beautiful keepsakes of passed ones are brought, decorated sugar skulls represent and honor loved ones and photographs are shown for remembrance.


Example of food we have made in celebration.

Guatemalan Traditions:
There are two prominent festivals for the Day of the Dead in Guatemala and stand out from other places. One being the Giant Kite festival, where giant room size handmade kites are flown above grave yards to honor the dead and at the end when the kites have been torn by the wind they are burned, so the smoke guides the dead back up to heaven. This is remarkable to me, because it takes days, weeks to make these beautiful handmade giant kites. The other festival is Todos Santos, a horse race like none other. It is for sure a silly event, because the night before and even during the event, the men party and drink to celebrate. They wear traditional clothing and celebrate by remembering passed loved ones in this kind of crazy celebration.


I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the celebrations of Day of the Dead in Guatemala and Guatemalan Traditions. Make sure to participate in anything you can in your home towns for Day of the Dead. In Wisconsin, we have a wonderful Day of the Dead Parade and many people even paint their faces like skulls to celebrate, like I did and do. Please make sure to like Ana & Zelli on Facebook, view our events and learn more about us on our blog page Ana & Zelli, Gracias!


Me (Ana)

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