Happy New Year

The Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, will be celebrated on February 3. 2011. This is the the Year of the Rabbit. Each year is designated by one of twelve animals. Colorful calligraphy is used as a decoration at the front of the house. The Chinese New Year is determined by the second New Moon after the winter solstice.

The Vietnamese celebrate 2011 as Tet Tan Mao, the Year of the Cat. With the approach of the Lunar New Year, many Asians are celebrating with great family feasts. It is also customary for children to receive red envelopes full of money.

The Japanese expression for a new year’s greeting is “Kinga Shinnen.”  Although they do not celebrate Chinese New Year, February 3rd is Setsubun,  when people seek to drive out bad luck .  Roasted soybeans are thrown outside the front door by a male in the family.  Nowadays, sometimes people use peanuts instead of soybeans. The Japanese have a tradition of sending out postcards for the new year, similar to the way people send out Christmas cards in the United States.

The U.S. Postal Service has made commemorative Lunar New Year “Forever Stamps.” They are the fourth in a series of twelve Celebrating Lunar New Year Series, which began in 2008 with the Year of the Rat. These have a picture of tangerines on them, which are a symbol of good luck.

If you have any special traditions associated with celebrating the Lunar New Year, please e-mail info@midwestlanguageservices.com with your tradition and which country you are from.

Suggestions for Raising Bilingual Children

Every family is different and every child is different, so what works for one family or child may not work for another. However, according to one of Virginie Raguenaud’s speeches about bilingualism, there are ten things that parents can do to help the process.

Virginie was born and raised in France, educated in the United States, Canada, and Russia. Her book, Bilingual by Choice-Raising Kids in Two (or more!) Languages guides parents on encouraging bilingualism “from the cradle to adolescence.”

Some of her suggestions include:

1. Make the languages relevant in their daily lives. Children can learn two or more languages if they need them to communicate.

2. Be consistent with your language choice. Continuous and extended exposure is helpful if children are expected to attain competency.

3. Expose children to a variety of situations to practice their heritage language.

4. Help children find peers who speak the same language.

5. Give children access to books in their native language.

6. Children need a form of bilingual education in order to stay bilingual. (Some people resort to a form of homeschooling if this is not available.)

7. Elevate the status of the home language.

8. Have a strong support network. Grandparents can play a pivotal role in motivating the child to learn the heritage language.

9. Promote and reinforce cultural values with your children.

10. Help children achieve their identities.

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

This page from Elizabeth Claire’s Easy English News details how to become a U.S. Citizen and typical questions one might have to answer on a citizenship test. Here is the link to the site: file:///Users/tanyakrukemeier/Documents/Citizenship-Questions-and-Answers-by-Elizabeth-Claire.pdf