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Springtime family fun in North Wales

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Here are some of the places here in North Wales that I’ve most enjoyed visiting in 2016. I’ve got a few more blog posts that I’m planning to write in the coming weeks, and I’m looking forward to sharing more examples of local scenery here in North Wales.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

This village is only a few miles from where we live, and we visited it earlier this year as a big steam train was visiting. I keep meaning to drive through it with our sat nav on to see how the electronic device copes with the pronunciation.

Llangollen

This three hour round trip at one stage looked like it wouldn’t go well. Our son was very excited to see and hear Tomos in the distance when we arrived at the car park, but decided the blue train was a bit too noisy and actually wanted to go home again a few minutes after we arrived at the station. Thankfully he changed his mind after we went to do some art and craft activities.

Bangor

Our local museum recently had a night of bug themed events for kids, that included a ‘bush tucker trial’ that involved eating this. Thankfully it all tasted a lot nicer than it looked!

Cable Bay, Anglesey

We’re really lucky to have so many attractive beaches within easy reach of where we live, including this one on the island of Anglesey.

What are your favourite places to visit as a family? Please feel free to share your views on this post in the comments section below or on the ‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô page on Facebook.

A Toddler’s Bilingual Christmas

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Toddler's Bilingual Christmas

During the Christmas and New Year holidays it was fun to spend more time with our son and see how his language skills in English and Welsh have been developing. As I mentioned in one of my first posts about bilingualism, my wife speaks to our son in English and I speak to him in Welsh.

While my wife was at a Mindfulness course on one of the last few Saturdays before Christmas, I took our son to a few Christmas events near where we live in North Wales. To start, we went to¬†a butterfly farm on Anglesey where Santa Claus was making a Christmas visit. The fact that we’ve visited this attraction several times in the last few months probably explains why ‘pili pala’ (butterfly) became the first word that our son has said in Welsh before he had come out with the English equivalent.

Our son didn't exactly hit it off with Santa straight away...

Our son didn’t exactly hit it off with Santa straight away…

Our son was a bit scared about going into Santa’s grotto with me and seemed to also be unsure about meeting Santa Claus, despite the fact that this Santa Claus clearly knew me. After having a chat with us¬†in Welsh about Christmas, the bearded gift-giver then asked in Welsh ‘is dad going to be on the radio talking about the football again this afternoon?’. It seems that Mr. S. Claus is a regular spectator at Bangor City, where I regularly provide an online audio commentary on the home games that reaches supporters in far-flung locations such as the USA, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand and southern parts of Wales. I am still trying to work out where and when I’ve talked to this Santa at the football as he certainly dresses differently at Bangor City’s home games.

After our trip to meet Santa and a load of butterflies, our next stop was Caernarfon for a Christmas event being hosted by a fantastic local book store than sells a brilliant range of books in both Welsh and English. All day, there were fun activities for people of all ages. Just after we’d had lunch, we saw a concert by local band Plu who had just released a new Welsh language CD of songs about animals for kids. We now play this song in the car, which adds some welcome variety after the previous car CD of choice featuring a ditty about a ‘dingly dangly scarecrow’ had become¬†a bit repetitive.

Thankfully our trip to watch the band Plu sing some songs for kids in a local bookshop didn't produce the same reaction as being introduced to Santa.

Thankfully our trip to watch the band Plu sing some songs for kids in a local bookshop didn’t produce the same reaction as being introduced to Santa.

After this excitement, our son decided that it was time for a nap rather than a trip to watch our local rugby team. As I have a distinct preference for football (a.k.a. soccer) over rugby, I was pleased to see that he had his priorities right. Last time we went to a football match, he made sure that he got in his nap before the game. When he had woken up again, we headed to the Bangor Christmas market where our son seemed particularly interested in the Christmas lights. However, shortly after pointing towards the festive illuminations he started saying ‘seagull’ in a gesture that demonstrated a greater fascination with local birds that the decorations.

During the Christmas holidays, I was really struck by how rapidly our son’s English vocabulary was expanding. Whilst this was great, I did wonder how long it would be before he started coming out with lots and lots of new words in Welsh (the language that I use when speaking to him). As my wife spends more time with our son during the week and mainly speaks English to him, it’s probably natural that his English vocab seemed to be increasing so noticeably. That said, our son has been able to do quite a good job of pronouncing the LL and CH sounds in Welsh for a few months now!

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn't yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

Despite being good at pronouncing LL and CH sounds, our son hasn’t yet managed to say the name of this local train station.

During the Christmas and New Year break, I was really pleased to see our son¬†start to say¬†a few more Welsh words that i hadn’t heard him use before. For a few weeks now, he’s often pointed up to the sky and said ‘moon’ in English after having noticed the moon one afternoon at the local play park. He’s now able to say ‘lleuad’, the somewhat difficult to pronounce Welsh equivalent of moon. While watching Wallace and Gromit’s ‘A Grand Day Out’ just last week, he spent quite a lot of time pointing at the screen saying ‘lleuad’ whilst the plasticine duo explored the moon.

I’ve also had a bit of fun teaching our son¬†new phrases in Welsh over the festive season. On one trip out to a supermarket, I managed to train him to say ‘Si√īn Corn, ho ho ho!’ (‘Santa Claus, ho ho ho!’). It was an afternoon well spent. Every now and again, our son will come out with some Welsh words and phrases spontaneously. Last week when we were in the queue at a book shop, he started saying ‘dafad’ (sheep) and pointing at a calendar which featured pictures of the woolly animals that populate so many of the fields in the area where we live. However, the one of the main language highlights of the holidays was regularly hearing him say ‘nos da, tad’ (‘good night, dad’) on the way¬†to bed.

What languages do you speak with your children? What do you think are the most important things that we can do as parents to boost our children’s language development? Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via¬†BlogLovin. There‚Äôs also now a¬†Pinterest board¬†for this blog¬†as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you‚Äôve enjoyed reading it.

Want to read more about bilingual parenting? Here are some more posts that I’ve written about this topic:

Being a Bilingual Parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Interview with Ana Flores about ‘Bilingual is Better’

Bilingual Parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a Bilingual Parent in Wales

Being a Bilingual Family in Wales

Tales of a Bilingual Toddler

I have added this post to the following parent blogger link ups:

Tales of a bilingual toddler

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Tales of a bilingual toddler

As our son is only 18 months old, he hasn’t yet given me much feedback on how he thinks I’m doing as a bilingual parent. Instead, I thought I’d write this post about how things have been going so far. I talked about the reasons why my wife and I are bringing up our son bilingually in one of the first posts on this blog and I’ve also described my experiences on Olga Centeno’s fantasic podcast Bilingual Kids Rock.

Welsh is my third language and one that I only started to learn in 2007 when I moved to Wales to start a job as a lecturer in French at Bangor University. By the time our son was on his way, I was already using Welsh regularly in and out of work. However, it did feel odd when I started to speaking Welsh to our son when he was just a bump and also when he was born just over a year and a half ago.

I’ve sometimes wondered how bringing him up using my third language will affect his language development, especially as my wife (who speaks English to him) spends more time with our son than I do due our working arrangements. However, we are working as a team in order to bring him up bilingually. Indeed, my wife went to a parent and baby Welsh clash where she learned lots of Welsh language nursery rhymes when our son was only a few months old. We’ve also taken in turns to take him to ‘Swn a Sbri’ (meaning ‘Sound and Fun’) sessions in local libraries where he has learned more songs in Welsh and met other babies.

For a lot of the last 18 months, I’ve wondered what impact the Welsh I’ve been speaking with our son has been having. Most of his first few words were in English, although he did quickly learn to say ‘mwy’ (meaning ‘more’) when he wanted more food, which perhaps points towards what he saw as one of his¬†communication priorities. At times, I did wonder if I was doing enough to expose our son to sufficient Welsh. I’ve been trying to address this recently by reading him story books in Welsh at bed time and he’s able to respond to questions like ‘Wyt ti eisiau darllen stori?’ (‘do you want to read a story?’) by wandering over to his pile of toys and picking out a book.

When I was taking our son to the play park recently, I also noticed that he often seems to know when someone is asking a question. He is able to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in English, and also ‘ie’ and ‘na’ in Welsh. This is a good place to be at, although it also means that there are several dozen other words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ in Welsh that he still has to learn as these depend on the types of structures and tenses used in questions. This is something that took me a while to get my head round as an adult learner of the language, so I’m hoping that our son will somehow manage to pick it up naturally.

Realising that our son understands some simple questions in Welsh is fun as well as quite satisfying. He can currently do a variety of different animal sounds when we ask him what noise certain animals make in either Welsh or English. He seems to particularly enjoy making pig and snake noises, but needs to more clearly differentiate between the sounds made by sheep and lions.

Our son’s also at a fun stage where he sometimes finds a word that he likes and walks around repeating it. I particularly like it when I come in from work and hear him repeatedly say ‘daddy, daddy, daddy’. When I was in the garden picking apples recently, he spontaneously started saying ‘apple’ several times without me having said the word. Before long, I managed to get him to say ‘afal’ (the Welsh equivalent). Just last week, I asked him ‘wyt ti eisiau¬†cael bath?’ (‘do you want to have a bath?’) and mimicked the response ‘oes plis, tad’ (yes please, dad) as he enthusiastically started climbing the stairs. Almost instantly, he said back ‘oes, tad, plis’ (‘yes, dad, please’).

As our son progresses along the language learning path, I’m also going to have to learn some new tricks to help him out. At the moment, singing ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ is often a good way of getting him to stop crying when he’s tired or upset. However, I currently only know how to sing this song in English. When my wife and I are in the car, it feels like it’d be kind of wrong to follow¬†our ‘one parent one language’ (OPOL) approach to the extent that I’d only join in with the animal sounds that are the same in Welsh and English. However, I am now on a mission to learn the Welsh version of this song. I know the Welsh version of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ but unfortunately my repertoire of Welsh language nursery rhymes is pretty limited.

Perhaps it’s time to start listening to one our many Welsh language nursery rhyme CDs on the bus on the way to work. I’ll just have to hope that I don’t end up singing out loud, although an early morning nursery rhyme sing along could help to lighten the atmosphere on our often crowded local buses as they wind their way towards Bangor.

Are you bringing up your kids bilingually? How important do you think it is to speak different languages?¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views and experiences in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

RELATED POSTS

Being a bilingual parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a bilingual parent in Wales

Being a bilingual family in Wales

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Being a bilingual family in Wales

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Being a bilingual family in Wales

Wales’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod) is an annual week-long Welsh language cultural festival that takes place at the start of August. Last year, we went to the event as a family for the first time when our son was three and a half months old. As this year’s Eisteddfod is a bit far to comfortably visit in a day trip, this week I’ll be looking back on last year’s event.

I started learning Welsh in 2007, the year I moved to Wales to begin a job as lecturer in French at Bangor University. After I’d been learning Welsh for just under two years, I went to the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol for the first time when it was in Bala in 2009. I wasn’t sure what it would be like being at a Welsh language event while I was a relative beginner with the language and I was a bit nervous. My nerves weren’t exactly helped when I¬†accidentally knocked¬†over a display stand holding leaflets in the reception area, but I was kindly given help to¬†put the stand together again by a friendly¬†clown who said that it was the stand’s fault.

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The Eisteddfod’s main pavilion

Although I wasn’t able to fully understand everything going on around me at my first Eisteddfod, especially when I went into the main pavilion to see one of the big ceremonies at which a literary prize was being presented, it was great being there. There was a lot of live music and I ended up bumping into quite a few people I knew.

By the time the Eisteddfod was back in North Wales in 2011, my Welsh had improved. During my trip to the 2011 Eisteddfod Genedlaethol in Wrexham I recorded several interviews for a Welsh language football podcast that I was running at the time. I also managed to understand more of what was going on and went to a few talks.

Last year, when the Eisteddfod was in Denbigh, I visited it with my wife and son.¬†Despite being under four months old, our son seemed to quite enjoy the event even though he thought that some people were clapping too loudly for his liking at some events. He managed to sit through a clog dancing performance but just didn’t like the noise of the applause at the end of it, so we had to leave the tent in which the dance competitions were taking place.

2013-08-07 13.02.55Thankfully, our son was more at home in the large tent of the organisation Twf. Twf’s slogan is ‘two languages from day one’ and they are an organisation who provide support and resources for parents who want to use Welsh with their kids. So far, they have provided us with several free CDs of Welsh nursery rhymes and we’ve been able to attend several of their events in our local area. They also ran a parent and baby Welsh course that my wife was able to attend with our son during his first few months. As a result, she learned a lot of useful phrases to use when talking to babies.

At last year’s Eisteddfod, I was able to attend and understand events where experts were discussing topics like the music industry in Wales and how the Welsh language is being affected by the rise of e-publishing. Although the main language of the Eisteddfod is very much Welsh, it is always visited by quite a lot of people who do not speak Welsh. On several visits, I have seen tourists from a range of different countries. Translation headsets are also available for many of the events that take place in the main pavilion.

Personalized signage for a performer named Allan who is renowned for arriving late. Apparently some think that this is just an exit sign as 'allan' is Welsh for 'out'.

Personalized signage for a performer named Allan who is renowned for arriving late. Apparently some think that this is just an exit sign as ‘allan’ is Welsh for ‘out’.

The Eisteddfod Genedlaethol is a focal point for Welsh language culture and I hope that it’s an event that our son will come to enjoy as he grows up. I hope that he will become confident in both Welsh and English and realise the benefits that come from speaking more than one language and also the range of cultural events that take place in Welsh. There is a national¬†Welsh language television channel and radio station here in Wales and there are many Welsh language plays and¬†music festivals that take place in our local area.

Attending the Eisteddfod has provided me with plenty of reasons to keep on learning Welsh and learning about Welsh culture. Over the last few years I have done several live radio interviews in Welsh. It is also a language that I use almost daily at work, and I have now given several lectures and conference papers in Welsh.

I often think about the crucial issue of language exposure when it comes to bringing up our son bilingually. I speak to him exclusively in Welsh and my wife generally speaks to him in English. As my wife spends more time with him at the moment, I do wonder how this will affect his confidence in Welsh. I’m hoping that the Welsh language events in our area that take place in local libraries and community centres will help to bridge the gap and that we’ll be able to enjoy plenty more trips to the Eisteddfod in years to come.

 

Are you bringing up your kids bilingually? How important do you think it is to speak different languages?¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

RELATED POSTS

Being a bilingual parent

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

Dad’s first time at baby club

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes

Being a bilingual parent in Wales

 

I’ve added this post to the following parent blogger link-ups:

Being a bilingual parent in Wales

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I recently appeared on Olena Centeno’s fantastic podcast Bilingual Kids Rock to discuss my experiences of being a bilingual parent. You can listen to the interview if you click on the image below.

 

In the interview, I talk about the Welsh language, how I learned Welsh and why my wife and I are using it to bring up our son. As our son is just over a year old, it’s hard to know how well we’re doing yet as he generally babbles rather than talks. However, I’m sure that there’ll be plenty of fun just round the corner as his speech develops. He’s starting to copy gestures and sounds more and more and I’m sure that he’ll be chattering away before long.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about¬†listing to the Bilingual Kids Rock podcast has been hearing the range of different ways fellow parents and parent bloggers have gone about raising their kids bilingually. There have been so many different languages, methods and issues discussed in the fifteen episodes that have been recorded so far.

I’ve talked about bilingual parenting here on this blog quite a few times, so here’s a list of some posts that you might want to read if this is a subject that interests you:

Being a bilingual parent Рread about how I went about learning Welsh and why my wife and I decided to raise our son using both Welsh and English.

Being a multilingual and multimedia parent – discover the different sorts of resources out there that can be helpful if you’re bringing up children bilingually.

Interview with Ana Flores about Bilingual is Better Рread my interview with Ana Flores, one of the authors of the great book about bilingual parenting Bilingual is Better.

Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes – as I take the ability to tell dad jokes seriously, bringing up our son using Welsh as well as English has meant that I’ve had to learn dad jokes in Welsh as well as English.

I’ll be doing some more posts about being a bilingual parent in the next few months, so remember to subscribe to this blog so as you don’t miss them!

 

Please¬†feel free to share your views about this post in¬†the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

 

I’ve added this blog post to the following parent blog link ups where you can read lots more posts by fellow parent bloggers:

Happy World Book Day!

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Happy World Book Day

I’ve always seen books as being special and this post is about why they are important to me now that I am a parent.¬†It’s also about what I feel that we need to celebrate on World Book Day.

My first post on this blog was entitled Read all about it: dad books and preparing for fatherhood. It was about parenting books that are specifically aimed at dads and dads-to-be. I have also written other posts about specific books that have discussed some of the aspects of parenting about which I am passionate. It was a real privilege to be able to interview Ana Flores, one of the co-authors of the book Bilingual is Better, as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club last year. More recently, I have also blogged about reading Bill Richards and Ashley Steel’s book Family on the Loose: the Art of Travelling with Kids¬†and buying some Welsh language joke books in order to entertain our son.

Books have always been important to me, and I talked about why they are particularly important to me now as a parent in December 2013 in a post entitled Babies, Books and Blogging. I have previously explained how they have helped to play an important role in being a bilingual parent, and only last weekend I read a book to our 10 month old son for the first time. It was a Welsh language picture book about a sheep entitled¬†Dilyn Dilys,¬†which means ‘following Dilys’.

2014-03-01 19.18.11

Reading a book to our son for the first time felt like a really special parenting moment, one of what I hope will be many that involve sharing things with our son that he will enjoy. We are really lucky that he has already received several free books as part of schemes to promote bilingualism here in Wales, and that several local libraries run events for parents with small children and babies.

Books can provide a means of understanding the world as well as understanding one’s self, and I talked about this in a blog post that I wrote shortly after the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. As I mentioned, I am from Scotland, have Irish parents and the country of Wales where I now live is a place whose national anthem celebrates its poets. In 2008, the year after I moved to Wales, I went to the Hay Book Festival and really want to return to this eclectic and exciting event again in the future.

Y Babell Len - the literary tent at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

Y Babell Len – the literary tent at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol

I have also twice been to Wales’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod), an annual week-long Welsh language cultural festival. At the event in 2009, I saw Y Babell Len (the Literary Tent) as somewhere that was perhaps not worth exploring as I didn’t feel that my Welsh would be good enough. However, I did end up venturing inside as there was a discussion taking place in Welsh about an English language novel by Simon Thirsk entitled¬†Not Quite White. Last year, I was brave enough to venture into the Pabell Len to listen to a panel discussion about e-books and their impact on the Welsh language.

Whilst I do have an e-book reader and a tablet that I use to read e-books, I am also very attached to traditional paperback and hardback books. The physical copy of a book in some ways conveys a greater sense of intrigue or mystique. I have also found that second hand books are often cheaper than electronic copies that it is possible to read on an e-reader.

Our son with one of his current favourite books, the phone book.

Our son with one of his current favourite books, the phone book.

I also really value being able to visit a local bookshop where it is possible to browse and discover new books. We are really fortunate to have a fantastic local bookshop called Palas Print¬†that is well stocked with a wide range of titles in both Welsh and English. The people who work there are always really helpful when it comes to ordering books or suggesting titles when we’re after a present for someone but aren’t quite sure what to get.

Online retailers can offer low prices and quick delivery, but I don’t feel that they will ever be able to fully replicate the pleasure that comes from visiting an actual book shop. For that reason, I’m trying extra hard this year to try to buy as many books as possible from local shops rather than online retailers.

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When it comes to online retailers, I’m also currently trying to use Amazon as little as possible. They may have an excellent range of books and other products, but I really have issues with the methods that they employ in order to try to minimise the tax that they have to pay here in the UK. It was reported last year that they only paid ¬£2.4 million in tax on ¬£4 billion of sales in the UK by virtue of effectively registering Amazon UK as a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-based Amazon EU Sarl. As was reported on the BBC News website, ¬†Amazon has been able to put in place these tax arrangements despite the fact that it employs more than ten times as many people in the UK compared to Luxembourg.

The slogan on the website of our local bookshop is ‘heb ffiniau / without borders’. This is a concept that I associate with trying to make sure that reading is a gift from which everyone can take pleasure. ¬†As our son grows up, I hope that he too will enjoy reading books that broaden his horizons and help him to understand the world around him. I hope that he will grow up in a world where the local bookshop remains present and in which big retailers respond to concerns about how they go about their business.

DISCLAIMER: I have not received or sought any form of sponsorship for mentioning any of the books, organisations or retailers that I discuss in this post.

Did you do anything to mark World Book Day? Are books important to you and/or your family?¬†¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

Nominations are now open for the MAD blog awards for UK parent bloggers and I’ve been nominated in the categories Best Baby Blog, Best New Blog and MAD Blog of the year. In each category, only the four blogs with the most votes will make the final shortlist. If you’d like to vote for me, please go to http://www.the-mads.com/vote/ and type in the web address of my blog (https://dadsthewayilikeit.wordpress.com/) in the relevant categories. Thank you!

I’ve shared this post with the following parent blog linkies:

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Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes

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PicMonkey Collage JOKES

Some people would probably say that I struggle to tell good jokes in English, which is my first language. Indeed, both my wife and my best man mentioned this at my wedding. As my wife and I are bringing up our son using English and Welsh, one of my main language objectives for this year is to learn more jokes in Welsh. I may use Welsh regularly in and out of work, but I just haven’t learned all that many jokes along the way.

For my birthday last year, our son gave me a book of dad jokes¬†on which he had written (in very neat handwriting for a six month old) ‘I think that I might regret getting this for you’. However, the fact that I speak to our son exclusively in Welsh means that he is less likely to hear me telling him the following jokes than he would have been had we not decided to bring him up bilingually:

William Shakespeare went into a pub. The barman took one look at him and said ‘you’re bard!’.

What do you get if you drop a piano down a coal shaft? A flat minor.

Why did the florist sell his shop? He could see that there was no fuchsia in it.

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‘Oh dear, dad’s telling bad jokes again…’

Now some of you will probably be thinking that our son’s childhood will be greatly enhanced by not having to endure such jokes. However, I really think that I would be failing in my paternal duties if I were not able to share with him a wide variety of jokes in Welsh. As it happens, reading a blog post entitled Easy Spanish Jokes for Kids on the website Spanish Playground got me thinking that I really needed to get my act together when it came to knowing jokes in Welsh as well as English. Within minutes of reading about kids’ jokes in Spanish, I had done a web search for Welsh language joke books and the following day I bought two of them from our local bilingual bookshop.

Some of the jokes in the two books were ones that also exist in English and may even be recognisable to non-Welsh speakers. In fact, let’s have a little quiz to see if any of those of you who don’t speak Welsh can identify these jokes without using an online translation website:

Beth gei di os wyt ti’n croesi ditectif a chacen Nadolig? Mins sbei!

Doctor, doctor, dwi’n meddwl mai bisgeden ydw i. Wel, chi’n swnio’n cracyrs i fi!

Beth yw mochyn sy’n gwneud carate? Porc tsiop!

I can’t offer you any prizes, but do please feel free to try to work out the English versions of the above jokes by posting your guesses in the comments section at the end of this article. As I mentioned in a blog post that I wrote last year about being a bilingual parent, I felt a bit like I’m cheating when I sing nursery rhymes to our son in Welsh that are more or less the same as ones that exist in English. It just seems that I’m not fully embracing bilingual parenting when I’m singing ‘mae’r olwyn ar y bws yn troi a throi…’. However, but the upside of having mentioned this is that several people have stumbled upon this blog after entering search terms such as ‘Welsh version of wheels on the bus‘ or ‘Welsh language wheels on the bus‘.

The cynics said it was probably just wind, but I like to see this picture as one of the earliest examples of our son chuckling after hearing one of my jokes.

The cynics said it was probably just wind, but I like to see this picture as one of the earliest examples of our son chuckling after hearing one of my jokes.

Thankfully, the two Welsh joke books that I purchased contained some good rib-ticklers that just wouldn’t work as well in English. I quite liked ¬†one section that contained jokes about pigs that involved rhymes with place names, such as this one:

Pam mae moch y Felinheli yn crynu wrth edrych ar y teli? Maen nhw’n teimlo’n ofnus braidd ‘r√īl gweld y Gemau Olymp-blaidd.

Continuing on a pig theme, there was a joke about pigs going on holiday to Abersoch-soch, which plays on the fact that there is a place in North West Wales called Abersoch and Welsh speaking pigs generally say ‘soch, soch’ rather than ‘oink, oink’. It’d probably take me a while to explain why a policeman from Llanberis is called ‘Copa’r Wyddfa’ and a postman from the Netherlands is called ‘Vincent fan Goch’ but even those of you don’t speak a word of Welsh will probably understand the fact that DOLgellau is where Barbie goes on her holidays.

Before I end this blog post, I would like to launch a personal plea. If you are a Welsh speaker, please could you let me know your best kid-friendly jokes yn y Gymraeg. They may be jokes that you have been mocked or shunned for telling because they are so cringe-worthy, but they could play a big role in helping me to embrace an important part of being a bilingual parent. Diolch yn fawr!

I wrote this post as part of the Multilingual Kids Blogging Carnival for February that was organised by Olga Mecking of  the European Mama blog. To read about the other posts that fellow bloggers have written as part of this blogging carnival about funny multilingualism stories, click on this link.

If you speak more than one language, how easy or difficult do you find telling and understanding jokes in several languages? Is it easier to be funnier in some languages rather than others?¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it.

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Being a multilingual and multimedia parent

2013 – a year in review

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I was flattered to be mentioned in the ‘2013 – a year in review’ post by John Adams of DadBlogUK. It’s always flattering to receive this sort of compliment from a fellow blogger, especially one has so much to contribute to debates about what it means to be a dad and parent today.

Another reason that I was pleased to have been mentioned in John’s post is that it helped me to decide what ¬†would blog about this week. This is what I am supposed to do as I have decided to participate in this ‘2013 – a year in review series’ (…if I’ve tagged you in this post, please feel free to follow suit or not as you see fit, I appreciate that you may have a whole series of other posts lined up for the next while):

1. In your post, be sure to link back and thank the blogger that previously tagged you

2. Answer the questions below and tag at least 5 other bloggers

3. Include the badge in your post

Right, here are my answers to the questions that the other bloggers who have participated in this chain of post have answered:

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1. Your top 5 new favourite blogs to read in 2013

¬†As I only started blogging in June of last year, I’ve gone for five blogs that were new to me even though they may have been up and running for a while:

– Stephen Greene’s Head of the Heard. Stephen is from England but lives in Brazil with his wife and son. His blog is full of fascinating insights on Brazillian life and culture as well as humour and reflections about bringing up their child bilingually. As a fellow bilingualparent, I find this last topic particularly interesting.

– Olga Mecking’s¬†European Mama. Olga is another parent blogger who has moved from one country to another, being originally from Poland and now living in the Netherlands. On her blog, she discusses topics such as multilingualism, traditions and cultures around the world and also general issues to do with parenting.

– Dean Beaumont’s¬†DaddyNatal. Dean is the founder of DaddyNatal, whose tag line is ‘practical, memorable and enjoyable antenatal education¬†for men, by men’. He is also the first professional male antenatal educator in the UK. I first heard about him and his organisation after my mum mentioned that she heard him take part in a discussion on BBC Radio 4’s¬†Women’s Hour. I love his upbeat focus on what it means to be a man and a dad, and this really struck a chord with me around the time when I was about to become a dad.

– Tom Briggs’s Diary of the Dad. Tom has a real knack when it comes to writing humorous posts about all sorts of things with which a lot of parents will identify. The anecdotes that he recounts about being a dad often have me chuckling away in front of my computer. He has also discussed various topical issues to do with parenting, children and families.

– Leanna Guillen Mora’s¬†All Done Monkey. In addition to running a lively and fun blog where she discusses bilingual and bicultural parenting, Leanna is also one of the main people behind Multicultural Kid Blogs, a group of bloggers who are interesting in topics such as raising kids to be aware of a variety of different cultures and languages. This group is always coming up with fun projects to do with parenting such as online book clubs and is also full of articles about all sorts of different traditions and cultures around the world.

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2. List your 5 most read blog posts of 2013

1. Being a Bilingual Parent. In this post, I talked about why my wife and I have decided to bring up our son bilingually using Welsh and English. We live in Wales and have found this to be quite a fun challenge as neither of us grew up speaking Welsh but we have both learnt the language since moving here.

2. It’s International Baby Wearing Week, so we went to Sling. My wife and I both enjoy carrying our sun about in a variety of different sorts of slings. We also live only a few miles from a small village called Sling. It only seemed right to go there to mark International Baby Wearing Week and take some photos of us with our son in a sling next to the Sling road sign. As well as this random silliness, this post contains some really interesting input from bloggers in different countries about attitudes to babywearing around the world.

3. Parenting clubs shouldn’t just be for mums. I wrote this piece due to my frustration at how the parenting clubs run by some big chains of shops in the UK seem to devote very little focus on the fact that dads are parents too and can play a positive role in the raising a family. I called for dads to be more visible in materials the ‘parenting’ materials produced by some such parenting clubs that focus almost exclusively on mums.

4. Baby ‘essentials’ – things that you’re told you need but could probably do without. In September of last year, a Saturday newspaper in the UK ran a feature entitled ‘The 50 best baby essentials’. I saw a lot of the items on the list as expensive luxury items that it is fairly easy to live without, so I wrote this post in response (…after counting to ten, sitting down and waiting for steam to stop coming out of my ears).

5. 6 things I’ve learned in 6 months as a parent. In this post, I took stock of what I had learned about parenting in the half year following the birth of our son. After writing this post, I really enjoyed hearing other parents let me know what they had quickly learned about parenting after their arrival of their children. I’m constantly learning all sorts of things about parenting as our son grows up and now do a post each month in which I reflect on the lighter side of being a parent. The most recent one is entitled 9 thoughts from my 9th as a parent.

3. Name one blog you wish you had found sooner

Scott Behson’s blog¬†Fathers, Work and Family is one that I always love reading due to the way in which it combines being thought provoking, practical and highly engaging. Scott describes his blog as one that ‘is dedicated to supporting work-family balance for fathers’. So much of what he says strikes a real chord with me as I continue to try to do my best to balance work and family life. If you’ve read any of the posts that I’ve written on here about paternity leave, you’ll probably realise that this something that I see as a really important issue.

4. Your favourite blog post of 2013

If this means my favourite post from 2013 of those that I wrote here, I’d probably have to say that it’s one entitled What parenting and game shows have in common. It was quite a fun post to write, especially as the writing process involved watching YouTube clips of some of game shows such as Catchphrase, Going for Gold and Takeshi’s Castle that I used to love watching.

If I had to nominate the blog post that I most enjoyed reading as opposed to writing in 2013, it would have to be one entitled Dad, are we poor? from Aaron Gouveia’s blog Daddy Files. It provided a really poignant focus on striking a balance between earning money to support one’s family and spending time with one’s family.

5. What would you like to improve (if anything) on your blog next year?

I keep wanting to improve the layout and visual aspect of this blog. I think it’s improved a bit since I added the pictures under the title. I’m also trying to become a bit more focused when it comes to the types of posts I do. Each month, I plan to do a post about languages and cultures, one about what I’ve learned about parenting that month, a topical post and one or two others on whatever takes my fancy.

6. Name one blog you have a blog crush on

Hmm. Having a crush on a blog seems a bit of an odd notion to me, especially as I am now in my mid-thirties. I don’t think that there were anywhere near as many blogs around when I was of an age to have crushes.

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7. How often do you post?

When I started this blog in June 2013, I was planning to post twice a week but this swiftly became once a week so as I had more time to read other parent blogs and also make sure that I was being a parent in addition to blogging about it.

8. Share your first post of 2013

Despite being just under 9 months old at the time, our son was kind enough to write a guest post entitled Baby’s first Christmas¬†in which he gave his perspective on what December 25th 2013 was like. I am hoping that he will do occasional guest posts on my blog during 2014 and will be bribing him with blueberries and apple rings.

9. Name one thing you would be doing if you weren’t typing this post right now

I’d probably be reading a newspaper.

 

10. What have you loved the most about blogging this year?

I was really flattered to learn in the last few days of 2013 that I’d made it onto the shortlist for the Best Newcomer prize of the Love All Dads blog awards. As the result was annouced earlier this week, I can’t really tell you about it was revealed during 2014. Here’s a link if you want to find out though.

However, I don’t see blogging as being just an individual thing. I really loved being part of groups such as the Dad Bloggers Facebook group, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Kid Bloggers Network, DadzClub and LoveAllDads. It’s great that they exist and provide a supportive environment for parents and parent bloggers. There are so many great blogs out there and I am delighted to have discovered so many over the course of the last year.

What do you think of this post and what were your highlights of 2013?¬†Please¬†feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin. There’s also now a Pinterest board for this blog as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you’ve enjoyed reading it 

 

Babies, books and blogging

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2013-12-11 19.17.13I’ve read many books about parenting since learning that my wife and I were going to welcome a new arrival. Indeed, parenting books that are specifically aimed at dads were the subject of my first post on this blog. I’ve also talked about books that have helped me learn how to talk about wind, throwing up and tickling in Welsh.

I also did a post where I responded to a newspaper’s list of 50 supposed baby essentials, and this led to some interesting discussion about the most and least useful things to get when you have kids. John S. Green, who blogs at Papa Green Bean, suggested that a library card should have been on the list of essentials, especially as it can make it possible to borrow both books and music.

I was thinking about these comments recently as our son now has his own library card at our local library, which also entitles him to use several other local libraries. Not only that, but also received a free bilingual book about animals in Welsh and English when he joined our local council-run library. Our son has actually been going to libraries since he was three weeks old, notably because one of our local libraries was the venue for a parent and child Welsh course that my wife went to with him and has written about on her blog Mindful Mam.

For me, the fact that libraries are about more than just shelves of books sums of their value as focal points for communities. It is for this reason that I feel that it’s a real shame that public sector spending cuts in the UK since the last election have resulted in many libraries closing. Our local libraries make available books, CDs, DVDs, the internet and books that can be read on e-readers.

My wife has often said that reading books on an e-reader is great when breastfeeding. It’s amazing how light a device that can store thousands of books can be. This is a good thing as it minimizes the negative consequences of accidentally dropping an e-book reader whilst holding a baby, not that I’d know of course… ūüôā

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Our son’s arrival has at times influenced my own reading choices, and not just because I’ve read quite a lot of books about parenting. In the run up to his birth, and since then, I have read quite a few about Wales and Welsh culture. We live in North Wales, and I moved here in 2007 due to work. After getting the job for which ¬†was applying I rang all the Welsh people I knew at the time. It only took about five minutes and two phone calls.

I’ve thankfully got to know a few more Welsh people since then and have also been busy learning Welsh, a language that I now use as part of my daily life both at work and when talking to my son. As I mentioned a while ago in a post that I wrote shortly after the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, my mixture of Scottish and Irish roots sometimes leaves me a bit confused about my own sense of identity and I’m not sure what our son will make of the fact that he’ll be eligible to represent Wales, Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland at football.

Since I talk to my son in Welsh, I’m going to have fun discovering new kids’ books in Welsh at the same time as him. Even if this means that I won’t be reading exactly the same books to him as did when I was growing up, I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’re lucky to have a really good local book shop that stocks a wide range of titles in both Welsh and English.

As a multilingual parent, one aspect of running this blog that I have really enjoyed is that it’s allowed me to connect with other bloggers in a wide variety of different places who are raising their children using more than one language, and also parents who are raising their children to appreciate a variety of different cultures. One group that has made this possible is Multicultural Kid Blogs, who bring together a fantastic range of bloggers and coordinate a great variety of different activities.

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Going back to the theme of books, Multicultural Kid Blogs have run an online book club where bloggers such as myself recently read Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book¬†Bilingual is Better and discussed it on our blogs. Each week, a different blogger would write a post about a specific chapter in order to start the discussion. Here’s a link to the posts about each chapter. As you will see, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to host a question and answer session with Ana Flores on this blog.

In the new year, I’m looking forward to the second installment of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club. This time round, we will be reading¬†Family on the Loose: the Art of Travelling with Kids by Bill Richards and Ashley Steel. So far, my wife and I have been on just the one overseas trip with our son since he was born in April. We went to France in September, and I talked about this in a blog post entitled Our First Family Holiday.

I hope that September’s trip to Brittany will be the first of many that we undertake as a family, and I really look forward to reading more about the experiences of others who have been traveling with kids for a lot longer than we have. If you are interested in finding out more about the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club and how to get involved, just click on this link to see the schedule.

As our son grows up, I hope that he will develop a love of both travel and reading, and discover how both can broaden the mind and be a source of excitement and wonder.

What do you think of this post? What books were special to you as a child and what books are special to you and your children no? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the¬†‚ÄėDad‚Äôs The Way I Like It‚Äô pages on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Google+.

Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via¬†BlogLovin. There‚Äôs also now a¬†Pinterest board¬†for this blog¬†as well, so please feel free to pin this post if you‚Äôve enjoyed reading it. Here’s the pin:¬†http://www.pinterest.com/pin/428827195740258340/

Here are some parent blog link ups that this post is part of – check them out to see some great posts about all sorts of different aspects of parenting:

 

 

 

Interview with Ana Flores about ‘Bilingual is Better’

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I’ve been reading Ana Flores and Roxana Soto’s book¬†
Bilingual is Better as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club. From the start, I found it really interesting to learn more about bilingualism in the United States. Although the authors focus primarily on bilingualism from the perspective of Latino families in the United States, much of what they said also touched on general topics such as the benefits of bilinguals, bilingualism and education and the interaction between bilingualism and cultural identity.These sorts of issues really spoke to me as I’ve talked on this blog about why my wife and I are bringing up our son using Welsh and English and my own sense of cultural identity.
Judging by the discussions that have taken place concerning the various chapters of¬†Bilingualism is Better (see list at the end of this post), it is certainly a book that has had meaning for lots of people bringing up children bilingually in different countries around the world.¬†In this penultimate post in the book club, I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Roxana Soto about¬†Bilingual is Better and more general questions to do with bilingualism in the United States. Here’s the interview…

Ana Flores

Dad’s the Way I Like It:¬†Before you wrote¬†Bilingual is Better, you had already been discussing topics such as bilingualism on the blog¬†SpanglishBaby¬†that you set up with your co-author Roxana Soto. How did writing about these issues on your blog compare with actually writing about them in your book?

Ana Flores: ¬†It was actually a very natural progression, but one that felt a little bit more intimidating. I remember telling Roxana several times that when writing a blog post you don’t feel the same pressure as writing a book that someone paid money for. Even though we take our writing on the blog very seriously, the book required a lot more research and editing to make sure we could fit in all that we needed to say in a few hundred pages.

 

Dad’s the Way I Like It:¬†How did you and Roxana decide what balance to strike between talking about your own experiences as bilingual parents and discussing general issues to do with bilingual parenting?

Ana Flores: We approached it the same way we approach the personal vs general issues in the blog because we wanted the book to be an extension of the blog. It’s easy to find books filled with research and reporting on the issue of raising bilingual kids, but we wanted people to connect with us because we’re not academic experts in the subject. We’re just two moms that are passionate about gifting our kids with a second language because it’s a matter that’s deeply personal and important to us.

Dad’s the Way I Like It: To what extent do you think attitudes to bilingualism in the United States have changed since you published Bilingualism is Better?

Ana Flores: That’s tough to measure. For sure we’ve seen a huge difference in attitudes towards bilingualism since we launched the blog. We won’t dare even assume that
SpanglishBaby has had that huge of an effect, but at least we were able to bring the conversation to a personal level that covers all bilingual parenting angles. And even though we focus on the Latino cultural experience, when it comes to the basics of learning two or more languages, we’ve always made sure it resonated with all audiences.
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Dad’s the Way I Like It:¬†One of the great things that has come out of the discussions about¬†Bilingualism is Better¬†in the Multicultural Kid Bloggers Book Club has been the way in which so many people in different countries around the world have found the book to be very relevant to them. Since publishing the book, have you had much response from bilingual parents outside North America?

Ana Flores: Because we’ve always made an effort to make the bilingual parenting aspect of our blog as general as possible, we’ve always had readers from across the globe and that are raising children in multiple languages. The title of the book focuses much on the Latino parenting aspect of the discussion, that I for sure thought it would turn off other ethnicities or other cultures around the world, so it’s been great to see that the information is useful and relevant to all. Regardless of languages or boundaries, the parenting experience is universal.

 


Dad’s the Way I Like It:
 Finally, is there one lesson more than any other that you would like people to take from reading Bilingual is Better?

Ana Flores: That bilingualism is the biggest gift we can give our children. They are born with the innate capacity to learn as many languages as they are consistently exposed to. Why make that brain power go to waste? It’s really up to us.

If you want to join the discussion about ‘Bilingual is Better’, please feel free to have your say in the comments section below or on the Multicultural Kid Blogs ‘community’ on Google+.

 

Here are links to the previous Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club posts and chapter discussions:


Chapter 1: The New Face of America (post by Spanish Playground)
Chapter 2: Why Bilingual is Better (post by Family on the Loose)
Chapter 3: Raising a Spanglish Baby (post by Spanglish House)
Chapter 4: Bilingual Education (post by For the Love of Spanish)
Next week Kid World Citizen will host a ‘wrap-up’ post.

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