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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 ‘Siôn 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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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.

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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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 – read 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 – read 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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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 parentIt’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’.

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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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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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Being a parent in Wales

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Being a parent in Wales

March 1st marks St. David’s Day, which honours the patron saint of Wales. To mark this occasion, I thought that I’d do a round-up of posts that I’ve done on this blog that focus on Wales.

I have talked about what home and belonging mean on this blog a few times. I grew up in Scotland and regularly visited Ireland when I was younger as both my parents are from there. Wales was a country that I did not know much about when I was growing up, but it is now a place that I consider home. Among other things, it is where my wife and I met, got married and became parents. In a blog post entitled Seamus Heaney, Haggis and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, I talked about my feelings towards the various Celtic countries with which I have connections.

Llanfairpwll

Since moving to Wales in 2007, I have learned Welsh and my wife and I are bringing up our son using both Welsh and English. It is likely that a significant amount of his school education will be provided through Welsh. Consequently, he should soon be able to pronounce the name of the village whose railway station is pictured above. One of my most popular posts on this page was one called Being a Bilingual Parent in which I talked about the fun challenges that are part of bringing up our son bilingually. A few months later, I did a follow-up post entitled Being a multilingual and multimedia parent. Only last week, I returned to the topic of bilingualism with a blog post in which I described my attempts to learn more kid jokes in Welsh.

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Thankfully, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is not an entirely typical local place name. If it were, a significant chunk of the local councils’ budget would have to be spent on road signs. As it is, there are also some villages with quite short names. Over on Anglesey, there’s a village called Star and in Gwynedd there’s a village called Sling. As my wife and I are both keen on baby wearing, it only seemed right that we should go on a special visit to the village of Sling to mark International Baby Wearing Week. Basically, I insisted that we should go there so as we got some photos our son in a sling next to the Sling sign in the village.

Next week, I will blog about how we end up celebrating our first St. David’s Day as a family and where we decide to do so. The video above shows how residents of the village of Bala plan to mark March 1st by making the largest ever Welsh Cake. There are also various local tourist attractions such as castles that will be free to visit on St. David’s Day, so we’ve got a few options. Indeed,if we had called our son David or Dewi then he could have got free entry to watch one of our local football teams.

What are the important national holidays and events that you enjoy celebrating in your country? Are there any events that are really important to you and your family where you live? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ 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.

In week 1 of the MAD blog awards for UK parent bloggers, 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 linked this post up with the following parent blog ‘linkies’. Click on the pictures to see more articles by fellow parent bloggers!

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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 ‘rôl 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 ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.

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