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Tools for Raising Bilingual Children

Get these apps, books and DVDs to help teach your kids a second language.
 

Learning Benefits

Kids take to new languages like bees to honey, and summer is the perfect low-stress time to slip in a new game, a few books, or even an entire program that can open your child’s ears to the sounds of a second tongue. To find the very best products, we asked a panel of mom bloggers who are all raising bilingual kids to share their favorite picks. Consider the hard part done!

Spanish
All ages 
Spanish Bingo
Players can bone up on vocab, pronunciation, and matching skills with this board game, while the categories — from critters to cars — will appeal to both boys and girls. geniusbabies.com, $15.
 
3 to 6 years
El Perro y El Gato
Originally a kid’s show on HBO Latino, this series about a cat and dog has spawned DVDs and easy-to-read books that teach everyday vocabulary in both English and Spanish. HBO.com, $9.
 
6 years and up 
El Diario de Greg by Jeff Kinney
The best book for learning a language is the one your child already loves. The Spanish version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid lets kids compare beloved passages. To find more, search “in spanish” in Amazon’s kids’ books. Amazon.com, $13.
 
 
French
All ages  
Bientot Je Lis
Download this app onto your iPhone or iPad and get a multimedia experience: Listen to a story, play memory games with story-related cards, and sing songs. iTunes, first story free.
 
3 to 6 years
Languagemom
Created by a mom to teach her own preschoolers, this 26-week course is designed for parents who don’t speak French but want to learn along with their kids. If you aren’t ready to commit, sign up for a monthly newsletter. Languagemom.com, $15.
 
6 years and up
Mercy Watson a la Rescousse by Kate Dicamillo
This is a French translation of a beginning-reader book, which features a cheerful, toast-loving pig. The chapters are short enough for kids to master on their own. Amazon.com, $20.
 
 
Arabic
All ages 
Arabian Sinbad—Arabian Language Treasure
The price is steep, but there’s so much material — including a 10-DVD set of cartoons in Arabic with English subtitles, a sing-along CD, workbooks, a computer game — to make it worth your while. Arabiansinbad.com, $160.
 
3 to 8 years
One Thousand Words and Pictures
Each page of this dictionary shows bustling, bright illustrations with the English word and the Arabic script for every object. Younger kids can play “I Spy,” older ones will learn to spell — in two languages. Noorart.com, $12.
 
6 years and up
My Words
This iPhone/iPad app teaches Arabic words and spelling with simple matching, drawing, and writing games. Barmajeyat.com, free.
 
 
Mandarin
All ages  
Let’s Go Guang, Vol. 1 and 2
Created by two Chinese-American moms, this DVD series features the adventures of a brother-sister duo and their dragon friend, Guang. Each set includes a storybook and flashcards to reinforce the learning. Ahachinese.com, $50 each volume, $25 each for just the DVDs.
 
3 to 6 years
Gordon & Li Li by Michele Wong McSween
This eye-catching board-book-and-app series follow two panda cousins — one from Beijing, one from New York — as they get to know each other in English and Mandarin. The app also teaches pronunciation and how to draw characters. Books: Amazon.com, $9; App: iTunes, $3.
 
6 years and up
My First Chinese Reader iBook, Vol. 1 
Contains 12 animated, interactive stories with simplified Chinese characters and Pinyin. The focus is on practical, everyday words and phrases. Before you know it, your child will be reading paragraphs of simplified chinese characters. Betterchinese.com, $15.
 
 
All Languages
All ages
Duolingo
This web site/app combo marries gaming with lessons that feature cool photos and plenty of repetition. Kids can compete with pals, earn points for mastering the basics, and take tests to unlock new levels. Available in five languages, including French, Spanish, and German. Duolingo.com, free.
 
3 to 6 years
ABC X 3 English, Español, Français by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter
Teach your preschooler her letters with this trilingual alphabet book that features brightly colored illustrations of objects. Older kids will have fun comparing words from different languages, some very similar, some not. Amazon.com, $12.
 
6 years and up
My Language Coach
Pick the right answers to the vocabulary questions on this Nintendo DS game and you earn points to go to the next level. Kids get competitive and end up learning a lot of new words. Available in five languages, including Spanish, French, and Chinese. Amazon.com, $41.
 
 

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