Adam Beck | The Founder Of Bilingual Monkeys Gives Us Great Ideas On How To Raise Bilingual Children | Bilingual Kids Rock Podcast

Adam Beck has a solid background in bilingualism.

Not only is he the founder of – a blog dedicated to bilingualism but he also came to Japan in 1996 and taught English to bilingual children at the Hiroshima International School for many years.

Adam is also a father of two bilingual children. He and his wife go by the one parent, one language system to teach their kids English and Japanese.

We’ve lifted interesting snippets from our podcast with Adam and thought to share them with you today.

Click here to listen to Adam Beck’s podcast interview on iTunes

Click here to listen to Adam Beck’s podcast interview on Stitcher


BKR: How did your bilingual journey start?

Adam: I’m originally from the United States but I’ve been in Japan for 17 years now. The reason I originally came was after graduate school in San Francisco I was in search of a job and couldn’t find anything locally.

I went on the Internet and considered teaching abroad (again). I thought of teaching English overseas and saw an ad for a language teacher for a small language school just outside Hiroshima, Japan. I thought I would do that for a year but it didn’t work out that way. I soon met my wife to be at that time and one year turned into 17 years.

Even before I had kids I was already a teacher at the Hiroshima International School and so I had the opportunity to work with about 200 bilingual kids which gave me my crash course.

I became so interested in the subject so I researched and wrote about it. It became clear to my wife and I after we got married that we wanted to raise bilingual children as my Japanese is not very good as is her English.

BKR: How does the bilingual picture look in your family right now?

Adam: When we’re having meals together, I only speak English and my wifeonly speaks Japanese even when we’re speaking to each other but the kids can bounce back and forth between Japanese with the mother and English with me. Many people find it surprising or impressive but that’s just the way we live our lives now.

BKR: It is common for families who have parents who only speak one language to feel excluded if the other parent and the kids start to speak the other language. Has the same thing happened in your family and how do you deal with that?

Adam: That’s a good point but because my wife and I can understand each other’s language to a degree that has never been an issue to us. While it is true that everyone cannot participate multilingually we are still able to accept that this is our reality and we are okay with that.

BKR: What language do the kids speak amongst themselves?

Adam: That’s really something I watch closely with them. About a year I would say that they used English more as this was before my son entered elementary school.

Now that my kids are both in elementary school and are influenced by the language there, I find that they both tend to speak Japanese to each other compared to English but it is still dependent on what they’re talking about or whether I’m in the room or the environment.

BKR: What about code-switching? Do you direct your kids back to the original language the started with?

Adam: There are 2 ways I can address it but I don’t really mind it if the child’s ability in both languages are pretty solid. My kid’s abilities are pretty solid in my opinion so I don’t mind it if they code switch from time to time.

BKR: What routines do you do with your kids everyday that have the biggest  impact on their language development?

Adam: What I term the secret is not really a secret. It’s reading aloud to your kids from the time that they are born until they know how to read is a great way to nurture language.

This is what I follow with my kids. When my kids were about three, we developed a daily homework routine that just involved simple tasks that involved language and literacy.

BKR: Have you run into any trouble raising your kids bilingual? Was there any resistance?

Adam: Yes I think its normal to run into trouble but I will say that the more you do early on the less problems you will run into later. Also, larger problems can be prevented by proactive actions started really early.

BKR: Do you have any support of an English speaking community where you live?

Adam: Yes and no because we aren’t really a big part of the international community in Hiroshima but however, I still have a connection to the school so the kids that come to my house for tutorials and whatnot can interact with my kids in English.

I also look for opportunities where my kids can try to help other people in English so that they can see that their language skills are not only helpful to themselves but to other people as well.

BKR: What is your biggest goal is in raising your children bilingual?

Adam: I have a very deep connection to my own language as I write for a living. Living a literate life has been part of my own journey and I would love to see that in my own children’s lives- that they have a love for books, become solid writers and be confident speakers.

Click here to listen to Adam Beck’s podcast interview on iTunes

Click here to listen to Adam Beck’s podcast interview on Stitcher