Being Bilingual Is a Superpower: Workshop Activities
This activity guide offers ideas for family outreach around Colorín Colorado's multilingual animated video "Being Bilingual Is a Superpower." The activities are designed to share ideas with families at all literacy levels.
"Being Bilingual Is a Superpower!" is an animated video from Colorín Colorado. It highlights how multilingual families can support their child's literacy and is available in 8 languages:
- Haitian Creole
Educators are welcome to share these videos with families. They can also use them in family outreach activities or events (in person or online). For educators who wish to use the videos as part of their school’s family engagement, the following activities offer some ideas!
Note: This project features the artwork of award-winning illustrator Rafael López.
Planning an Event
Before scheduling a family event:
- Enlist a few bilingual staff members or volunteers who speak families’ languages to help.
- Ask family liaisons to brainstorm well-known songs and stories from families’ cultures.
- Find some bilingual books in families’ languages to bring to the session.
- Consider inviting the school librarian or public librarian to the event.
- If you don't see some of your families’ languages listed above, you can ask a bilingual staff member to translate the content of the video for families. The video is one minute long.
For additional suggestions on planning events with multilingual families, see our related guide!
Sharing the Video with Families
- Ask families to sit in small groups. (Group families by language if possible.)
- Assign a bilingual staff member or parent volunteer to each group to facilitate.
- Pass out the Help Your Child Learn to Read tip sheet in families’ languages.
- Show families the animated video in their languages. (You may wish to use laptops in the small groups so that you can show the video in multiple languages simultaneously.)
The following activities are designed to encourage discussion. You may wish to try each activity listed below, or go more in-depth on just a few activities. Keep in mind that:
- Families may have varying levels of literacy. The activities below focus on ideas that families can try regardless of literacy level.
- Families may be hesitant to speak about their language and culture, especially if they have faced discrimination in the past. Keep a warm, encouraging, and patient tone to build trust and foster engagement!
- You may wish to ask families to share ideas from their small groups with the bigger group after each activity or at the closing of the event.
Ask families to sit in small groups. If possible, you may wish to assign a bilingual staff member or parent volunteer to each group to facilitate or take notes. Show them the animated video in their language and pass out the related tip sheet in their language. After the video, ask families for their responses to the video. Then use any or all of the following activities.
Activity #1: Video Response
Start by asking families for their response to the video:
- How did it make them feel to see a video in their home language?
- What reactions did they have to the message of celebrating their culture and language?
- Which ideas in the video are they already doing?
- What new ideas the video gave them?
Going deeper: Ask families where they might share this video with their own networks.
Activity #2: The Home Language
- How their children feel about using their language at home
- What barriers make it difficult to teach their children their language
- How they might address those barriers
Going deeper: Ask families how can the school support families in maintaining their home languages.
Activity #3: The Benefits of Being Bilingual
- If they have met anyone at their child's school or in the community who is bilingual
- How that person helped their family
- What the benefits of being bilingual are (e.g., staying connected to family, jobs, travel)
- How to create a positive attitude towards being bilingual at home
Going deeper: Talk about the benefits of learning different languages for the brain. For more ideas, see this related tip sheet series from Head Start (produced with Colorín Colorado).
Activity #4: Stories and Songs
- Ask families what songs, rhymes, or games are common in their culture.
- If needed, ask your bilingual volunteers to jump in with ideas!
For example, in Spanish, you can find common songs and rhymes in these books and collections such as “Los pollitos.”
Going deeper: Have families compare the lyrics from the different versions of popular songs. See if there are any differences! Librarian Lucía Gonzalez notes that families can get pretty animated about which version is the “right” one! And you might want to see if a brave participant would like to sing one of these songs for the group – or lead a sing-a-along!
Activity #5: Sharing Books Together
Share some bilingual books with your families. If possible, look for culturally responsive titles that reflect families’ cultures and experiences. Try the following:
- Model a read-aloud in families’ home languages.
- Show families how you might talk about the illustrations together.
- Encourage families to listen to their children reading out loud.
Going deeper: If a librarian is at the event, ask them to talk about the kinds of books at the library, how to sign up for a library card, and how to download books on their phone.
Activity #6: Writing at Home
Talk with your families about different opportunities for students to write at home in their home language. These might include:
- Grocery lists
- Text messages
- Letters or thank-you notes
- Labels or signs for things at home
Going deeper: Share some cards, markers, pens, and stickers and invite parents to make some fun drawings, signs, or messages for their children to take home.
At the End
- Ask families what they have learned from the session and which ideas they might try.
- Let them know that there are many ways they can support their child’s education, even if they are still learning to read and still learning English.
- Encourage them to keep their language and culture strong at home and ask the school for support where needed!