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The Bilingual Bookshop: Foreign language books and language learning toys for bilingual children

Bilingual By Music Kids Songs in Swedish and English

Guest Blog: Bilingual By Music

The Bilingual Bookshop is delighted that we are now offering Bilingual By Music’s Kids’ Songs in Swedish and English for sale on our website. We met Kristin Hellberg, Co-Founder of Bilingual By Music to find out about her inspiration for this catchy double CD and to get to know the bilingual family behind the idea.

Tell us about the evolution of Bilingual By Music

The idea of a bilingual album came to me when my son started English nursery school where he was taught the traditional English nursery rhymes. It hit me that these songs were the same that I had learnt as a child in Sweden. I felt that I really wanted him to know them in Swedish just as well, so I made sure we sang the same songs at home, but in Swedish. However, with all these traditional songs there are so many different versions and arrangements to listen to. I wanted to have the same versions so he could hear they are actually the same songs, just in different languages.

The idea of creating this kind of product started growing back in 2010. In 2012 the actual company, Bilingual By Music Ltd was registered by myself and my colleague Guy James. Guy is also Executive Producer of MaKiNG Records and head of Creative Development at Access Artiste Management in London. His input and advice have been invaluable to me and in helping Bilingual By Music become established.

We have many exciting ideas in the pipeline. We would love to expand and do more languages and themes. So far we have Swedish-English and Danish-English. We are currently working on a Swedish-English Christmas version.

Often bilingual families try to keep the two languages separate – why did you decide to feature Swedish and English together?

When you place the Swedish and the English songs and lyrics next to each other you really get to see the similarities between the two cultures. The quirky illustrations by Åsa Wikman further highlight their close relationship. I think it can be helpful to point out the similarities as well as the differences.

I also think music can be a fantastic tool in language learning. Music has rhythm, structures and rules just like languages. Language learning involving music can be a fun way of repeating words and understanding concepts. Its also a great way remembering new words.

Can you tell us a bit about your own family’s bilingual journey?

Both my husband and I are Swedish, so it’s very natural for us to speak Swedish at home. It’s also important to us that we can talk to our 3 kids in Swedish, so it is our family language at home.

Since we live in London and the children go to English speaking schools, they are very much exposed to English every day. We try our best to “promote” Swedish and Sweden to them as much as possible. It’s not always easy though. We often find that they speak English with each other when they play together on their own for example.

What are your thoughts on bilingualism?

I think it’s absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy reading about bilingualism and how it all works. There is so much interesting research that is being done as well. I feel very grateful thatmy children have the opportunity to become bilingual.

If you could send a message to our readers to inspire their own bilingual adventures, what would it be?

Try to expose yourself and the children to the minority language as much as you can. Read books, listen to music and songs, watch films, use playful apps. Also try to embrace the culture, which for Swedes would include Midsummer, Lucia playing traditional games such as ‘Bro Bro Breja’ and enjoy the Swedish food traditions such as Semlor, våfflor, leverpastej etc.

Buy Bilingual By Music’s Kids Songs in Swedish and English here!

You can find out more about Kristin and Bilingual By Music by following her here:



twitter: @bilingualbymu

As well as The Bilingual Blog, Kristin recommends the following sites for Swedish families and for information on bilingualism:

Bilingual child talking

Talk and the bilingual child: Getting them to speak sooner

For any parent, talking to their child is natural and spontaneous, and something that is done without thinking too much about it. For bilingual children, talk is their biggest tool, and also their biggest challenge when learning to communicate effectively in two languages.

In the education field, there are particular strategies that professionals use to encourage the talk and speech development of any child, and these strategies can easily be deployed in the home environment in order to build confidence and allow your children to practise their newly developed communication skills. Perhaps you already use these strategies without thinking? In any case, it can be fascinating to observe your child’s response to your input, and a real privilege to take an informed role in such an exciting learning experience.

Try the strategies below and let us know how you get on!


Description: You simply repeat what your child has said, correctly, in a positive tone

Reason to use this strategy: There is immense value in repeating a phrase that your child has said – it gives them the confidence that what they have said has been understood correctly, making them more likely to try again with something new. It also gives you a great opportunity to correct any mistakes in a positive way without telling them that they were wrong.


Child: tea?
Adult: Yes, it’s breakfast time – good girl!

Extending and expanding

Description: You repeat your child’s phrase but extend it slightly with new vocabulary.

Reason to use this strategy: By extending a phrase with new vocabulary you consistently provide opportunities for progression. It broadens vocabulary and models correct sentence structure.

Child: Bus
Adult: Yes, red bus

NB it is generally agreed that this technique works best if you add one more word or idea than the child usually uses. If the child says ‘red bus’, the adult might say ‘big, red bus’. Another example could be if the child says ‘park’, the adult could say ‘park later’, or ‘go to the park’.

Talking about your own actions

Description: Describe your actions as you do them – providing a running commentary of what you are doing, your ideas and key vocabulary.

Reason to use this strategy: To model talk without requiring the child to involve themselves – good in a new play situation where child does not have the vocabulary or language skills to talk independently. By repeating key vocabulary you can build confidence even more. The child can absorb the new language and understand it as you are physically showing the child what you are doing alongside your vocal description.

“I think I’ll make a sandcastle in the sandpit. I need to fill up the bucket with sand – I think I need the spade for that. I’m going to fill it up, fill it up, all the way to the top. Now, I’m going to pat it down, smooth the top, and then quickly turn it over – quickly, quickly. Has it worked? Let’s see…Yes, look, a sandcastle!”

Parallel Talk

Description: Parallel talk involves you describing what your child is doing as they play.

Reason to use this strategy: As with your own actions, this strategy models the vocabulary needed for a task, and repetition helps the absorption of key words. The child understands the talk as they are physically doing the actions being described. It is a very positive method of praising and encouraging good play.

“Wow, Jacob, what a big tower you are building! That’s right, put another brick on top. Oh – it’s a yellow brick. Now a red brick, now a blue brick. Look how high it is! Your tower is very high! Oh I see, you’re going to knock it down. One…two…three – down it goes!”


Description: Introduce a new activity by describing it using some of the language the child will need.

Reason: Gives the child a bank of vocabulary to use before they start and therefore encourages them to be more vocal in their play right from the beginning.

“Sophie, so you remember we bought some new paints? Look, there’s lots of different colours – red, green, yellow… We’ll need a paintbrush and some water, and some paper to paint on. I wonder which colour you’ll use first? Have you got your paintbrush? Ok, well dip it into the water and then you can paint!



Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat, /

Bilingual Family Profiles

Bilingual Family Profiles

The Bilingual Bookshop is lucky to have profiled a number of families who are raising their children with two or more languages. We say lucky, because these families have provided inspiration and invaluable advice to our community over the past couple of years. The families have a variety of approaches to bilingualism, and discuss a number of aspects of family life with two languages.

The best thing about these family profiles? They provide a great example for us all to follow, by proving that, whichever approach you choose, be it OPOL, MLAH or a unique approach that simply adapts to your family’s bilingual setup, raising children with two languages IS possible.

Although the profiles are already published on this blog, we wanted to group them together under one post so they can be found easily. Do send us your thoughts and let us know if you have similar experiences by commenting!

Introducing The Fisher Family

Introducing The Sandammeer Family

Introducing The Gates Family

Introducing The Mehta Family

Introducing The Shortman Family


Cover story: The family behind the business

I was so proud of my little family today as we made front cover of our local press! The article describes and celebrates The Bilingual Bookshop’s nomination for the Mumpreneur Awards 2014, but instead of focusing on the hard business, Pete Hughes, the reporter, delved into our family’s story and spun it into a rather cute article about how The Bilingual Bookshop came about. I love that he understood that I am not just a mum in business (not that a mum in business or any job is a simple thing in any way – it’s a real challenge as many of you know!) but that my business was created because of my family.

We made the cover! (right column)

We made the cover! (right column)

We are a bilingual family that faces the same struggles as any – how to make exposure to both languages as equal as possible. In nearly every bilingual setup, one language inevitably becomes the majority or dominant language, and settles into second place.

The Bilingual Bookshop was set up as in 2011 my husband and I, both speaking our native languages to our new baby, found that striking a good balance between our daughter’s exposure to English and Spanish was a real challenge.  We knew that what we needed to do was to fill our homes with the same things that spanish children have in their homes to learn their native language – books, games and toys – so that ‘Papi’ wasn’t the only link to Spain and Spanish in our home.

Not such an easy task, though, when obtaining good quality books meant spending our precious holiday time in bookshops, and lugging home suitcases stuffed with all the usual holiday junk plus kilos of books! It seemed that this was the story with the many bilingual families we knew and contacted when researching our market, and so The Bilingual Bookshop was born!

So today The Bilingual Bookshop is really proud to be able to help other bilingual families like ours to source books to inspire and support their children on their bilingual journey.  I am flattered to be considered for the Mumpreneur Awards and will keep my fingers crossed until October! In the meantime, however, I’ll continue with my passion of promoting bilingualism and language learning across the UK, both through my business and my personal life.


Mumpreneur Awards 2014

Cheryl Nominated for Mumpreneur of the Year!

I’m very excited to be able to share with you that the success of The Bilingual Bookshop has earned me a nomination for the Mumpreneur Awards 2014.

It’s an award very close to my heart as the daily challenges of working with children in tow are a juggling act for any parent, and I think it’s great when our efforts are recognised in any shape and form. You, along with The Bilingual Bookshop’s other lovely customers, are probably doing this every day along with me, so you’ll know exactly what I mean…

Anyway, I thought you might like to read a little more about my story via the lovely press report here ( I think the photo is really cute – I didn’t realise when they were taking it that my daughter was holding her little brother’s hand in excitement!)

Click here to read the report: Mum’s Bilingual Bookshop is such a novel family affair

The winners are to be announced in October so we’ll keep you posted, and maybe you could keep your fingers crossed for us?

Hope the first week back at school has gone smoothly for you all!

Back To School Spanish books for children

Back to School: Español

So here’s the third in our series of recommendations for the Back To School season. This time we’re showcasing our beautiful Spanish books. All are available at The Bilingual Bookshop

Don’t forget if you’re not sure you can email us for advice – we pride ourselves on our knowledge and experience of reading development and language learning. Our email is .

Here are our top Spanish books for the Back To School season at The Bilingual Bookshop.

Decubre las hormigas: Perfect for little scientists. Discover the world of ants: their work, their homes, their families…Lots of information in small sections meaning it’s easy to read a bit at a time. Bright, attractive illustrations guide the reader to support reading.

Disfruta con las fábulas: Encourages children to reflect on the meanings of well known fables with activities, crafts and fun facts.

Egipto: A true adventure back in time for little historians. Discover the world of Ancient Egypt through games, puzzles, facts and more. Pop ups and interactive features will entertain your kids for hours. Lots of information for more mature readers, well organised into small sections so nothing is overwhelming.

Nos divertimos con la ciencia: A collection of simple experiments that even the smallest scientist can do at home, using everyday objects. Beautifully presented – make langauge-learning practical for your kids and you’re onto a winner!

Aprende el abecedario con el ratoncillo sabio: Learn the letters and sounds of the Spanish alphabet presented beautifully in this vocabulary builder for small children. Learn the vocabulary, then spot the objects in the gorgeous illustrations.

Aprende a dibujar: Step by step, this books shows you how to create brilliant drawings! With simple instructions alongside pictures to demonstrate, your child will be amazed at the drawing skills they develop in such a short time!

Mi primer día de escuela: A supportive read for those starting school. Read about a typical day at school – subjects, friends, playtime… followed by a section of activities and a guide for parents. The perfect support for your child this September.

Atlas escolar primaria: Equip your child with this staple component to their bilingual bookshelf. Jam-packed with maps and facts for your child to discover the world around them, this atlas is an excellent quality resource to keep in your home for years to come!

Números: A lovely little book full of activities and games for primary children illustrated in the author’s unique style. Complete with stickers. Why not buy the set: Letras, Números and Animales?

¿Jugamos a ser maestra? A wonderful playset for those who love playing schools. With lots of cut-out pieces, your child will be able to set up their classroom and learn a language through play – the best way to learn!

Why not head over to The Bilingual Bookshop to plan YOUR child’s collection now?

Back To School French Books

Back To School: FRANCAIS

So it seems everyone is in ‘Back To School’ mode, with the shops full of uniforms, stationery, lunchboxes and more for those of us who need to get organised for the return to the school routine.

So why not take the time to organise your child’s bilingual bookshelf for the year ahead too – with fresh titles and new topics to inspire and excite them, and to support them on a new leg of their bilingual journey.

With over a decade of experience in education and language development, The Bilingual Bookshop selects beautiful books and games specifically to meet the needs of children being raised with two languages at home or at school.

Here are our recommendations for French books to kick-start the Back To School season, and your child’s language development this year:

L’histoire de France:  A journey back in time with text organised into short sections. Perfect for more mature readers, for younger readers reading a bit at a time, or for sharing with you for some bicultural learning.

Ça grouille de grenouilles ! An excellent book that forms part of the highly respected J’aime Lire series or graded readers.

L’Abécédaire de Petit Ours Brun A great introduction to vocabulary and the alphabet and to the French handwriting style. Perfect for developing your little one’s vocabulary skills.

Le doudou de Stella: Les Loulous de la Creche. Great for those starting school or nursery – join Stella and her family and friends to make the transition easier.

Ça, je connais ! A truly beautiful book jam-packed with bold, bright pictures and corresponding vocabulary, organised with one theme to a page (food / clothes / animals etc) Perfect for older children learning French for the first time, or for parents wanting to join in with their child’s learning at school.

Les insectes de mon jardin Great for little scientists – learn more about what’s in your back garden with beautiful photos, short snippets of well organised text and bold headings to guide your child through the information. For older children with limited language skills as well as younger bilingual children.

Comment ça marche ? – Le corps Another beautifully presented book – full of fun facts well organised to ensure children can follow – pictures illustrate the information. Perfect for dipping into a bit at a time independently, or sharing with you to inspire discussion and further language learning

100% Labo Little scientists out there will be enthralled by the amazing things they can do with the help of this activity book. The instructions are short and clear, with pictures to aid understanding. The experiments use household objects and cover all aspects of science – the body, water, plants and animals…Perfect to inspire!

Si je donne ma langue au chat, est-ce qu’il me la rendra ? A lovely collection of poems to help children to play with words and reflect on the joys of language. Great for bedtime, for encouraging good pronunciation and for general language discovery!

All our wonderful books and more can be found at – why not take a look now?