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Path to Authorship and Happy Mother's Day

SHARING with you my path to authorship and GIFTING you the English verses of in the Translanguaging: Hallie's First Words book. Maybe you'll enjoy reading it on Mother's Day in the U.S.

Being an author does not have to be something fancy, but to be an author, we must write and write regularly. My path to authorship started with a small contribution to the book New Ways of Teaching Adults by Hayo Reinders and Marilyn Lewis. It is an interactive crossword puzzle in which students have to work in pairs and explain the words that they have to solve the puzzle together. I have shared a blogpost and a video about this activity as well as added it to the Eduling Speak app.


I was also invited to write an essay to the book Gần Như Là Nhà (Almost Home), which is a collection of personal essays by Vietnamese students and professionals living overseas like me. In the essay, I write about my integration journey in the U.S. while commenting on experience of a minority and a “stranger” in the U.S. I was invited simply because I sometimes shared my thoughts on Facebook, which drew the attention of an editor of the book.


Small contributions have led to bigger projects, such as my co-authored book Studying in English: Strategies for Success in Higher Education with Hayo Reinders and Marilyn Lewis. We share strategies to improve English to students who want to pursue a degree taught in English either in their home country or abroad.

The arrival of my now-five-year-old daughter inspired me to engage with language and language development in an entirely new light. Having her brought me so much joy and love that I started to write creatively. There was so much feeling in being a new mother that I couldn’t contain and I started to write poems, which I hadn’t written at all in my life before. Perhaps they are not really poems according to certain standards, but as a language teacher, I enjoyed putting words down on paper, flipping them, turning them, and working them to death.

My first poem for my daughter was titled Translanguaging: Hallie’s First Words, which features her first words in English and Vietnamese. This poem has been made into a bilingual English-Vietnamese picture book to be distributed for free to over a thousand Vietnamese families in the U.S. and other countries by the non-profit organization Stories of Vietnam, which is dedicated to supporting families in maintaining their Vietnamese language and culture through bilingual books.

The very first picture book that I published, however, is Tug of Words, which portrays my multiracial family, teaches young children simple opposite concepts, and helps them to discover the differences and similarities in all of us.

Through this book, I ventured further into book publishing, which has resulted in more publications, including: IELTS Speaking Part 2: Strategies, Model Speeches, and Practice Activities, Vietnamese Learning Games, and Spanish Learning Games. Especially, a book that I’m most proud about so far is Four Seasons Together, portraying the two parallel worlds of Hallie and Bo that span time and distance.

This is the description of the book: Hallie and Bo are cousins, living on opposite sides of the globe. Through frequent phone calls, they share wonders of their worlds with excitement and sometimes bittersweet moments too. After Spring, Summer, and Fall, there’s Winter. But wait! When Tết, the Lunar New Year, arrives, a magical surprise unites them in a joyous celebration. The book is vividly illustrated with scenery, plants, and animals that will captivate both adults and children. All of my books are listed in the HL Books website.

On the occasion of Mother’s Day in the U.S., I’m sharing the English verses from Translanguaging: Hallie’s First Words book.

Dada, mami, uh oh are your first words

Together with hi, mẹ, and hoa

Who would think tắc kè is next

As you see Gecko camouflage and hide


Áo as one is put on and off daily

Ong because their wings are scintillating

Tai, ti, má, and tóc are all part of you

Bế to get up in your arms


Then no becomes your favorite

With all of its emphatic variations

Mine as you insist on pushing my shopping cart

And claim your possessions


Cảm ơn is now just thank you

Tay is hand, and tóc is hair

Help me is your new favorite

But mẹ is no longer shared


Wawa, pickle, and moon

You ask for things and notice things

Shoe, ra, and home

You know where you belong


Bye bye when you leave

Night night when you settle for sleep

And sometimes you blow me a kiss

Saying the sweetest I love you

Here's a video of us reading the book together. I will be sharing Mai Quyen's sweet translation into Vietnamese in another post.

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