A few weeks ago I had the chance to have my kids tested by a professional for their school year. The school system in my State evaluates the children in Grammar and Math. I was nervous, anxious, and very expectant of the results. I did not want necessarily A’s. I do not want my kids to learn for the test. I just wanted to know their progress.
I have to admit that every time my kids are being put under a test, I feel a bit nervous. I suppose every mom feels a bit like that….. in the spot. And, the fact that Spanish and English are constantly spoken at home makes me feel a bit more anxious. After we visited Bolivia for a month we have not been following a formal method of bilingualism -such us OPOL, ML@H or the Place and Time Method (P&T) – just plain and natural immersion. I was still afraid that the oral or written English answers might have a bit of a Spanish touch.
For English Grammar, Code switching, cognates and false cognates are always present in our speech. Mathematics is not a big deal. When is time for math, 5 will be 5 in any language. Numbers almost share a multicultural ground. when sometimes nomenclature can be different, still the answer(s) is the same.
The kids are fine is what the professional said. She gave very interested recommendations, that I know will help other bilingual families,
- Improve their English pronunciation. they made very interesting mistakes while reading, per instance, while reading, specially the letter H. They made it mute in some words. Interestingly enough they do not make that mistake speaking.
- Another phonograph was the combination Kn. One of the kids read it as K and N with different sounds, instead of just N.
- La letter Y was read like in baby.
- Writing was good. A few mixed adjectives, but nothing bad.
- Their math was good, the youngest used her fingers for every Math problem. I wanted her to use the reasoning techniques I taught her.
- “God gave us 10 fingers, let your kids use their fingers! They are the best manipulative ever!”
- Keep talking in Spanish and English.
- They are doing fine, you are giving them a gift.
- One language does not block the other language. Their brains are learning to differentiate both.
- Be consistent, do not give up
- Use technology, but do not rely on it
- Let them embrace their languages and their heritage.
- Please pass on your culture to them.
- Use your library, and follow their curiosity.
- Let them enjoy learning.
I was very proud of them. Because they did the job, not me. I think that was just what I needed to tackle the next bilingual school year. And I think this advise encourages everybody.
By the way the best technique we use to improve Spanish in their language was pure immersion.