Me llamo Cecy, ¿Cómo te llamas?

My first lessons for my Spanish Students is about learning to say their names in Spanish. As I was preparing my lesson I made myself this question, “Do names have a translation?” The answer is no, because people’s names are proper names. Proper names in people identify a particular person.  So, if my mom called me Margarita, I will be Margarita here, there and everywhere.  What is more, if I were to translate Margarita to English, it would be Daisy not Margaret.  Can you see what I am saying?

So I must look for the equivalent of a name in another language. Here a short list of equivalent of English – Spanish names.

Men   names Women names
Alexander – Alejandro
April – Abril
Alfred – Alfredo Anna – Ana
Anthony – Antonio Barbara – Barbara
Charles/Charlie   – Carlos Dorothy – Dora
Christopher –   Cristóbal Elizabeth – Elisabet
Daniel – Danilo Ellen – Elena
David – David Eliza – Elisa
Doug – Diego Eve – Eva
Edward – Eduardo Grace – Gracia
George – Jorge Helen – Elena
Henry – Enrique Hope – Esperanza
James – Jaime Lorraine – Lorena
John – Juan Margaret – Margarita
Jonathan – Jonatán Mary – Maria
Joseph – Jose Natalie – Natalia
Mark – Marco Patricia – Patricia
Michael – Miguel Rachel – Raquel
Peter – Pedro Rose – Rosa
Richard – Ricardo Roxanne – Rosana
Robert – Roberto Sarah – Sara
Stephen – Esteban Sonya – Sonia
Thomas – Tomás Susan – Susana
William – Guillermo Violet – Violeta

I am Cecilia everywhere. But I must say pretty much everybody calls me Cecy. Some people say it Cece others Cesy.

Y tu, ¿Cómo te llamas?



Summer Fun Ideas

Coming from the Andes, I have learned to enjoy the heat of Summer season and to make the most of it.  Also, as a homeschooler, I like Summer to be an opportunity for learning.
Goals for the season
  • Enjoy the Summer as a family.
  • Speak more Spanish as a family.
  • Read in Spanish and English to the children.
  • Study Science and Art.
  • Outdoor activities.
  • Research Books and Curriculum for the coming School Year.
  • Spend the least amount of money possible.
Activities we did, we are doing and we will be doing to get to our goals.
  • El huerto! The vegetable garden has taught us a lot!. It is nice to see how much pride the kids take once they harvest the fruit of their work and share with the family.
  • A Scarecrow is a must.
  • Flower picking, they love to decorate our table with the flowers they grew or with the wild flowers they picked. 
  • Playing with sand, if you have small kids and space for a sand box. Sand is a great thing to have. The best, you can rinse them off outside, without worrying if they get cold.
  • Bubble time, we will make our own bubbles.
  • Park time, they just love going to the park, ride their bikes, feed ducks and the playground.
  • Set dates to meet with other friends that we do not get to see often.
  • Biblioteca, libraries are a wonderful resource of productive fun.  Ours, besides the summer reading program has crafts, puppets, legomania and lots of fun.
  • Latinas for Latino Literature has launched an amazing Summer Reading Program, I already signed up my kiddos for it!
  • Insect Collection, my kids love to collect insects. We will get books from the library to study what they find.
  • Rock Collection, let them get library books related to rocks. My kids can dig treasures and look for cool rocks all day long!
  • Cooking, they love making and creating their own recipes, fruit salads, salads and sandwiches.
  • I should train them to wash the dishes also.
  • Painting is the perfect summer outdoor activity.
  • Hiking and playing scavenger hunts there. Better yet, I will ask them to create the rules for the hunt.
  • Swimming lessons
  • Camping as a family, I may even let them sleep in the backyard. 
  • Vacation Bible Schools.
  • Zoo Time, I am foreseeing a trip to DC.
  • Museum time.
  • Lightening Bugs, they just love late nights to catch fireflies.
  • We will bring the fireflies inside in a mason jar, to lighten up their room.
  • Play dough time, my kids love play dough. 
  • Fire works, July the Fourth is a perfect time to enjoy fireworks.
  • Going to the Carnival, somehow they just love it.
  • Lemonade Stand. On Saturdays lemonade can be a good thing to sell.
  • Did I mention selling? perhaps I could organize a yard sale, they can practice math, social skills and economics.
  • Observe Birds. We are going in full swing with the birds, and they love it. 
  • Observe the stars, look ahead if there is an eclipse or astronomy event coming soon.
  • Build our own bird feeder, or perhaps 2.
  • Build a bird house, or perhaps 2.
  • Bathe the dog, they think is cool to do it.
  • Take them to a lake or river to enjoy nature.
  • Take them fishing.
  • Take them berry picking.
  • Have picnics in the backyard.
  • Paint rocks with vegetable names on them to decorate the huerta or garden.
  • Roast Smores.
  • Take care of tad poles. It can be gross for a city mommy but kids love to see the frog / toad cycle. They are already naming the frogs they found anyway.
  • If we go to the beach, we will collect shells and I will make sure to do some art project with them.
  • Take walks on the beach  at sunrise and at sunset.
  • Teach them to take pictures of their Summer activities.
  • Encourage them to keep a diary of their summer days.
  • Work together on their own photo album.
  • We must take them to the Drive Inn, we have one very close to our home.
Have you noticed I have not mention Television or Computers? It is simple, kids need fresh air and they especially need share time with me and my husband.  Can you think of more activities to add to the list? More ideas are welcome!

Play with your children while practicing your Spanish verbs – Lobo lobito ¿Qué estas haciendo?

Everybody has heard the story of the bad wolf and the three little pigs. There is a children playground game in Bolivia called, Lobo, lobito ¿qué estás haciendo? (Wolf, little wolf what are you doing?). The story narrates the dialogue of a sleepy wolf and roaming sheep.

I played it  when I was a little girl, I play it with my kids today. It is amazing how their action verbs start coming out when it is time for playing. The best of all is that they do not even know that they are learning.

The lyrics are in a dialogue between a wolf (lobo) and the roaming sheep:

Lobo, lobito ¿Qué estás haciendo? 
Children around the wolf chant chant:
Hay qué lindo es pasear por aquí  (Oh how wonderful is strolling over here)
Cuando el lobo está durmiendo,  (while the wolf is still sleeping)
¿Lobo, lobito qué estás haciendo?  (wolf, little wolf what are you doing?)
Lobito in the middle answers
Poniéndome mis zapatos.  (I am putting my shoes on)
Children continue singing
Ay qué lindo es pasear por aquí
Cuando el lobo está durmiendo,
¿Lobo, lobo qué estás haciendo?
Estoy poniéndome mi camisa.  (I am putting my shirt on)
Ay qué lindo es pasear por aquí
Cuando el lobo está durmiendo,
¿Lobo, lobo qué estás haciendo?
Estoy afilando mi cuchillito.  (I am sharpening my knife)
¿Para qué? (For what?)
Para matar a mis ovejitas (To kill my sheep)
¿Quiénes son tus ovejitas? (Who are  your sheep?)
¡Ustedes! (You!!)

Once the wolf has said ustedes, all the children escape from the wolf and the wolf needs to tag one child, the one who will be the next wolf.

Changes I did to the game.

I keep adding action verbs for the wolf to do, like I am brushing my teeth (me estoy cepillando los dientes), or I am tying my shoe (me amarro los zapatos), and instead of sharpening the knife I just say I am getting the keys to go out (estoy buscando mis llaves para salir) and then I say I am opening the door and I can see you! (Estoy abriendo la puerta y puedo verte!). By then, my kids are so nervous than they just run from me,

The best of all is that this game can be used to practice action verbs in different languages!

Try this: After you play the game, ask your kid, ¿Qué estás haciendo? And I am sure he will know what you mean. My little daughter comes to me and tells me, “¿mamalita, qué estás haciendo? as part of our routine now. And sometimes she likes to pick on me and says. “¿Abuelita que estás haciendo?


Teaching Children to count in another language es pan comido

Teaching your children to count in another language is pan comido (piece of cake). Specially if you already have the second language. If you are homeschooler, it should be almost a part of the kids daily routine. And if you do not homeschool just while you spend time with your kids, just be casual and count while you play, cook or even clean.

Think about it, when you are playing with your baby picking him or her up you say:”uno, dos y tres.” You might as well say “Cuatro, cinco y seis.” next time!

With a toddler, going up the stairs you can just be casual and count in Spanish, perhaps you just have doce gradas, but next time try to do it from doce to veinticuatro.

When your toddler does not want to eat and you decide to help her, help her Spanish also by counting to veinte o treinta. According to how many bites of food are left.

You made cookies, or bread rolls. Remember, they need to be counted!

How about, apples in a bag, you can count them too.

You can count the birds you see in the morning, while they feed.

You can count the traffic lights in your way to the store.

How about the shoes in the closet as you and your child arrange them.

You can count las muñecas and los días de la semana.

We count the eggs that the gallinas lay, we count the gallinas as they eat, we count the cows in the field and the cars in the parking lot as we wait.

Count the stars, the clouds and seeds you plant.

You get the point, kids love playing and if you make learning routine, and not an obligation; then it is going to be as fun as it can be!

And do not forget count you blessings and teach them to count them too!!



Learning is a lifestyle.

It is a pleasure to welcome Bekah to Spanglish House. She is American and she has what it takes to be multicultural. She loves Spanish, she is very interested in Hispanic culture and she has the desire not just to know more about Spanish speaking countries, but she wants to live in one. 

When I was in 3rd(ish) grade, my mom signed me up for weekly Spanish classes. Those only lasted for a few months, and when I was in 4th grade I started having weekly sessions with a tutor.  That tutor randomly stopped showing up to lessons after a few months, so I started studying some en mi casa. In 8th grade, I started weekly tutoring with Cecy. (who don’t tell the others, but she was always my favorite)

Being homeschooled, I thought it was normal to start learning a foreign language so early, I never thought about it twice. I remember thinking it was a bit odd that my friends couldn’t count to at least 30 in Spanish, they didn’t even know how to ask, “Como estas?”  That being said, I was no Spanish mastermind, and I couldn’t conjugate a verb to save my life until I was 12 (and even then it was pretty rough for a while).

If you ask the question, “do you speak another language?” the typical response from high school graduates is, “Well, I took some in high-school, but I don’t remember much.” If you ask someone still in high school, the answer is most often, “Yeah, I’m in Spanish II.” But if you ask them what they know, it turns out, it’s not very much.

Puedes memorizar un idioma o puedes aprender una idioma.

I recently took a Spanish class at a local community college, and to be completely honest, I learned nothing. I have my 4 credits, but no real new knowledge.

Classes are teaching us to think about it. They teach us the exact proper way to say things. We can say things like, “El caballo es azul.” Or “Me gusta la camisa.”

If you can tell me every color, count to 600, name every animal in the zoo, but you can’t politely order a chicken sandwich at Pollo Campero, you’re doing it wrong. The slang, the funny little expressions, that’s what really makes a language unique.

To fully know a language is to be able to say what you want fluidly, without having to stop and really think about it.  The best things I’ve learned have come through just talking to other people. A person can read all the textbooks they want, but a person can never communicate well without actually using it.

If you try to teach your children, or anyone, to speak perfect Spanish all of the time, it won’t work. Just speak to them, teach them by example.

I have learned more Spanish while taking a 15 minute walk to a tienda en Guatemala con una mujer que estudiar un libro de texto por una hora.

Learning to be bilingual doesn’t come from a textbook. It comes from life.


Time to re-organize and re-plan in Español

10 years ago, when I did not have any children, a good friend of my husband was trying to convinced me to homeschool my future kids and do it in Spanish.  At that time I thought he was crazy, but now, I look back and I think he was right I should have done it all in Spanish.

I am homeschooling yes, his craziness was contagious, but I should have used more Spanish with my kids.  Living with my in laws, made a big difference in our Spanish.  Even my Spanish tongue has acquired an accent. I do not sound American, but I have been told that I have an accent.

I started to train my kids bilingual brains since they were babies, even before they were born I spoke Spanish to them.  But once we started to be more submerged in an English environment, in which I am the only Spanish speaker, the things started to change and they started to slow down in their Spanish acquisition process.

Our Starting Point as today,

Even though Spanish and Spanglish are in our everyday school time, here is where we are today:

They can understand any daily conversation and instruction in Spanish.  Yes, my husband and I need another secret language.

They use Spanglish in their day.

Great vocabulary, can recognize sounds and relate to things easily.

To my boys, I made sure to teach them to read through phonics (SWR and Veritas Press K and First Grade) and dictation.  And, I did my own cards for the Spanish Phonograms.  Thankfully, a lot of the sounds are the same, so I had to add a few extra sounds and structure.  It is easier to learn to read and write in Spanish that it is in English.
My older boy can read and understand it, and if I dictate it slowly he can also write.  He does not feel comfortable speaking in Spanish.  And I have to make him do it, sadly it does not come naturally.

My second boy complains of ear aches if I speak just Spanish for a long time, I know he can understand it.  He is also reluctant to Speak it, even during his once a week co-op class.

My older girl speaks English and Spanglish, and tries very hard to speak Spanish to please me.  She is learning her letters and sounds in both languages.  And she is not having any problems so far.

And the youngest cracks me up, she tells me, “I can not hear you, speak like me”.  I guess she gets more English from everybody in the house, but me. And she is trying to convinced me to join her team.


Today, March 4rd 2013 as a good homeschool mom,  I am going to change the weekly routine again. I will Introduce “oficially” Spanish as a daily group class.

Even though, I just have one first grader, I think this book will work. The book we will use is Coquito Integrado for first grade.

Why this book?  I have chosen this book because:

  • I already have it, and I like to use what I have.
  • It teaches to read through syllabic sounds. Lectura por Columnas and Pictures of the words.
  • It has components that I believe will encourage conversation.
  • Pictures that show action and a Personal Social Area for discussion.
  • Vocabulary
  • Sound recognition.
  • Teaches to count, that is always good to review.
  • The pictures are very cute.
  • Rhymes, are always good.

Well, I guess I will be telling you more about my Spanish class in my Spanglish house. And see if my new experiment works.

Have a good week, Lord willing mine will be exciting!