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Tips to design your Bilingual Strategy

english mouth with a Spanish brain

A week ago I was wondering why my kids are still not speaking the minority language, even though they can understand me.  I arrived to these simple reasons,   Lack of exposure   Need of Immersion programs   Lack of Cultural Immersion   As a minority language provider I still speak the majority language  …
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The A, B, C’s of Español in a Spanglish House

As many of you know, my first language is Spanish.  I teach at home to my children,  I am also a private Spanish tutor and a Spanish Elementary teacher.  I did not study to be a teacher,  but some things come just as wrapped gifts and life takes care to unwrap them in its time.  I find great joy in using my gifts to help people, and certainly a language is a gift.

I have developed lessons to teach kids the basics of Español.  I put lessons and fun together so my students can not only learn the language, but also love it.  It is a joy to share it with you, so you can use the resources and enjoy them.

And here you go, les presento a:

 

I still believe that learning a language is better if you are immersed in the culture. But, it is a good start for children to make them love the language through activities more than just plain theory.  At the end of the day, the key for any language, at any stage, is to live it as you learn it.

The A B C’s of a Spanglish House is the beginning of a bilingual house.  Most of the lessons will follow an alphabetical order but also, they are placed following an incremental approach.

I hope you enjoy using the material, as much I enjoyed creating it.

 

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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?

 

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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?
Lobito:
Estoy poniéndome mi camisa.  (I am putting my shirt on)
Children:
Ay qué lindo es pasear por aquí
Cuando el lobo está durmiendo,
¿Lobo, lobo qué estás haciendo?
Lobito:
Estoy afilando mi cuchillito.  (I am sharpening my knife)
Children:
¿Para qué? (For what?)
Lobito:
Para matar a mis ovejitas (To kill my sheep)
Children:
¿Quiénes son tus ovejitas? (Who are  your sheep?)
Lobito:
¡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?

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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!!

 

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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.