Monday, December 1, 2008

Christian Music in Spanish

I was delighted to find that many of the worship songs that my family enjoys in English are also recorded in Spanish. My children have even started singing the songs in Spanish.(For Spanish Worship songs Especially for kids CLICK HERE)

I Will Sing of Your Love Forever - Cantaré De Tu Amor Por Siempre
Shout to the Lord - Canta al Señor
Our God is an Awesome God - Admirable Dios
Trading My Sorrows - Cambiaré Mis Tristezas
This is the Day - Este Es El Día
Who is Like the Lord? - Quien Como el Señor
It is Well - Estoy bien
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
- Ven, Es Tiempo De Adorarle
My Life Belongs to You - Mi Vida Tuya Es
What a Friend We Have in Jesus - Oh,
Qué Amigo Nos Es Cristo

To hear audio clips, just click on the following links.

Songs 4 Worship: Glorificate
Songs 4 Worship: Canta Al Senor
Songs 4 Worship: Sendas Dios Hara
Songs 4 Worship: El Poder De Tu Amor
Songs 4 Worship: En Espanol EuTu Presencia

Thursday, November 27, 2008

¡ Feliz día de acción de gracias!

¡Saludos a todos!

Spanish Thanksgiving Comments

Align Center(May God bless you in this day of thanks)

from Jessica and family!

A little tidbit: Some people also say Feliz Día del Pavo (Happy Turkey Day).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barack Obama Speaking Spanish

I came across an article that spoke about Barack Obama speaking Spanish. The author was impressed by his almost impeccable pronunciation. Unfortunately, I can't find the article anymore but I was able to get this video of the ad the author was referring to.

What do you think of President-elect Obama's pronunciation?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How to Type Spanish Characters

When preparing lessons and labels to help me teach and learn Spanish with my children, I had to find out how to type the special characters and accent marks of the Spanish language.

So here's a chart for PC users:

Hold down the ALT key and type the followings numbers for:

á ALT 160

é ALT 130

í ALT 161

ó ALT 162

ú ALT 163

Á ALT 0193

É ALT 0201

Í ALT 0205

Ó ALT 0211

ü ALT 129

Ü ALT 154

ñ ALT 164

Ñ ALT 165

¿ ALT 168

¡ ALT 173

To learn how to type Spanish characters for Mac Users visit

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here's a Clever Bilingual Joke

My oldest daughter is into doing magic tricks and telling jokes. I'm thinking about having her do a little show and posting it up.

I received this cute joke from SpanishPod today called Pescaditos Joke. My daughter really got a kick out of it, so I wanted to share it with everyone:

Amigo: ¿Te cuento un chiste?

Amiga: Bueno.

Amigo: ¿Por qué el mar es azul?

Amiga: No sé. (I learned it as "no lo sé")

Amigo: Porque los pescaditos hacen, "Blu, blu, blu, blu..." (make the sound of bubbles)


Friend 1: Can I tell you a joke?

Friend 2: Okay.

Friend 1: Why is the ocean blue?

Friend 2: I don't know.

Friend 1: Because the fishies say, "Blu, blu, blu, blu..."


A little note: I'll be away from blogging for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Brillante Blog Award

Merci -- Diane at Foreign Language Fun nominated my blog for the Brillante Blog Award.

When I read Diane's comment about an award waiting for me, I couldn't imagine what award that could be. Getting this really brightened up my day.

Here's how it works:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Nominate at least five other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

My nominees are... (I could have gone on and on, but I narrowed it down to these)

Voices en Español

Boca Beth

Teaching and Learning Spanish

We are Little Amigos

Raising Cultured Children

Teaching Generations

Thank you all and I'm so proud to be a part of this growing and giving community.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Found in Translation: Sled or slide? The meaning of toboggan

Found in Translation: Sled or slide? The meaning of toboggan

Cape Coral resident Alessia Leathers, who is from Peru, writes about how words in Spanish and English can often be misinterpreted.

I just came back from my country of Peru. It has been a month pampered by family and friends. It also has been a month of surprises.

As usual, my annual visits open unavoidable opportunities to revisit childhood memories. This time, I discovered with great amazement that the word used to describe one of my favorite plays is not a Spanish one.

That is the word "tobogán" (toboggan), which I wrongly assumed was part of the Spanish vocabulary since the oldest existing epic poem "El Mio Cid" was composed, written long before Cervantes published "Don Quijote" in 1605. (Read more)

excerpt from

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ideas for Boosting the Minority Language

10 Tips for Boosting the Minority Language

The truth is as long as you're talking and having fun with your child, you're doing fine. There is some opposition along the lines of 'I really think my child should learn how to play on her own, and not have to be entertained all the time.' Agreed, but if your goal is to provide an enriching learning environment, we need lots of talking. A language can only be learned by continuous input by someone who masters it, you. So, reading the newspaper while she is playing with the dollhouse doesn't work, but an engaging commentary of world events at least provides a compromise.

Lena Sandvik in Boston says 'I'm amazed that my 15 and 11 year olds have grown up to be completely bilingual. My own accent and those silly, grammatical errors I make in English still haven't disappeared, even after 15 years in the country.' As easy as acquiring multiple languages is for small children, the single most important factor in language learning is the quantity of spoken language addressed to the child. So, if you worry that you aren't providing enough, here are a few tricks to boost your superhero's inherent powers. (Read more)

excerpt from the Multilingual Children's Association

Friday, August 29, 2008

How Children Can Learn Spanish - Developing Literacy

Goals and Literacy For Your Multilingual Child

If you're raising a multilingual child, what proficiency are you expecting? What does he need? Considering the particularities of your own child, you can figure out what is practical. Are you aiming for full literacy skills or merely speaking the languages? Consider setting some goals both for your child and yourself.

Different levels of multilingualism

What is multilingualism? What is fluency? Actually, no clear-cut definition exists, only degrees of proficiency from rudimentary to native skills. Many parents don't have explicit goals, but here are some examples:

* 'I want another language for my sons so they will be one step ahead in school.'
* 'We want to share the culture and heritage of our native country with our kids.'
* 'We'd like her to be able to play and talk to her cousins and Grandma when they visit.'
* 'Spanish is necessary if you're going to live in the USA, and the children may as well learn it now.'
* 'The best job opportunities are always for those who have can both speak and write in both languages.'
* 'We hope for her to be able to read and write in two of the three languages, but we'll see what happens.'"

The article goes on to discuss:
  • what is fluency
  • moving from verbal skills to literacy
  • and tips for developing literacy
(Read more)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is French Being Left Behind?

Is French Being Left Behind?

Are schools bidding au revoir to French classes for children? The New York Times reported in March 2006 that thousands of public schools are bending to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind by cutting resources for non-mandated subjects like foreign languages. Meanwhile, trendy Chinese has become the language du jour, and Spanish classes are enjoying a new surge in popularity as the nation grapples with immigration issues. Where does this leave French for children?

Most parents considering French for their children need no convincing of the language's merits. High above the inane cries of 'Freedom Fries' and 'English First,' French has retained its allure of sophistication, impeccability and culture. It is also the only other language besides English to be considered an official working language of the United Nations Secretariat. From truffles to François Truffaut, and the Little Prince to Camus - learning French, for children, may be the best thing to happen since they outgrew their terrible twos." (Read more)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Develop Your Spanish Listening Skills

Five Easy Steps to Develop Your Spanish Listening Skills
by Steve Dimeck

The second largest problem that a Spanish language student faces is to develop his or her listening comprehension. If you are like most people studying Spanish, you can probably comprehend a good portion of what you read and are able to write at least a little bit in Spanish. But you get totally lost when it comes to understanding what a native Spanish speaker is saying during a regular conversation.

So, if that sounds like you, here is an easy five step exercise that you can use to practice and develop your listening ability.

For this exercise you will need a recording of a short text that you can have a native Spanish speaker create for you. Or, you can just record one yourself from a Spanish movie or Spanish speaking TV or radio station.

Step One - Now that you have your recorded Spanish text, go find a nice quiet place where you won't be disturbed for the next forty-five or so minutes. Once you are there listen to your Spanish recording three to five times straight through without stopping. Each time you go through it, write down how much you felt you understood on a scale of one to ten.

Step Two - Listen to the Spanish recording a couple more times. But this time, pause about every fifteen seconds. At each pause think about what you heard...the sounds, pronunciations, intonations, and make note of those parts that seem to give you the most trouble so you can come back to them later. Then move on. Don't waste a lot of time here with what you don't know yet. It will only frustrate you.

Step Three - This time you will listen to the Spanish recording again, but do so with a transcription of the recording in front of you as you follow along. This means that however you obtained your recording, you need to have it in written too. So, think about it before you make the recording. While listening it, pause every fifteen seconds or so, and underline the sections that you noted earlier. See if you can understand the text now that you have seen it written out. Note the sections where the Spanish speaker seems to jumble words together so you can later ask if that is really how those words are pronounced...or if the person who spoke was just a sloppy speaker and slurred his or her words together.

Step Four - Listen to the whole text a few more times while following along with the transcription. This time, however, do not pause the recording. Just let the recording roll, and keep up with it as best you can. Keep doing this until you feel comfortable listening to the recording and following along with the transcription at the normal rate.

Step Five - Once you feel comfortable with the text, and have a good grasp of what the Spanish speaker is saying...put away your transcription. Now listen to the recording several more times and make note of how much you now understand each time on a scale of one to ten.

Finally, to wrap things up...ask several people that you know speak Spanish well to read the text out loud to you. This will develop your listening skill as each one person's voice is different. They may even have different accents, pronunciations, intonations, etc.

Do this everyday...or as often as you can. You will soon notice a large improvement in your Spanish listening skills.

I also like Karen's suggestion of listening to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning Spanish Memory Tricks

I came across this blog post and was quite amused at some of the associations they came up with to help remember Spanish words and meanings.

Easily Remember Dozens of Spanish Words and Meanings

Is this is another magic memory trick?

“I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t at times come up with a similar-sounding word or phrase when thinking of something completely different– like can’t elope and cantaloupe” writes memory expert Harry Lorayne in The Memory Book which inspired this article.

So how can you use this to remember Spanish vocabulary?" (Read more)

excerpt from
David's post at Tomí

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dual-Language Instruction: Coming to a School Near You?

Way to go, Public Schools!

Every month or so I get news alerts about public schools introducing in kindergarten dual-language or immersions programs in Spanish or Mandarin.

There are still many issues for school districts to work out--the how-to, funding, resources, bilingual teachers--but hopefully, with demand from parents, it will continue to catch on.

I've provided links to some most recent articles.
  • Elementary School Starts New Bilingual Program - (Washoe County, NV) When most of the students started kindergarten in Gisela Daniel's class they hardy spoke any English. "These days speaking two languages is so important. It has opened so many doors for me."
  • Moms Proposing an Immersion Language School - (Denver, CO) Two Denver moms tired of driving their young children to Aurora are proposing the city's first public Chinese and Spanish language immersion school. "We're trying to build this program from our kitchens," Camilla Modesitt told Denver Public Schools board members on Tuesday.
  • Dual Language Session Draws Crowd - (Palo Alto, CA) Hundreds of parents packed a Palo Alto school on Wednesday night to learn more about enrolling their children in the district's new Mandarin immersion program. After a year of divisive debate over whether to start dual immersion classrooms in Mandarin next fall, the crowd of between 200 and 300 parents at Ohlone Elementary School on Wednesday night attested to a strong base of interest in the fledgling program.
  • School District to Expand Dual Language Program - (Blaine County, ID) After seven years of providing a special curriculum to help students become proficient in two languages, the Blaine County School District plans to double the size of its Dual Immersion Program beginning next fall.
(Some news sites archive their articles after 1 or 2 months. So, sorry in advance if the articles are no longer available after this post gets old.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Non-Native Speakers: Teaching Children Spanish (or a Language Not Your Own)

This interesting article doesn't totally reflect our family's situation because we're still learning to speak the foreign language, but it's still a good read.

Raising Your Child in a Language Not Your Own?

Many parents speak a foreign language well but are non-native speakers. Yet, they wish to raise their children with that language. Is it realistic, or even practical, to attempt to raise a multilingual child in a language that is not your mother tongue? Tim from London, shares his concerns:

'My partner is bilingual French-English, whilst I am an English native speaker. My French is really quite good, but we speak English to each other. We are now expecting a baby whom we would like to bring up bilingually. My partner is committed to speaking French to him, but what do I do?

What I like about both of us speaking French to him is that it helps to cement the minority language; on the other hand, I know I would make mistakes, and, at times, be at a loss for the right word. I also -- and perhaps more importantly -- imagine that I would feel rather unnatural communicating with my son in what is not my native tongue.'

Why would you speak to baby in a language not your own? My answer would be -- why not? Maybe it is the only option you have for raising a bilingual child, you may simply like the language, or as in Tim's case, you'd like to reinforce the second language. All of these are completely understandable and valid reasons; (Read more)

excerpt from the Multilingual Children's Association

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Spanish Time! Lesson Plan: My Family ~ Mi familia

Spanish Time! Lesson Plan: Family Portrait

Vamos a Cantar – Let’s sing
Song: "Canción de Saludar/Greeting Song"-Track #6 Boca Beth’s My 1st cd
Song: Spanish Vowel song Bonus #1*
Song: "I Love My Family" - Track #9 Mas/More Boca Beth cd

Vamos a jugar –Let’s Play
Game/Activity: Family Portrait ~ Retrato de la familia
Talk about your family with your child. Then go over the Spanish word for various family members. Tell your child that she's going to draw a picture of her family. While looking at your child’s family portrait, you could ask:

¿Quién es éste? (kee-AYN ehs AY-stay) Who is this?

madre (MAH-thray) mother

mamá (mah-MAH) mommy

padre (PAH-thray) father

papá (pah-PAH) daddy

hermana (ehr-MAH-nah) sister
hermano (ehr-MAH-noh) brother
abuela (ah-BWAY-lah) grandma
abuelo (ah-BWAY-loh) grandpa
(TEE-ah) aunt
tío (TEE-oh) uncle
(PREE-moh) cousin (boy)
(PREE-mah) cousin (girl)
mis primos
(mees PREE-mohs) my cousins

Visit my PDF of more family words in Spanish and to see a Family Tree activity.

Check out 123 Teach Me Spanish to hear how family words in Spanish are pronounced and used in conversations.

Showing love to family

abrazos = hugs
, besitos = kisses
dame un beso
= give me a kiss
te amo, te quiero =
I love you
te quiero a tí
= I love you too

te quiero tambien = I love you too

Es la hora de decir adiós (It’s time to say goodbye)
Song: “We are Little Friends” – Track #2 We are Little Friends cd

Try to use 3 Spanish words of praise and encouragement today and throughout the week. Fill in the third one. (You’ll find the list in Bonus #2*)

1. Déjame verLet me see.
2. ¡Qué bonito/a!How beautiful!

The Spanish-Engli
sh family book that we have at home is My Family and I/Mi familia y yo by Gladys Rosa-Mendoza.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Backyardigans "Boinga" in Spanish

Are your kids into the Backyardigans?

After watching several episodes of Pocoyo, my girls found clips of the Backyardigans songs in Spanish. They were so amazed that the Backyardigans can speak Spanish.


Hazme un favor, por favor. If you any of you, our Spanish-speaking friends, have a moment, please give us some Spanish keywords and phrases in this song to listen for. While my children enjoyed watching these clips, my eldest exclaimed, "I can't understand a word they're singing. I want to understand." She said this after we listened only once. I told her that I'm sure she'll recognize many Spanish words when we listen to the songs over and over again. But your help with specific keywords would help.



Friday, August 8, 2008

Juggling Career, Family and Learning Spanish

With all the focus on my children's learning Spanish and other family things, I find myself neglecting my own Spanish learning. I learn a lot of Spanish just from teaching my kids, but I want to step up my speaking and listening comprehension. I've even started to record a telenovela to watch. Now, it's carving out the time to watch and study them.

Juggling Career, Family and Learning Spanish

by Steve Dimeck

Finding the time to do it all at once - career, family, study Spanish ...? Having trouble juggling? These problems that people face are very similar to those of the beginning juggler. According to "The Instant Jugglers' Manual", four common problems are: handling two areas of focus at the same time; moving forward while you try to juggle instead of standing still; not being able to juggle in a third area of focus; and keeping all three areas from bumping into each other or overlapping.

Translate this to the everyday human life, and you would get: handling multiple areas of focus at the same time; moving forward with your life while you try to juggle your work, family and all other daily tasks instead of standing still, finishing them and then moving on; not being able to juggle in a third area of focus, such as studying Spanish; and pulling a miracle of keeping all three areas from bumping into each other or overlapping.

How are you going to fit your Spanish learning project into your daily commitments? It's easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Losing focus will cause you to take no action. And, action is essential to moving on from where you are now, to where you want to be. Here are a few tips to stay focused on your "learning Spanish language" project.

1. Chunk down

If you have a large task to tackle, it is always easier when you break it down into smaller components. You'll find it easier to focus because you won't feel as overwhelmed. Also, a large task would take all of your time to undertake, while smaller tasks would give you more time in between to fit in your Spanish language project.

2. Keep a 'to do' list

Once you've broken down major tasks into smaller ones, make and keep a "daily 'to do' list". In your "daily 'to do' list" always or as much as possible have the Spanish Learning time included.

3. Schedule your time

Every evening, decide on three to five tasks along with your Spanish studying time that you wish to accomplish the following day and put them on your 'to do' list. Stay focused on these tasks and only add new tasks once these have been completed.

4. Say no

Be assertive and carve out more time for your Spanish Study project. Saying 'no' to that extra demand by your boss every once in a while, can get you home one hour earlier a couple of days a week. How about cutting back on the amount of housework or side activities that you do? Imagine how you could channel that extra time into your Spanish learning task.

5. Once you get to your study time, organize your Spanish learning project to gain maximum results:

- First of all, you will want to set aside certain hours that are designated "Spanish Study" hours. Not that these study hours need to be rigid, but the times when changes are made should be the exception, not the rule.

- Have a certain area which you set aside as the "Spanish Study area". This doesn't mean that you have to have a special room that is set aside with a desk etc., but it does mean having one spot, such as the dining room table, or the basement, or even the attic. This will help you develop a mind set of thinking of this as a time for learning as separate from a time for other activities.

- Try to make sure that there are as few distractions as possible so you can maximize your focus.

- Engage your family and friends in this. Maybe ask them to test you, or assist you in reviewing your material, or ask them to do something for you while you are on your study time as a mean of helping you along. Making them feel a part of this can go long ways towards avoiding hurt feelings.

- If you are used to having a regular telephone "gabfest" with a friend or family member at a certain time each day, maybe you can rearrange it. Most important, be sure to communicate to others the importance of you learning the Spanish Language.

- Perhaps someone likes to stop in and get you to go on a little spur of the moment trip with them. Explain beforehand that you won't be able to do this as regularly as before.

- Plan ahead. Have your study planned. Don't just sit down at the table with your open book to see what you will be studying next. Respect the study hours the same as you would if you were doing something else. You can accomplish much more when you take your study time for serious and not just a minor thing.

If you put these few tips into practice, you'll definitely find it easier to focus on and achieve your ultimate goal of learning Spanish.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Teaching Children Spanish Even When You Speak Only One Language

Five Easy Steps To Help Your Child Prepare For A Global Future
Even When You Speak Only One Language

by Beth Butler

How often have you found yourself thinking that perhaps you should have asked for a class on parenting in college? And how many times have you and your friends, who are also parents, commiserated over how many times you skipped Spanish II in High School? We all see it coming. That is if you have not already felt its presence in your current daily existence. Speaking more than one language is truly a necessity.

Hopefully you realize it is never too late to pick up a second or third language. No matter what you read you must believe that even if you have passed that well publicized window of opportunity age, you are still capable of learning and becoming fluent in a new language. Just like getting back into good physical shape takes commitment and regular exposure to good eating habits and exercise, so too does the challenge of mastering a new language.

There are five simple steps you can take today to help your child prepare for tomorrow. It is going to take you some time to get even the basics of your new language and, if you have children now, you really should get them started on their bilingual journey as soon as possible. Remember, you do not have to have a degree in teaching. You do not have to have command of the new language you are trying to introduce to your child in order to give them the daily exposure they need to get a sound foundation.

Step One is to show your child you have respect for fellow human beings, no matter the race, no matter the language they speak. Children listen to everything we say, do they not? Little ears hear big thoughts! So be aware of the messages you send as parents about those people from other countries, about other cultures around the world and about the more than six thousand languages that make up the communication of our world. You are the best role model your child has in the early years. Make certain you show how much you value the acquisition of more than one language.

Step Two is to choose a language that will be practical for the child to use in his future. If you are going to reside in Europe due to job relocation, then choosing Mandarin might not be the wisest choice. Flip side of that scenario would be forcing your child to learn Latin because you have always heard it is the root of most languages while you know you will be residing in California where Latino population growth is explosive. Make a good decision, not based on political feelings you might have about immigration or border control or even bilingual education. Make the decision based on the future of your child.

Step Three is to decide to introduce the new language as early as possible in the life of your child. It is so true what continues to be reported. Experts say the sooner the better when it comes to introducing a second and third and fourth language to little children. A study out of Texas reported only a few years ago that up to the age of five a child can learn five languages simultaneously and not be confused or language delayed or experience speech problems. In fact, the studies prove bilingual children read sooner and experience advanced cognitive development.

Step Four is to choose a method of introducing the target language in a format that your child will embrace, that allows native language placed alongside the new language, and that teaches to all types of learning styles. More than 68% of the population must see it to learn it. While we all witness how much children love learning through and with music. Then there are those children who are tactile learners and want to feel something physically to connect with the lesson at hand. Music, movement and creativity should be major components of any language learning program you choose for young children. Experts also advise that you choose a program featuring a true bilingual format where the native language of the child is placed right alongside the new language. Think about it. While your child is still acquiring skills in his native language does it really make sense to totally remove that comfort level and language out of the picture as a new language is introduced? Some still try to force immersion on our young children while others have embraced the benefits of higher self esteem and the strong point of reference for both child and parent that are evident in the bilingual programs available.

Step Five is the final and easiest step once you have given some thought to the first four. Daily exposure to the new language is necessary if you want to provide your child with the best jump start on learning a new language. Once a week classes are helpful. Yet experts agree that repetition on a daily basis, if even only for a few minutes at a time here and there throughout the day, will truly link those neural pathway connections in the brain of the young child. This type of regular reinforcement of the new language placed right alongside the native language is the key to a lifetime of language learning skills.

Who knows? You might even be giving besos to the baby and toddler before the month is done! Make it a commitment today to get these five steps on your radar and begin the second language journey with a positive attitude, a can do mentality, and a we are all in this together campaign!

Beth Butler is the founder of The Boca Beth Program Scoop your child up onto your lap and sample the Boca Beth bilingual music for free now! Order online or call toll free 1.877.825.2622 today!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

70% Off Spanish LeapPad Learning System Books

¡Buenos días a todos!

If you're child owns a LeapPad Learning System, is running a 70% off sale. They have many Spanish book titles selling for $3.99. When you get to the site, do a search for spanish then View All, and just scroll down to see what they have to offer. Supplies are limited.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

15 Minute Spanish Time! Lesson Plan: My Family ~ Mi familia

Topic: My Family ~ Mi familia (Day 5)

Vamos a Cantar – Let’s sing
Song: "Canción de Saludar/Greeting Song"-Track #6 Boca Beth’s My 1st cd
Song: Spanish Alphabet song Bonus #1*
Song: “I love my mommy” - Track #16 We are Little Amigos cd

Vamos a jugar – Let’s Play
Game/Activity: Go online to PBSKids Dragon Tales. The character Quetzal reads a cute storybook called, Search for Mami. As the friends travel through Dragon Land to places like the playground and Rainbow River, there are many pictures and Spanish words for your child to click on to hear the Spanish pronunciation.

Es la hora de decir adiós (It’s time to say goodbye)
Song: “We are Little Friends” – Track #2 We are Little Amigos cd

Praise and Encouragement in Spanish: Try to use 3 Spanish words or phrases of praise and encouragement today and throughout the week. Fill in the third one. (You’ll find the list in Bonus #2*)

1. Déjame verLet me see.
2. ¡Qué bonito/a!How beautiful!
3. ___________________________________________________

Throughout the day and week, in addition to Spanish Time! above:

  • Review all activities while in the car, bathtub, or whenever teachable moments arise.
  • Put on Spanish kid shows, let your Spanish music cd play as background music while your child is eating or playing.
  • Read the English version of your Spanish-English book to your child a few times to get her familiar with the vocabulary and story. At other times, read it in Spanish. You could also turn your bilingual books in audio books by asking a Spanish-speaking friend to record herself reading in Spanish.
The titles for songs and books in these lesson plans are suggestions. They are what I use at home with my children. Feel free to use and recommend other resources for this lesson topic.

*from our easy-to-follow Spanish lesson plan resource with many other games, activities, and projects.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Spanish-speakers Threatened That English-speakers are Learning Spanish?

Here's an interesting blog post where the author, who's not bilingual, explains why she's teaching her children Spanish and the need she felt to sometimes defend that decision to friends and family.

What struck me the most was, from her experience, some Spanish-speakers felt threatened that English-speakers are learning Spanish--better than they are.

I thought for the most part Spanish-speakers would be receptive and even flattered that English-speakers are learning their language.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The 5 Best Steps to Teaching Children Spanish

Congratulations! ~ ¡Felicidades!

You recognize the tremendous benefits and importance of your children being able to communicate in a language other than English. While many English-speaking parents desire for their children to have a bilingual upbringing, they struggle with questions of how to get started, how to keep it going, and how to get over the insecurities of teaching a language that’s not their native language. Today you’ll learn the steps you can take to teach your child Spanish as a second language.

1. Make a decision. Once you’re convinced that teaching your child a second language is something you want to do, commit to that decision. Teaching your child a second language comes with challenges as well as triumphs. But with ample preparation, heart, and a plan, you’ll be amazed at how much Spanish your child has learned from you.

2. Create a Spanish-English bilingual home environment. You want to offer your child as much Spanish-language exposure and interaction as possible. The following is a list of what you’ll need to accomplish this:

~Bilingual books. I can not stress enough how important reading Spanish to your child is. First of all, reading to your child is quality, interactive time between you and your child. Simply cuddling up on the sofa or sitting on the floor looking at the pictures will be an invaluable experience. And if your toddler/preschooler does not sit for the whole book, don’t worry. Just do a little at a time. Or, read the book aloud to yourself while she plays with blocks or something.

When looking for books to help your child learn Spanish, look for Spanish-English bilingual books with vibrant pictures and short, simple sentences. Also, you’ll need to get books that cover the common topics (ie. colors, my family, shapes) you’d like to do with your child.

Read the book in English a few times before reading it in Spanish. This will get her familiar with the pictures and words and help her make connections between the two languages. If you’re intimidated about reading in Spanish because you don’t speak Spanish, do your best. Perhaps you can read the vocabulary words that go with the pictures. Or, turn your books into audio books by asking a Spanish-speaking friend to record herself reading the book.

~Music and songs are an integral part of your child’s Spanish language learning. The catchy, upbeat tunes will help him remember the Spanish words and meanings and get him active and dancing. Not to mention, singing and dancing are always fun things to do. Playing instruments every now and then adds a fun dynamic to your child’s language learning time as well. Bilingual songs are a great choice. Spanish-only kid songs are great too provided that they come with the lyrics written out in Spanish and English. When deciding what music and songs to purchase, make sure the cd has song titles that cover a wide range of topics that you’d like to do with your child.

~Spanish kid-shows are another must in your child’s Spanish-learning quest. Children love cartoons and kiddie shows and even if they don’t totally understand what’s being said, they’re well able to put the story together from what they’re watching. I record some of the Spanish kid-shows that come on Saturday mornings on our local Spanish channels. One of our favorite Spanish kid-shows is Las Tres Melliza Bebés that comes on the Spanish public broadcasting station, V-me. I also recommend that when you purchase dvd’s make sure they have a Spanish-language audio track.

~Charts, posters, and labels help transform your home into a bilingual environment. Their colorful presence will serve as instant Spanish-teachable moments. In a spur of the moment, you could point to the chart and say, “Show me the color that is rojo.” And of course, during your Spanish-learning time charts, posters, and labels are excellent teaching aids.

continued in next post


~Spanish area. This is a place where you’ll keep your Spanish resources. The area could just be one shelf on your bookcase or two or three baskets. You’ll need this Spanish area to help keep your materials organized and accessible. Having to constantly look for your Spanish books or cd’s can take the momentum out of your learning time excitement—and we don’t want that to happen. Also, when it’s time to put your Spanish materials away, your child will know exactly where to put them.

~Spanish language-learning time. This is a time set aside for learning, playing and having fun in Spanish. There are many suggestions for how to set a language-learning time. Some families set one day on the weekend as the time to speak only Spanish. Other families decide that during dinner time for that week, they’ll only speak Spanish. And yet, other families call a certain room in the house the Spanish room and any time they enter that room, they speak Spanish.

The above methods didn’t work for my family because my husband and I are not fluent Spanish speakers and it was difficult to speak only Spanish for a long period of time. In our house, our designated language-learning time is called Spanish Time! I believe that there should be a little Spanish exposure and learning every day. And we have Spanish Time for at least 15 minutes every day.

Over time, though, the 15 minutes can grow to 30 minutes and from 30 minutes to 45 minutes and so on. You don’t have to speak Spanish the whole hour, but there are many other things to do. Also, while I like to keep our Spanish Time set at the same time every day, you certainly do not have to. There’s room for flexibility. You could even do your Spanish time 2 or 3 times a week. The most important thing to keep in mind is BE CONSISTENT. You want your family’s Spanish time to be a part of the day that your child looks forward to.

~Optional resources for you to consider are Spanish-learning computer software and Spanish-learning programs. These resources will enhance and add variety to your family’s Spanish-learning adventure.

Okay, you have the books, shows, posters, music and you’ve set up a Spanish-learning time. You’re probably wondering, “What exactly do I do during our Spanish-learning time with all of these resources?” I’ll answer that question in my next post as I explain the remaining steps for teaching your child Spanish.

continued in next post

3. Have a plan. Planning out your Spanish time will help you organize all the resources you have around your topic for the week, and it will help keep your family’s Spanish learning on track for the long-term.

Your plan should have a list of common topics or concepts you’d like your child to learn (ie. shapes, colors, greetings) and a collection of Spanish-learning games, activities, and projects for those topics.

4. Enlist the help of other Spanish-speaking friends or relatives and send your child to a Spanish music or immersion program. This step is extremely helpful, but not a necessary part of your child’s Spanish-learning mission. My husband and I don’t have Spanish-speaking relatives to send our kids to in the summer, and he only has a couple of Spanish-speaking friends. When we only had our daughter, we were able to enroll her in Spanish programs. Now that our family has grown to 4 children, doing so is not a viable option for right now.

So the best that we can at the moment is expose our children to as much Spanish as possible at home and have fun learning Spanish with them.

5. Invest in your own Spanish learning. Studying a Spanish program geared toward adults and covering pronunciation, grammar and sentence building, will bolster your confidence in reading and interacting in Spanish with your child. Furthermore, we don’t want to end up like the singer Madonna and her husband. Their kids attend a French immersion school and when their kids are home, they have these “secret” conversations because Madonna and her husband don’t understand French.

Teaching your child Spanish is a commendable goal. It requires preparation and dedication, and the 15 minutes or so a day you spend teaching your child Spanish will reap bountiful rewards that will last a lifetime.

¡Hasta luego!

Tools to Help Make Teaching Your Child Spanish a Success

Spanish-English bilingual books
Look for bilingual books with vibrant pictures and short, simple sentences and pronunciation help. Our family has many bilingual books, but I like Gladys Rosa-Mendoza's series of bilingual board books.

Music and Songs
Music and songs are a fun way to liven up your family's Spanish time. Choose cd’s with bilingual songs that cover a wide range of topics.

Spanish kid-shows
Try to find your local V-me station and record kid shows on Spanish channels. Also, search for dvd’s that are bilingual or have English and Spanish-language audio tracks. Some dvd's that come to mind are: Professor Parrot, Brainy Baby, Spanish for Beginners** and Plaza Sésamo**.

**These shows are in Spanish only, but can still be entertaining.

Charts, posters, and labels
Two places I would like to recommend for finding an assortment of Spanish language posters and charts are Classroom Direct and Lakeshore Learning.

Spanish-learning computer software and programs
There are many good Spanish software available for children. Look into Knowledge Adventure's JumpStart Spanish.

If you have a Leapfrog Learning System, they have several popular character titles in Spanish like Finding Nemo, and Disney Princesses and a bilingual title Fiesta in the Town.

A lesson plan filled with Spanish-learning activities, games, and projects
Having a lesson plan helps you to make the most out of your family's Spanish learning time. Save yourself time and energy by using an easy-to-follow lesson plan resource for your family's 15-minute Spanish-learning times.

Resources for Your Own Spanish Learning

Here's a program that offers a simple method that takes only 138 words to express just about anything you want to say in Spanish.
Just 138 Words!

This program teaches you how to learn Spanish in sentences and phrases. Speak multiple sentences and understand an entire Spanish conversation in no time.
Learn practical Spanish in sentences and phrases.

Take all the frustration, difficulty and headache out of your Spanish practice time using this interactive 'learn Spanish' program.
Speak Spanish Confidently and Naturally In Less Than 8 Weeks

This next program uses a complete immersion environment allowing you to learn Spanish easily and naturally by connecting words to objects and events around you. The fastest way to learn Spanish

Learn to communicate in Spanish with a college educated Latin American as well as the common Latin American person.
Learn Real Latin American Spanish


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Teaching Spanish to children - Answers

Are you concerned that teaching your child a second language will confuse her or hinder or native language development? Here's an article that sheds some light on the question:

Will Teaching Spanish to Children Affect Their English Skills?

A multitude of American preschools are now teaching Spanish and Mandarin Chinese to toddlers, while select private programs offer foreign language instruction for children from six months and up. Children are learning with home programs, enrolled in after school programs and an increasing number now get an introduction to a second language in their elementary school classroom. Who are these little linguists? Many are the children of savvy English-speaking parents who realize that learning a second language is easy for the young.

Despite this growing trend, some parents still struggle with the idea of introducing a second language before their child has mastered his first. Are there any adverse consequences to teaching a second language like Spanish to children too soon? Will it slow down their ability to learn English?" (Read more)

Monday, June 23, 2008

How to Read to Your Child--In Any Language

Check out this article on reading to your child multilingually. This can seem like a daunting task when you yourself don't speak the language fluently, but remember the mere act of cuddling on a sofa, opening up a book and having book fun with your child will do wonders.

I like to suggest getting bilingual books so that you can read the book several times in English first. Then, at another time like your Spanish Time! you can read the book in Spanish. If you're not comfortable reading the book word for word in Spanish, do a "picture walk." Name things in the book or point out the actions (eg. What is he doing? Running. Corriendo.)

Reading, for very good reasons, is near the top of every parent's list of educational goals and concerns for their young children. Parents know that encouraging their children to read and fostering a love for reading is fundamental to future enjoyment and success in school and extra-curricular learning.

Reading and books are so important and so powerful that the presence of many books in the home is statistically a better indicator of future academic success than parental occupation, education or wealth. According to one Princeton University study, 'scholarly culture, as indicated by home library size, in the family home gives children a significant, and generally substantial, edge in academic performance… Having a large home library is important on its own.'

So wouldn't it make sense to incorporate reading as an important part of learning a second language? The same benefits which children get from learning to read in their first language are just as available—and just as important—in a second language.

The good news is that parents can do a lot to help their children claim these benefits in a second language. And they can do so by following many of the same strategies and much of the same advice that works so well for learning to read in the first language. (Read more)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

¡Feliz cumpleaños - Happy Birthday Janai and Jessica!

Spanish Myspace Comments

My twins, mis gemelas, turned 4 years old today.

And this September they'll be starting pre-K. When the school secretary said that they will be in two different classes, I protested a little. I asked if that's a school policy or what. She said the school usually separates twins because they're individuals. I told her that I really want them to be together at least for pre-k and especially since the program is only for 2 1/2 hours. She spoke with the principal and was able to get them in the same class.

What do you think? Should I persist with them staying together in kindergarten as well? I would rather they stay together for convenience: so they'll have the same class assignments, deadlines, trip schedules, etc. But at the same time, I see no problem with them being in separate classes either. Right now they sleep in the same room with their older sister, but boy do they feed off of each other at night. My husband always says that they each need their own rooms.

What do you think? Do you have twins? How did you handle your twins and their class placements?

Gracias por tu ayuda.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

¡Feliz día de los padres - Happy Fathers' Day!

Comentarios @

Hola James,

You are a wonderful father to Jaida, Janai, Jessica and Jaden, gracias. And thank you for being such a supportive and active participant on our Spanish-English bilingual journey.

I smiled at something you were doing today. Janai brought you a book to read to her. It was a bilingual book. You read it in English and did your best to read it in Spanish too. You looked for some confirmation from me, but you kept on reading. That 8-paged book must have seemed like you were reading a long novel to her, but you kept at it. And what tickled me the most was when she said, "Read it again!"

Te quiero, James.
Abrazos y besos

Hope you enjoyed your day.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Language Learning and Learning to Read

Does Bilingualism Help Children Learn to Read?

Learning and using another language have been linked to all kinds of benefits for children and adults. This is particularly true for young children's expanding cognitive abilities. According to Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto of Dartmouth College, children who have been exposed early to a second language possess an overall 'cognitive edge.' Numerous studies have also linked language education to higher scores on many standardized tests. But can knowing another language also help children learn to read?" (Read more)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Conversational Spanish in Action

My eldest daughter and I were shopping for summer shoes, when she attempted to make friends with another little girl there. My daughter said "hello" twice to the girl, but the girl didn't really respond. Then Jaida said, "Hola" and the girl looked up.

I asked Jaida what else could she say to the girl and she said "¿Cómo estas?" The other girl was shy to speak much but her mother was trying to encourage her to respond. Then Jaida asked, "¿Cómo te llamas?" The girl said her name, Jaida then said hers.

After leaving the area, I asked Jaida how did she know the girl spoke Spanish and she said, "Because she didn't answer me after I said hello two times in English."

Jaida, te quiero. Soy tan orgullosa de ti.

I still have the hardest time striking up a conversation in Spanish with others. Seeing my daughter in action reminded me that fear and insecurity only holds us back.

So I encourage all of us who want to improve our Spanish-speaking skills:

1. On an index card write down 3-5 sentences that you could say to someone in Spanish.

2. Practice saying those sentences in Spanish.

3. Write down responses and follow-ups to those Spanish sentences.

4. Make a goal: ie. I'm going to practice these sentences on a Spanish-speaking person one time this week.

¡Qué le vaya bien - May everything go well for you!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ways to Teach Baby Spanish

I recently came across a blog called My Bilingual Kid. In his blog, Josh notes that even though his son is too young right now (4 months old) to do the activities in my Spanish colors lesson plan, he looks forward to using them when he's older.

Es verdad - It's true, I wrote those lessons when my twins turned 3 years old, but I offered ideas on how I interact in Spanish with my 17 month-old. Usually he's napping when I do Spanish Time with my girls.

So here are some simple ways you can teach and interact in Spanish with your baby (infant/ toddler.)

1. In the morning, sing a Spanish “hello” or “good morning” song.

2. Gently lift your baby up and down say “arriba” “abajo.”

3. Open and close your hands and say “abierto” “cierre”

4. Name the food and beverages you give in Spanish.

  • Aqua = water
  • Leche = milk
  • Jugo = juice
  • Jugo de naranja = orange juice
  • Jugo de manzana = apple juice
  • Jugo de uva = grape juice
  • Cereal = cereal
  • Bread = pan
  • Rice = arroz
  • Galletas = crackers/cookies

5. Make simple comments and ask simple questions when it’s eating time.

  • Here you go = Aqui tienes
  • Let’s pray (say grace) = Rezamos
  • Mmm, yummy = muy rico
  • Almost finished = Casi terminado
  • Finished? = ¿Terminado?
  • Want more? = ¿Quieres mas?
  • Yay! You ate all = ¡Comiste todo!
  • No more. = No mas.
  • Do you want something to drink? ¿Quieres algo beber?

6. Diaper time is the perfect time to sing the Spanish alphabet song or the songs you learned from the Boca Beth cd’s .

7. Go over the parts of the body in Spanish and ask, for example, ¿Dónde está tu nariz? Where is your nose?

8. I like to see the big smile on my 17 month-old’s face when I take him by the hand and say “Corre, Jaden, corre.” Run, Jaden, run. And we run (at his pace of course) across the room.

There's a whole lot more that we do and as I think of them I'll post up some more ideas for how you can teach your baby Spanish.

¡Hasta luego!


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Teaching Preschoolers Spanish

My twin girls and I went to see an African-drum show at my eldest daughter's school. On the way back, it started to rain. I beamed with pride when I heard Janai exclaim, "¡Lluvia, lluvia! That means rain in Spanish."

This may not seem like a big deal to you, but to me it is because her reaction showed me that Spanish is becoming a part of her. She said it with no prompting and with no singing to the tune of a song. She simply made the connection and verbalized it.

It also showed me that even though we're not a Spanish-speaking family or come from Spanish-speaking families, our children are learning Spanish from the activities, environment and exposure we've given them.

Yes, it is possible for monolingual parents to teach their children Spanish. Doing so is worth the time and effort--with benefits to last a lifetime.

¡Hasta la próxima vez!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

It’s Breakfast Time – Es la hora de desayuno

Es la hora de desayuno - It’s Breakfast Time

My twins are at the age (preschoolers) when they want to help me do everything--like prepare breakfast. So this is a good time to learn and practice using Spanish with them as well.

Here are some words and sentences you can use to make Spanish a part of your breakfast time. I included help with pronunciation.

Es hora de desayuno. It's time for breakfast.
(ehs OH-rah day day-sah-YOO-noh)

¿Qué quieres para desayuno? What do you want for breakfast?
(kay kee-AYR-ays PAH-rah day-sah-YOO-noh)

¿Cereal o wafles? Cereal or waffles?
(say-ray-AHL o WAH-flays)

Bien, necesitamos un tazón, el cereal y la leche. Ok, we need a bowl, cereal and milk.
(nay-say-see-TAH-mohs oon tah-ZOHN, ehl say-ray-AHL, ee lah lay-chay)

Vierte el cereal en el tazón. Pour the cereal into the bowl.
(bee-AYR-tay ehl say-ray-AHL ehn ehl tah-ZOHN)

Entonces vierte la leche en el cereal. Then pour the milk into the cereal.
(ehn-TOHN-says bee-AYR-tay lah lay-chay ehn ehl say-rah-AHL)

¿Qué más necesitamos? What else do we need?
(kay mahs nay-say-see-TAH-mohs)

Las cucharas Spoons
(lahs koo-CHAH-rahs)

Vamos a comer. Let’s eat.
(bah-mohs ah koh-mayr)

TIP: Remember you don’t have to use the whole Spanish sentence in order to make Spanish a part of your day. (That will come as you learn more and more Spanish). You can just focus on vocabulary.

It’s breakfast time. In English we say “breakfast,” in Spanish we say “desayuno.”

What do you want for “desayuno.”

Hope this helps. Let me know by commenting below.