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)