Tag: Raising a bilingual child

Setting Goals for my Bilingual Child

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This past December I reflected on our past year, and thought of the major milestones that my “now” bilingual child has accomplished. I can highlight all of the positive language learning experiences from his first Spanish language immersion lessons to our family immersion trip to Puerto Rico
To keep the momentum going, upon our return from our summer trip from Puerto Rico I enrolled him for a second Spanish language immersion session during the fall.  I realized on the 1st day that my son wasn’t going to learn anything during this session. He was too advanced in his Spanish for the basic curriculum that was being taught. This was yet another affirmation that our hard work was paying off. 
For a minute, I thought of dropping him from the class, but I didn’t. I figured I’d asked him before I made that decision. I asked him what he thought of the Spanish class, and his response was “it was fun!” The language instructor approached me after the first session. She shared her concern about his language level, but assured me that she would be building his vocabulary as he progressed. 
Truth be told, 12 weeks later I haven’t seen any real advancements in his language learning from his Spanish immersion class. Nevertheless, he enjoyed his Spanish classes, and was actually the instructor’s helper. 
Looking into this New Year I have to focus on how I will continue to further my son’s interest in learning Spanish. So looking into the future I need to strategize a new language learning plan to keep him on his toes, and interested. 

Our goals for 2014


#1:  Continue speaking Spanish in our home

#2:  Focus on making our home a text-rich home

#3:  Build our Spanish home library  

#4:  Enroll him in an advanced Spanish language immersion class


#5:  Plan more Spanish play dates

I’m excited to see what the new year will bring in our bilingual journey! What about you? Do you have any bilingual goals this year?

This post was created for inclusion in this month’s multilingual blogging carnival hosted by Open hearts, Open minds.

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Successful Spanish Immersion Play date

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If you’ve been following our bilingual journey you will understand the magnitude, and importance of our first ever Spanish play date!

Immersion Playgroups

You see, we live in an area where Spanish is the minority language, and pretty much non-existent. I know how important it is for a bilingual child to be immersed in the minority language, and what better way than with immersion through play. However, in our case living in a small Southern town I have a hard time finding Spanish playgroups, and let alone Spanish speaking folks! But I still held on to hope that I would find Spanish speaking friends for little one.

Seeking Opportunities

Hubby and I go to a Mexican restaurant quite frequently for lunch. I’ve tried a couple of times to initiate small talk with the waitresses there (everyone is Latin), but haven’t had much of a positive outcome! So one day while dropping my son off at school I saw a lady who works at the restaurant dropping her kids off, too! Ah! This was the perfect conversation starter!
I approached her one day during lunch time at the restaurant. She actually has a 5 yr. old son, and babysits two girls ages 4, and 3. We talked about the importance of speaking to the children in our minority language, and I told her quite frankly that I was looking for Spanish speaking friends for my 5 yr. old.
Tip:  Get out of your comfort-zone!

The First Spanish Play date

After a few conversations we finally agreed on a date for our Spanish play date!  I was so happy, you’d think I’d hit the jackpot! Well, truth be told, I hit the “playgroup immersion” jackpot! I shared the great news with my son. He, on the other hand wasn’t too thrilled. Uh oh! He told me that he was shy, and that he didn’t know his “new” friends. I told him not to worry because I was going to be with him all the time. He was also concerned about his Spanish, and not understanding the kids. Again, I reassured him that I’d be there. I was starting to worry that the kids wouldn’t get along well or understand each other.
Tip:  Set a date to meet with the kids! It can be a park, or if you feel comfortable enough it could be in your home.  Reassure your child that he’s just going to play and have fun. No need for the added pressure of speaking in the minority language.

The Plan

Nevertheless, I had a plan in place! We (including adults) played Bilingual Zingo (English/Spanish) to break the ice. Then we had story time, and crafts. Afterwards, the kids played freely on the floor. They spoke to each other in Spanish, and I saw how comfortable my son was speaking to them in Spanish. They talked about the animals, and which cars raced the fastest.

Tip:  Have some board games, toys and books for the kids. Invite the parents to join in the game, too.

Unfounded Worries

While they played I talked to the mom, and she mentioned that they too were nervous about the play date! And how happy she is that the children seem to be getting along well. We talked about our countries, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, about family; and maintaining the Spanish language interest in our children in an all English environment.

Spanish + Children = Successful Immersion Playdate

All in all, our Spanish immersion play date was a success! I foresee many future Spanish play dates! 🙂 Doing a happy dance!

Thoughts

Just before the year ended I wrote a wonderful post about our bilingual year in review. Little did I know that I would be sharing with you another great accomplishment to be added to this year.  I’m so happy, and blessed to see my son’s Spanish language growth.  All I do is smile when I hear him speaking in Spanish.  If you’re doubting your capability to teach your child another language please remember it’s never too late to raise bilingual children.

Have you been successful with play dates in your minority language? Please do share by commenting below, and if you enjoy this post please share, or pin!

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Our Bilingual Year in Review

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Our Journey into Spanish Immersion began on February of this year. We’re almost at the end of the year, and I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled, and excited I am about little one’s bilingual progress!
During this year a lot has happened! He’s been on Spanish immersion classes for two semesters (Spring and Fall), he had his first “real” Spanish immersion trip to Puerto Rico during the Summer,  I volunteered a Spanish language Summer program at his preschool summer camp, and countless Spanish home lessons have been going on in our our home. It has been a lot of hard work, but it’s paying off.   

Below you will read excerpts on conversations that I’ve had with my 5 year old that I wrote down so I wouldn’t  forget. They were both highlights of my day!

On March 26th, 2013 something awesome happened. It was the start of great things that were going to happen. Right before bed time this is what happened: 

Me: (In Spanish) “Dale un abrazo a tu Papi y dile buenas noches que vamos a dormir” (Give your Daddy a hug & tell him good night, we’re going to bed)
–I’m looking at the TV while I’m telling him this then I turn around, and repeat myself.
Little one: “Mommy, I already did! You weren’t watching!”

I’m like OMG he understands what I tell him in Spanish!!!! Score!!!!!!!!!! We’re progressing, we’re progressing!

Fast forward to October 13th, 2013. Little one spent the afternoon with his grandparents. When I got there we had a full fledged conversation in Spanish! Normally it’s in Spanglish, or code switching; but this time it was smooth, and effortless!!! Oh dear Lord, thank you, thank you! Teaching my child Spanish in a monolingual environment is paying off! 

Little one:  “¿Quién es? (as I knocked on the door)  ¡Mamá llegaste!
Me: “Si papi ¿listo para irnos a casa?”
Little one: “No, Mami no quiero”
Me: “¿Por que no?”
Little one: “Quiero ver televisión, quiero ver Dora”
Me: “Esta bien cuando termine Dora nos vamos”
Little one: “Gracias Mamá”
—Dora ends—
Little one: “Mamá, Dora terminó. Voy a buscar mis zapatos.”
Me: “Busca tu mochila también.”
Little one: “Ok, Mamá. Vamos para casa.”

Just this past month he has started reading in Spanish! Can I say, “Woot, woot!” Hahaha I can’t contain my excitement.

This has been our bilingual year in review, and if you’re thinking it’s too late for your child click here to read our story.

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“It’s Never Too Late to Raise Bilingual Children” {Spanglish Baby}

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Since the moment I married the love of my life,  and started a biracial familia I knew I wanted to raise our child to be bilingual in both English and Spanish. However, it was a late start, and a roller coaster ride!

Read our story: “Here’s Proof That It’s Never Too Late to Raise Bilingual Children.” I am truly excited to have had the opportunity to guest post on Spanglish Baby; and I hope that our story will inspire you.  

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Thankful for My Son’s Enthusiasm on Learning Spanish

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This past weekend as I sat at the table surrounded by books in Spanish, printables, and materials to teach our son Spanish – I felt overwhelmed. For a few minutes as I watched my son gather his toys from the floor to begin our lesson I thought, “Can I really teach my child to be fully bilingual, and biliterate?” I silently prayed to God to use me as an instrument to teach my child the gift of another language. 
I’ve faced many challenges, celebrated many milestones; and have had regrets as well. It has been so much work, time, and dedication in helping my child to become bilingual considering our present circumstances: completely monolingual environment!

Now, I’m working on teaching him to read in Spanish. Which is so much different than simply speaking to him in Spanish. 

Once our son finished putting his toys away he tells me with the biggest smile,  “¡Mamá listo!” I smiled, and so our Spanish lesson began. He was really enjoying himself, and when it was over he was upset. He wanted the lesson to continue. Then he tells me, “¡No, Mamá vamos otra vez. Es muy divertido!”

My worries instantly subsided with his reaction. Then I realized that this was God’s answer to my prayer: my son’s enthusiasm to learn Spanish! I am so thankful for his contagious enthusiasm, and excitement to learn a new language. This is exactly what I needed to continue in our journey. This will keep us both motivated, and looking forward to sharing together new learning experiences, and milestones in his language learning. 
This will be one of the greatest gift I can ever give him, and I am so thankful for his desire to learn Spanish!

Have you ever felt overwhelmed? Or doubted your ability to teach your child another language? If so, please share, and comment below. I would love to read about your experiences.

This post was written for inclusion in the November 2013 multilingual blogging carnival hosted by Bringing Up Baby Bilingual.

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How to Nurture a Child’s Language Learning

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I’m excited to host this month’s edition of Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival. 

I’m really lucky to be a member of a community of like minded parents who are just as passionate about teaching their children another language as I am. So for this carnival, I posed a question to them: How do you nurture your child’s target language? Has it been through play, games, immersion, travel, culture, or books? 

The responses were fascinating, and wonderful to read! So many great ideas, and resources right here for you! 

All of them have one goal, and that is to help their children become bilingual, or multilingual. Each one quite unique in their own way, but very much the same. In this post I will be sharing with you how these parents are nurturing their children’s target language, and how you too can do the same. 

After you’ve read this you’re going to want to pin it, or bookmark it for future reference. I’m serious! 

Immersion

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Image by Wandermama
  • School:
    • What are the chances of your child being able to go to an immersion school that you’re only allowed to attend by lottery?  Especially when the waiting list is almost endless.  Monolingual mom Ashley from Family on the Loose shares how immersion school has impacted the lives of her now bilingual children. 

Fun, games, music, and play time! 

The importance of play to teach a child a second language: SpanglishBaby.com
Image by Spanglish Baby
  • Rita from Multilingual Parenting has a wonderful post on how fun and games with words can encourage your child to be bilingual! This post is right up my alley! She suggests telling stories, using puppets, and play word games for a fun language learning experience. 
  • Meanwhile Becky from Kid World Citizen guest posted on Spanglish Baby on how with a little bit of creativity she uses board games to teach her children Spanish.  Her family enjoys playing board games, and this is a great opportunity to incorporate language learning with some fun games. 
  • Ana from Spanglish Baby promotes the importance of play in raising bilingual kids. As she states, “They learn most of their skills through play, and language is no exception.” She also shares some great tips on nurturing language skills through apps, games, and my favorite of all:  playgroups!
  • Giselle from Kids Yoga Stories has come up with a unique way to to nurture language learning and yoga with her child. She uses the opportunity to teach her child Spanish while working on yoga moves. Being able to pursue her passion, and share it with her child is definitely a win-win situation for both parties. 
  • Over at Spanish Playground, Leanna from All Done Monkey guest posted on creating a wonderful game out of a popular children’s song in Spanish!  The song has been stuck in my head, and I’ve been singing it over and over ♫♫ un elefante se balanceaba sobre la tela de una araña…♫♫  This is a hit with her children, and the playgroups she’s used it in. 
  • Talking about popular children’s song. How about translating popular nursery rhymes? Varya from Creative World of Varya guest posted on Multicultural Kid Blogs on how easy it is to translate popular nursery rhymes into your target language. This is a great way to incorporate your target language into popular children’s nursery rhymes sung to familiar musical tunes.
  • Along with translating the nursery rhymes why not make nursery rhyme wall charts! Abbi from Taco de Lenguas came up with this awesome hands-free and visual nursery rhyme wall chart. Her little one often points at it, and they stop and sing! 

Family Affair

  • Do not underestimate the simple power of spoken words. By just talking in the target language you are encouraging your child to talk as well. Annabelle from The Piri Piri Lexicon shares how interacting with a native speaker supersedes apps, books, or even music. She shares her own experience on how having her Portuguese speaking mother-in-law visit, and stay with them has boosted her daughter’s language learning. 
  • Heidi Gill, Author of 2 Kurious Kids shares how family time is important to nurture her children’s language learning with the help of family: “One of the most effective ways my two children have been able to learn their father’s language (Punjabi) is by spending time with our extended family. When we are all together they listen to all of the conversations in Punjabi and they find it entertaining to try and understand what everyone is saying. My niece will often play games with my kids while teaching them Punjabi. They of course think that is much more fun than me translating words for them or even reading from a book. My niece uses lots of repetition and that seems to really help my children absorb and learn the language.”
  • You’ve read how native speaking family members help with language learning. But have you ever wondered how a monolingual family member can take an active role in the child’s bilingualism?  Olena from Bilingual Kids Rock provides a list with wonderful suggestions that will help both your monolingual family member and child. 

    Culture 

    Read Early, and Start Soon!

    • Ute from Expat Since Birth shares a similar experience, and emphasizes that reading is by far the best way to build up linguistic, and develop vocabulary.  Creating a daily routine from the moment they are born helps boost their brain development, and speech skills.  
    • Most parents agree on one thing when raising bilingual or multilingual children and it’s igniting a love for language through literature.  And this is exactly what Sarah from Baby Bilingual has done with her children teaching them another language through the magic and wonder of books.

    Home 

    reading
    Image by Glittering Muffins
    • Adriana from Home School Ways a polyglot herself, and home schooler blogs about her top ten strategies for raising polyglots. Her children are well on their way to becoming polyglots with French, Romanian, English, and pretty soon Spanish under their belts.  
    • Kristen from Toddling in the Fast Lane has devised various strategies to incorporate language learning at home, and shares what has worked for her. Not only does she nurture her child’s language learning skills she’s scouting for minority language opportunities to supplement at home her daughter’s  language learning skills
    • Carol from a French American Life focuses on teaching French one child at a time. She uses books, music, flash cards,  and on-line resources to teach her children French. However, not having a French speaking community such as, friends or family for support (except her husband); and teaching her children French falls on her. Nonetheless, to continue nurturing a love for the French language in her home she will be enrolling in French classes. 
    • In my case, I am the sole Spanish speaker in our home. I can’t rely on family members, or friends. Especially when my child attends a monolingual school all day. So at home I supplement what he’s learning in English and I also add Spanish home lessons where he has plenty of play, fun, crafts, and games to learn Spanish. 

    Need More Ideas?  

    I couldn’t help but to categorize this last post submission on its own. Now keep in mind, just because it’s the last it certainly isn’t the least of them all.  
    If all of the ideas above are not enough for you to nurture your child’s target language, then I bring to you Adam from Bilingual Monkeys’ 96, yes 96 things you can do to boost your child’s language ability! I love his list! 

    Thoughts 

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this compilation, and are pinning, and sharing this post with others. If you have read this far you’re leaving with a wealth of information from parents all over the globe with one common goal to teach, nurture, and foster another language in their children. Take advantage of it!

    Before you head out I want to leave you with this definition of multilingualism that I found in Wikipedia:

    “Multilingualism is becoming a social phenomenon governed by the needs of globalization and cultural openness.” 

    Give yourself a round of applause because you are an essential instrument in making this happen! If you’re interested in hosting or checking out past month’s multilingual carnival please take a look here

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    Our Son’s First “Real” Spanish Immersion Trip to Puerto Rico

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    Traveling to Puerto Rico has never been a “big” deal until now! Our child has been to Puerto Rico many times before. However, this trip was important. It would be our son’s first full Spanish travel immersion trip. 
    Street in Old San Juan in Puerto Rico

    “Mommy, is everything in Spanish only?” 

    Just having turned 5 yrs. old he was already anticipating what to expect. He worried that he would not be able to communicate in Spanish with la familia, and that he wouldn’t understand. I reassured him that I’d be by his side to help.   He would be fully immersed in Spanish for two weeks, and he was aware of it. Both of us had been working hard on his Spanish, and this would be the ultimate test. We were all looking forward to our trip to Puerto Rico!
    His only fully bilingual interaction has only been with me, until he heard the bilingual flight attendant speaking over the intercom system on the plane. First in English then in Spanish. He noticed it right away. Then he started asking: “Mommy, do people in Puerto Rico only speak in Spanish?  Do they know English, too?”   I used this opportunity to show him  the importance of being able to communicate in more than one language.  To ease his concerns, I also shared with him that Puerto Rico’s main language is Spanish, but many people do speak in English or at least understand it.

    As we drove through the expressway he saw a huge billboard of Disney’s new movie Turbo. He asked if we can see it, and I said yes. He quickly asked if it was in Spanish, and I told him yes. He was excited! We actually saw the movie twice. During the movie he asked that I translate a word or two but overall he did very well, and understood what was going on.  

    “¡En Español, por favor!” 

    I have to admit that my familia was very eager to communicate and to talk to our son.  I appreciate their intentions of bonding with him but not in English! 🙂 So I had a strict rule of ONLY Spanish. English with Daddy, and with me only if he needed help to translate.  La familia complied, but it was very hard because I caught them a few times speaking to him in English.

    However, even with that small set back I quickly noticed how he was expressing himself in Spanish, and taking it all in!  He would run to his Abuela and tell her something in Spanish like:  “Abuela, el perro está afuera.”  Or he’d ask his Titi how to say “come and play here” in Spanish when playing with his little cousin.

    While having short conversations with me in Spanish I noticed how he’d pause to think then he’d speak. He has expanded his vocabulary, and is forming sentences on his own.  He responds to everything I say with a “Si Mami”, and often expresses himself in Spanish. Like for instance he said to his Daddy, “Esto no es tuyo es mío” when Daddy tried on his baseball cap.

    Looking back… 

    A year ago, I remember my son telling me very proudly “Mommy I know Spanish!”  Far from being a reality, I realized that it was time to kick into full force to really make this happen!  Today I look back and see how far we have come! I am so proud of our baby, and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. Since, I myself had many challenges.

    Raising a bilingual child is not an easy task, and it takes a lot of commitment from both the child and the parent. This trip, and seeing my child speaking in Spanish has been the best experience in our travel immersion.  It’s like the “topping” on the ice cream!

    Immersion travel is one of the best gifts you can give your child. Have you traveled abroad? Would love to hear about your experience.

    This post has been shared at Best4Future’s Wednesday link-up party.

    The Importance of Multilingualism and Travel in Our Familia

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     “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ Augustinus 

    As a multicultural familia, multilingualism and travel go very much hand in hand since the target language that I’m teaching our child is Spanish, hence being the minority.

    Therefore, my mother who lives in Puerto Rico, and I made an agreement to visit each other every year.  Meaning one year she’d travel to the U.S.A., the other year we’d travel to Puerto Rico. Traveling was our way of preserving the family ties, as well as keeping the culture and language alive especially for our child. During Abuela’s visits she’d speak to our child in Spanish, and when we traveled to Puerto Rico he would be directly exposed to the target language because all of the familia would speak in Spanish. Though, I do admit there have been times where my family has spoken to our son in English, instead of Spanish. I am to blame since I started our son’s language immersion a little later on. You can read about my initial struggle here, and about his milestones, and my regrets here.

    Nevertheless, I’m thankful for la familia’s (Abuela, titi, tío, & primos) frequent travels to the U.S.A. La familia extendida and our baby’s travels have given him some exposure to  his target language.

    First trip ever by plane! November 2008
    He’s 4 yrs. old, and he’s traveled more times in his short little lifetime than me at his age! By plane he has traveled to: New York, November 2008; Puerto Rico, January, July & December 2009; Puerto Rico, November 2010; New York, March 2011 and Louisiana, December 2011.

      By car on family road trips (too many times to list the dates):  Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and within our state of South Carolina.

      This summer we’re truly looking forward to an overdue visit to Puerto Rico (it’s been 2 1/2 years since our last visit).  This trip will be different from any other, because this time our son will be fully engaged in a  two week full Spanish immersion trip.  He will be able to express himself in a language that until the other day I thought he would never learn. The language he has come to love, enjoy and speak: Spanish!

      Although our son is too young to remember his many travels or the places that he’s visited, these memories have already been ingrained in his little mind. The language exposure no matter how much or how little will  be forever present.

      In the words of  Lao Tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”  I am so truly happy that I took the first step towards my son’s language learning, and he is on his way to a lifetime journey of multilingualism opportunities. 

      This post has been written for inclusion in the Multilingual Carnival’s theme “Multilingualism and Travel” hosted by All Done Monkey.

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      Spanish Language Immersion Spring Graduation

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      Spanish Language Immersion Graduation 

      Finally my little man has “graduated” from his Spring Spanish language immersion lessons.  His graduation was not your traditional “graduation.”  It was more of a presentation for the parents from the children to assess the progress during their Spanish language immersion lessons.  The instructor and the children had an indoor picnic in which the children spoke in Spanish.  Afterwards, they were given a certificate of completion that my son very proudly held on to. 

      Posing with his Spanish teacher. 🙂 

      I have to say it’s been quite a ride for both of us, especially my son!   The difference 12 weeks has done to his Spanish language learning is incredible!  Learning Spanish with other children his same age, and level; and an upbeat and energetic Spanish teacher was the perfect combination!

      Right now he’s at the stage of conjugating sentences, expressing his feelings, and needs in Spanish. However, they are mostly  in Spanglish; but that’s all right because that’s how my baby will learn. 
      • Code switching:  “¿Mommy, can I have jugo de naranja por favor?”
      • Spanish:  “Mama, yo veo flores.” 
      • Code switching:  “Mommy my rodilla hurts.” 
      • Making up a cognate: (This one is funny!) “Mommy, I need my ‘sockos’!” (referring to socks instead of calling them calcetines, although in Puerto Rico we call them medias).   
      These are only a few of the sentences that he’s expressed.  Every time he says something in Spanish I cheer him on, and give him a hug!  It looks like there will be plenty of more cheering, and hugs! 

      Would love to hear from you! Please comment, like, share or pin!

      ¡Hasta luego!

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