Category Archives: Bilingual Child

Let’s Read~ A Review

In part of my effort to increase the likelihood of Becca speaking (reading and writing) Spanish and English, I requested all of the books from my local library on that topic. I’ve decided to review Leamos! (Let’s Read!) for Everything Educational Thursday. Let

Let’s Read! 101 Ideas to Help Your Child Learn to Read and Write (Leamos! 101 ideas para ayudar a sus hijos a apredenr a leer y escribir) by Mary and Richard Behm (2000) was one of those books that I had requested and one of the first books that I read because it was really easy to flip through.

As promised, there were 101 activities in the book and they were all numbered and placed in chronologically order. Technically, this book is not specifically about raising a child to speak Spanish and English. Rather it is a book that is written in Spanish and English. So just like the title (Leamos!; Let’s Read!), each reading idea is written in English and Spanish.

In general, I found the activities to be fairly basic reading ideas and didn’t read anything revolutionary. Instead, it reminded me of some of the things that I know that I should be doing with Becca but I don’t always do. I also found a couple of cute ideas that I might incorporate into our lives:

#35. Your Own Museum

I liked this idea for when Becca gets a little older. Basically, instead of Becca just gathering a bunch of treasured odds and ends in her room (or scattered around the house), I should set-up a little museum for her. She would write a description for her item on an index card and then proudly display it in her museum. I could definitely see myself dedicating a shelf or two to this in her room. It would definitely help to showcase what she has become attached to as well as to weed out the junk from the “museum quality” items.

#63. Answering Questions

This one would be good for a long car trip. In this activity, you explain to your child where you are going and talk to him/her about what to expect. As part of your discussion, you ask your child to come up with a few questions they would like answered on the trip (“Will we see any cows? “, “How many times will we stop?” or “What does the ocean look like?”). While on the trip, your child will be on the lookout for the answers and place it on the index card. I also could see myself asking my child to make some predictions about the trip and might ask them to participate in planning the trip beforehand. In this way, they can check their predictions or see if we have stayed on the planned route. I definitely could see these taking some of the angst of a long car trip.

#84 Understanding Commercials I thought this was an important suggestion because children are bombarded with commercials. In this activity, Mr. and Mrs. Behm suggest that you talk to your children about the commercials they see. You can ask them to identify the product being advertised. You can also ask them to differentiate between the facts and opinions included in the commercial (this is an essential skill) and you can ask them to rate the effectiveness of the commercials (thumbs up, thumbs down or thumbs sideways). By doing this, you are not only helping your child to understand the concept of the commercial but you are laying the groundwork for him/her to be an educated consumer.

There are a few other cute ideas but those were the three that really stood out. I will definitely use them when Becca gets a little older. This book, although basic, was a good refresher for me and would be helpful for a parent who does not have a background in education.

SUMMARY:

Leamos!; Let’s Read by Mary and Richard Behm (2000) provides simple activities to increase your children’s reading comprehension. It is probably best for parents who have children between the ages of 3 1/2 to 7 years old. Since it is such a quick and simple read, I would recommend checking it out from the library (plus it is difficult to find through Amazon).

Happy Reading!

Mary Kate

P.S. For other things educational, click here. If you are participating in Everything Educational Thursday, leave a comment with your link (or e-mail me at marykatenj at gmail.com) and I will post it. If you are interested in participating, leave a comment or e-mail me.

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Another Great Multilingual Resource

I am always looking for support in raising Becca to read/write/speak in Spanish and English and The Multilingual Children’s Association site provides all sorts of support to me. I find that it offers a lot of simple and practical suggestions on how to raise a multilingual child as well as providing opportunities to connect with other multilingual families.

I found their recent article, Raising Your Child in a Language Not Your Own?, answered a lot of the concerns I have about speaking to Becca in Spanish. Although I am now capable of communicating in Spanish (How did Becca sleep? What did she eat?), I know that I am often mixing up the syntax, messing up the pronunciation and butchering the verb conjugation. I also have an extremely limited ability to communicate the concept of past or future when I speak (which can be extremely frustrating). I was finding myself limiting how much I spoke to Becca in Spanish because I was afraid of confusing her and I also wanted to stick with the one parent/one language concept (I speak to her in English and Omar speaks to her in Spanish).

The problem with the one parent/one language approach is that Omar’s mom (Becca’s caregiver) only speaks Spanish which means I need to communicate to her in my broken Spanish. This also means that Becca is observing our Spanish/Spanglish/Pantomine exchange and is possibly thinking this is the correct way to speak (or maybe she’s just wildly entertained?).

Despite all of my language limitations, the Multilingual Children’s Association recommends that I speak to Becca in Spanish as well as English. Their thought process is that if I speak and practice the language, my grasp of it will improve (so I will begin to make less mistakes) and more importantly, Becca will have exposure to Spanish from other sources besides just me (Thank God!). I particularly liked this quote:

“So be brave, and don’t fall into the trap of perfectionism.”

That is definitely a sentiment that can be applied to so many aspects of parenting!

¡Hasta Luego!

Mary Kate

P.S. For other things educational, click here. If you are participating in Everything Educational Thursday, leave a comment with your link (or e-mail me at marykatenj at gmail.com) and I will post it. If you are interested in participating, leave a comment or e-mail me.

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Cool Translation Site!

Are you struggling to communicate with someone in an unfamiliar language? Well, I do and I have a really great computer translation site that I use that you might find helpful, Babel Fish Translation*. It has definitely made communicating with my mother-in-law a whole lot easier.

I may have mentioned once (or twice) that my mother-in-law watches Becca when I am working and that she only speaks a little bit of English. This wouldn’t be such a big deal except that I don’t speak a lot of Spanish. Over the years, I have managed to pick up some rudimentary Spanish (Cuanto tiempo Becca durmió? – How long did Becca sleep?) and situational Spanish (Cómo usted dice esto? – How do you say this?- pointing to an object) In general, this has worked out pretty well for us. But every once in a while, we run into a situation that requires a more sophisticated vocabulary and I have found that the Babel Fish site allows me to do that (it offers 36 different language translation options).

While I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the translations, I do know that they have definitely helped my MIL and I through some very sticky situations. I will type in the 2-3 (or 6-7) sentences and then read it to my MIL. Sometimes it is necessary for me to repeat what I have said (my pronunciation is horrendous) and a few times it has been necessary for my MIL to read the actual screen. But in every case, it has helped us to talk about our feelings and Becca in a way that we couldn’t do without the site.
What tips/tricks do you have for translating between languages (or dealing with your MIL ;))? I would love to hear them!

Hasta luego,

Mary Kate

*like all of my reviews (so far 😉 ), I was not solicited to review this site and did not receive any compensation (in any form) to review it. It has been a lifesaver for me and I thought other people could benefit from it as well.

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Bilingual Tips from Dr. Sears

According to Dr. Sears, I am on the right track in my attempt at raising Becca to speak Spanish and English. He confirms what I have read and heard from others:

  1. Each parent should speak one language – The child connects the language to one particular parent and does less switching between the languages. This has been harder to do then I expected. Since my MIL speaks mostly Spanish, I find that we often speak Spanish or “spanglish” at home.
  2. Speak the minority language at home – A number of people had mentioned that when a child starts school it can be hard to maintain the second language. So I was thinking it might be helpful to switch exclusively to Spanish at home once Becca is in school. This definitely encourages me to do that (and it encourages me to improve my own Spanish).

Becca has been making progress with speaking English and Spanish and seems to respond to both. Right now, I would say that she has more Spanish words than English. I am okay with that because she is being exposed to English and I know she will definitely pick it up at school. I also want to make sure that she is exposed to her Mexican culture and her Irish-American culture. It is important to me that she is proud of her heritage. My biggest concern right now is that she is exposed to quality Spanish and quality English. If she is just learning ‘spanglish’ than we are wasting our time.

Mary Kate

P.S. If you would like to read the rest of the article, click here for the link.

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Language Update: 18 months

According to the Baby Center development tracker, Becca is now 18 months old so I thought it might be nice to update Becca’s language development. Within the past few weeks, she has really begun using words in a meaningful way and can respond to simple commands. Omar and I have gotten in the habit of pointing at various things to see what she can name(She calls a lot of things ‘appel’, ‘mama’, ‘papa’ or ‘baby’). W e will also yell out various commands to see how she reacts (“Becca, look at me”, she does, “Becca, look away”, she keeps looking at me). I am not sure how helpful it is for her but it definitely keeps us occupied.

appel-2.jpgAppelappel-2.jpg

Becca will ask for “apple” when she wants an apple or is hungry.  She also said, “more” when she wanted more spaghetti.  When she was finished, she just turned the bowl upside down and placed all of her spaghetti on top of it– I guess she doesn’t know “enough” or “done” quite yet.

This morning when I asked her to find her shoes, she ran into our bedroom and brought her shoes to me (very sweet). Later today, she neglected to tell me that I had put on her diaper incorrectly which resulted in a diaper explosion and an unexpected bath for her. So there are still some gaps in her ability (or willingness) to communicate with us.

Although Becca has begun to name or ask for things, she is more likely to echo what we have just said. I have begun to feel as if I am travelling around with a small parrot. Since she is hearing mostly English, she is currently speaking mostly English. She does have a few Spanish words (arribe, agua, gato) and I notice that when we make an effort to speak to her in Spanish she will respond (at least with the same frequency as she does in English).

parrot1.jpg

Becca’s abuelita, Martha, will be returning on Wednesday which means that Becca will be hearing Spanish spoken more consistently again. I have a feeling that her Spanish vocabulary will quickly increase which means I need to start practicing my Spanish.

¡Hasta luego mis amigos!

Mary Kate

Photos used by permission from http://www.sxc.hu/photo/ (#931040, #931041, #441601)

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Word Update

Becca is chatting up a storm but not necessarily saying anything that I understand.  She will often look at me and say something to the effect of, “gerbshe whicshown sumfer hacienden wollom?” or “sheicyhsem helomanshin walkerwyn!”  There is definite inflection in her voice and clear facial expressions but it’s not quite English (or Spanish).  This hasn’t stopped her from voicing her displeasure whenever something isn’t going according to her plan.

She does seem to be making some progress on the bilingual front.  She will respond when spoken to in English or Spanish (come here or ven aquí).  She also will use the words aqui, mos (for vamanos) and ga (f0r gato).  She even will (occasionally) use them in context.

I continue to meet other moms who are raising their children bilingualy.  I still continue to hear mixed experiences about raising a bilingual child.  The biggest issue seems to be that the child will refuse to speak in the 2nd language.  I am hoping that making it a part of Becca’s daily life will help.  It will be interesting to see how she responds to speaking two languages as she gets older.

M. Kate

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The Trend for Two Languages

Apparently I am not the only one who is consciously raising a bilingual child in the United States today. Instead, I am one of many parents who have seen the benefit of their child speaking two languages fluently. According to this article in the Star Gazette News, more and more parents are interested in their children becoming exposed to another language (particularly Spanish).

I definitely see the practical reasons for a child to know two languages (Top Ten Reasons to Speak Spanish) but I also have personal reasons for my daughter to speak English and Spanish. I want her to be able to understand and experience all aspects of her Mexican and Irish-American background. I want her to be able to communicate with her abuelita (grandmother), tías y tíos (aunts and uncles) and primos (cousins) who only speak Spanish. I want her to have pride in her heritage and raising her bilingual will help to instill that in her.

These are just a few of the personal reasons I want my daughter to speak Spanish and English. What are the reasons you would like your child to speak more than one language? Please leave a comment and share your reasons with me.

M. Kate

 

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