After having a great discussion and Hangout on Google + with Spanglishbaby and Jeanette Kaplum, I wanted to follow up on the idea of battling “ Bilingual Rebellion”. It was a great event and lots of people chimed in with tips and questions. I was bummed that my video function wasn’t compatible for some reason, but my audio worked, so I shared a bit of my two cents on the issue.
If you are a parent or teacher raising or teaching bilingual children, you may face ‘the rebellion’ at some point. Here are some more tips to avoid and get through this stage:
- Remain positive: don’t discipline or correct kids all of the time. Use praise and positive reinforcement. Kids will be more motivated to speak when they don’t feel like it is a chore. Keep things light!
- Restate in Spanish. We have all been there… you ask the kids something in Spanish and they respond is English. Ay Caramba! Without making an issue, simply restate their answer in Spanish and move on. With our own kids, we often restate their answer incorrectly or give a choice. This encourages them to correct us and keep the conversation going. Here is a sample conversation with my son yesterday: Yo: ¿cuántos minutos leiste anoche? Hijo: thirty- five. Yo: Muy bien… treinta y cinco o cuarenta? Hijo: treinta y cinco.
- Focus on Fun: motivate kids by encouraging their communication through themes that they are interested in or relevant to their lives:
Retelling stories: Even if you read a story in English, retell the story in Spanish. Talk about the characters, feelings, etc.
Guessing games… Estoy pensando en un animal que….
Think Quickly: Nombra 5 colores… Nombra 5 animales… Nombra 5 juguetes, etc.
Number games/ Math games: Use dice and do sumas/ restas. Practice math drills and tables in Spanish.
Board/Card games: all games can easily be modified to play in Spanish. Easier ones for toddlers CandyLand, Chutes and Ladder, Go Fish… older kids- Pictionary, Picturecka, Uno, War/Guerra, etc.
Imaginative play w/ dolls/stuffed animals- set up a doctor’s office or vet or restaurant. Let the conversation flow!
Active games: Kinesthetic activities really stimulate some many learning styles. Play catch w/ a beach ball and count as high as you can in Spanish. Count by 2’s, or 5’s. Put objects on the floor, have kids jump over them and say the color, or any topic you want them to practice. Play “What time is it Mr. Fox? “ We say ‘ ¿Qué hora es Sr. Elefante? Kids count the steps in Spanish and practice telling time.
4. Exposure: keep talking, reading, and listening to music. Check out your local library for the International Juvenile collection and find some different books that peak your child’s interest. Most libraries have books on CDs and this is a great way for kids to enhance their language exposure. Music: singing enhances pronunciation and fluency. Practice singing songs in Spanish that the kids know,and then have a concert and video them. They will love watching themselves on camera. My daughter taught her friend the lyrics to Celia Cruz song recently and they made up a little salsa dance routine. Costumes and all! We filmed it and they had a blast, singing and dancing, and then of course rewatching themselves several times.
No matter what, if you are passionate about your kids and students speaking and learning Spanish, keep doing what you are doing! The rebellion stage eventually will pass and someday your bilingual kids will be thanking you for your dedication and patience!