Posts Tagged ‘children learning Spanish’

Learning Spanish Here and There, Learning Spanish Everywhere!

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

We had a great trip and luckily returned without the swine flu drama that is sweeping the world. I pride myself on being the ‘hand sanitizer queen’, so my family was fairly safe while we had our Latin American getaway. My husband and I enjoyed a restful vacation, and my children spent precious time with Abuelita and practiced their Spanish. It was a pleasure to see our kids having practical experience using their skills and being immersed in the Spanish speaking culture.

One of our favorite experiences was a day trip we took in which we were the only American family on board El Barco Pirata! My daughter quickly made friends with the Mexican children and spent the day playing and interacting with her new Spanish speaking friends. This was a fabulous experience for her in that the learning was in a natural environment and she saw how her bilingual skills came in handy. Our shy son met a shy little mexicana, and they played silently together in the sand. Although there was little communication, our son too enjoyed his new playmate.

We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel, however my husband and I continually seek cultural events and opportunities to expose our children to Spanish here at home. We just spent the day at a beautiful celebration of El Día de Los Niños at the local library, listening to Cuban jazz and watching Ballet Folklórico. We love finding great opportunities to continue to teach our children Spanish and expose them to their Hispanic culture. Whether it be abroad with Mexican children, or in our own kitchen chatting about what we are preparing for dinner, my husband and I are intentional about giving our kids the chance to enhance their language development and learn more Spanish.

Bilingual Fun is now at Borders!

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

The Bilingual Fun Spanish for Children DVD series is now available at Borders Bookstores in various regions across the country. Bilingual Fun hosts free community events for children at various stores, and we are honored that our own product proudly has a spot on the shelves at Borders. The Spanish for Children DVD series introduces the language to young children through music, movement, visual and oral repetition, and fun activities. Many different phrases and vocabulary are introduced, helping children learn Spanish through fun, easy songs and activities.

It was a family project, as my husband Mark and I worked with a production company, our own children, as well as nieces, and cousins were featured in the films. We are proud to have created a worthwhile teaching tool that teaches kids Spanish and promotes bilingual development. Stay tuned for Volume 3! Check out your local Borders in the children’s foreign language section….. maybe you will see our familiar guitarra smiling back at you! You can also purchase the DVD series here.

Teach Me Spanish Please!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

My own children often take for granted that they have bilingual parents that are alway insisting they continue to learn and practice their Spanish. Although we get some resistance at times, my husband and I remain consistent. Our next trip to Mexico with Abuelita is only a few months away and our children know the rules. No English while in Mexico! So, I am trying to find ways for my kids to enhance their language proficiency. They have the opportunity to speak with us, family, and friends, but sometimes they want something more exciting.

I went to the elementary school today to have lunch with my first grader. A month ago, I taught a Spanish lesson to the first grade and we had a blast. Walking through the lunch room today, you would have thought I was a local celebrity ( kind of fun!). I got a barrage of Holas and rojo and abre and arriba and just about every other word they could remember from my 20 minute stint with them last month. It was so cute. I had two little girls come up to me and ask very sweetly to teach them Spanish. They asked if maybe I could come everyday at lunch and teach them new words. Their was so much interest from these kids and it was so rewarding to see how much they retained.

What a bummer it is that our local public school have gotton rid of language education in the elementary schools. It makes me sad, but I am glad that our Bilingual Fun program services this population.

Of course when my daughter’s little friends showed such an interest in learning Spanish, she immediately piped up and gave her two cents. Sometimes it sparks the interest a bit when your lunch mates are begging your mom to ‘teach me Spanish please’. My daughter told the kids that her mom can’t come to lunch everyday, so she will teach them Spanish. Yippeee! A teacher in the making! This will be another great reinforcement for my daughter’s own language development.

El Dia de los Enamorados

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Te quiero mucho

In honor of el Dia de San Valentín, I would like to share words, phrases, and activities you can learn with your children and express your love! A great way to reinforce Spanish with your children is to keep the learning natural and relevant. If you plan on making Valentines or decorations this year, incorporate some bilingual fun!

Expressions of love:

te quiero mucho- I love you very much
te amo- I love you
mi amor- my love
el corazón- heart
eres mio- you are mine
eres especial- you are special
el beso- kiss
bésame- kiss me

Bilingual Valentine Activities:

*Cut out little corazones in different color construction paper. Reinforce color vocabulary in Spanish.

*Make a list of family members of whom you want to send Valentines. Make homemade cards and reinforce family vocabulary in Spanish. Write ‘querida prima’ or ‘querido abuelo’.

*Count candy hearts. Sort by color and count in Spanish. Older kids can do adding/subtracting problems using the dulces. Reinforce number vocabulary by asking ‘ ¿cuántos hay?’.

A Cultural Kaleidoscope for our Children

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

As a mom of bilingual children and an educator to many, I am passionate about inspiring children to live a multicultural life. The gift of being bilingual is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children, as they grow up in our ever changing global society. Through my Bilingual Fun language classes and with my own young children, I teach Spanish as a second language through music, movement, and fun activities. By teaching to the multiple intelligences of children, they are learning in a very natural way, which facilitates the language development of their pliable young brains.

Some of creative ways I teach language is through movement.
*TPR ( Total Physical Response) techniques which encourage children to act out verbs and vocabulary in the target language.
*Dance Party: this is a favorite of mine and my children. We play upbeat Spanish music and make up dances using vocabulary words. For instance we ‘Brinca arriba, da una vuelta, tres pasos adelante, etc ( jump up, turn around, 3 steps to the front, etc). We also use a variety of action verbs to move to the music. I have kids give the commands and we have to follow. Such as ‘marcha- march, baila- dance, salta- jump, gatea- crawl, corre- fun, aplaude- clap, brinca en un pie- hop on one foot.
*Teaching feelings: we use many hand movements and facial expressions to reinforce feelings. The children are able to easily respond when I ask them ‘ Como estas- how are you?”, by using a hand motion/facial expression with the appropriate Spanish answer. By reinforcing the target language with movement and actions helps young children to make connections and retain the words.

Another creative method I use is to incorporate music in all aspects of learning.
* Fluency, pronunciation, and comprehension is reinforced by singing. I always pick thematic songs that correspond with the lessons we are learning. For instance, during a food unit we sing ” Soy una Pizza” by Charlotte Diamond, and “Chocolate” by Jose Luis Orozco. Or during an animal unit, we sing ” Vengan a Ver Mi Granja” by Jose Luis Orozco, or ” El Zoologico” by Junior Jukebox.
* Using familiar tunes to teach new phrases has been very successful. I have many original songs that I have made up and are favorites of my children. We use the tune of Frere Jacques, Skip to My Lou, Farmer in the Dell, and many more to create easy to sing along songs in Spanish. Children are able to quickly learn the songs because they have prior knowledge of the tune.
*Songs with objects. Whenever I can give children something tangible to hold during a song really makes their learning realistic. Children are able to identify with an object in a hands on environment while they are singing. For example, we sing a song called ” La Fruta- Fruit”. Every child has a plastic piece of fruit in their hands, and as the vocabulary is named in the song, they hold it up. Or when we sing the ‘ Soy Una Pizza” song, each child has their own little felt pizza with ingredients. Kids make the pizza as they listen to the words in the song. By have children actively involved in a song and lesson, makes the learning more relevant and easier to absorb.

The bilingual development and learning of my own children has certainly given them an awareness of the multicultural world that we live in. Having traveled numerous times to Mexico, my children have gained an understanding of this culture and the similarities and differences that we have. Because they have been exposed to multiple languages at a young age, my children are very inquisitive when they hear people speaking other languages. My daughter loves her globe and will ask me where is China, or India or Germany after we have met native speakers or have heard the language. As parents, my husband and I try to expose them to as much diverse literature as possible, reading them stories from different countries. One of their favorites is a book about how to say Hello in 32 different languages. We always refer back to the globe to find the different countries. We also have a wide variety of friends that have many different backgrounds. Giving them this opportunity to experience differences and learn about cultures and families is very important to us. We want our children to have a global awareness from a young age, and we are dedicated to fostering that throughout their lives.

I was SO excited to find Global Wonders, which offers a fantastic cross cultural experience for young children. What a tremendous resource!

If you want to learn more about parents that are dedicated to giving their children a “Cultural Kaleidoscope”, please visit Twittermoms!

Putting the FUN in Bilingual Fun

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

By nature, I just love to have fun. As a child I was always dancing around and loved being goofy and creative. I really enjoy playing with my own children and it is proven that playtime enriched with stimulating and educational themes is very beneficial for children.

While living in Mexico, I worked with young children in a Casa Hogar. My Spanish was decent, but certainly needed stimulating and opportunities to practice. By playing and having fun with the children, the interaction was natural and I learned so much Spanish! Using music and playing games was a large part of my own language learning experience, and I am intentional about incorporating these aspects in the our Bilingual Fun language program. My students and my own children love to sing, dance, and play hands on activities in the target language. One of my favorite activities to do with my students is to sing our ¿Cómo estás? song. We make a big deal out of using the gestures with our ‘manos’ and the expressions with our ‘caras’. It is so funny to see the kids mimic my expressions!

Movement is an excellent way to not only stimulate young children, but by teaching to the multiple intelligences, the children are picking up the language through various methods. Our final goodbye song includes shaking our maracas ‘ arriba y abajo’. Parents often tell me that they children now say arriba or abajo now when they go up or down stairs.

Whether it is games, singing, creative crafts, hands on activities, or just dancing,I strive to put fun in our bilingual fun learning each day.

Feel free to share your thoughts or tips on how to keep the fun in the language learning experience.

Ay Caramba!

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Our Bilingual Fun classes are always great fun and we love to see our students so engaged and having fun while learning!

Yesterday, however, was a bit chaotic for the Bilingual Fun program. We currently teach parent/child Spanish classes in 3 different locations. We have one main classroom, that we use as our ‘base’ and then we travel to the other communities. At one of our travel destinations, we were instructed to hold class outside due to scheduling conflict with the room we normally use. Being the flexible and creative instructors that we are, we thought ‘no hay problema’.

Except of course it was 92 degrees yesterday. Si hay problema! Luckily we met under a shady area, so we didn’t melt like queso. As we are singing, dancing, and playing the hands on activities planned for the day, the lawn service arrived! Yes, they decided to start their services regardless of the group of preschoolers, parents, and dancing Spanish teacher under the trees. Ay caramba! In order to keep the children engaged and learning, we always use creative techniques, such as movement and games. This was a great opportunity to swap the original plans and incorporate some activies such as :

*The Freeze Dance: kids danced to music, when music stopped I shouted a body part and they had to touch their nose, etc.
*Caliente/Frio: we hid a small toy and I child was chosen to close eyes. They tried to find it by the class shouting commands caliente/frio ( hot/ cold).
*Las Maracas: so many uses for our trusty maracas. We counted backwards from 20-1 while shaking our instruments louder than the lawn mowers.

Then, on to a different location that evening for another round of parent/child classes. Guess what? The road was under construction at each major crossroad surrounding the building we meet at! Si, tenemos otro problema! Ay caramba! We had to creatively cut through neighborhoods to arrive at our location. I had many stressed out, hot and bothered parents arrive with their little ones in tow that evening. Many spent much more time in the car than planned and arrived late. Ay caramba! It all turned out good. We extended our classes to compensate for everyone’s late arrival. I cranked up the air condition for the parents and quickly began engaging their children in a game of Dress Rosita ( our stuffed bear that we use for clothing review). We put silly clothing combinations on Rosita such as : los lentes del sol, la gorra del invierno, los pantalones cortos, la bufanda, y las sandalias. The kids got a kick out of telling me ” esta bien or esta mal la ropa”. The parents were able to relax a bit as well. We even gave some fun directions in espanol to the parents on their way so that they could take the secret short cut home.

Although we said Ay Caramba more than once yesterday, we had fun as usual interacting with our students and families. Everyone left our classes with new songs running through their heads, expressions and words to practice for the week, and
‘tarea’ to focus on for the next class.

Today is a new day…. no more construction and lawn services for Bilingual Fun, I hope.

Spanish Story Time

Friday, January 18th, 2008

By Bilingual Dad ( husband of Maestra Jen)

“Make sure you take him to the restroom”, my wife reminded me as she walked out the door to enjoy a few, very much needed hours free of her mom/teacher job. I was confident I had it under control and I was sure he would let me know when he needs to go. It is a never ending process of chaos and drama, as we are both diligent and frustrated with the potty training process of our precocious, stubborn, 3 year old son! We were busy playing and having a great time ( of course, I had forgotton to take him to the restroom). Well, my wife was right as usual. Here I was running to the bathroom with toddler in tow scrambling to reach the toilet in time! All the while, my son is squirming, whining and just being a generally uncooperative.

Suddenly I found myself in one of those teachable moments, as I think to myself, “Would this be a good time to practice Spanish story time”? Well fortunately, we had a copy of Como aprenden los colores los dinosaurios, which is a pretty cool story about dinosaurs. I immediately got my son’s attention and he actually listened intently to the entire book. He even asked me to read it again. Of course the second reading included a few questions en español to reinforce the vocabulary and story line. We even had enough time to read another favorite libro en español, Tortillitas para Mamá.

We are making huge strides in potty training my son to the delight of my wife who spends most of her day with him, while simultaneously running a business. However, this is not the purpose of this blog. So, aside from providing a couple of potty training tricks, the real moral of the story is capitalizing on the many opportunities we have throughout the day to reinforce and practice Spanish. It is easy to forget but extremely important as repetition and frequent (almost constant) exposure is extremely important in raising bilingual children. We have many other times that we have Spanish story time with our children (besides during potty training); such as bedtime, on road trips, plane trips, afternoon quiet time and when my daughter pretends she is the Spanish teacher. We like to make learning fun and relevant to their lives. As parents raising our kids in a bilingual household, we try to take advantage of every teachable moment regardless of the setting!

Bilingual Fun Parent Quiz

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Whether you are a bilingual parent already, or you are learning alongside your child, take our quiz to test your knowledge.


1. How would you respond to ¿Cómo estas?
a. gracias b. estoy bien c. estas bien

2.If you were hungry, what expression would you use?
a. tengo frio b. tengo sed c. tengo hambre

3. Another way of expressing ‘adios’ is:
a. nos vemos b. de nada c. buenos dias


4. Mis amigos __________ altos.
a. es b. somos c. son

5. Te gusta el chocolate? Si,____________
a. me gusta b. me gustas c. me gustan

6. Ayer, nosotros _________ a la escuela.
a. vamos b. fui c. fuimos


7. What is the capital of Spain?
a. Barcelona b. Madrid c. Valencia

8. Vicente Fox is the former president of which country?
a. Mexico b. Peru c. Argentina

9. What does 5 de Mayo commemorate?
a. Mexican Independence b. Spanish Independence c. Victory at the battle of Puebla.

10. In Spanish grammar, is it correct to capitalize the names of the week?
a. si b. no

Answers/ Las Respuestas
1.b 2. c 3. a 4. c 5.a 6.c 7.a 8.a 9.c 10.b

How did you do? If you are an advanced speaker, was that too easy for you? Let us know if you have questions about anything regarding learning Spanish. Would you like additional practices or do you have comments about how you and your child are learning? We would love to hear from you!

Bilingual Babies

Friday, October 12th, 2007
I have been in awe and wonderment as my own children have developed so naturally with both English and Spanish. When they were very little, my husband and I spoke almost exclusively Spanish with them. As they have gotten older we have instituted certain routines and rituals into our daily lives. We have meals in Spanish, bath time in Spanish, and bedtime stories in Spanish. That is not to say that throughout the day we don’t communicate in Spanish, which we do often. We have just decided to make particular times of the day Spanish only, and we encourage our children to communicate and develop their vocabulary. When we travel to Mexico or visit our relatives, my children are able to communicate effectively and effortlessly. It is amazing to watch their development, as they just absorb and retain the language. As parents however, we need to make an conscientious effort to keep the language alive, so that the children do not fall into the rut of answering in English. As a teacher, I have seen so many children that fully understand a second language, but are not able to communicate because it was never enforced that they answer in the target language. Being bilingual is such an incredible gift, and although it may take some family effort and participation, encouraging your children to speak and practice will pay off in the long run!

Raising bilingual children often comes with some triumphs and blunders. My children’s personalities are very different and their learning styles were very different. My daughter merely absorbed the Spanish language and was speaking and understanding both languages well before she was 2. She also had the unique insight to know who spoke English and who spoke Spanish. She was very precise in who she addressed and in what language. My daughter also could easily switch from one language to another with an understanding of the difference between English and Spanish. My son, whom we affectionately refer to as ‘ el tremendo’ was and is a different story. Most of his first words were in Spanish and he understood commands and discipline very well in Spanish. I was not surprised at 16 months, his babysitter asked for ‘cheat sheet” of Spanish phrases that she could post on her fridge. I was so excited that she wanted to communicate with him and thought perhaps she wanted the basic ( colors, numbers, greetings, food). But no, she was interested in how to say ” get down, no climbing, no throwing, be careful, etc”. Apparently since we had not been disciplining him in English and he just didn’t respond to her! My son also spoke to whomever he wished in Spanish, seemingly having no clue if they were Spanish speakers or not. I often had confused looks from the nursery workers in the church as I dropped him off and heard him shouting ‘ pelota!”. Just as the language develops, everything begins to fall into place. Now at age three, he clearly understands the difference between Spanish and English and will respond appropriately when asked in each language. He still does respond better to discipline when spoken to in Spanish, but maybe that is because he is ‘el tremendo’.

Why did you decide to expose your child to a second language? Are you having success? Are you having problems? Do you have any funny stories to share? Do you have any questions about bilingual development? I would love to hear stories, suggestions, feedback about your experiences.
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