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Archive for the ‘language’ tag

January 8th, 2013 at 5:01 am

A bilingual family’s New Year’s resolutions

It’s been six and a half years since I started raising bilingual children. I’m very happy with the results so far as my 6 1/2-year-old daughter is fluent in both English and Spanish and my 3-year-old son is well on his way. But there are some things I definitely want to change and since it’s the beginning of the year, I figured what better time to do so. I guess you could consider these my bilingual family’s New Year resolutions.

The first thing I want to change has to do with reading — one of the best ways to expose kids to the minority language. My daughter is an avid reader and can read in both languages better than I ever expected her to do so at her age. So I’m not worried about her.

The one I’m really concerned about is my boy. I hate having to admit that if I’ve read him half the books I read his sister by the time she was 3, I might be exaggerating. Life is so different when you have more than one child and it seems like by bedtime there’s never enough time to read. That’s why as of yesterday, I’ve started to read to him during the day. Way before bedtime. That way we’re not rushed and I can read him more than just one book.

The second thing I’m doing is going back to only allowing my kids to play apps in Spanish whenever I let them use my iPad or iPhone. I was pretty lax during the holidays and I let them play on these devices a lot more than usual. I’m cutting down on total use and so I’ve erased most of the apps that are not in Spanish.

Finally, I want to make sure I’m exposing them to as much music in Spanish as possible. My kids LOVE music and they both have CD players in their rooms, but most of their music is in English. Nothing wrong with that. I just plan on adding more Spanish options to the mix.

What are your family’s New Year’s resolutions?

Photo credit: dbrekke

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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December 11th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Latin music choices to celebrate the Holidays

My preschool son has his Christmas show on Friday, so for a few weeks now we’ve been hearing him sing a bunch of holiday songs, including “Joy to the World,” “Santa Claus is coming to town” and “Jingle Bells.” His oldest sister has taught him a few others ones too. While I love all this music, I noticed that they weren’t singing in Spanish at all, so I went through our CD collection as well as the awesome service provided by Pandora and, of course, YouTube, and I re-introduced them to some holiday music in Spanish this past weekend.

If you’d like to expose your kids to Christmas music from other countries, maybe you’ll enjoy going through the following list I’ve put together:

1) Navidad Tropical on Pandora — This station plays a lot of typical Christmas music from the Caribbean, i.e. Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Ever since I recently discovered, it has become our favorite!

2) Villancicos de Navidad on YouTube — Villancicos, which are pretty much the Latino equivalent of Christmas carols, remind me so much of my own childhood back home in Peru! YouTube has tons of them and you can find them just by using the keyword Villancicos.

3) Música Navideña para todos on Amazon — This 3 CD set includes a little bit of everything and all the songs are sung by a children’s choir. Beautiful!

4) Así es nuestra Navidad on Amazon — This is a MUST by Puerto Rican music legends Gilberto Santa Rosa and El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico. I’m a bit biased because my husband is from the island, but the truth is that Puerto Ricans really go all out when it comes to Christmas music.

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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November 26th, 2012 at 5:01 am

3 Strategies to Raise Bilingual Children

Whenever I meet someone who shows interest in raising their children bilingual, they always want to know what my advice is for them to get started. I love being asked that question because it makes me happy to see so many parents interested in bilingualism. So, I always share the following three tactics to make sure they start off on the right foot:

1) Come up with a plan and be consistent. There are several methods to raise bilingual children. The most common ones are the OPOL (one parent, one language) and the [email protected] (minority language at home). Decide which one you’ll be using with your kids and stick to it so that they always know what to expect.

2) Use the second language as much as possible. The more your children hear the new language, the better. Study after study has shown that consistent exposure to language is the best way to build vocabulary. And remember that the earlier you start, the easier and faster it’ll be for your child to learn the language. If you feel weird speaking to your baby, try reading or singing in Spanish.

3) Be committed. Raising bilingual children is hard work, especially as they get older and enter the rebellion stage. Just stick to your guns, remind them why it’s important to you that they become bilingual and look for support from others in the same boat. Not only will this make the journey much easier, but it’s always nice to be able to talk to someone else who gets what you’re going through with your children.

Photo Credit: Henry Scott

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

 

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October 9th, 2012 at 12:00 pm

The Benefits of Cultural Travel for Kids

My kids and I just got back from a trip to San Diego and since we were so close to the Mexican border, we decided to take a day trip over there. We’re lucky that the family we were staying with for the weekend is Mexican-American and they’re used to traveling from one side to the other all the time.

Although we were only there for one day, my kids got to live a completely different experience. First of all, Spanish was spoken everywhere and by everybody. From the stores where we shopped to the restaurants where we ate and the places we visited, my kids loved being able to speak in Spanish to everyone in sight. My children even got a chance to play with the daughter of one of the employees at a coffee shop where we hang out for a bit.

Secondly, they got to experience some real authentic Mexican cuisine and drinks. I mean, it’s not like many of the dishes are not available in the U.S., but there’s something about eating certain foods at the places where they come from originally. We had some tasty tacos de barbacoa and some delicious and very fresh seafood.

We also got a chance to go to a couple of bookstores where I bought my kids some books and board games in Spanish and we were able to visit a local market, which made for a very fun and colorful time. The whole trip was also a great opportunity for me to talk about the border, what it must be like to live there and how culturally different (and similar) San Diego and Tijuana really are. Once back in San Diego, my kids couldn’t stop talking about the experience!

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

 

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September 27th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Why Bilingual is Better

Bilingual is Better is the title of my new book just released last Tuesday. As it is to be expected, one of the first question my co-author and I got last week during our press tour was: Why is bilingual better?

While the benefits of bilingualism are obvious to me since I’ve been writing about the topic for almost four years and I’m living proof of them, I have to constantly remind myself that not everybody is aware of the amazing reasons why being bilingual is better. So, I figured it’d be a great idea to share these with all of you.

Bilingual is better because:

  • it helps you concentrate better
  • it makes your brain more flexible
  • it makes you an excellent multitasker
  • it improves your reading speed and comprehension
  • it makes it easier to learn new languages
  • it allows you to make more money
  • it offsets the onset of Alzheimer’s disease

There have been many studies done that prove all these benefits and the best part is that you can find much more detailed information in my book. I think it’s important to talk about them because it will make people understand bilingualism better and will hopefully help debunk a lot of the myths surrounding this topic.

Once people find out about all the benefits of bilingualism, it’s kind of difficult to come up with a sensible reason why not to raise children with more than one language… or at least that’s my hope.

Were you aware of all these benefits?

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s the co-author of her first book, based on her blog. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

 

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September 13th, 2012 at 5:01 am

What is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month is only two days away! It runs Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and I’m really excited about it this year because I think my daughter is finally old enough to understand a bit better what it’s all about. So what is the deal with Hispanic Heritage Month?

Well, for starters, the second part of September marks the Independence Day of Mexico, several countries in Central America as well as Chile. Secondly, it’s a month when all Latinos and their great contributions to this country get to be celebrated. Finally, it’s an opportunity for those of us who are Latino, to showcase our culture, heritage and history with the rest of the country.

This is probably one of the reasons I enjoy Hispanic Heritage Month so much. I mean, it’s just a great time for anybody who doesn’t really know a lot about Hispanic culture, our music, our art and especially our food, to get a taste of our very varied and distinct heritage.

The best part about it is that these days the majority of cities across the nation have some sort of Latino population, so don’t be surprised at the amount and variety of events you’ll be able to find during Hispanic Heritage Month in your own hometown. From food festivals and art exhibits to musical concerts, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something for everyone in your family to enjoy.

My family and I plan on attending a few events in our city this year, most of which are particularly geared toward children. I can’t wait!

Do you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? How?

Photo Credit: Oquendo

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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September 6th, 2012 at 5:01 am

Ways to introduce older children to a new language

Although I’m the first one to say that the best age to introduce your child to a second language is at birth, I’m also a huge believer that it’s never ever too late to do so. That’s why, if you’re bilingual and you’ve thinking of introducing your older child to your second language but don’t know how, here are some ideas to make the whole situation as smooth as possible:

First, you need to have a little chat with your child to explain why it’s a good idea for him to speak a second language. You can talk about the benefits, but also all the reasons why speaking another language is fun.

Once your child knows your reasons, maybe you can designate one day of the week to be Spanish (or another second language) day, like Spanish Saturday, for example. And that’ll become the day both you and him know that only Spanish is spoken at home. Obviously, he might not understand everything you’re saying at the beginning and you’ll probably have to do some translating, but ideally you’ll be using mostly Spanish.

Another option is to enroll him in Spanish lessons. Teaching kids Spanish has become so popular that you’d be surprised how many places are offering children’s lessons these days.

If you have an iPad, you should be able to find some cool Apps for him in Spanish. The same goes for online games in Spanish.

Good luck!

Photo Credit: John-Morgan

Roxana A. Soto is the co-founder of SpanglishBaby, the go-to site for parents raising bilingual and bicultural children. She’s currently working on her first book, based on her blog, to be published in September. Roxana is also a staff writer for MamásLatinas.

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May 18th, 2011 at 9:27 am

That Which We Call Fido

I’m a writer, a wordsmith, a born logophile. I relish in choosing just the right word, but I have to say the latest form of political correctness is making me twitch. The word now most in danger of being ousted from our familiar lexicon? Pets.

That’s right, the editors of The Journal of Animal Ethics think the word “pet” is derogatory. They want us to use “animal companion” instead. And “pet” is not the only term that has these word hounds howling. They would also like us to change “pet owner”  to “human carer”, and “wild animals” to “free-living or free-ranging animals”. Furthermore, they would like us to eliminate the words “pests” and “vermin” entirely.

Seriously, I’m all for animal rights. I know for a fact that most people consider their pets to be more than just companion animals — they are literally a part of the family. So when did the “P” word become dirty? According to my dictionary, when used as an adjective the word “pet” means “liked more than anything else.” Think of your pet project, or that pet name for your sweetheart, or even your pet peeve (the thing you like to complain about most).

For most of us, our pets are the most beloved animals on the planet. I’m not sure what they want us to call vermin. Perhaps “disease-challenged, eradication job creators.”

Now if you really want to get picky about animal-related words, maybe we should turn our attention to names we have saddled them with. For example, this year’s Kentucky Derby featured both “Stay Thirsty” and “Pants on Fire”. My dad once suggested we call our puppy “For Sale”, but we decided that might cause her to suffer undue low self esteem, and you know how expensive pet therapy can be.

Scruffy, a perennial favorite, means messy or dirty. And how about that old standby, Bandit? Are we condemning animal companions with this moniker to a life a crime?

If you ask me, these people have gone barking mad. Instead of worrying so much whether we call the animals in our homes “pets” or “companions”, we should be more concerned about teaching “animal carers” about responsible guardianship, such as the importance of spaying and neutering.

Besides, if these guidelines are adopted, it’s going to cost my husband, the “Animal Companion Retail Proprietor” a fortune to change all his signs.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

 

 

 

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