Thank YOU!

 

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Since I embarked on this bilingual journey of mine in May, I have found so many resources with amazing ideas to help me teach my kids spanish as well as teaching them around the world!

Bilingual Myths

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There are a lot of myths about learning multiple languages that have been inaccurately presented to people as fact.  I have seen many of these myths plague people’s education all of my life.  Today, I would like to talk about one in particular through my own experience:

“Myth: Parents who speak a language other than English to their children will hurt their children’s chances for academic success in this country”* 

When we moved to the states I was placed in an ESL (English as a Second Language) class to help learn English.  I remember there were quite a few of us from all over Mexico. Once I was moved to a regular class, some of the same students that were in the program with me were immersed in English at school and at home.  I also met other students of Mexican descent who were practicing full immersion in English in their homes, too.

Their parents believed what the school taught them.  In order for their kids to be successful in school, they had to do everything in English.  So, unknowing that they had been told a myth and not a fact, the parents obliged.  They cut off all Spanish from their kids’ lives.  I’m sure it’s not something they wanted to do, but they were told this would help their kids so they did it for their kids. I have heard some of those same kids (now grown) say they wished they would have kept Spanish in their lives.

My parents never bought into this myth.  They knew that being bilingual would be an advantage.  Also, they are proud Mexicans and no one was ever going to take that away. Being able to communicate with family in Mexico meant everything because family IS everything. I again thank them for sticking with their beliefs.

It is now believed that students who learn more than one language are able to process information better, work out problems more effectively and, because they know there is more than one right way to do or say something, are better able to understand different topics. I’m not saying that all bilingual or multilingual children are smarter than monolingual children at all.  What I do believe is that children who understand that the world doesn’t center around one language and one culture but is multifaceted become multifaceted individuals themselves.  And who wouldn’t want that for their children?

What myths have you been faced with in your lives?

*Common Myths About Bilingualism: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/540/bilingtl/myths.html

(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can find it under www.bilingualeyes.wordpress.com. You can also find it in Spanish at www.bilinguazo.worpress.com and on Facebook under www.facebook.com/bilinguazo. And don’t forget to hit me up on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bilinguazo. Thanks a bunch!)

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Music Magic

I am a total advocate of music being the best tool for teaching.  I don’t think my kids would know the Spanish that they do know without it.  We still have a long way to go, but whenever I hear them sing in Spanish, I can’t help but feel so proud.  I mean, just look at these guys.  They melt my heart every day.

Both boys spend most of the day dancing and singing already.  What better way to make learning fun than adding Spanish songs to the list of songs we sing?  M picks his favorite songs on the Kindle for us to dance to. We also have a couple of CDs we listen to and dance to for our dance parties and I sing to them at night. To my surprise and pleasure lately they have been singing the songs I sing to them at night.

Today, I decided to share one of these amazing performances with you as one proud mama.  Please enjoy this lovely song in Spanish performed by my loves.  Have a happy day!

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I Studied, I Graduated and Then Asked “Now What?”

Can you see the fear of the unknown in my eyes?

Can you see the fear of the unknown in my eyes?

As I was putting the finishing touches on a blog post for a site I am a contributor on, I started thinking about where my head was at in college. I was a double major by default. By default I mean that I was never too sure what I wanted to “be” when I grew up.  I took the courses I HAD to, and flavored them up with courses that interested me. Then after a few years of that, I went to my graduate advisor and said “this is what I have, what do I do now?” He looked at my file and said that if I stayed a little longer and took a couple more classes I could get two degrees. I said, “cool” and went on my way. I took the extra time and graduated with two degrees by chance. But then what?

I took Spanish courses because I knew I could. I thought they would be easy since I am from Mexico. Turns out I had to study a lot; not so much the language, but everything else. I really did learn so much that I didn’t even know before.  I learned about literature I hadn’t read, music I hadn’t heard and history I probably heard from my family but didn’t pay attention to because I was a rude teenager that acted like she didn’t care. But now I do.  I want to keep learning and I want my kids to learn, too. If they are anything like me, they will dismiss me because I am mama and have no authority in those subjects. They already tell me that their teachers teach them new things that I know I have tried to teach them myself.  Somehow it just sounds better from someone else.  Karma, I suppose as I was the same way to my wonderful mom and very knowledgeable uncles.

Sure I had fun jobs and met great people along the way. I also had tedious jobs, retail jobs and marketing jobs. All of them have helped mold the person I am now, of course. But what did I spend all that time in school for?

My college years were not there to catapult me into a life of riches with the highest paying job imaginable. Is it ever? Way too many graduates are still searching for the job of their dreams.  I can say that what it did was open my eyes to the world. It helped me meet people from all over and stirred a passion for culture and tradition. Was it worth the thousands and thousands of dollars?  That will always be a matter of opinion but I am grateful for all I have learned in and out of school.

I never really got a job having to do with either degree and it isn’t until now that I feel like I am doing what I like. I’m learning to be a better mama (little by little) and I have started taking the cobwebs off of my brain. So the question is, when did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you know since you were young or are you still searching?

Day 2

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Today is the second day of my challenges. Let the muse strike me when she’s ready.

I have a million ideas swirling in my head, yet my net can’t seem to catch them quick enough. I do think these challenges will help me learn to focus on my ideas better. Who knows when the words will flow like magic.

What inspires you to write?

#PiBoIdMo, #NaBloPoMo

Challange Accepted!

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I am taking on a double challenge this month.  I will be participating in the PiBoIDMo 2014 challenge (Picture Book Idea Month in which I will try to do 30 picture book ideas in 30 days). I will also be participating in the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month and do blog a day). It’s a lot to do, but I think I can make it.  Wish me luck!

#PiBoIdMo, #NaBloPoMo

Mini Calaveras

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One of our Day of the Dead Crafts this year is mini skulls. Since it took me so long to get started, I decided not to spend any money and see what I had at home.  Last year my mom brought me some super cool lollipop molds with Calaveras on them. Instead of making sugary treats that would make my kids bounce off the walls even more so than they do without any sugar, I decided use them to make paper mache skulls. Using my mom’s engrudo recipe (homemade paste), I decided to test it out and see if it worked. It did!

Here is what I used.

  • Water
  • Flour
  • Cut-up newspaper
  • Candy mold

Steps

  1. Put a pot of water over low/medium heat – since they are tiny molds, I only used one cup of water.
  2. Add flour one tablespoon at a time until it reaches desired consistency. It should look like a creamy soup, or if you know Spanish food, like Atole. Don’t overheat or it will stick to the pot.
  3. Let it cool.
  4. Once cool, brush on to your newspaper pieces and place the wet pieces into the mold.IMG_2901
  5. When you fill your mold, let it dry overnight. I left mine in the sun all day and brought it in at night to dry indoors some more. The next day, I removed them from the mold and they came out so easily. What a relief.

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6. I painted them white with some acrylic paint my mother-in-law gave me (thanks, Bonnie) and let them dry.

IMG_29007. Once they were dry, we used permanent markers to decorate them. You can add more to them, of course, it’s your creation! We decided to keep them simple this year. Next year, I’ll give myself more time and make them super decorative. Oh, and don’t forget to trim the edges. I left that until the end, but you can do it right away, too.

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Now that I know this works, I will make them much prettier next time around. I cant wait to paper mache something else! It’s a great way to get the kids involved, too.  Let them get messy. What else can I make?

I hope you liked my craft! Have a Happy Halloween and Feliz Día De Muertos!

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Here is our finished altar. Thanks for the papel picado, Veronica Zavala, for the inspiration, Magui Talan and for the love of tradition, Margarita Talan De La Rosa.

(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can find it under www.bilingualeyes.wordpress.com. You can also find it in Spanish at www.bilinguazo.worpress.com and on Facebook under www.facebook.com/bilinguazo. And don’t forget to hit me up on Twitter at https://twitter.com/bilinguazo. Thanks a bunch!)

What My Kids Have Taught Me…As I Try To Teach Them

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Exploring ways to teach my kids to love Spanish is teaching me a lot. Mainly I have learned that it’s not as easy as all of the literature I have read suggests.  I had a vision of being calm and happy while they listened oh-so-attentively. We would laugh and sing our lessons in Spanish so blissfully.  (Sigh) Turns out, I may not be the best teacher. Even though they do get excited about learning sometimes, there are times that are a lot more difficult.  Here are six lessons my kids have taught me about teaching so far.

  • Be patient and dedicated to the cause.

I truly admire good teachers. It takes such patience and dedication to get through to little excitable minds.  I am learning how to not get worked up, though.  Hopefully my kids will see how I am trying and they will then want to be patient and not give up on whatever they try in the future as well.

  • Teaching with just words gets dull fast.

If there isn’t a catchy tune, words that rhyme or a silly story I will lose their attention so fast, all hope will be lost for learning that day. There are a lot of great resources online with rhymes and songs that are so fun for my boys. I don’t even have to set the kindle up for them anymore. My 4 year old can turn it on and find the exact song he is looking for without any help from me and he even sets it up for my 2 year old to play word games in Spanish. Oh games, songs and music; how I love you!

  • Make it short and sweet.

Being how my little ones are so young, I can’t expect them to sit and pay attention for too long every day. I have said before that we try to do our “hora en español” (Spanish hour) but I have found that I have to break up that hour with different activities. We now add little dances to Spanish songs, we jump around just to shake things up and sing at the top of our lungs because what kid doesn’t like to scream?

  • Incorporate messy fun

Let them get their hands dirty while you teach. Painting is a great way to review colors and textures. Learning ingredients, steps and tools while they help you make dinner is one of my favorite things to do. Not to mention this helps me make dinner with them by my side (BONUS). We are a family that loves to eat, so if it has to do with food, they will pay attention.

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  • Be creative

Show them that you love the language you are trying to teach them. If they see that you take the time to make something just for them, they will love it, too. It could be as simple as taking the time to search for printouts they can color having to do with a specific topic or object. You can also set up the craft table in advance with everything they will need for your craft of the day before they are ready to get crafty. They will be excited to see all of the colors and everything set up just for them. This only leads to happy crafting.

  • Create Your Own Memories.

Another idea is create your own characters for them. I wrote a series of picture books in both English and Spanish just for my boys. I used the same characters throughout so they could get to know them and learn with them. Even though my drawings look like they were done by a kindergartener, they know that they were made just for them. I think they appreciate that. They even sometimes ask me to draw the main character with sidewalk chalk when we are playing outside, which is quite flattering for me.  They have become like part of the family. They may see something in the drawings that I don’t see; hopefully that something is LOVE.

Once they see how much effort you put into everything and how excited you are about it, they will be excited, too. Sure there will be the days when they don’t want to learn and days when you are so frustrated that you don’t want to teach. All you can do is find a happy place and try again the next day. Happy Teaching!

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(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can find it under www.bilingualeyes.wordpress.com. You can also find it in Spanish at www.bilinguazo.worpress.com and on Facebook under www.facebook.com/bilinguazo. Thanks a bunch!)

The Bilingual Edge

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There are so many articles regarding studies and research on the advantages of being bilingual and I agree with them all. When I was younger I never thought about all of these advantages. It was just who we were and what we did as a family. We spoke Spanish with my family and we spoke English in school and to our friends. I am grateful my parents knew about all of the advantages that people are speaking of now, way before it became a topic of discussion.

My parents knew that being bilingual would help us get further in our education. They knew that working our minds in two languages could improve our ability to learn new things easier. There are many research articles that praise being bilingual and multilingual to improving ones cognitive skills.* All of my sisters and I finished high school and went on to finish college. Each of us decided where our education would take us and I think we are all happy with the choices we made. I loved learning then as I do now. I do not regret anything about my education choices (other than I should have studied more and partied less at the beginning of my lets-all-be-free-and-have-fun-every-night college years). It did take me five years to graduate college, but I did graduate with two degrees and I am proud of that. And now I get to write this blog, another in Spanish and do many other creative things. I think it may have worked out just fine. I hope my children can say that they are proud to be bilingual, too.

My parents knew that being bilingual would help us find better jobs. The demand for people that are not only good in their field, but are good in two or more languages is amazing. We were all able to proudly say at any interview that we could work with Spanish and English speaking people. It didn’t matter what the job was, we would always have that advantage to show. I even have one sister that speaks five or six languages. I lose count, but it’s something I deeply admire.** How cool would it be if my kids could decide one day to go and learn another language, then another and then another. Their successes would be immeasurable!

I’m not sure if this next advantage was one my parents were aware of at first, but they found out about as life went on. It is the ability to socialize between groups because you can communicate with more people. When I was growing up, everyone in my school wanted to be part of the English speaking group. I remember working so hard to get out of the ESL group (English as a Second Language) so that I could fit in with the cool kids. Although I was never one of the cool kids, I was able to become close to some of them. At the same time I could still go to my Spanish speaking friends, that had their own little group, and feel completely comfortable with them as well.

One thing that I find interesting is how social media has helped bilingualism grow. I see people I have met throughout life that only speak in English in public that are now posting in Spanish and declaring how proud they are to be of Latin decent, and I am one of them. I didn’t even know some of them spoke Spanish when we were in school; it just wasn’t something we did. I remember practicing and practicing my diction in order not to show my accent; only to realize once I was in college that I wasn’t very successful at it. I am now proud of my little Mexican accent. It may not be as distinct as someone like Salma Hayek’s but people I meet for the first time always ask me where I am from. Sometimes it’s because of my name (Malu) and sometimes because of my accent. Either way, I will take the uniqueness that is me as a compliment.

The last advantage I will share with you on this post is being able to pass on your bilingualism to your children. Once I understood the benefit of this great gift my parents gave us, I knew it was not something I should let go off. Although it would be so easy to just assimilate to the English speaking world around me, I would be giving up a large part of myself. If I did that then they would not see that part of me. I can’t let that happen. My children will now know about my life in two worlds. And I will show them advantages of being bilingual and hopefully grow from them. Mostly I hope that they will be proud to be bilingual and proud to pass that on as well. I hope that their bilingualeyes will always shine bright.

* Advantages listed here were found in a great article in Spanish Playground that you can link to here http://spanishplayground.net/9-hidden-advantages-of-being-bilingual/

**Way to go Mara!

(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can also find it in Spanish at http://www.bilinguazo.worpress.com and on Facebook under http://www.facebook.com/bilinguazo. Thanks a bunch!)

Review of Local Library Bilingual Books #1

the boys sharing their books before bedtime.

the boys sharing their books before bedtime.

One of the activities that I like to do with my boys is go to the public library. Now that I am a part of Bilingual Parents Connect and being held accountable for reading to my babies in my native language, getting books has been on the top of the priority list. We found the Spanish section in the library and can now get bilingual books to read to them on at story time.  I never realized how many there are to choose from.  It’s a wonderful thing to see a whole section devoted to Spanish speaking kids. Hopefully my future books will be there one day.

I will be writing little reviews about the books as we get them focusing on how my boys reacted to them and which were the most popular.

My first review consists of the three books we first checked out. They are “The Usborne First Thousand Words” by Heather Amery  and Stephen Cartwright, “Cuckoo/Cucu” by Lois Ehert and “Como Comen Los Dinosaurios?”  by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.

“The Usborne First Thousand Words” is a great teaching book for little ones. We can just sit and go over the words while looking at the cute pictures.  Both boys liked to look at the book even when I wasn’t reviewing the words with them.

“Cuckoo/Cucu” is a great bilingual book.  The story is printed in English and Spanish together so the kids can have the translation for each part told at the same time.  This helps them know what the words mean right away.  The pictures are beautiful and very colorful, which catches their eye right away. It was a cute story.  They still run around singing “Cucu” from time to time, so it definitely stayed in their minds.

“Como Comen Los Dinosaurios” is a very cute story that not only teaches Spanish by having both English and Spanish together for easy word recognition, but also teaches manners. It shows how bad dinosaurs eat compared to well behaved dinosaurs eat.  This is a very good tool to teach your own messy dinosaurs.  My kids have been all of the bad dinosaurs at some point or another and still are at times. Both loved the pictures of dinosaurs and the story.  This one was the most requested read of that week.

I hope you like this review. I would like to keep adding to this as our library trips continue, maybe twice a month. If you have any books you would like to review, message me and I will happily post your reviews as a contributor.

Have a great week! Hasta Pronto!

(If you would like to share my blog, I would be so grateful. You can find it in Spanish at www.bilinguazo.worpress.com and on Facebook under www.facebook.com/bilinguazo. Thanks a bunch!)