Thursday, December 27, 2007

Idea Exchange

Learning languages is more exciting and effective for children when games and interactive activities are incorporated. As a teacher, I have always been of the mindset that sharing and exhanging teaching tips makes things fresh and exciting. When I come up with a new lesson or game that is effective, I can't wait to tell others about it!

In the language program that I run, I create and implement all of the lessons and activities for the students ranging in age from 18 months to adults. They cover a multitude of topics and themes, and I am always creating and searching for other fun ways to teach the language. Here are some of my favorite activities that work well in class and at home with my own children:

1. Colored Mats/Dancing: I use the mats from the CandyLand DVD game and play upbeat music. When the music stops, we all run to a colored mat. I ask " Qué color?". The kids all shout the color in Spanish. We do variations of dancing, marching, jumping, spinning, running, crawling,etc.

2. Duck, Duck, Goose: I choose 2 vocabulary words pertaining to our current theme. ( ex: perro/gato). The kids play the game using the Spanish vocabulary rather than the original. This is a great way to get the kids active and actually say the words aloud.

3. Latin Pop Music: this works best with tweens-adults. I choose a popular song from a popular artist ( some of my faves are Juanes, Ricky Martin, Shakira, Gloria Estefan, Elvis Crespo, etc). I make copies of the song and we listen and sing it each day. We talk about relevent grammar and vocabulary. At the end of the week, I white out specific words in the song and test the students by having them fill in the blanks. Not only is this an excellent reinforcement of pronunciation, fluency, and listening comprehension, it is a great way to infuse some culture into the lesson.

4. The Cup Game: take 5 or 6 plain white plastic cups. Depending on the vocabulary you want to reinforce, attach either a picture or word to each cup ( animals, numbers, colors, etc). Turn all cups face down and hide a small object under one. Kids then have to guess where the object is. I always make a big deal of having all of the students ask the question " Dónde está el carro?". Then each child takes turns and has to guess by using the correct Spanish word on each cup. I use variations of this game for all ages and levels.

These are just a few fun ideas that have been popular with the children and teens that I work with. We would love to hear your input and experiences! Do you have any games or ideas that work well with your children at home?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bilingual Fun Parent Quiz

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!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bilingual Babies

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.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bilingual Storytime

One of my favorite things I do with my company Bilingual Fun, is to host free bilingual story times. We host these events in various places throughout the community; coffee shops, libraries, play centers, and bookstores. Like most parents, I love to find fun, educational activities to do with my children. Therefore, we offer an opportunity to expose your children to the Spanish language, with interactive and communicative activities. We really enjoy having new families join our story times, so that we may share our passion for teaching Spanish to children. Music, stories, puppets, dancing, and more always accompany our story time events, so that the language comes alive for the children. We offer a free bilingual story time at least once a month, and many communities offer similar programs. Check your local newspapers, libraries and community education for opportunities and events. Likewise, if you want to continue your child's exposure to the Spanish language, I have found a great interactive story time online, called StoryPlace: The Children's Digital Library. Literacy in all forms is an effective and essential part of a child's bilingual development. Allowing children to actively participate is also a beneficial way to keep their language development growing. Our most recent story time was hosted during the Grand Opening Festivities of a brand new Borders Store in Canton, MI. Kids and parents alike had a fabulous time, as we read numerous books, sang songs, and danced together!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


In honor of National Hispanic Heritage month, Bilingual Fun hosted a Family Fiesta where guests enjoyed an afternoon of culture and fun. Families enjoyed group Spanish lessons, sampling of authenitic Mexican food, live cooking demos, and professional Latin dance presentations. We ended the afternoon with a dance party, with everyone dancing merengue and salsa! A lively atmosphere, with upbeat music, delicious burritos, quesadillas, and salsa and families learning Spanish together allowed community members to learn more about our country's Spanish speaking population. As a bilingual educator, teaching Spanish to children, I was proud that our event was able to showcase our unique program and to raise an awareness of early language instruction. With close to 200 hundred people attending our Fiesta, we were happy to benefit the Vistas Nuevas Head Start program, which serves the primarily Spanish speaking populuation of SW Detroit. Check out our fabulous participants! Mariachi Mexico Restaurant, Dancers Amy and Ray, Chef Brian Ramirez, Matrix Human Services

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Favorite Bilingual Musician

As a mom raising bilingual children and an educator teaching Spanish to children, I have a person that I look up to. His name is Jose Luis Orozco. Mr. Orozco is a very successful bilingual educator, author, and musician. He has created wonderful resources for reinforcing the Spanish language for young children. My own children have all of his songs memorized and I incorporate his educational materials in my language classes. In the world of early language instruction, Mr. Orozco is a true champion. He performs and travels all over the country, bringing his gift for singing and teaching to schools, libraries, and communities everywhere.

My family and I had the fabulous opportunity of meeting and visiting with Mr. Orozco recently. Charismatic and sweet are just a few words I would used to describe him, as he serenaded our children with their favorite songs, and we visited with him about his life and work. What a joy for my kids to actually see their favorite music come to life right before their eyes!

It was such a great experience for us to meet him and to see him peform. I highly recommend his music and books for early language instruction. You will not be disappointed! You can learn more about his wondeful CD's at Also check out his site for his performance schedule. I hope you have the chance to meet him and see him perform as well!

Monday, August 6, 2007

¿Cómo se dice?

The curious minds of children are a wonderful thing! If you have experienced the stages of " why, or what's that", you understand the questions can be relentless, but so important for the development and understanding of children. It is similar process as a child is learning a new language. As they begin to understand that words have other meanings, their curiosity grows.... and grows... and grows. In our language classes we introduce a wide variety of thematic lessons, exposing children to many new words and phrases. Parents frequently tell me that at home or at the store, their children ask " how do you say this in Spanish"?

Traditional Spanish/English dictionaries are valuable resources, but in today's society of technology and immediate information, I have 2 great sites that I recommend for parents of curious minded children. is a quick Spanish/English dictionary that can help you when kids try to stump you with vocabulary questions. An interactive site called is a great site for hearing and practicing the pronunciation. Simply find the vocabulary theme you are looking for, click on the word, and hear the pronunciation. Encourage kids to repeat along with the audio.

So next time your little one attacks you with a round of "¿Cómo se dice en español?" you will be armed with some great resources to satisfy curious minds!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dora, Diego, Handy Manny....

"Come on vámonos, everybody let's go" or "ayúdame" are common phrases that may be running through your mind at random times. Of course you must have a toddler or preschool age child that has jumped on the bilingual bandwagon of these popular shows. As a language instructor for young children, I often say that these shows are some of our greatest marketing. We have parents call us all of the time and tell us that they are interested in signing up their children for Spanish classes because they love Diego, or that they can count to 10 in Spanish, but want to learn more. These unique and creative children's shows have hit the nail on the head with the language exposure element. The creators know how to incorporate the cultural aspect, but also to highlight words or phrases in Spanish. Kids easily pick up these Spanish words and can integrate them into their daily lives. I think it would even better if they used more of the Spanish language in their programs. But overall I think it is a wonderful introduction for young children. It peaks their interest, and helps them to understand that the world is bigger than just the community that they live in. So although the jingles may be annoying to the parent that hears them 3-4 times a day, you have to admit, they are catchy and the kids are learning something!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Raising Bilingual Children and Having Fun

As a mom and educator, I am always looking for fun, creative ways to enhance my children's bilingual development. I was busy planning the summer curriculum for our parent/child classes, when I fell upon a treasure. Due to the state's educational budget cuts, many important programs have been cut in various districts. I got in touch with a teacher who had her language department eliminated due to budget cuts and was selling and getting rid of ALL of her materials, lessons, supplies, etc. I was so disappointed for her that the early language program had fallen victim to our state's ecomony woes/budget cuts. Although it is unfortunate for that particular district to have lost a language program, it was certainly fortunate for me that she allowed me to take ownership of her materials.

I am so passionate about the advantages and benefits of early language instruction, thus the reason I started my company ( The treasure that I have been given this summer has given me a wealth of new ideas, games, toys, lessons, music, books, and supplies that I am actively using in our classes and with my own children. As a public school teacher for many years, I took for granted the ability to purchase new materials, and receive new information and supplies. As a private business owner, I do not have a budget and all materials/supplies comes out of our own pocket. It is so important to keep things fresh and exciting for children, and the games and lessons we will be doing this summer will be just that.

This week my own children and I had a parade of countries as we played one of my new songs and marched with the Latin American flags in our hands. We also have been playing various forms of Bingo, thanks to the new games I received. We have also been singing and dancing to some new CDs, and making picture dictionaries using thematic words/situations.

Raising bilingual children is not always easy, as we strive to maintain consistency with their language exposure. Anything new and fun stimulates their interest and gives us more opportunties to play and learn in Spanish. Although my own children have a strong foundation of the Spanish language, we continually need to stimulate them to stay motivated and interested in learning more. No matter what the language level or the age of the learner, having fun always makes acquiring a new language a positive experience.