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.