Friday, December 19, 2008

Tex Mex Version of "Twas the Night..."

My kids always get a kick out of reading this funny verion of Twas the Night Before Christmas! Enjoy!

Tex Mex Version of Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring -- ¡Caramba! ¡Qué pasa!
Los niños were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas,
While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?
Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
Jim and Nita Lee (Dec. 1972)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another Great Bilingual Product!

Introducing..... Lorito Books! I have really enjoyed using these beautifully written and illustrated bilingual audiobooks with my children. My kids love listening to audio stories and these magical books bring the Spanish language alive. The illustrations are gorgeous and the stories are Latin inspired and showcase the culture we love. The books are bilingual, so parents with limited experience with the language can easily use these fantastic books as teaching tools. We will be incorporating the audio books in our Bilingual Fun language classes as well. Teaching Spanish to children through audio books will enhance their listening comprehension, fluency, and pronunciation. Audio books are a superb tool for listening comprehension and identifying words and images, which enhances a young child's language development. I am always on the lookout for worthwhile and superb teaching tools that I may use as I teach Spanish to children. Lorito Books have hit the mark! I would like to share some great information from Pam at Lorito Books. Don't miss out on the great special they are offering!

What is Lorito Books?
Lorito Books is a publisher dedicated to producing audio materials that help children learn a second language as well as improve their reading abilities. �Our books are used by English as a second language and Spanish as a second language learners. We publish titles that are written and illustrated in Spanish or Spanish/English by Latin American or U.S. Latino authors. We look for titles that are culturally relevant and promote positive values. We DO NOT produce translations of general market books such as Goodnight Moon. Our mission is to promoting the Latin voice in North America because we feel that it is often under-represented or misunderstood. We use the audio format because it is a powerful learning tool and can bring books to life.

How did you get interested in bilingual learning?
I started studying Spanish when I was in 7th grade. It was my Jr. High rebellion because at that time, in my home state of Michigan, everyone was studying French. I studied Spanish through High School and college and have spoken it all of my adult life. I have found it to be extremely useful here in the West in social situations, travel and work.

When my youngest daughter was 10 years old we started traveling annually to Chihuahua, Mexico to work with an orphanage. We went with other families at our church and I observed the children trying really hard to connect with the kids at the orphanage. They often resorted to the universal language of hand signals, which was surprisingly effective but it struck me how motivated and receptive kids areat that age to learn a second language.

My professional experience with audiobooks was as a Sales Manager for an audiobooks distributor based in Colorado. We sold to public, school and military libraries all over the U.S. We often had requests from librarians for Spanish language books yet there was very little material available. �Librarians try to provide materials that serve all segments of their community and in many parts of the U.S. the Spanish speaking population is over 40%. Community outreach to the Spanish speaking community is especially important because libraries are a valuable resource for immigrants assimilating into U.S. culture. The challenge is that they usually don't have a frame of reference because the concept of a Public Library providing free access to materials is unique.

Do you have any specials that you are offering?
Our books are available on We are offering special holiday pricing of $15 for the paperback sets and $20 for the hardback sets. Shipping is free on orders over $30. To get the Bilingual Fun discount, call 800-420-6936. We will bill customers through our PayPal account, which takes all major credit cards.

We also have limited stock of our Spanish titles, which are very sweet values-oriented stories and are perfect for more advanced Spanish listeners/readers. Audio clips for all of the books can be found on our website.

*Pam just returned from La Feria Internacional de Libros in Guadalajara, Mexico. This is some of the information that she presented which supports the use of audio books as beneficial teaching tools:

"The title was not intended to diminish the importance of reading. On the contrary, we recognize that reading is more important that ever in our complex world.�Without a doubt, children who have success with reading are more likely to have success in life.

Reading experts all agree that reading aloud is the most important way to establish strong reading skills. By listening to a book children hear a story can come to life. They are exposed to languages, dialect and sounds.� It also exposes children to reading fluency: they hear what it sounds like to read without difficulty.

In spite of the importance of reading aloud, the reality is that it just isn't possible for parents or teachers to do it as often as necessary. Like my family when my children were young, parents have many other responsibilities. In the classroom, teachers are often overwhelmed with large classes and limited staff.

Audiobooks are a solution to these issues. Not only are they are a read-aloud substitute for parents and teachers, I believe they can enhance the read-aloud experience.

Children are able to listen and comprehend at least three years above their grade level in reading. Audiobooks can help students with reading disabilities by giving them access to information they are able to understand but are unable to read. This is very important in keeping children at grade level."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Cultural Kaleidoscope for our Children

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!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing Along Winner!

And the winner is..... y la ganadora es......

Diane from Foreign Language Fun! Felicidades!

We put all of the names in hat and it was chosen by las manos of my 4 year old. :)

Thanks for your interest!

Stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways of fantastic bilingual products.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Announcement: Giveaway extended to Nov. 20!

Hola amigos!
We extended our giveaway on our e- newsletter until November 20! Feel free to blog about it or post it, for an additional chance to win Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing Along. We will choose a lucky winner in just a few days. Thanks so much for your interest!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Easy Tips to Teach Your Kids Spanish and FREE Giveaway!

We all know that young children need to learn in a realistic, fun, and interactive environment. Many parents from our Bilingual Fun language program ask me how they may continue their language development at home.

Even with limited language skills, there are many ways that families can continue their child's development and exposure to the language. We recommend Bilingual Fun Spanish for Children DVD series which introduces the language through music, movement, and fun activities. Children are able to remain engaged and sing, chant, and repeat along with the children in the DVDs. Active learning while keeping things relevant to their lives, is a key factor of language learning success. Reading, playing, and listening to music are fantastic ways to allow children to continue to hear the language and enhance their comprehension skills.

Music is an intergral part of the Bilingual Fun approach to teaching Spanish to children. Children and parents alike respond to catchy music, rhythmic beats as their pronunciation and fluency are enhanced. We use a wide variety of music to teach Spanish to children, and recently we have discovered a fabulous artist named Lilia Mareski. She shares my passion for teaching children Spanish, as well as her dedication to raising her own young children in a bilingual household. She has created a superb teaching tool with her CDs titled "Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing Alongs". They are full of bilingual songs in Spanish/English that teach so many different vocabulary topics ( colors, numbers, family, actions, telling time, weather, and much much more). I have been so pleased hear the fantastic feedback from my own students who have listened to her music and love the fun, sing along songs! You can purchase them from our Fun Shop as well.

Read more about Lilia and her story. Please leave a comment and we will choose one winner by November 15, 2009. The lucky winner will receive a MS. LILY'S SPANISH SING ALONG CD FREE!!! Don't miss your chance to give your child a fantastic, educational gift! Share your thoughts on teaching Spanish to children. Gracias!

Interview with Lilia Mareski from Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing Alongs:

1. Why did you choose to teach Spanish to young children?

My father is from Cuba and my mother is from Mexico, so I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to be exposed to Spanish in the home while living in the USA. I felt that it was my responsibility to teach my children Spanish and to continue the language and culture, but realized that it would be more challenging for me than it was for my parents because my husband does not speak Spanish and is not a Latino.

I created Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing-Along I and II to involve my four children in the process of learning Spanish as their second language and to also help other Spanish teachers and parents (Spanish speaking and non-Spanish speaking) to teach Spanish.

2. How do you incorporate your family in the language learning process? I incorporated my family in the language learning process by having them help me create our wonderful bilingual teaching resources, Ms. Lily's Spanish Sing-Along I and II. I also develop their learning process by having them inrolled in my Spanish program, Ms. Lily's Spanish. The Birmingham School District has a Spanish program already implemented which starts in second grade, but my classes start children as early as 3 years of age. Lastly, I further develop their learning process by playing music by Latin artists and listening to movies in Spanish in addition to doing may other activities.

3. What is your background and experience? I was born in Mexico City but only lived there for the first three months of my life. I grew up in Texas City, Texas and received my degree in Education with a specialty in Bilingual Education from Stephen F. Austin in Texas.

4. Do you have any tips or suggestions for parents who want to raise their children in a bilingual household? My suggestion is to encourage parents to continue the process of exposing their children to Spanish. Any amount of exposure is an investment, but the biggest battle is to encourage the children to speak back. It is challenging to speak Spanish in my house because I am so Americanized and because the television and friends all speak in English, but I make it my priority to expose them to Spanish daily. It is not enough for them to understand Spanish; it is critical to have them speak Spanish. If they cannot recall what to say, tell them what they should say and have them repeat it. Then, I will take it a step further and after they repeat what I said, they have to say it once more without my help.

Suggestions from Ms. Lily on how to teach Spanish to your kids:

Read a book in Spanish
Read them a book in Spanish
Write their English spelling words in Spanish and to put those words in sentences
Watch movies in Spanish while traveling in the car.
Have one of my children read a story while in the car while the others listen.
Repeat everything I say in Spanish
Challenge them to say in Spanish what they just said in English.
Have challenging games at breakfast, lunch, or dinner or even in the car to recall vocabulary words from theamatic units we had studies in the past or to translate my English sentence correctly. Giving points points to the teams always makes it fun and more challenging.
Make a weekly assignment that is consistent every week. On example might be to use a Spanish/English dictionary and look up 10-20 words you do not know how to say in Spanish. Write those words in sentences in the days that follow.
Video any readings, songs, or have them recite their weekly homework to bring a sense of pride to their hard work.
Read recipes or directions on the back of products.
Cook a recipe and prepare a recipe in Spanish

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Spooky Spanish Fun

We hosted a Spooky Spanish Story time this morning at Borders. We had a great turnout with tons of parents and children having some bilingual fun with us! The instructors wore los sombreros de bruja and we told TPR ( total physical response) stories highlighting Spanish vocabulary. In addition,the children and parents sang a song about 10 Fantasmas ( ghosts), listened to the story of Dora and her search for a Halloween costume, and sang various songs about numbers.

Some of the Halloween words that we practiced were:
la bruja- witch
el fantasma- ghost
el gato negro- black cat
los dulces- candy
el chocolate- chocolate
la calabaza- pumpkin

As Hispanic Heritage month is coming to a close, we shared with our participants some of the many reasons to learn Spanish and celebrate the Hispanic culture in this country. With more than 28 million Spanish speakers in the US today, learning Spanish will certainly expand your child's world and prepare them for the global society. As we all know, young children easily have the ability to absorb and retain languages, thus the reason Bilingual Fun is so dedicated to providing early language instruction and promoting an awareness of the benefits of being bilingual.The Bilingual Fun instructors and their own bilingual children enjoyed hosting the community event and look forward to the next one we have planned!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bilingual Fun in the Community

Bilingual Fun had a fantastic experience at a local International Festival! More than 20 different countries were represented with booths filled with cultural items, food, performances, and of course music and dancing. Our Spanish for children program represented Latin America as well as did an interactive performance on stage.

The Bilingual Fun instructors, along with their own bilingual children led the crowd in response chants, colors songs, freeze dancing, and Merengue dance lessons! A great time was had by everyone! At the Bilingual Fun booth, we shared with the community artesania, books, posters, Spanish for children DVDs and books, and music that represented Latin America. This was an excellent time to be sharing the culture as the country is also recognizing National Hispanic Heritage Month right now.

The community members were very interested in our language program and our curriculum that teaches parent/child Spanish classes. The Bilingual Fun team enjoyed promoting our passion for language education as well as our love for the Spanish speaking culture!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15- October 15

Our Bilingual Fun language program which focuses on teaching Spanish to children, celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with cultural activities in our Spanish classes. Our students have a great time as we celebrate with fiestas, musica, comida, and more!

Test your trivia knowledge with us!

Did you know?

1.Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18.

2. 45.5 million is the estimated Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2007, making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or race minority.

3. 132.8 million is the projected Hispanic population of the United States on July 1, 2050. According to this projection, Hispanics will constitute 30% of the nation’s population by that date.

4.Many adopted Spanish words are food terms, such as tamale, taco, salsa, cilantro, guacamole, enchilada, oregano, and burrito. They are usually used in their original Spanish forms. Others, such as tuna, which comes from the Spanish atún, are variations of the original.

5.The Spanish were among the first Europeans to explore what is now the United States, and the first to found a permanent settlement here (St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565). From Alaska's Madre de Dios Island to Mexico, Maine, the United States is dotted with Spanish place names. Others include: Las Cruces ( New Mexico)- the crosses, Boca Raton( FL)- mouth of the mouse, Los Angeles ( CA)- the angels, and Nevada- snow covered.

6. El cinco de mayo is commonly misinterpreted as Mexican Independance, but it is actually the victory of a battle in Puebla.

7.The first female Hispanic astronaut was Ellen Ochoa, whose first of four shuttle missions was in 1991.

8.Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner was Oscar Hijuelos, 1990, for his novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.

9.Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee: Carlos Santana, 1998.

10. Geraldo Rivera was Broadcaster of the Year in 1971.

Test your cultural Spanish knowledge. Try this quiz.

Looking for more activities to do with your family or children? Try these Hispanic Heritage Resources.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Putting the FUN in Bilingual Fun

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.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Joys and Challenges of Raising Bilingual Children

As an educator and business owner, I am always motivated and so impressed by my young student's enthusiasm for learning. Whether it is a 2 year old in my Bilingual Toddlers class, or a 9 year old in my Bilingual Big Kids class, their ability to absorb the language never ceases to amaze me. Of course my customers and students are willing participants in the language learning process because they have expressed an interest and desire to learn Spanish. I love working with these amazing learners!

Now for my role as the bilingual mom.... some days I just want to say ( in the words of my 3 year old) " Ay Chihuahua!". My husband and I have made the decision to raise our children in a bilingual household and Spanish/English has been a part of my children's lives since they were born. We are fortunate to travel to Spanish speaking countries and to have family that we can communicate with and practice. Additionally we have certain times of the day that we have ' Spanish only', which encourages our children to communicate and to keep their language skills alive. Of course with young children, things must always be focused on fun and relevancy in their lives.

My daughter embraces the language and her ability to understand and communicate. She is always a willing participant in our conversations and she enjoys communicating other Spanish speakers. My son ( el tremendo) continues to challenge us. We understand learning styles are different, so we have found the best way for my 3 year old to communicate in Spanish is if we are playing Super Heroes. I have made up some fantastic stories about Martian Manhunter, Wonder Women and Aqua Man in recent weeks! His currrent favorite game is to hide Spanish language bean bags all over the house and put a Super Hero figure underneath. We have to search for the color and then guess who is hiding ( all in the Spanish). Muy divertido!

Both in my classes and with my own chldren, I look forward to finding creative and stimulating ways to encourage the language learning.

I think a trip to Mexico is on the horizon for us......

Saturday, July 26, 2008

This Week Only...

We are offering FREE shipping this week, as well as a beautiful set of hand painted Mexican maracas with each order from The Fun Shop! Here are variety of ways you can incorporate Spanish learning fun with your maracas:

1. Shake and count in Spanish. 1-20. By 10's. By 5's. By 2's. Backwards from 20-1.

2. Play Simon Dice/ Simon Says. Touch different body parts w/ maracas. Use the command " toca.... la nariz", etc.

3. Create rhythmic beats. Shake maracas and count as you create different beats. Have chldren imitate you, then they teach you a new beat. Ex; uno, dos, uno, dos, uno, dos, tres, cuatro, uno, dos, uno, dos.....

4. Practice opposites. arriba/abajo, delante/detras, izquierda/ derecha, lado al lado, rapido/lento, abre/cierra

5. Dance Party Fiesta. Play upbeat Spanish music. Kids have to make up dances using the maracas. Encourage them to incorporate the opposite actions that you have practiced.

There are many different ways to incorporate bilingual fun in your child's day!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ay Caramba!

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.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bilingual Fun at LibertyFest!

We just had an exciting weekend as participants in the International section of our community's Liberty Fest. We were invited to join various other multicultural groups as we shared cultural information about Latin America, as well as our Bilingual Fun language program and educational products. It was a great day full of sunshine and excitement. We met so many people and enjoyed sharing information about early language instruction, as well as interacting with the children as they played Bean Bags Color Toss in Spanish, made Ojos de Dios ( Mexican handicraft), colored pictures of various Latin American culture topics for a coloring contest, and had merengue dance lessons!

My husband, children and I love to participate with our company in the community, and having a tent at the International Fest was a fabulous opportunity! The global society that we live in is so diverse, and we love the opportunity to share our cultural experiences, as well as learn about others. We were situated next to the live stage performances and we enjoyed Chinese and Indian dances, as well as a Native American storyteller and a popular Irish band. Next year we look forward to moving our Latin dance lessons to the main stage so that it can be more interactive with a larger group of participants. Participating in the festival gave our family the chance to highlight our company that we have worked so hard on for the past 4 years. We also spoke to many families that have bilingual children or would like to start their children's bilingual development. We were able to give firsthand advice and input about our own family's experiences and how our children learn.

We have a fun filled summer ahead for Bilingual Fun! We will be doing various free events in throughout the local communities, as well as starting a new program, and of course always seeking fun, interactive bilingual activities that we can implement with our own family and share with others. Feel free to comment on any cultural events you have or will be attending this summer!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spanish lessons at home

Are you trying to incorporate Spanish learning into your child's everyday life? Would you like some new ideas to keep the language learning alive? As parents who are trying to raise their children in a bilingual household, my husband and I love to hear what other families are doing to make language connections with their children and to enrich their development. Please feel free to share any idea ( big or little) that you use with your child. The first 10 people to respond will receive a Hola/Adios t-shirt ( available in youth and adult sizes, red or purple). Gracias!

* Play Memory: This is a great activity for vocabulary development and reinforcement. When have a couple of different sets that have different thematic pictures, so it is a great way for our children to practice various grammatical structures. We always ask ' dónde está....? or qué es?, as we look for the specific picture.

*Cooking: my kids love to help in the kitchen when we are preparing meals. We are sure to tell kids " es la hora de español" or ' ni una palabra de ingles", as we begin our cooking adventure. I tell my kids to find certain items in the pantry and refridgerator in Spanish. It is a great identification practice. My 6 year old is able to help pour and measure, so all commands are given to her in Spanish as helps with the recipe. When cooking in Spanish, we are intentional to keep the conversation going, incorporating questions such as: ' te gusta...?, quieres probar...?, cuál es tu favorito?, etc.

* Mirror Mirror on the wall: My children love looking at themselves in the mirror! We often play ' make that face'. We give our kids the Spanish word for a specific emotion, and they have to make that face. Then they give us the commands for enojado, triste, feliz, etc. When kids can see themselves as they hear or say the word, it helps to make a language connection.

By reinforcing the language through activities that are relevant to children's lives, we are giving our children a great head start in their development and acquisition. Tell us what you do at home!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taking Control of My Life with Bilingual Fun

My family and I really try to live up to the title of our business. We are bilingual and we love to have fun. But I do have to say, the life with young children and running a business definitely takes a toll on our ' fun' factor. I have learned a few things about being a stay at home mom/work at home mom/entreprenuer. It is hard work!!! I have also learned that sometimes while in these roles, you don't often have spontaneous, exciting, opportunities. Well, luck fell in my lap last week in the form of Good Morning America's Take Control of your Life Tour!

GMA made a stop in our hometown and Tory Johnson did her usual motivating segment about finding and sustaining work in today's society. I met inspiring women and had the opportunity to share my story with many interested parents. I got up way before dawn, drove throuth the dark city and joined an exciting group of people for a live TV segment. It was a huge pick me up from my day to day grind. Additionally I had the fantastic opportunity to be interviewed so that I could share my passion about The Bilingual Fun Company and why I think it is so important to expose young children to languages. Here is the video clip if you want to take a peek. Click here.

So, now that my 3 minutes of TV interview is over, I am back to having fun with my bilingual children and students. I am such an advocate for teaching our society's children to speak multiple languages, and I am so excited and motivated when I get parent feedback about their interest and drive as well. Even if it is for a very short time, exposure and repetition help tremendously for the young learner.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bilingual Fun and Charades

Who doesn't love a good round of Charades? I remember as a child, this was often a favorite wintertime game for the family. We would gather in front of the fire and act out silly things. My 5 year old received a kids version of Charades for Christmas this year. As always, we are looking for ways to make our children's bilingual development fun and natural. So after one round of English, we made a new rule: Spanish only.

Both my 3 yr old and 5 yr old had a blast! Using actions to reinforce language is a common technique I use in my language program. Otherwise referred to as TPR ( total physical response), you teach actions and movements that are associated with words or phrases in Spanish. When children are actively participating in the language learning, vocabulary is often absorbed more easily. My daughter picked out the cards, which had pictures only on them and acted them out. I guessed in Spanish, and this was an excellent reinforcement for her comprehsion. Then we switched and I acted out the words, and she had to make the guesses. Again, producing the words in the target language is more difficult, but she was able to do it with ease. Then my 3 yr old was able to act some out as well. We guessed in Spanish and he was able to tell us if we were right or wrong, showing his grasp of the language comphrension.

Charades for children is a perfect way to keep the language learning fun and relevant to their lives. The words we acted out were things that are common in their little worlds, such as truck, ball, dancing, ice cream, jumping rope, etc. Even if your child doesn't not have fluency in the language, they should be able to recognize and produce simple words and phrases with this game. It is good practice for the parents too!
This is going to be our new evening activity when we need some action and bilingual fun!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spanish Fun for February

As I clean glitter glue, small tin hearts,and many, many sequins off my kitchen table this week, I thought about how we incorporated some bilingual fun Spanish into our Valentines. My 2 young children don't have too many expectations for Valentine's day, but the marketing and colors we see in the stores certainly lead them to believe it has a lot to do with candy and the color red! The class set of Valentines that we are taking to both my daughter's kindergarten and my son's preschool have all been decorated and sealed. Now we are in the midst of making handmade cards for various family members.

My children's abuelita speaks Spanish, so it is customary for them to make her cards in Spanish. However this year, as we made our other Valentine crafts, we did all commands and conversation in Spanish. Common words that we used are : cortar el papel, las tijeras, los corazones, las tarjetas, escribir palabras, dibujar con marcadores, chocolate, te quiero mucho, etc. Earlier this week, we counted and sorted candy hearts by color and number in Spanish. Since chocolate is a favorite of my children and also one of their favorite Spanish songs, we sang "Chocolate" as we mixed the batter for our heart cupcakes. Lastly, my daughter and I took turn drawing ' corazones' on a piece of construction paper. Then we counted together and we had 76 corazones!

Any practice you can do at home to reinforce your child's language development is beneficial to their learning. Although my children are constantly exposed to Spanish, often times we need to take the time to make things fun!

Valentines are fun way introduce some Spanish Fun in your February! Here are some additional ideas/links to do with your children.
Crafts/Cards in Spanish.
Hear words of Love in Spanish:

If you live where there is snow ( like we do), building a snowman can be a fabulous reinforcing activity. Body parts, descriptions, and clothing offer the perfect opportunity for practicing Spanish while you freeze outside en la nieve! We made one this week on a snow day. Every day when we pull into our driveway, I ask " como esta el muñeco de nieve?' Usually they answer ' esta contento or esta bien". Fortunately for us, but unfortunate for the snowman, it started to warm up today. So, today my daughter told me ' esta muy triste y esta mal".

Any other ideas? I am always looking for additional ways to keep the language alive for my own kids in fun, creative ways.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Spanish Story Time

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!