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......