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