Sunday, April 26, 2009

Learning Spanish Here and There, Learning Spanish Everywhere!

We had a great trip and luckily returned without the swine flu drama that is sweeping the world. I pride myself on being the 'hand sanitizer queen', so my family was fairly safe while we had our Latin American getaway. My husband and I enjoyed a restful vacation, and my children spent precious time with Abuelita and practiced their Spanish. It was a pleasure to see our kids having practical experience using their skills and being immersed in the Spanish speaking culture.

One of our favorite experiences was a day trip we took in which we were the only American family on board El Barco Pirata! My daughter quickly made friends with the Mexican children and spent the day playing and interacting with her new Spanish speaking friends. This was a fabulous experience for her in that the learning was in a natural environment and she saw how her bilingual skills came in handy. Our shy son met a shy little mexicana, and they played silently together in the sand. Although there was little communication, our son too enjoyed his new playmate.

We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel, however my husband and I continually seek cultural events and opportunities to expose our children to Spanish here at home. We just spent the day at a beautiful celebration of El Día de Los Niños at the local library, listening to Cuban jazz and watching Ballet Folklórico. We love finding great opportunities to continue to teach our children Spanish and expose them to their Hispanic culture. Whether it be abroad with Mexican children, or in our own kitchen chatting about what we are preparing for dinner, my husband and I are intentional about giving our kids the chance to enhance their language development and learn more Spanish.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Travel & Spanish Fun for Kids!

In preparation for our annual family trip to Mexico, my children and I have been talking about what we will do, who we will see, and where Mexico is located. In trying to raise children that have a global awareness, my husband and I always have a globe or map handy to point out different countries, the languages they speak, and any fact we happen to know about that country. Our daughter is mesmorized by maps and loves to see the route that our plane will travel when we go on vacation with Abuelita. We have been pulling out old pictures from albums to help my younger son familiarize himself with the place we are going and the things we will do. Although our trip to Mexico is most definitely a vacation and a rest for us, we love to intergrate ourselves with the culture, hang out with local families, play with local children, frequent neighborhood restaurants, and connect with the community. With all of the Spanish practice we do at home and all of the 'horas de espanol', traveling to Mexico helps my children make a connection to their heritage and communicate with children their own age, and have fun learning more Spanish! I am also looking forward to a few evenings of babysitting from Abuelita! :)

I have found this site, Travel for Kids: Mexico to be a great asset for tips and recommendation for traveling with children.

A great book that we like that highlights many of the traditional Mexican customes and tourist spots is Off We Go to Mexico! By Laurie Krebs, Christopher Corr