Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Adventures in Teaching our Kids Spanish

The journey and adventure in raising bilingual children takes many turns as they grow and develop. When my children were babies and toddlers, we spoke Spanish with them all of the time and their bilingual development happened naturally and easily. They responded and interacted in both English and Spanish with ease, as their little lives were immersed with both languages. Today, with my children being elementary age, their bilingual development has changed and focuses more on age appropriate learning skills that they are currently learning in school. My son is learning to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's in his kindergarten class. Likewise we focus on these same math skills in Spanish with him. My daugther is a proficient reader in English and we have been working on her proficiency in Spanish as well. Her bilingual brain allows her to easily hear the sound of Spanish and understand how to pronounce words. We focus on the vowel sound differences when reading in Spanish and she can immediately know when she is pronouncing something incorrectly. As a bilingual educator, I know the importance of being a proficient reader in your first language before introducing the second. We waited until I felt my daughter was secure in her English reading skills before introducing Spanish literacy. We often read bilingual books that are written in English with a smattering of Spanish words thrown in the text. This enables my daughter to differentiate the sounds and pronunciation. It is fun to find new ways to teach Spanish to my children. Here is a brief clip reading the beautifully written and illustrated Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla.