Sunday, August 31, 2008

So far, so good!

It's been just over 2 weeks since little Victor's first birthday (and my personal deadline to figure out our approach to bilingualism). We're doing well!

These last 2 weeks have been very eventful, what with moving back from Philadelphia (where we were living for the summer), Victor's first birthday, Oscar back in grad school, and some nerve-wracking midwife appointments (everything turned out well and the little guy should stay put for another month or so!) so I'm surprised that we've (okay, I've) been sticking to the plan.

I have run into a couple of (surprising challenges:

Go figure, I'm actually having a tough time speaking to Victor in English for long periods of time. I can sing a song or rhyme or say a few sentences, but normally I revert right back to Spanish. This hasn't posed a problem, but I do feel a little bad if we are with friends.

And, riddle me this!--yesterday we were doing a little shopping and mama sat down as she was huffing and puffing (I blame the heat and the extra 40 lbs, not the lack of exercise!!). A father and son sat down next to us and were playing with the little boy's new toy. For some reason, I felt strange speaking to Victor in Spanish (even though I had no idea who these people were and was not in the mood to be drawn into a conversation!)

Not bad for the first 2 weeks!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Book Review! Rojo and Amarillo

These are two other awesome books I found at Philadelphia's Free Library this summer:

Amarillo and Rojo, published by Santillana (known for children's books in Spain--my husband even remembers several of his books from his youth!) and illustrated by Teresa Novoa.

These are both board books that tell a simple story with yellow and red objects.

Rojo is my favorite as it is such a vibrant color and speaks of fruits "la sandia, mmmmm! que fresquita" and kisses "los besos que nos damos"...

Amarillo tells the story of a little boy in the countryside whose hat flies away, befriends a baby chick that asks: "Pio! Pio! Puedo quedarme contigo?", and otherwise enjoys running around in the sunshine.

There is another book in the series: Azul. While blue is my favorite color, I found the book pretty lame (to the point where I didn't want to continue reading the huge 10 page story to my son!). I don't recommend it.

I found a number of books illustrated by Teresa Novoa and am including the link below:

Happy Reading!!

Book Review! Todos Los Besos

I am in LOVE with this book!!!

I found "Todos Los Besos" by Alex Sanders and Pierrick Bisinski at Philadelphia's "Free Library"'s kiddie foreign language section.

It's a cute board book that is extremely simple in nature. The little blue fairy on the cover runs around giving and receiving besitos to and from mama, el perrito, un osito, etc. etc.

The clever part is that each of these besitos are named:

Papa's kiss is the "beso que pica" (he's in need of a shave)

The fishie's kiss is the "beso glu glu"

and there are even dramatic tears when the fairy is "sin beso".

The pictures are supercute, with bright colors that kept my little man amused time and time again. The best part was that the pages were indented so that he could easily turn the pages himself with his clumsy little deditos.

Here is some additional information on the book and the author / illustrator:

and you can purchase it (used, at least) here:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We're down to the wire!!!

As Victor's birthday quickly approaches (I can't believe he'll be one TOMORROW!!!), I think we've decided on an approach. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right??

Here we go! Our "base" is MLAH, with some "tweaking".

Basically, Oscar and I agree that our family will inevitably change over the years, and we want to use a dynamic method that will still encourage our family to become bilingual.

Sooooo... while the kiddos are young (really, as long as we practically can, but probably until they are in school), we will primarily speak to them in Spanish. I say "primarily" because if we are with friends/family who do not speak Spanish, we will defer to English. Also, there will be activities (songs, rhymes, books, etc) that will we will do in English. Finally, I am realistic that there are limits to my speaking in Spanish (the aforementioned "language headaches"), so there may be times that I revert back to English.

As they grow, have friends that do not speak Spanish and go to school, we will have to re-evaluate. Perhaps we will follow a strict MLAH at that point, not sure yet. At that time, our hope is that we can find some activities where they will need to speak in Spanish and they can interact more with their primos and abuelos in Spain.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Other Methods

Here's a quick list of other methods I have run across:

1. Use certain languages on certain days and/or time of day.

2. Use minority language on vacation, during summer break, etc.

3. Depend on people other than parents (i.e. a nanny, grandparents, school immersion program) to consistently use minority language.

4. Anything else that works for you as long as it gives your little one adequate exposure and interaction with the language!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Variations on Minority Language at Home

The purist will say that MLAH means that when the child is with one (or both) parents, the minority language will be spoken. Surely that's an option, but can we be more flexible? I'll be honest--speaking in Spanish all day, every day gives me a headache!

Brainstorming with Oscar, we thought of a few different ways we could implement MLAH:

1. The above mentioned "strict" approach--anytime we speak with our kids, it will be in Spanish.

2. Like my mom's family, we could take to heart the "at home" part--speaking Spanish inside the house--but once we step outside that door, we are in English.

3. We could base the language on the environment and company we keep. For example, generally when we are together--Spanish. However, if we are with American friends (even in our home)--English. If we are visiting Spain--Spanish. At my parents house--English. At school--English. etc.

4. We could also vary our approach based on age. While they are still babies, we will primarily speak to them in Spanish. However, as they get older, we could speak to them more in English, still depending on where we are, who we are with, etc. At this point, we would also need to "immerse" them in Spanish for periods of time (i.e. visiting their abuelos, Spanish school/extracurriculars, etc.) to make sure they maintain the Spanish.

Right now, our favorite option so far is a combo of #3 and #4.

In preparation for my deadline of Victor's first birthday (9 days and counting!), I have been trying to speak to him primarily in Spanish, especially while we are in the house. I slip a bit, mostly in the late afternoon/evening when I'm tired, but I'm hoping it will become more automatic and natural. Keep your fingers crossed!