¡Hola! So, this is the long overdue final post to our series of Bilingualism 3 Perspectives. Créenos, it was worth the wait. This post brings you resources and suggestions for raising a bilingual familia, even if you’re not a bilingual household (yet).
A number of familias that join us for our Bilingual Babies program have expressed the desire to raise their children bilingually, but they are not sure how to start or even if they have enough Spanish to embark on a bilingual journey. Let us assure you that, thanks to the internet, there are a plethora of options out there that can help. Here’s an article answering questions about proficiency in a non-native language. This will sound repetitive with the previous posts and recommendations made by each, but it all comes down to consistency and persistence.
The research (e.g. here, here and here) indicates that babies are born with the capacity to process all sounds of all language systems. They just begin to narrow in on the sound systems that they are exposed to daily. This means (as you probably already know) that the earlier you expose you little ones to a second language, the better they are at assimilating a near-native or native proficiency. There are also abundant benefits to bilingualism.
We wanted this final post to cover numerous areas. So, we have highlighted several links from music to literacy, and resources geared toward bilingualism. We’ve tried to keep all links to related areas together so that it is easier to navigate. We hope that you enjoy these and that you find some valuable information here. Do you have any suggestions that aren’t listed here? Share them with us in our comments section.
This has to be one of the easiest (and dare I say funnest) ways to introduce Spanish in a monolingual home. Don’t know the lyrics? No problema! Just like with nursery rhyme lyrics, that you really don’t recall/know until you become a parent, these will grow on you over time. Lyrics are often accessible on the internet which is another plus.
There are several bilingual children’s musicians out there and we’ve used many of them during our program. We’ve recently discovered some new children’s musicians and love the energy of their songs. They’ve quickly become our current favorites: 123Andres and Nathalia. We’ve also featured music by Jose Luis Orozco, Basho & Friends, Babyboomboom and Mariana Iranzi in the past.
If you’d like some of the more traditional rondas infantiles (nursery rhymes) available on the internet, we suggest Las Gaticas, Rondas Infantiles. They are easy enough to follow along and will make exposure to Spanish divertido.
Most of these songs/artists are accessible on YouTube. Even if you’re not a huge fan of screen time for babies and toddlers (like me), you can still find ways of playing the music. iTunes and music streaming services like Pandora and Amazon music are also good options.
There are a number of children’s authors who have had their books translated into Spanish. We have used several of these authors and often discover new ones as we prepare our themes. Our favorite has to be Eric Carle. Even if you aren’t “fluent” in Spanish, choosing simple books to label will expose your little ones to the vocabulary. Here’s a list compiled by Ana Flores of SpanglishBaby.
Another option is Bilingual story time at a local library. Pawtucket Library’s own Miss Maria, bilingual librarian, will soon begin hosting a Bilingual story hour and later this month she will be hosting a book club for kids, celebrating Latino authors.
Other activities & blogs
At Bilingual Babies, we use a partial immersion (also called dual language) model which allows the adults participating to hear the production of the words and ensures that the children have context based learning. If we were running our programs daily, the approach would be slightly different, but for the time being, using this model allows for improved carryover. We’ve seen firsthand how some of our Bilingual Babies that have joined us for a mere three, 6-week sessions have started using Spanish vocabulary and are accessing it readily.
Did you know that the Providence Community Libraries offer Spanish classes for Adults?
Blogs provide a wealth of information for both bilingual familias and familias wanting to embark on the bilingual journey. We’ve shared several, but there are numerous blogs that provide excellent information and suggestions.
MommyMaestra – a Latina mother’s journey homeschooling and she shares many resources and products.
Mamitalks – a Bilingual family’s journey and adventures.
Bilingual Monkeys - one father’s journey abroad who provides wide-ranging information on effectively raising children in more than one language.
Bilingual Avenue – “Bilingual Avenue is unique for it provides its audience content in three different ways: instructive blog posts, insightful podcasts and a private community of like-minded parents raising bilingual children!”
InCultureParents - “online magazine for parents raising little global citizens.”
Multilingual Children’s Association – helpful information for parents raising bilingual and trilingual children.
Bilingual Parenting – parents share their experience raising a bilingual family.
Kid World Citizen – a bilingual and multicultural family whose mother is an educator and she shares educational activities.
So, where do you begin your bilingual journey? It all comes down to consistency. Maybe try a few songs, some simple books or a craft all in Spanish every day. Incorporate vocabulary into your daily routines. For example, instead of good morning, buenos dias. Don’t forget that the most important part is to make it divertido. Your little ones won’t judge your "non-native accent" and although they may look at you perplexed at first, you’ll get a head start on exposing them to vocabulary and the sound system. If you can carve out a specific time during the day dedicated to Spanish exposure, you will be well on your way. We’d love to hear all about your bilingual journey, share in our comments section, por favor.