Thursday, November 16, 2017

I recently wrote about how our Spanish learning went dormant for a while.  Now that we're back at it, I'm leaning on the wisdom of Charlotte Mason--the founding mother of teaching--to help with lesson planning.  Her methods make teaching feel natural and (almost) effortless.  

Since reading all six of her volumes could take years, it's nice that Ambleside Online has collected all of her writings about foreign language in one place.  I highly recommend it for ANY PARENT wanting to help their child learn a foreign language--even if you are not a home school family.  Just insert the word SPANISH (or whatever language you're learning) where you see the word FRENCH below.  

Here are some of her main points and how we're trying to make them happen.

"Children should learn French orally, by hearing and repeating French phrases."

The three main ways we're doing this are:

You'll want to do two things with poetry: 1) find one to recite over and over, and 2) find a collection of poems to just read aloud from a few times a week. is the BEST place to go for easy, accessible poetry.  She has curated a plethora of poetry themes and printables.  (Just click on "POEMS" in the menu.)

Finding ones to go along with the season makes it more fun too!  Find one or two that you like and work on reciting them/memorizing them.  Less is more!  The longer you can spend with one poem, the more it sinks into the brain and becomes meaningful language.  We've been practicing the same two fall poems for at least four weeks now.

If you want a good Spanish poetry book, check out Arrorró, mi niño.  It's our favorite right now.  It has some poems and finger plays, each written out in Spanish and English.  Our local library has a copy, and I'm sure yours does too.  If reading poetry in a language you don't already know intimidates you, music is another great option.  See below for music suggestions. 

I found the website from the lovely Delectable Education Podcast.  We chose the "Three Little Pigs Story," and listen to it in French and Spanish.  It's great to use stories where the story line is already familiar to the kids and that has repetition.

Books are another great resource!  I would suggest different ones depending on the ages of your kids.  Funny board books like this one, or this one would probably work great for kids birth to 5 years.  Elementary kids will probably enjoy

Action Sentences
Here the methods of Francois Gouin come into play.  Charlotte Mason refers to his book, The Art of Teaching and Studying Foreign Languages, in her writings.  You can actually download his book free from Google books, but if you don't want to take on the project of reading an entire book, you can lean on this concise explanation I found at World Language Classrooms.   Basically he uses logical series of actions to teach meaningful language, claiming verbs are the key to linking thought and action.  I'm hoping to be able to expound on this in another post soon.

"They should learn a few new French words every day, maybe 2-6 words."

This is probably the easiest way to begin learning a language.  Babies start by learning isolated words.  We point and say "ball," "dada," "momma," "clap," and so on.

A great way to start is simply with vocabulary or flash cards.  If your kids are already reading, you'll want to make sure to find ones with a picture on one side without any text.  This will keep them from trying to pronounce the new language with English phonetics.  Here is a good Spanish/English set that has the words on the back.  Of course this takes a little time for the parent learning how to pronounce the words.  We are learning French this year (which I don't speak), so I know how hard that can be!

How to Use Them
I would suggest finding a place in your house where your family spends a lot of time, and hanging up 2 cards each day after you go over them a few times.  This gives your brain a visual trigger to practice them all throughout your week.  2 new words a day for 5 days a week for 36 weeks of school adds up to 360 new words in a year!

"But it's very important that he acquires the correct accent right from the beginning."

Don't freak out.  Charlotte Mason even points out it's not feasible for each family to hire a private tutor that is a native speaker of the language.  She suggests that multiple families get together to hire a tutor together.  But there are other ideas that might work just as well . . . especially in the younger years.  Here's a quick list:

1) Spanish story hour at your local library
2) Getting together with a friend from school that speaks the language
3) Spanish-speaking kid vloggers
4) Music - especially folksongs
5) Your kids' favorite movie dubbed in Spanish
6) Mundo Lanugo - the bonus here is it introduces Spanish-speaking culture too
7) Habla Jorge - awesome YouTube videos for kids

"By age twelve, children . . . should have some ability to speak and understand French, and they should be able to read an easy French book." 

I end with this one to encourage you.  If your kids are young, you have many years to work on reaching the goal of speaking and understanding a second language.  If your kids are twelve (or older) and just starting a second language, no worries.  By that age they've already learned how to learn, and applying these same methods above will have them making progress in no time!

This post has so much information.  Take just one piece at a time to digest and apply.  Any little part you implement will help you get one step closer to your language-learning goals.  Remember to always have fun and keep it simple!

What part of teaching your kids a foreign language seems the hardest?  What kinds of ways are you learning a foreign language in your house?  What is your favorite resource for teaching foreign language to kids?

This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, November 6, 2017

It wasn’t until Spanish became a part of our routine again, that I understood why it had left in the first place.  It’s been so long since then, that I don’t exactly remember making a decision to “stop doing Spanish.”  I can’t even remember if it faded from our life slowly, or stopped abruptly.  However it happened, for nearly a year we “quit Spanish.”

Some days I hardly realized it was missing.  Other days I missed it.  Some days I felt guilty my kids weren’t learning it (although not enough to try to cram it back into our schedule).  Other days I wondered if I simply didn’t love Spanish anymore.

Last year was my oldest child’s First Grade year.  It was a year full of adjustments and learning and maturing.  A few months into the school year we got to the point where there just wasn't enough time for Spanish.  Here we are a few months into his Second Grade year and my second-oldest’s Kindergarten year, and we’re doing Spanish again.  So what happened?

I didn’t happen upon more time in my schedule.  If anything, things are busier now having two school-aged children.  It wasn’t until recently that it hit me.  Actually, an allegory of nature helped straighten things out in my mind.  My Spanish life went dormant.

Dormancy most generally happens when an organism has calculated that a season of adverse conditions is around the corner.  (Sometimes organisms can enter a phase of dormancy after the adverse conditions have hit--which is more likely my story haha.)  The organism uses dormancy as a survival mechanism--as a way of preserving life. But it looks like death, doesn't it?

When fall rolls around (here where we live) the leaves change colors with a flourish, giving such a thrill--but not without a tinge of regret, that winter will soon arrive.  (Or maybe it’s just me that slightly cringes at the thought of cold, dark months ahead.)  And then all the trees look dead.

But They're Not Dead!  
Which is the point I’m trying to make.  If you’re a tree, and you live where there is winter, you just know: you have to prepare for it.  You withdraw all those nutrients from the leaves, cutting off all the unnecessary baggage, and close up shop until spring.  And you know what else?  Dormancy is also used for keeping house, as a time for repairing cells and getting things back in order for the next year.

I don’t know why, but it helped me so much to realize that’s what I had been going through.  A season of dormancy.  I didn’t lose my Spanish, and neither did my kids.  I just needed to reserve my Spanish energies until conditions were more suited for growth.  

If I had tried to force things and tried to keep my leaves green or get myself to grow during a time of winter, my Spanish may have died.  These days I think most of us would call that burnout.  It feels so good to find this parallel in nature, to reassure myself it was the right thing to do.

Pay Attention to Nature
I want to encourage you all that it’s okay if you’re not always “ON.”  Pay attention to the rhythms in your own life.  Look for cues from “nature” to know when it’s time to be busy and productive, and when it’s time to rest and preserve life.  

A Charlotte Mason Schedule
If you’ve been around here a while, you know that we use Charlotte Mason’s methods to guide our homeschool.  She encouraged schools to have 12-week terms with a month break between each one.  I think she even advised taking a day off for spending time in nature, at the teacher’s discretion, when it seemed children’s minds were wandering too much or not in a mindset to focus on lessons.  She also taught short and varied lessons.  We’re trying to follow these guidelines to keep our Spanish lives healthy and flourishing.  :)

Blooming Again
Our Spanish schedule this year consists of three ten-minute lessons on MWF.  In addition we’re learning to recite two Spanish poems this term, and learning one Spanish song.  We’ll take the month of December off and I’ll use that time to ready a new plan for the next 12 weeks.   

How are you structuring your Spanish lessons?  What keeps your Spanish life healthy?  Have you ever had to take a break from Spanish?  Did you feel guilty about it?  What things have you learned on your Spanish-learning journey?  Please share so we can all learn from each other!  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

O de oso {Learning the Spanish Alphabet}

Whenever fall rolls around, I always get in the mood to plan alphabet learning activities for my kiddos.  One year Cheerios (or maybe General Mills?) did this thing where the surprise toy in their boxes of cereal where actually books.  And better yet, they were bilingual books!  We love books around here, and I especially love any Spanish books I can get my hands on.

During the fall time that year the lovely book "Bear Says Thanks," by Karma Wilson, happened to be the book we found in our Cheerios box.  If you haven't read the book, be sure to borrow it from your library this fall.  It's a great one!  You can use it to learn about animals, what animals eat, friendship, hibernation, thankfulness, and the list goes on!  The book lends itself so well to learning activities I couldn't help but make some Spanish ones to do with my kids.

I printed off real-life pictures of all the animals mentioned in the story and wrote each of their names on an index card.  We used these as we retold the story.  We matched each animal with the food they brought to bear's feast.

Then we zeroed in on learning the word for bear in Spanish: oso (OH-soh).

I dug out an old bear stamp from the rubber stamp collection I had from my high school days.  I drew an "O" on a paper and had my oldest stamp bears around it.  He was working on learning how to form his letters at that time.

Next, I also drew a block letter "O" because I thought that might be prettier to see the bears without a line through them.

We hung the "O" on our fridge and practiced spelling the word "oso" with our magnetic letters.

Finally we did what I call a "chalk talk" activity where I draw a picture piece by piece and the kids follow my instructions without knowing what we are drawing.  This is a great way to incorporate practicing Spanish shapes as well.

When we finished drawing our bears we wrote the word bear underneath.  Easy peasy learning fun, and all thanks to Cheerios!!

We still get this book and the pictures out each year and read the story together.  What other things can you think of that would be fun to learn about the letter "O" in Spanish?  I'd love to hear your ideas!  Be sure to check out all the alphabet fun going on this month over at All Done Monkey.

31 Days of ABC - October 2016 |

After taking a break last year due to the arrival of Baby #3, we are back with one of my favorite series, the 31 Days of ABC! You can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet. I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their amazing ideas with us in the coming days. And this year for the first year we are also adding a giveaway, so be sure to scroll to the end and enter for a chance to win! So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October! Don't forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!

31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs - October 1

All Done Monkey: Creating a Preschool Letter of the Week Curriculum

A - October 2

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails: Apple Scented Glitter Glue and Apple Craft

B - October 3

Witty Hoots: How to Make Fabulous Button Bookmarks

C - October 4

Preschool Powol Packets: Construction Truck Preschool Action Rhyme

D - October 5

ArtsyCraftsyMom: Printable Dinosaur Alphabet Sequencing Puzzle

E - October 6

Preschool Powol Packets: Elephant Art Project and Thailand Lesson

F - October 7

Spanglish Monkey: Spanish-English ABC Flashcards

G - October 8

Royal Baloo: Simple Ghost Painting Project

H - October 9

Peakle Pie: Hide and Seek

I - October 10

Look! We're Learning!: Insect Activities for Kids

J - October 11

All Done Monkey: Olmec Jaguar Craft

K - October 12

Preschool Powol Packets: I Am a Kite Action Rhyme for Preschool

L - October 13

Raising a Trilingual Child: Letter Learning with a Multilingual Twist

M - October 14

Creative World of Varya

N - October 15

Peakle Pie

O - October 16

For the Love of Spanish

P - October 17

Little Hiccups

Q - October 18

All Done Monkey

R - October 19

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

S - October 20

Crafty Mama in ME

T - October 21

Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes

U - October 22

Witty Hoots

V - October 23

Creative World of Varya

W - October 24

Creative World of Varya

X - October 25

All Done Monkey

Y - October 26

Our Daily Craft

Z - October 27

Discovering the World Through My Son's Eyes

123's - October 28

Hispanic Mama

Prewriting - October 29

Sugar Aunts

Books, Songs, & Apps - October 30

The Jenny Evolution

Alphabet Clip Cards - October 31

The Kindergarten Connection
Find more great resources in 31 Days of ABCs 2013 and 2014!


Don't forget to enter for a chance to win this great prize package, open internationally! Kidloland 3 month subscription to the Kidloland app, which includes 575+ interactive nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and educational activities to help children learn ABCs, animals, fruits, vegetables, shapes and more!

  Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle: 31 Days of ABC Giveaway

  The Alphabet Experts Mega Bundle from Kindergarten Connections contains 500+ of alphabet printables, including tons of activities for each letter of the alphabet! ($58.50 value) a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Motherload of Resources for Introducing Your Kids to Culture

It is my honor this month to host the Multicultural Kid Blogs blogging carnival.  This round-up post is full of great stuff for you.  I wish I could sit down with you as you read this post and squeal over your shoulder, "Oh click that one!" and "Oh that's a good one too, click through to that one!" and "Oh that one was one of my favorites!"  But truthfully I would have to say that about every single post listed here.  Truly I am indebted, in fact the internet is indebted, to these wonderful humans that are populating the world wide web with such fascinating information, tips, encouragement, musings, and education that ensures our children grow up with more empathy, understanding, love, and compassion for the world around them.

If you have kids, the phrase "raising global citizens," may or may not be on your radar.  And if it is, you may think, "I don't have time for that."  Let me beg you.  Just follow one link below that catches your attention and you will learn how easy it is to introduce your kids to new cultures, peoples, languages, traditions, and the world.

You may wonder, "Is that so important?"  To me that's like asking, "Should kids learn how to read?"  Haha, maybe I'm being dramatic.  But seriously.  Showing our kids the world teaches them not to be afraid of it.  There is a big wide world out there, waiting to be explored and adventures waiting to be had.  Doesn't that sound exciting?!  And you don't have to leave home to do so.  All the ideas listed below are super simple to do at home or in your own city.  Some don't require a single purchase or thing you don't already have.

Here are a few general posts to get you started . . .

A-Z of Raising Global Citizens

Varya from Creative World of Varya organized an entire month of bloggers writing about ways their families work to raise global citizens.

Around the World
All the articles written over at The Educator's Spin On It concerning raising world citizens are collected in this page called "Around the World."  It's enough to help you plan a few years of learning and activities!
We believe in the power of raising globally aware children and we make a point to allow our children to experience other cultures with food, art, crafts, music, geography, presentations, and more."                                                                                                                                                                      -The Educator's Spin on It

Combining Cultures: Raising Global Citizens

Olga from European Mama gives a list of 10 things her multicultural family does to combine cultures.  #6 is one I haven't tried before, but sounds fun!

14 Ways to Incorporate Birth Culture Into Your Children's Lives
The Kid World Citizen website in and of itself is a place dedicated to teaching parents and educators how to raise/educate kid world citizens.  Here is a great list, from the website's founder Becky, on how her family learns about each member's birth culture.  #3 I feel like is one that might intimidate the average parent (if you're not from that culture), but would have a big payoff in the end.

10 Things I Learnt Cooking Indonesian Food with An Indonesian Expat
I love all that Amanda shares over at Expat Life With a Double Buggy, and this post is no different.  She shares a challenge she gave herslef to learn to cook something new, and all she learned from the experience.

Around the World in 80 Purees
Have you heard of this book by Leena Saini?!  It's such a fabulous idea of using baby food purees as a chance to travel to different countries with your baby through flavors and spices.  If this would have been published when I had babies I sure would have snatched it up.  It would also make a great baby gift for the next baby shower you attend.

Smitten By Britain: Eating Our Way to Britishness
Amanda from Expat Life With a Double Buggy explains how we pass on culture to our kids sometimes without even knowing it!

Transitioning Babies to Solid Food - Costa Rican Style
This article is a great example of how we can look at simple customs in our daily life and learning from other cultures about how they might do it the same or differently.  It's fun to think about taking a multicultural approach to even things we do with our babies, and I love this purposeful way Christa approaches everything in her mothering.

Growing a World-Shaped Heart
Esther at Third Culture Mama always puts words together in a way that makes me feel so . . . emboldened.  Is that the word?  I love her take on how we must teach our kids about the world and our neighbors, and oh my goodness.  She has great suggestions in almost every sentence.   I want to tell them to you, but I think you should read it for yourself.  In her words.  Then come back and tell me how you liked it.

Ghana Independence Day
Johana, the lovely author at Mama Tortuga, is someone I've had the pleasure of getting to know through the Instagram community.  Here in this article she shares how she got to partake in some lovely Ghanian traditions through a friend of hers.  I can't encourage you all enough . . . if you know someone from a different country, invite them into your home and ask them to tell you about their home country, their cuisine, their traditions.  It will be such a blessing to you both.

The Gift of Diversity
In another article from Third Culture Mama, we can read how important it is to not just want our kids to be accepting of other cultures and people, but to actually show them that we do it too:
"We cannot just conceptually desire multicultural living without living it out, and yes, modeling it in our home… in the middle of America."            -Third Culture Mama

Rice & Rocks - A Book Celebrating Culture, Diversity & Traditions
A great book review from Jeddah Mom of "Rice & Rocks."  This book teaches kids the value of their own heritage and diversity.

Growing Children Who Are Confident Enough to Be Something Else
Here is a review of a book that teaches kids it's okay to be different.  This might be a good conversation starter for kids to understand how their friends in their classroom or in their communities might feel if they are looked at as different . . . or for kids to talk about their feelings if they sense they are different from the culture around them.

12 Chinese New Year & Culture Books

5 Picture Books by Asian American Authors

Two Chinese Books For Kids That Keep Traditional Stories Alive

Global Girl Dolls & Books

Children's Books Featuring Chile

Books About India

Books About Russia

Books About England

Books From Sweden

Books About France

Books About Japan

Use these examples to inspire you to participate in the celebrations and holidays of other countries.  Whether it's a festival in your own town, celebrating with a foreign exchange student, or a party you create at home . . .

Ghana Independence Day

Hispanic Heritage Month Fiesta for Kids

Kwanzaa Winter Holiday Celebration

Chinese New Year: Kids Culture Party

Cultural Playdate: Celebrating Chinese New Year

Cultural Playdate: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

Cultural Playdate: "Three Kings Day" Celebration & Craft

Special Ornaments: Christmas in Different Lands

Celebraciones de fin de año en Chile (End of the Year Celebrations in Chile)

Our Christmas in Spain: Traditions, Recipes & New Ideas

Nurturing Bilingualism & Multiculturalism Through Friends
"We have found that cultivating friendships with other multilingual, multicultural families is one of the best ways to nurture language and culture."   -Trilingual Mama
Amanda shares what she learns from cooking with a friend.

Ghana Independence Day
Johana shows us how her friend from Ghana shared her home culture and traditions.

Children's Music from Chile

Anything from Daria Music is great!

Becky from Kid World Citizen suggests Putumayo as a great place to find multicultural music.

Playing With Traditional Musical Instrument (Indonesia)

Introducing American Girl Doll's Melody Ellison + G I V E A W A Y!
I love American Girl Dolls because they are toys and educational as well.

Plushkies Awaken Curiosity in Kids About World Cultures
Have you heard of these?  So cool!

Arabic Wooden Sorting Game
Love this idea of using a game to learn language!

5 Must-Watch TV Series for Kids
These were all new to me . . .

Connecting with Cultures: Traditional Games from Pakistan
Sometimes it's the simplest things that are the best.  A game you can play with rocks or sticks or string.

Children's Toys: Diversity Matters

Chinese Themed Gifts for Kids

Teach Kids About Chinese Culture Through World Village Playset

5 Fun Toys to Teach Kids About the World

Over 20 Toys and Games from Around the World

Fun & Easty Three-in-a-Row Game (from Kenya)

100+ Kids Projects for Celebrating Chinese Culture
Check out the cool folded paper bracelet craft!

Dragon Craft for Chinese New Year
This one has an absolutely marvelous work of art/handicraft at the end.

Chilean School Traditions: Terra Cotta Air-Dry Clay and Wood Crafts Sticks

Tibetan Prayer Flags: An Inspiring Craft for Kids
It really is inspiring!  I just love when an activity or craft is inspired by the passion of a parent wanting to share something valuable to herself with her children.

Crafts About India

Exploring Culture as Part of Your Curriculum
Mommy Maestra outlines here an easy 10-day unit study plan that you could follow for any country/culture.  I also appreciate how she points out how there can be differences and variety even within a culture.

Igniting Love for Other Languages
One line that caught my attention here: Johana looks for ways to "enchant" her children's hearts to learn a new language.  That's exactly what we want to do, isn't it?  Enchant our children's hearts.

Sharing Our Hispanic Heritage: Ideas for the Classroom
This is a great example from Frances of how we can help our kids share what they learn or know about other cultures with their classmates at school.

Raising Young World Citizens: Meet Allison Branscombe, Author of All About China
You can check out the author interview here and listen to what she has to say encouraging adoptive parents in their role to introduce children to their birth cultures.

Seven Ways to Introduce a Second Language to Your Toddler
Language is a great start to getting to know a new culture.

Celebrating Asian-Pacific Heritage Month with Children
Did you know May was Asian-Pacific Heritage Month?  Neither did I!  "Miss Panda" over at Miss Panda Chinese has a great list of things you can do to explore these cultures, like a chopstick challenge and learning calligraphy.

Joy Sun Bear
Join this subscription service (it's FREE!) and travel with a friendly bear to places all over the world.  Letters are sent to your kids via your email and the adventure begins!  Great way to travel the world without needing any budget!

14 Ways to Incorporate Birth Culture Into Your Children's Lives

Traditions and the Bilingual Family

Smitten By Britain: Eating Our Way to Britishness

Chapas: How to Play! (Spain)

Learning How to Make Pan de Yuca
An example of how food can connect our kids to culture.

Raising Young World Citizens: Meet Allison Branscombe, Author of All About China
It's important to consider what traditions we are passing down to our kids . . . whether from our own culture or theirs!

5 Tips to Teach Your Heritage to Your Children

How to Keep Your Heritage Alive

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How Not to Fail Spanish Class This Year

I've seen this happen a few times.  There's that stellar student who's just brilliant.  He doesn't have to study, but gets awesome grades in Algebra, Biology, Physics, Gym, Debate, you name it.  And then Spanish class happens to him.  He steps foot in the classroom on the first day and everything seems foreign to him.  (Imagine that!  Things feeling foreign in a foreign language class. Who knew?)

What is the teacher saying?  You mean we really have to sing songs in here?  No way, I'm in high school.  I don't need to sing baby songs.  That teacher is having way too much fun.  Does she really like Spanish that much?

He sits there and just watches and observes like he does in his other classes.  He doesn't take notes.  He doesn't worry about memorizing vocab.  Then the first test comes along and when the teacher hands back the grades there is a big D staring at him.  What happened?  Why is this A student getting a D in Spanish class?

In years past, I have tried to explain to all my students that learning a language is not like learning any other subject in school.  You have to employ a different mindset to be successful in the Spanish classroom.  Essentially, high school Spanish 1 is a class in which you try to simulate in one semester what your brain did as a baby over the course of two years of life.

Although that may sound daunting, don't shut down on me yet!  Learning a foreign language IS hard, but it's not impossible and it doesn't have to be a GPA foe.  Set yourself up right by following these strategies below, and you won't have to worry about failing Spanish class.  I promise.

1) Commit 25 minutes a day to studying, Monday through Saturday.  

Yes.  I said Saturday.  It's like the Little Engine That Could.  Or maybe the Tortoise and the Hare?  Either way, it's better to study consistently, on a daily basis in little chunks, than to save all your Spanish homework for the night before some big quiz or test.

2) Memorize your vocab.

You may think you know all those words on the vocab list your teacher gave you . . . or the ones at the beginning of the chapter. Sure, you read over them in your head.  You held your hand over the English side and quizzed yourself.  You got them all right, except for one or two you had to peek at.  But here's the real way to tell whether or not you know them.  First, make yourself a set of flashcards.  Write the Spanish word on one side, and the English word on the other.  As you write each Spanish word, say it out loud.  Now quiz yourself by looking at the Spanish side and see if you can say the English word for each one without looking.  Did you do it?  Great!  Now for the hard part.  Flip the cards over and quiz yourself from the English side.  Do you remember how to say all those English words in Spanish?  Once you can nail that without any mistakes, you've got a pretty good handle on your vocab.  If you learn better by hearing things, watch this video on the "Flashcard Strategy" to see what I mean.

3) Get a study buddy.

This is the only way I survived Spanish 101 in college, and it's also how I managed to pass many a hard tests in college.  Make it fun!  Meet for coffee or rotate dinner at each other's house and study together while cooking something yummy to eat.  Use Netflix or ice cream as a reward at the end of your study time.

Everybody loves a buddy!

4) Check in with your teacher at least once per unit (or chapter).

Even if you think you understand the material, find something to have a question about.  Trust me, teachers like to know that you care.  And doing this will form a habit to make it easier to go to your teacher with questions when there really is something you don't understand.

5) Take notes.

Nothing is learned unless it is self-taught.  This means, you are not going to learn Spanish if you aren't trying to understand the material.  Your teacher is just a guide.  You have to make the material your own, which means when that input is coming towards you make sure you are understanding it enough to say it back.  Taking notes is the best way to do that.  If you can't figure out what to write down, that might be a sign you're not comprehending the material.

6) Make a Spanish playlist on Spotify and listen to it throughout the week.  

Have you ever thought about how we hear our native language for TWO YEARS before we ever start to try to form words ourselves?  Hearing the language is so important, and music is one of the most enjoyable ways to hear a language.  You could also try watching your favorite movies on Netflix with Spanish audio instead of English.

7) Read out loud & speak out loud.  

This goes along the same thread as number 6.  Your brain needs to be hearing that language.  As much as you can, read your assignments and exercises and vocab lists out loud as you study them.  You might feel silly doing it, but I promise it helps!

I would love to hear if you decide to follow these steps in your Spanish class this year and how it goes for you!  And don't be afraid to ask me any questions you may have.  Probably one of my favorite things is helping people learn about the Spanish language.  Buena suerte!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Our Bilingual Charlotte Mason Homeschool Journey

Miss the broadcast?  Go here.
It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect
It’s not that I don’t like learning.  Maybe it’s that I like learning too much.  Maybe that’s what has me feeling like I’m in over my head.  Maybe it’s that I’m a perfectionist and think I need to know ALL. THE. THINGS. before I begin something.
Just Start Somewhere!
I’ve recently subscribed to the Fly Lady emails.  Have you heard of her?  She has a website that has been recommended to me over the years when I reach out for help in the area of house cleaning.  I have a hunch her emails might actually help me with more than house cleaning.  There’s this saying she uses at the end of each email: “You are not behind!  I don’t want you to try to catch up; I just want you to jump in where we are.  O.K.?”

Fighting Feeling "Not Ready"
I always feel “not ready.”  It’s that same feeling I had to fight when I finally decided to jump on Periscope the other day to talk about our first year of bilingual homeschooling Charlotte Mason style.  I have no idea how to do that!  I look around and see people who talk about Charlotte Mason as easily as they breathe in and out.  Or I see people who are native Spanish-speakers homeschooling their children in Spanish AND English.  But they live in the States I tell myself.  They hear English all around them and have unlimited resources in English to help them school their children in a second language.  My next conclusion sounds like this: “I just need to move to Costa Rica.  Then I can bilingual homeschool.”  Can you tell I tend to make things harder than they have to be?  I have so much to learn.  

How I'm Preparing During Summer
I have so much to learn.  But with a few guides I've found on Periscope (@aliciahutchinson@liladelightedinlife, and @juliebravewriter), the books below, the curriculum designed by Ambleside Online, and the guidance of my sister-in-law (we're going to be going through Charlotte Mason's 20 Principles together) I hope to get my bearings in Charlotte Mason enough to establish a foundation of how we will approach learning in the years to come.*  It's a process and each season, each year I'll continually want to learn more and re-evaluate.   But for now, this is where I'm starting out.

*If you want to follow the same reading schedule we are just click on the "20 Principles" link above.  It will say you can't view the content, but all you have to do is register as a member of the AO forum--it's free.

How to Incorporate Spanish
As I mentioned on Periscope, all of the read-aloud and living books assigned for Year 1 on Ambleside Online originated from English-speaking countries/authors.  Which is fine and great--it's our mother tongue.  So to figure out how to incorporate Spanish into our Charlotte Mason education for now I'm simply inserting Spanish where she says French in her "A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six."

" name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences..."

" sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song...

I also hope to dig up some good blogs or blog posts about a Charlotte Mason education in Spanish, and until then I'm listening to general homeschool information (in Spanish) from the new podcast I found last week called Madres Homeschoolers.

What About You?
Did you feel overwhelmed starting your first year of homeschooling?  How did you decide on a style?  Are you using Charlotte Mason's philosophies to guide your schooling?  Do you bilingual homeschool?  I would love any encouragement or ideas you have for me!  And let's remind each other we don't have to have it all figured out before we begin.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Speak Spanish with Your Baby!

When I had my first child a friend told me: "Speak Spanish with him all the time.  Let your husband speak English and you just speak Spanish."  I sooooo wish I could have done that.  I just was not quite prepared for it.

Adjusting to being a mom for the first time felt like enough.

Oh.  And I was also newly married and figuring out how to be a wife.

Did I mention my husband also went back to school after our first was born?

Basically I was overwhelmed with life and hadn't given much thought to passing on my second language (Spanish) to my child.

My friend was so wise and I wish I could have followed her advice.  But life is like that sometimes and we just can't do all the things.  At least not at once.

So here I am with my fourth child.  She's ten months old, and she's actually in the baby carrier, laying her head on my chest as I write.  {These months go by so quickly.}  Fourth time around I feel much more comfortable speaking Spanish with my baby.  I have much more research under my belt, know so many bloggers that support and encourage me, and have had a little practice.

Just today in my email inbox I received an email with a huge list of baby vocab from a blog I found in those years between my first child and my fourth.  That email reminded me of another blog post I read three years ago (when I was newly pregnant with my third) over at All Done Monkey--which I love because she explains so well how to use the words in context or how you might hear them used.  All of this made me think...I should share this with people who might be looking for help with introducing Spanish to their babies.

Does that sound crazy to you?  Introducing a foreign language to your baby.  It's not!  I promise.  Especially if you are like me and studied Spanish in college and have a dreamy idea that one day you will be able to teach your kids to speak it.  I would say, start as early as you can.  Each day I find more and more resources online to help us parents.  

One last resource I want to mention is one I bought last month or so (with my own money, and of my own accord): the MamaLingua app.  This app can be used with more than just babies.  What I appreciate about it, is that it teaches phrases and has them spoken by a native speaker so you can learn the phrase with your child if you don't already speak Spanish yourself, or if you want them to hear it in a native voice.  They have a LITE version that is free.  So go download it and poke around to see how it works.  I have some pictures here to show you, but if you're like me a hands-on experience is better to see whether or not you like it.  

In addition to learning words and phrases to talk about "baby life," it's a great idea to learn lots of baby songs and finger plays in Spanish, and also to make sure you are getting lots of adult Spanish input to exercise your own Spanish brain muscles.  But that is another post for another day!  I can't promise when I'll get a chance to share my favorites in that category so be sure to subscribe to updates for this blog (left column) or follow me on Instagram @fortheloveofspanish so you won't miss it.

Click here for a list of baby vocab WITH AUDIO
pronunciations recorded by a native speaker.
Go here for a list of baby vocab with in-depth
 explanations on meaning and usage.