Thursday, September 3, 2015

Can I teach my children Spanish if I don't speak it myself?

It is that time of year, guys!  School supplies, back-to-school, and yes SPANISH LESSON PLANS!! And I love it.  I am a nerd, and all summer long if I had a spare moment to do something fun for me--which did not often happen--I worked on my brother's Spanish syllabus (he is homeschooled and I am his Spanish teacher). 

Lately some friends and family who have young children have asked me how they can teach their children Spanish.  First of all I just want to stop and give them a round of applause!  Seriously.  How brave and awesome is it that parents who do not speak Spanish, want to learn it alongside their children?!  What a great example to the kids, and what smart parents to introduce their children to a foreign language even if it means learning something new themselves.

Since so many people have asked about this, I decided to write some blog posts about the topic and gather the information here.  I figured, if people in my life are asking me about this, surely other people on the interwebs must be wondering too!

For starters: this will take a little extra effort on the part of the parents.  I know, I know, maybe not what you wanted to hear, right?  What parent has extra time? Ha!  Believe me (momma of 4 here!), I get ya.  But what if I promise you it would only take about 5-10 minutes on the days you want to do it?

Here is my suggestion on how you can approach learning Spanish with your kiddos at home.

First: Try to expose your family to Spanish EACH. DAY.  This means finding your favorite songs on YouTube, a good Spanish CD or Spotify playlist and turning it up once-a-day.  Maybe on your car ride home from school, maybe while you fix the kiddos lunch, or right before nap time have a little Spanish dance session.

Next: Choose one day a week to do a focused "lesson."  I use the term lesson loosely here.  Do not get overwhelmed.  I am talking super simple folks.  For example, the first "lesson" I have planned for my boys is to have them trace their hand on a piece of paper, color it, and write the phrase "Hola means hello."  Then all throughout the about what you learned in your "lesson,"  see if you can put it to practice.  When your kids wake up, wave and say "Hola!"  Or have your kids teach the lesson to their stuffed animals or grandparents.  Take a video of them using the new word or phrase (my kids love this--they love to watch themselves on camera).

Last:  Okay I cannot decide what to put here.  But mainly DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.  What you are doing for your kids is super beneficial.  I guess another good piece of advice would be MAKE IT FUN!  Kids learn best when they are playing and using every part of their brain.  Also, SET GOALS.  No one gets anywhere without a plan first.  If I were you I would set a simple goal like "Learn 30 Spanish words for things (sticking to nouns is a good concrete place to start) and 3 Spanish phrases."  Finally, I don't want to leave you without explaining one more tip: THINK LIKE A BABY.  Your kids don't need this advice, but you do.  As an adult, learning a new language is going to make you feel awkward.  DON'T PANIC.  Just remember "think like a baby."  Does a baby worry about mispronouncing words?  No.  Does a baby let fear of making a mistake keep them from trying to talk and communicate with the world around them?  No.  Does a baby give up if talking is "too hard"?  No.  Does a baby ever lose her curiosity?  No.  Does a baby start by speaking in sentences?  No.  So learn from the babies of the world and just be excited!  Be curious!  Keep trying!  Start by learning a few words and build from there. 

To keep from making this the LONGEST. BLOG. POST. EVER. I am going to write further posts with play list suggestions, resources, and lesson plan ideas.  I'll link up to them here as I add them. 

Buena suerte, people!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Women in World History: Rosario Castellanos

Rosario Castellanos: Una poeta y novelista
Image Source

I found this book on my bookshelf recently, called The Book of Lamentations.  I had forgotten I owned it.  I have never read it.  I cannot remember where I bought it or even when (which is rare for me--I could most likely tell you the story of how I got every book on my shelf).  The why I bought it, was probably because I recognized her name from my college studies, remembered she was an author of import, and because she was Mexican.  I want to know about anything Mexican.  Of all the Spanish-speaking places I have been, Mexico is not one of them.  Throughout college, I lived and studied in Spain, took a language course in Central America, and volunteered in South America.  Mexico was a mystery to me.  After college I had the pleasure of working with many families from Mexico and got to know the country a little bit that way.  Other than that, until I get to travel there, I make it a habit of collecting books and information about Mexico, and eat lots of Mexican food, to make up for my lack of travel there.

So here I am with this book, on my "to read" shelf and I learn that the bloggers of Multicultural Kid Blogs are putting together a series for Women's History Month.  I jumped at the opportunity be a part of that, using it as the opportunity to learn more about Rosario Castellanos and the Mexico she was from. 

Castellanos, born in 1925 to a wealthy, land-owning family, described herself as an introvert and her childhood as one of lonliness.  One of her earlier memories explains her feelings of being cast as an outsider:
"one of her aunts burst into the room, saying she had just had a vision, and that one of Mrs. Castellanos' [two] children would not live to adulthood. 'Not the boy!' Rosario's mother exclaimed, rising from her chair in terror. (The boy did indeed die soon after.)" (Guillermoprieto xiii)
The feeling of outsider shaped Castellanos into a person who preferred to stay on the outskirts of social circles, and instead remain an observer of everyone around her.  Growing up in these conditions developed in her a keen sense of observation that later transformed her into a talented and revolutionary (no pun intended) author.

For the first part of her life, Castellanos grew up in the Mexican state of Chiapas--a beautiful region in Mexico know for its coffee agriculture, forests, and rich Maya history.  This state remained largely unaffected by the Mexican Revolution--a revolution that brought equality between classes--and the wealthy landowners "continued to use the destitute indigenous majority as beasts of burden, and considered this the rightful order of things" (Guillermoprieto vii).  Castellanos found herself between two worlds--her wealthy, socially elite family, and the poor indigenous people her family employed to care for her and their estate.  It was between these two worlds that Castellanos was able to observe first-hand the racial and class tensions that set the scene for her last, and very prophetic, novel The Book of Lamentations.

Image Source

According to the New York Times, Rosario Castellanos is an overlooked author, and that The Book of Lamentations, a "literary artifact," because of how it predicted the political confrontation between the rich and poor classes three decades before it happened.  You can read more about the setting of the book and its plot here.

Her controversial career as a writer began after her family was forced to move to Mexico City due to loss of land under President Lázaro Cárdenas land reforms.  She met a young group of poets there, with whom she found her place reading prolifically, writing, and publishing poems.  Later she became a professor of literature, wrote a weekly column in the Excelsior, went on to publish many volumes of poetry, feminist essays and novels. 

Besides her amazing talent of turning her prodigious observation capabilities into colossal works of literature that give insight into the depths of centuries of friction between cultures and classes, I think Castellanos is known most for her pioneering work in the field of literature for women in Mexico and feminist writers all over the world.  She wrote in a time where women did not write: "The act of writing--indeed the very act of observing that precedes writing--was subversive, and banished her from the place that birth and upbringing had reserved for her in the tiny social universe of Chiapas. She gave up the easy, comfortable life set up for her, and in turn opened the door for many more women writers in Mexico after her.

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You can read more about her life and work here, here, and here.

Don't forget to check back on the MKB Women in History series!  Each day another amazing woman in history will be introduced.  You can link up your own posts as well.  

Sources: "Introduction."  Alma Guillermoprieto.  The Book of Lamentations.  New York: Penguin, 1996.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Make Your Home Multilingual

My latest Spanish home project: salt and pepper shakers.
Maybe your family speaks more than one language at home.  Maybe your family is learning a second decorate your house in more than one language?
language together.  Maybe your family only speaks one language, but likes to learn about the world.  Whatever the case, do you

At our house I am the only bilingual (and I use that term loosely) person, and I love being able to speak more than one language.  So naturally, I look for any and all opportunities to share my second language, Spanish, with my family.  If you have read my blog at all, you know I teach my children Spanish in informal lessons; I try to use Spanish in our play; I try to read to my kids in Spanish; and I seek to find creative ways to make our home bilingual.

One of my favorite ways of late, is to find ways to sneak Spanish into our home decor.  I like the idea that my kids will grow up seeing Spanish written around them.  I hope that when they get older and literate they will start asking, "Mom, what does that say?" which will lead to an impromptu Spanish lesson.  I hope it will seem natural to them to see different languages around them and that this will make them curious about the world, other cultures, and becoming bilingual (or multilingual!) themselves.  My bilingual decorating has taken over here, here and here.

Etsy and Pinterest are great places to scour the internet for fashionable ways to bring many languages into your home.  Here are some things I have had my eye on lately.

I adore these pillows from Bright July.  They have some in French too.  My problem is I cannot decide which one to buy first.

Some fun stuff for the kitchen...
From hatchettdesigns

From DexMex
From TeaMoDecor

I love these for the kids...
From ArtOfthePage

From HowJoyfulShop
 I love this shop on Etsy!  It has maps like this with how to say "I love you" in each country.  So fun!  You score on language and geography with this one.
From LisaBarbero

From LisaBarbero
So how do YOU decorate in different languages?  If you have any shops or suggestions, please leave your links and comments below!  Feliz decorating!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #24

Welcome to the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place where bloggers can share multicultural activities, crafts, recipes, and musings for our creative kids. We can't wait to see what you share this time!
Created by Frances of Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, the blog hop has now found a new home at Multicultural Kid Blogs.
This month our co-hosts are:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop is a place for you to share your creative kids culture posts. It's very easy, and simple to participate! Just follow these simple guidelines:
  • Follow us via email, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook. Please let us know you're following us, and we will be sure to follow you back.
  • Link up any creative kids culture posts, such as language, culture, books, travel, food, crafts, playdates, activities, heritage, and holidays, etc. Please, link directly to your specific post, and no giveaways, shops, stores, etc.
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
  • Please grab the button code above and put it on your blog or the post you’re linking up. You can also add a text link back to this hop on your blog post. Note: By sharing your link up on this blog hop you are giving us permission to feature your blog post with pictures, and to pin your link up in our Creative Kids Culture Feature board on Pinterest.
  • Don't be a stranger, and share some comment love! Visit the other links, and comment. Everyone loves comments!
  • The Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop will go live on the 3rd Sunday of the month. It will run for three weeks. The following blog hop we will feature a previous link up post, and if you're featured, don't forget to grab the button below:
Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop
Here's my favorite from last time: 

Worldwide Cinderellas, Part 2: The Americas
from The Logonauts
I of course featured this one because some of the stories featured are from Spanish-speaking countries or areas in the US, and even Spain.  Did you know so many Cinderella stories existed?  I was blown away by the amount just from the Americas.  Be sure to check out this post.  Each book featured has a great description and explanation of the region it is from. 

Thank you for linking-up, and we can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Weddings Around the World // Bodas por todo el mundo

As I teach Spanish to my children, or to students or friends, I always emphasize that understanding the culture of a language helps as much as memorizing verbs.  Even before I learned a second language though, I have enjoyed getting to know people from around the world and learning about their culture--finding what we have in common, and learning from our differences.

This February I am so stoked to get to host the MKB Blogging Carnival.  And since it is the month of love, I thought what better way to celebrate than to see what marriages and relationships are like around the world.

I know you will enjoy reading all of these posts!  (Just click on the titles to read.)  Some of the traditions here I had never heard of, some of the photos are so stunning, some of the multicultural ideas are so creative, and above all seeing two lives come together especially across cultures is such a beautiful event.

Real Families: Attending a Traditional Malawian Wedding
      Jodi of Mud Hut Mama wrote this guest post over at Kid World Citizen about her family's experience participating in a Malawian wedding.  She gives great details and descriptions of the whole day, you really get to see what it was like to be at the wedding.  I think this post stands as one of the most unique weddings from what I am used to.  What stood out to me was the role of the brothers of the bride and groom, beginning at the wedding and carrying on throughout the marriage.

Ka'ab Gazelle Recipe and Photo Tuto.
     I married into an Italian family and quickly learned, you cannot have a wedding without mounds and mounds of cookies.  Amanda from Marocmama shares a recipe in this post of one of Morocco's most famous wedding cookies.  Be sure to check it out.  She shares great photos and step-by-step directions.  You can also read about her love story here.

The Americas
A Puerto Rican Wedding Tradition: "Capias"
    You know how every wedding has so many details that we don't think about until it comes time to plan the wedding?  Well, Frances from Discovering the World through My Son's Eyes, shares about one of those sweet details of Puerto Rican weddings that adds a personal touch to the day.  The part I love about this idea, is how it allows the bride a chance to visit and thank each of her guests.  Do you have something like this in weddings from your culture?

Our First Mexican Wedding
     What I loved about this post was all the lovely pictures that Tina of Los Gringos Locos shares--they alone can tell a story!  I have never been to Mexico (except some border towns in Texas), but it looks like a beautiful place to have a wedding.

Our Multicultural Wedding: 5 Ways We Honored Our Cultures
      Diana of Ladyleelg shares the story of her multicultural wedding and how honoring her Ecuadorian and USA cultures, as well as the French culture of her husband took center stage.  It was really neat to read how the couple chose special elements from the different cultures and fused them together to create a wonderful wedding and celebration of their cross-cultural love.  I am not sure which impressed me more: the cake in the shape of Port d'Avignon or the amazing 15th century church they were married in.  Read for yourself and see if you can help me decide.  You can even watch a short video of her special day.

Where apsaras dance 
    Oh. My. Goodness.  The photos of this Cambodian wedding make me feel like I am missing out a little.  I will probably never be invited to a wedding in Cambodia, so thankfully I have this beautiful post from Nathalie of Kampuchea Crossings.  Nathalie explains that these stunning wedding celebrations last for days.  The fabric, the flowers, the ceremony so rich in color, symbolism, and tradition.  If you have not had a Cambodian wedding experience, be sure to read this post!
Spring Traditions: Our Anniversary
      Varya shares her multicultural tale, at Creative World of Varya, of how her and her husband's Baha'i faith brought them together in friendship and then in love--she from Russia, he from Tanzania, meeting in India and marrying in China.  Read her lovely story of how they made their special day represent all the wonderful aspects of where they were from and where they were going as a couple. 

As you can see I categorized some weddings twice as they represented cultures from Europe and  the Americas, so if you do not see a description here, you can find it above.

A Wedding in France
      Here you can read about Eolia's very French wedding in English or French!  I love this post as she explains in detail all the elements of a French wedding, with many lovely photos and explanations of the special French traditions.  Read this post, and then see how you can recognize the French traditions in others' posts such as Esther's or Annabelle's.

eine Hochzeit in Deutschland
      Here you can read a sweet account by Julie (blogging over at Open Wide the World) of her sister's and German brother-in-law's German wedding.  The two met in Germany, and honored that heritage with their wedding.  I appreciate the practicality of the German wedding (no fuss with coordinating many groomsmen and bridesmaids) and also the special touch of having the fathers make a toast.  Take a look at the fancy table in the civil ceremony where they sign all of the government paperwork, and the beautiful quaint Abbey where they had the religious ceremony.

Ilze's and Daniel's Multicultural Wedding
     I am so glad Olga submitted this post for the carnival because, not only does she share a bit about her own wedding, she also shares about being a guest of Ilze and Daniel's wedding (German-Latvian wedding below) and the fateful story of how they met!  Read her post to see the little twist on how her wedding and Ilze and Daniel's wedding are related.     

Our French-Portuguese-English wedding
     Here is another post of three cultures combined to celebrate the love and marriage of the special couple.  Annabelle of The Piri-piri Lexicon explains the hard work and attention to detail it takes to celebrate the cultures of where she and her husband were from, the one in which they met, and the ones from which their guests came.  From writing invitations in three languages to pulling off a spectacular menu, you can see how bringing different worlds together can be hard work but also can also make for a most special, unforgettable wedding day.

Our Multicultural Wedding: 5 Ways We Honored Our Cultures

Our Wedding Anniversary
     I love this post from Amanda.  She is not afraid to mention the struggle of making a multicultural marriage, and life as an expat work.  When you read about her hard work of making different cultures and different mother-tongues come together in harmony, be sure you also check out her collaborative book Dutched-Up (left side bar) as it has a lovely chapter on multicultural marriage.

Throwing a German-Latvian Wedding
     This is the wedding mentioned Olga above.  I loved reading the story of Ilze and Daniel's wedding because many of the traditions reminded me of the ones I had heard from my Moldovan friends, and it was fun to see pictures and hear accounts of it all.  My favorite part of this wedding was the sweet tradition they did at Midnight when they officially are declared husband and wife.  She also tells a funny story of the meaning of cutting the cake and whose hand is on top. 

Wedding Traditions in France & Around the World (Link-Up)
     Another French wedding!  I love the photos Maria from Trilingual Mama shares from this wedding her family attended in France.  She really gives a romantic look at the way the French do weddings.  This post is also a Link-Up, so you can find other posts about weddings around the world that are not mentioned here.  Enjoy!

What? I'm not calling them "maids"! 
     I love this honest post from Esther.  She shares how working through the tension that can come when trying to balance two cultures in one wedding can be so worth it.  Some of my favorite parts about her special day are that she and her husband-to-be shared the story of how they met in their two languages, that they had interpreters for their vows, and that they made a multilingual booklet made for out-of-town guests describing fun day trips and things to do in the area.  Oh and don't miss the "sweet" way they had their rings brought to them in the ceremony!   

Thoughts on Multicultural Relationships...
Reading all of the posts above, I learned how the extra care and work it takes to make a multicultural wedding a success is also true of the extra effort it takes to make a multicultural marriage a success.  Each of these posts below ponder the importance of heritage, identity, commitment, humility, creativity, communication, vulnerability, humor, kindness, and openness in making multicultural weddings and marriages work.  Every relationship is made up of two different people from different backgrounds, so even if you do not consider your marriage multicultural, we can all learn from the wise words and experience of these bloggers about what it takes to make relationships thrive.

And Not Because He's German: My Take on Intercultural Relationships
Tacos and Cake: A Multicultural Heritage
21 Ideas for a Multicultural Wedding
Creating a Happy Multicultural Marriage
The beginnings of a multicultural marriage
“Ya está.” – Miscommunication as Romantic (A Valentine’s DayPost)