Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Learn Spanish as an Introvert

In college, I worked as an RA (Resident Assistant).  In this role I did "rounds" throughout my residence hall on a rotating schedule with the other two RAs in my hall.  I checked-in on people and tried to keep the pulse of the hall as a whole and individual suites (our college was set up where 5-6 dorm rooms were situated in a "suite" with a joint living room, kitchen, and bathroom).  Really the job felt more like a privilege than a duty.  I love to get to know lots of different kinds of people, however I tend to be timid, so that job gave me an excuse to barge in on people's lives and hang out.

Part of the training to become an RA was taking the Myers-Briggs personality test.  Each of us in the program had to take it, and then we learned about each other's personalities and how we would work best together--putting our strengths and weaknesses together.  It turned out my personality is ENFJ.  That is Myers-Briggs jargon for an extroverted feeling and sensing person, with introverted intuition and thinking.  Or in other words "The Giver."  Basically I love to be around people, but often times feel alone because I enjoy getting to know them more than I allow myself to be known.  I will be the first to get excited with you about anything special or important in your life, and I will share all my current ideas and plans and dreams.  But when you get to the part about my feelings and thoughts, I close up.

The awesome and very professional group of women I got to work with as hall staff.
RA Training

You may be wondering why I am sharing all of this right now, and what it has to do with learning Spanish!  Well, with everything in life, with whatever things we pursue--jobs, careers, educational goals, dreams, relationships--it helps to know ourselves first and work within that framework to get where we are going.  In my journey of learning and now teaching Spanish, I have learned a few things about myself, and those things have helped me to learn and teach better.  And believe me--it is all still a work in progress.

During my study abroad years I had no trouble finding friends--all outgoing, adventurous, intelligent individuals that took life into their own hands a made things happen.  You know the type I am talking about.  And I was perfectly happy to go along with their plans and enjoy the ride.  Having such great friends then placed me in situations to learn Spanish that would not have happened to me if I were in charge.  I am so thankful for all those people I met, and how much I gained personally and
educationally knowing them.

After college I landed a job working as an interpreter at a local preschool.  I took all the incoming Spanish phone calls, interpreted for children in the nurse's office, gave tours of the preschool to the Spanish-speaking families, conducted all the Spanish DIAL-3 screenings for incoming students, and interpreted for the teachers during their home visits and Parent-Teacher Conferences.  Although financially this job did not offer much, I gained so much personally and professionally from it.  Again I was put in situations where I had to speak Spanish, not having to initiate conversation, only respond.

Now that I stay home with my children, I am realizing how much I let Spanish just happen to me.  As the one in charge of helping my kids to learn it, I am realizing I now have to be the one to initiate Spanish-speaking and Spanish-learning opportunities.  Here is what I have learned so far:

1.  Find Online Support
Blogging about it all has been one way to "make" myself be proactive.  If I feel responsible to others--my readers (even if they are imaginary)--I will push myself to learn new things, try new things, seek out information and resources to share.  Blogging has also been a great way to meet people around the nation and world doing the same thing I am, and they have been a huge support and encouragement to me--especially as we embark on this journey of becoming a bilingual family.  Wherever you are in your language-learning journey, find a group of like-minded people to encourage you and support you--and finding that online is a safer place for us introverts.

2.  Find a Partner
The older my children get, the more serious I become about making our family bilingual.  I cannot express how much joy I find in this passion and goal of mine.  I wish every family could take the opportunity to learn a foreign language together--it is so rewarding, eye-opening, and adventure-filled!  Of course I married an Extrovert (big surprise, huh?) and this helps.  For example, my husband is trying to learn Spanish so that he can speak with his Spanish-speaking clients in their first language.  If he sees someone in public that he can tell speaks Spanish, he immediately starts talking to them in his broken Spanish to practice, proceeding to tell them that I am fluent and forcing me to tell them all about it.  He has no qualms about breaking the ice.  To him, there is no ice, and I suppose this has been good for me--a constant challenge to break out of my shyness and engage people in Spanish.  You would think that loving to speak Spanish would be motivation enough, but I tell you that fear of exposing myself is so real.  I really love the ambition my husband has, and I am so happy he shares my goal of teaching our kids Spanish.  He does the same thing with my children.  If we meet a kiddo in public that speaks Spanish, my hubby encourages Jefe to say, "¡Hola! Me llamo... ¿Cómo te llamas?  ¿Cómo estás?"  (Hello!  My name is... What's your name?  How are you?)  For introverts the one-on-one relationships are easier, so find that one person that shares your same goals and it will take you a long way!

3.  Find Someone to Teach
One thing I love about having children, is that they are so eager and excited about life, it allows you to stay in that state as well.  My children both inherited my husband's social genes, but they are also kids--which means they are not afraid of trying new things or messing up.  If Jefe meets a stranger who speaks Spanish he runs up to them all excited and says, "I know Spanish!  Uno, dos, tres, cinco, tres...."  (1, 2, 3, 5, 3...)  I learn so much from observing this zeal for life, learning new things, and sharing with others.  My children make friends so much easier than I do, and I am learning from them.  There is no need to be afraid of messing up or looking silly.

4.  Find the Courage to Take Chances--It's Worth It!
Recently I have had many opportunities to be like my hubby and kiddos.  At one of the parks we frequent, we have met a Spanish speaking family.  On my own accord I started speaking Spanish to the mom, and I'm so glad I did!  I learned that she does not speak much English and was happy to have someone to converse with in Spanish.  I was just as happy to practice my Spanish, and thus a friendship has begun.  The more I venture to speak Spanish, the more confident and relaxed I become about it.  In turn, I am able to provide my kids with more opportunities to hear and use it as well.

5.  Find Inspiration--In Books, In People, In Yourself
I feel like my learning curve is huge as of late.  Between my new-found blogging network, primarily through Multicultural Kid Blogs, my recent reads, 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child and Bilingual Is Better, all the Spanish-speaking opportunities popping up, and how receptive my children have been to learning and trying Spanish, I am realizing I CAN DO THIS!  The other night my husband and I ran into a friend of his from elementary school.  She married a man from Mexico and both of their children speak Spanish.  As I saw her walk around the restaurant speaking with her kids in Spanish I thought, "Nothing says I can't do that too!"  Her natural ability to do that in a culture where Spanish is not the norm inspired me.  I cannot tell you how exciting it is to set a goal, and realize it just might happen.  Not only am I giving my children the gift of bilingualism (that comes with countless benefits), I also get the huge gift of seeing something I am working at beginning to come to fruition.  These years ahead will continue to blow me away I'm sure.  And I especially look forward to the friendships we find along the way.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Linky Lunes

It's lunes (Monday)!  Time for another link-up where we share ideas, activities, and thoughts about learning language and being bilingual (or trilingual, or quadrilingual).  Link up below, and be sure to check out the others' posts as well.  By linking up here, you give For the Love of Spanish permission to use your photos in next week's Linky Lunes.  Thanks for sharing!

So many cool posts were shared at our last link-up, it was hard for me to pick my top three, but here they are!

Spanish Playground shared the post "Spanish Songs for Kids--Free Download from Luis Pescetti."  It sounds too good to be true, but it is not!  I downloaded the fun songs for kids and they are such a nice addition to our Spanish music library.  Be sure to check it out.

The Piri-Piri Lexicon shared the fascinating post "A Day in the Life of LJ, 3, Aspiring Quadrilingual."  Be sure to see the great ideas here for recording her daughter's language development, and how they interact with four languages as a family.

I loved this post, "How to Speak Somali Without Saying a Word," by Djibouti Jones.  It got me wondering, what sort of things do we say non-verbally in English?  What about in Spanish?  There is so much more to communication than mere language!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Insta-Friday // Super-semana

It's Insta-Friday!  I love taking a look back at our semana (week) in pictures.  Life is not perfect, in fact, sometimes it seems too hard.  When we snap these little frames on Instagram though, it is like we are saying, "Look, here is something good I found in my day."  What good did you find in your week?

viernes (bee-EHR-nays)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: la pajilla = the straw
el popote (Mex.) = the straw 
Isn't it funny how adding a cute little straw can make your agua (water) taste so much better?

sábado (SAH-bah-doh)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: la avena = the oatmeal 
My boys love oatmeal for breakfast.  I love it because, for how quick and easy it is, I feel like I'm giving them something healthy . . . they even like it with just honey and no sugar.

domingo (doh-MEEN-goh)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: el rompecabezas = the puzzle 

lunes (LOO-nays)
 Monday I had another prenatal check-up.  I always get excited to hear that little latido (heartbeat).  This pregnancy seems to be going so fast!  As you can see below, I am already far enough to do the glucose test.  Which means I have to get my blood drawn--which I dislike very much.

martes (MAHR-tays)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: el monstruo = the monster 
 We have had fun this week working on monster crafts!  Jefe has been begging me to paint lately (ever since we bought paint for our baby's gender announcement) and I finally gave in after I found this fun monster craft on Pinterest.  Monsters have been on our radar since we went to see Monsters University at the movie theater.

This week has been full of bilingual fun.  On martes we got out this fun matching game a friend handed down to us.  It is called Leap Frog Memory Mate Game.  I think I will do a post on this game later about all the fun ways you can use it to learn Spanish.

miércoles (mee-EHR-koh-lays)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: la paleta = the popsicle 
I have not eaten near enough of these this summer.  I love paletas de coco (coconut popsicles), but I only know of two places in my city to get them . . . and neither of those places is somewhere I frequent often.  Fortunately, we ate at a restaurant right next door to our local tiendita mexicana (Mexican grocery store).

jueves (hoo-AY-bays)
Word of the Day // Palabra del día: la colada = the laundry

As you can see, the laundry has overwhelmed me this week.  For some reason we have had lots of spills and accidents.  Oh well.  I'm sure I will find the couch again at some point this weekend.

So what were the highlights of your semana?  Enjoy your weekend and we'll see each other again next time.  Thanks for stopping by and Feliz Friday!

life rearranged

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Learning Spanish through Literature // No hay tiempo para monstruos (FREE Printable)

We found another fun bilingual book at our library!  Ever since we went to see Monsters University at the movie theater, we have had fun looking for books about monsters at our local library.  Have you noticed we like books!?  When I stumbled upon this one in my online library search, I knew I had to get it.  No Time for Monsters / No Hay Tiempo Para Monstruos is published by a division of Arte Público Press, Piñata Books, which holds the mission of publishing bilingual (Spanish/English) books that highlight U.S. Hispanic culture.  We have checked out a few Piñata Books before, and they usually have too many words for my kiddos, aimed at higher reading and age levels.  But No Hay Tiempo Para Monstruos turned out to be just right.

The Story: Roberto, the young boy in the story, plays at home while his mom tends to the laundry, cooking, and cleaning.  When she asks Roberto for help, he claims the cleaning monsters will get him so he cannot help.  All throughout the day Mamá asks Roberto to help with various tasks around the house--but monsters seem to be everywhere preventing him from helping.  Near the end, Roberto asks his mother to read him a story; however, Mamá says the Reading Monster might get her.  You will have to read the story for yourself to see what happens to Mamá and Roberto at the end--and all the monsters!

The Fun: Here are some ways we are extending the story in real life.  Check out this video where we made a fun monster craft.  If you have trouble viewing it from the blog, click here to watch it on YouTube.  Or see the pictures below!  We got the idea here, here, and here.  You should definitely check out those sites because they have tons of other great ideas...two of them are art teacher blogs, full of art ideas for kids.

Follow these instruccions to make your monster!
You need... 1. Paint 2. Water 3. Straw 4. Paper

#1: Mix the water with the paint.

#2: Pour the mixture on the paper.

#3: Blow with the straw.

#4: Let dry.

#5: Cut 2 white circles, 2 black circles, 1 black oval, and 5 white triangles.

#6: Use them to make the eyes and mouth.
The monster!
Print out this FREE Monster Printable.  I have been making these alphabet coloring pages for us at home, and I thought they would be fun to start sharing.  This year we are working on learning las letras and how to write them.  At first I tried printing letters that Jefe could trace but he is such a perfectionist--if he would stray one bit from the line he would get frustrated and give up.  One day I wrote his name in block letters for him to color in, but instead he drew the letter inside and said "Look!  I made a J!"  After that I started printing off block letters and he never gets frustrated writing the letters inside.  Here we are writing monstruo and coloring!
The night of our block letter discovery!
I love that he can feel proud of his work and not discouraged.

Jefe's awesome letter work!

Scachemo and I did this one together.

Some More Fun:  We will also be trying this recipe for Ranchero Beans, just like Roberto eats for lunch in the story.  What activities would you do after reading this story?  Did you learn any new Spanish words reading it?  What is your favorite bilingual children's book?  Let us know below!  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Making Your Home Bilingual // A hacer la casa bilingüe

One of the weird traits I have is that I am a messy perfectionist.  I got this from my paternal grandmother.  She was the type to spend hours cleaning out her silverware drawer, organizing it, and shining everything in it until it gleamed; meanwhile the rest of the house went unattended.  I do things like this.  The entire house can be in shambles, but if I know I just organized the boys' dresser drawers I can feel sane.  I spend so much time on these little projects that feel so important to me, but I cannot seem to manage the whole house at one time.  But I am working on it.  Part of this strange trait is loving to label things--obsessively.

Last Thursday I sat down to do a labeling project.  My sister-in-law took Jefe to the swim park and Scachemo was sleeping--a perfect time to get out scissors and paper and tubs and label away!  As I started working I thought, "Hey! Why don't I make bilingual tags?!"  One of the summer projects I gave to my students was to label 100 things in their house.  Why not do it at my house too--but permanently!? Labeling works great for reinforcing or teaching new vocabulary because you see the object and the Spanish word at the same time...it gets your brain to associate Spanish with objects instead of having your brain translate from English to Spanish (like a traditional vocabulary card would do).

You may have seen this method in preschools (or maybe you have done it in English at your house) where everything is labeled with a picture and the corresponding word--sight words.  Labeling your house in Spanish has that same concept.  So here is the project I did on Thursday.  I am excited to start labeling other things to get my brain working in Spanish more often!

First I gathered a bunch of scrap paper and ribbon that matched these boxes from target that I wanted to label.
los trozos = the scraps (of paper)
la cinta = the ribbon

Our laundry room is in our bathroom and I bought these canvas tubs from Target to try out a new system where I fold the laundry directly from the dryer and sort them into tubs to be kept until I can get around to putting it away.  It was getting annoying having to pull down each tub to see what was in it before I put clothes in there.  So I am glad I finally found the time to label them.
el recipiente = the container
I found a scroll-y looking label shape on Google and printed it out to make a cardboard piece to trace for the base of the label.  I traced it onto different prints and colors to mix and match.
el cartón = the cardboard
el papel = the paper

I made some slightly smaller so I could layer the colors and patterns together.  Since I was doing this during nap time, I tried not to worry about making them perfectly aligned, and I simply taped them together and left it at that.  If I had more time I would laminate them to make them sturdier.  That is a project for another day I guess.

las tijeras = the scissors
la cinta adhesiva = the tape

At first I thought I would attach the labels with ribbons, but later decided these Scotch Reclosable Fasteners (velcro dots) that I had on hand would be better--that way the labels can easily be changed or switched.

There are two labels for each container--an English one and a Spanish one.  I mainly use these tubs to sort my laundry, the boys' laundry and socks.  So my labels said mom/madre, boys/niños, and socks/calcetines.  Here you see them in English...

And here they are in Spanish!

This is just the beginning of my bilingual labeling days!  I will have my hubby speaking Spanish in no time at this rate!  (Did I tell you he is learning Spanish too, and using it at his job?!  I am so proud!)  How do you make your home bilingual?  Please share any ideas in the comments below!  Feliz labeling!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Our Week in View // La semana pasada

I'm linking up to Insta-Friday again!  How was your week?  Would love to hear from you in the comments below...here is a look at our week in pictures.
life rearranged
sábado (SAH-bah-doh)
Saturday 13 July 2013

Saturday we did something new and different!  Our favorite book store (it is within walking distance of our house) had author Ann Ingals come and share her story Ice Cream Soup.  I love that my boys got to meet a real-life author, and her story was just right for their age.  She also had a fun ice cream scooping game planned and some fun songs.  I had double-booked myself and missed a showing of the Mexican film Rudo Y Cursi at the Nelson (our local art museum), but I think it was worth it.  We even got free ice cream from the local ice cream shoppe out of the deal!

helado = ice cream
Jefe tried mint-chocolate chip...my
favorite flavor as a child!
sabor = flavor

domingo (doh-MEEN-goh)
Sunday 14 July 2013

This must have been a good day of rest for me.  I cannot recall doing a single thing.  Oh.  I think I painted my toenails.  Gold.  It's the little things...
uñas = toenails
dorado = gold (the color)

lunes (LOOH-nays)
Monday 15 July 2013

This was a good lunes for me.  I started something new this week.  Every morning I woke up, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, and had some alone "me" time.  It all started on lunes and made this week a great week.  It must have been the gold toes that inspired me to do something new and crazy...

We also got some great outside time Monday morning.  Jefe and Scachemo built some amazing walls and buildings.  It is thrilling to see how much fun they can have with a few rocks and bricks and their imagination.

piedra = rock
ladrillo = brick

martes (MAHR-tays)
Tuesday 16 July 2013

Oh, Tuesday, what an eventful day you were.  It was Tía Tuesday (our first one!) so my sister came over to hang out.  We all went outside to play.  My one-year-old went inside and shut the door, and I thought nothing of it.  Until Jefe ran to open it after him and said, "It's locked!"  I still thought nothing of it...Scachemo does not know how to lock the door.  Oh yes.  He does.  My sister and I were both outside without keys or phones.  So she had to walk to our sister-in-law's house to borrow phone.  Eventually they came back and managed to pry our AC unit out and I lifted Jefe in through the hole.  He ran inside and unlocked the door, pretty excited to be the hero for the day.

tía = aunt
hermana = sister

miércoles (mee-EHR-koh-lays)
Wednesday 17 July 2013

My current reads as of late are Bilingual Is Better by Ana Flores y Roxana Soto, and 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner.  In both books I have found encouragement as a mom who is trying to raise her children to be bilingual.  This quote I read miércoles from Bilingual is Better had me pretty excited: "Auerswald is living proof that you can still raise bilingual children even if you are monolingual yourself.  It's definitely not easy, and Auerswald doesn't claim otherwise, but if you really want this for your children, it's absolutely doable."  How encouraging to hear stories of other families, who do not have Latino or non-English roots per se, but who are seeking anyways to raise their children with more than one language and culture.

jueves (who-AY-bays)
Thursday 18 July 2013

My last day with long hair (pelo largo).  I cut bangs about a month ago, but that was not enough to satisfy my urge for change.  I have been rearranging our house, having garage sales, I dyed my hair auburn (it is hard to tell in this picture) and still I just had that itch.  Must be a side effect of pregnancy.  So I made an appointment to get it all chopped off.  One last picture as a remembrance.

viernes (bee-EHR-nays)
Friday 19 July 2013

And here we are today!  Hair all chopped off.  House feeling cleaner (except la cocina which has been ignored in my rearranging rage).  And ready to start the weekend!  Feliz Friday everyone!!