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.

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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!  

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pinterest Scavenger Hunt--Today's Clue!

Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt

Get ready to start exploring!

The Pinterest Scavenger Hunt has officially begun!
This contest is sponsored by Multicultural Kid Blogs to celebrate the official launch of our website.
The Scavenger Hunt will run from July 15 to July 28. Participants have until July 31 to submit their entries, and the drawing will take place on August 1.
You could win one of four fabulous prize packages!
Details about the Scavenger Hunt can be found below.

Today's Clue

A "berry" special bear treat.

Now take a look around on this site and try to find the post that fits the clue. Once you think you've found it, pin it to the Pinterest Board you've created just for this contest.  A full schedule and rules of the game can be found below. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom for more chances to win!

How to Play:

Create a Pinterest board specifically for the contest and name the board "Multicultural Kid Blogs Pinterest Scavenger Hunt." Each day a new clue (or two!) will be revealed. Follow the clue to the blog of the day and pin the post described in the clue. (Any image from the post is fine). In the Rafflecopter below, enter the link to the Pinterest board you created for this contest. The Rafflecopter will also have lots of other ways to earn extra entries. The only required entry is the link to your Pinterest board. Please note: You can enter the Rafflecopter at any point during the contest. Obviously your board won't be complete until the end of the contest, but you can enter the link in the Rafflecopter before then. If your name is drawn at the end of the contest, we will check your board at that time. The final clue will be given July 28. Participants will have until midnight Pacific time on July 31 to finalize their boards. The drawing will take place on August 1. Winners must have pinned all of the correct posts to their board. Winners will be notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another name will be drawn. Good luck, explorers!

Our Fabulous Prizes

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value $128.74)
Language Learning Box Set (3 DVDs) from Little Pim ($49.95): The Little Pim Spanish Box Set Volume I is a great way to introduce young learners to over 180 Spanish words and phrases related to daily routines, food, and playtime! Winner can choose the language of the prize from among those available from Little Pim. (US Shipping Only. If the grand prize winner is located outside the US, the Language Learning Box Set will become part of the 1st prize package).
Little Pim Spanish Box Set Vol. I
3 Month Subscription from Little Passports ($41.85): Little Passports is a unique subscription based service that can take your family on an adventure to learn about culture and history from all 50 states and across the world. With this educational, monthly package, kids will become excited about geography, history, and culture by following the world travels of characters Sam and Sofia on their magic scooter! Winner chooses between World and USA editions.
LP World Explorer Kit

Luke's Beach Day storybook from Kids Yoga Stories ($15.95): Yoga-inspired story set on an Australian beach
The Skin You Live In book from Squishable Baby ($16): A book that celebrates the beauty in all of us.
The Skin You Live In_Large
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99): A well-researched yet highly readable book on raising bilingual children.

1st PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $79.89) US shipping only

Two books from Lee & Low ($29.90):
Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell: Released in May 2013, Rainbow Stew follows three African American children and their grandfather as they pick fresh vegetables in his garden to cook up a lunch on a rainy afternoon.

How Far Do You Love Me? by Lulu Delacre: From the Swiss Alps Mountain Range to the Great Barrier Reef, How Far Do You Love Me? takes readers across the seven continents in a new take on the "I love you" game.
Spanish language bundle from Spanish Playground ($20): traditional wooden toys and digital downloads. Wooden chicken paddle toy and wooden top (una pirinola) to play "toma todo." Digital downloads of Spanish language story-coloring book Los pollitos and animal activity cards.Los Pollitos - Spanish Playground
One copy of the Bamboo Dance and one passport ($14.99) from Hartlyn Kids: An illustrated children's book about the day in the life of a child in the Philippines. The book contains a mock passport sticker. Also included is an accompanying mock passport.
Phillipines Story - Hartlyn Kids
Caxixi Woven Rattle From Africa from World Music with Daria ($10): Awesome fair trade woven rattle from Ghana
Caxixi Rattle
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99) See details above
2nd PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $36.99)
Fire and Gold digital download from Nightingale Creations ($10): A CD on the theme of tests and difficulties

2 sets of postcards and a notepad from Paper Papel Papier ($22): eco & multilingual-friendly paper goods
Paper Papel Papier
One copy of Be Bilingual: Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families (eBook) from Be Bilingual ($4.99) See details above

3rd PRIZE PACKAGE (Total Value: $29.95)

One copy of Ramadan Cookbook and Meal Plan (eBooks) from MarocMama ($18): Two ebooks featuring traditional (and some less traditional!) Ramadan recipes and meal ideas
Ramadan Nights
One copy of Coconut Oil For Your Skin (eBook) from Hybrid Rasta Mama ($11.95): an eBook filled with nourishing and simple recipes for skin care and hair care products featuring coconut oil as the main ingredient.
Cooking Oil For Your Skin_Ecover1000px

Scavenger Hunt Schedule

(Visit the Scavenger Hunt main page for a full list of clues as they are revealed).
July 15
July 16
July 17
July 18
July 19
July 20
July 21
July 22
July 23
July 24
July 25
July 26
July 27
July 28
Final day to enter the contest is July 31, 2013, at midnight PDT. Drawing will take place on August 1, 2013.
a Rafflecopter giveaway