Sunday, 21 July 2013

English Resources for Native and Non-Native Parents

I have been fairly quiet recently and my lack of posts and comments is due not only to a lack of time but also largely to a lack in subject matter or topics to write about...I seem to have got a bit of writer´s block perhaps!However, I´m hoping that this summer, I´ll get back on track and find some inspiration and time to write about it!

As the mother of a bilingual child, I´m always on the lookout for plenty of English resources to support what she is hearing from me and to provide extra English imput, and although some English resources can be found ,there is not a great variety or selection where I live.Last summer, when I was in the UK, I found a great CD for only about a fiver, from WHSmith, called If You´re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands, a compilation of 25 favourite children´s nursery rhymes and songs...there were a few that I didn´t know or hadn´t heard before too!Also, a bonus about this CD is that it also contains 50 printouts which include the song lyrics and activity sheets,such as spot the differences, join the dots etc and also has a animated version of Row,Row,Row Your Boat. This is great to listen to on a long car journey or at home to dance along to and join in with the actions.

Another great English resource which I bought recently is the Rainbow Songs, Rhymes,Stories and Tales DVD. Rainbow was a popular children´s TV programme when I was a little girl and I enjoyed watching it. It stars Geoffrey, Rod,Jane and Freddie as the presenters and puppets, Zippy,Bungle and George. However, my daughter hasn´t shown much interest in watching this DVD yet...I can´t seem to tear her away from Peppa Pig but I do think it will be a great English resource,particularly as I want her to know her cultural heritage not only the English language and hopefully enjoy programmes I enjoyed as a child (even if they may be a little dated now!) It contains the story of Rumplestiltskin, The Ugly Duckling and The Hare and The Tortoise and there is also a sing-a-long to favourite nursery rhymes such as Incy,Wincy Spider and Humpty Dumpty. You can buy it on for around 5 pounds and the Super Saver Delivery is an available option so again it is fairly inexpensive.

The VTec Rhyme and Discover book  is also a fantastic way to expose your children to more English as it contains 7 popular nursery rhymes, such as Mary Had A Little Lamb,Ring a Ring a Roses and 3 Little Kittens, which babies and toddlers can sing along to and join in with and also encourages children to learn and think. It also contains various phrases such as "It´s time for a rhyme", "Turn the page" and "the end". I originally bought this when I was in the USA for my monolingual nieces and now it has been passed on to my daughter,who loves it. I don´t know if my nieces played with it very often or how many times the batteries have been changed but it´s still going strong!As I bought this in the US, it has an American accent and some of the nursery rhyme words are slightly different to the versions I learnt and usually sing.I can´t remember how much it cost me but again I don´t think it was so expensive.

Finally, although I don´t have an Iphone, I do have a Smartphone and I was searching for free bilingual apps one day and came across the app: Pocoyo: Las Mil Puertas, which I downloaded. This app is great for young children to listen to while you are in the waiting room at the doctor´s or dentist´s or something. You can choose between Spanish or English and as it is a story, you also have the choice of listening to it being read or reading it yourself. It is also interactive as if the child touches the door for example, the door will open.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Bilingual Tots: 22-24 months

I haven´t blogged on here for awhile for two reasons: Firstly, I´m finding it hard to find time to blog anything these days especially as I have two blogs and now my new project, a Facebook page, and as I hardly have time for anything,then it´s been falling a bit by the wayside and secondly, I haven´t had much inspiration about posts and what I could write about!!!A case of writer´s block,you could say!!

Anyway, I´m back with an update about my daughter´s language progress and I am increasingly amazed at how quickly she seems to be acquiring language,processing and assimilating language now. It´s like a little language explosion has taken place! She appears to pick up at least one new word in both languages per day  (this is a rough guesstimate and maybe I´m exaggarating but that´s what it seems like!). She constantly repeats or tries to repeat what we say, sometimes with amusing and cute-sounding results, and is quite a little parrot.She can say her name now more or less although the pronunciation is a little off but it´s sooooo cute. She has also learnt to say "Abuelo", "Abuela" and "Granny"....she even managed a "Grandad" a couple of times but then reverted back to "Abuelo". She is also starting to mix languages a little as a couple of times,she  called my Mum "Abuela" but then self-corrected or later referred to her once again as "Ganny"(she can´t quite pronounce Granny clearly yet!)

She is also starting to string words and phrases together to make short sentences such as "Sientaté" (although she can´t pronounce it properly), ".....a la calle" "...a comer".(sounds more like "a mamer") "It´s cold"etc. She seems to say more short phrases in Spanish than in English at the moment. She also says "a co" for "cogerme"...pick me up! As I mentioned she also likes singing and will often join in or initiate songs and does the actions,especially "Hokey Cokey"-she particularly likes the in-out-in-out line!, The Wheels On the Bus-she is quite good at the last line: "All day long",Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes and Ring-A Ring a Roses. The other day she was singing something and we eventually made out that it was Happy Birthday to you.It was so cute and on the final line of the song she flung her arms out as if she were on stage!!

One of her favourite games to play is Hide and Seek.We all take turns to count while the others go and hide and she has even started joining in with the counting, at least up to 3. It sounds more like she is counting in Spanish as opposed to English. We are continuing to read in both languages and she likes to take the book off you and "read" it herself!

As for the Bilingual Playgroup despite my has taken off again and we also have a new member, which makes 5 adults and 5 children,not counting the two babies,who I´m sure will be participating more actively in the Playgroup when they are a bit older so it´s going well!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Bilingual Tots:20-21 months

I´m a little worried about the bilingual playgroup I started up as it seems to slowly be fizzling out due to us all being busy with other things and a variety of reasons. However,we are still trying to struggle on and meet most weeks so we‘ll see how it goes.
My daughter is talking loads more and is a little parrot as she is repeating many words and phrases. I think she is going to be a chatterbox! I was a bit worried recently because it seemed that she was saying more words and phrases in Spanish than in English.
Although this past week,it appears to be the other way around, possibly because my mum was visiting.
She can now say Granny and has starting saying something resembling Mummy and Daddy too.She is learning at least one new word a day or more I think! The other day it snowed for the first time and she could say "snow"...I think seeing one of the Peppa Pig episodes about snow has helped her learn this word too!!! Other new words are baby or bebe(it sounds more like the Spanish word!),cupcake,garlic (I think she´s going to have my love of food and cooking!!)frio, co(for coger"pick me up!"), it´s cold, milk(although she can´t say it properly!)mel( short for Actimel), yogur for yoghurt, pipi,caca,poo poo and probably more that I can´t think of right now!She has also learnt the word "mío" (mine) which she´s probably picked up from nursery.We aren´t too happy about this as she is using it a lot and we want to teach her to share her things even though is maybe a bit young to understand this concept at the moment.

She is also saying "a mi" as in "give it to me" and starting to use pronouns although she is a little confused as she says "tu,tu" when she means you but also to mean "me" when she wants to do something herself although I have managed to teach her the English equivalent "me". She is also starting to pick up other children´s names and joins in when counting but mainly in Spanish.She is also starting to repeat colours in both Spanish and English,such as blue, purple,azul,green and says "colour" when she wants to colour.When we sing certain songs such as "The Hokey Cokey", The Wheels on the Bus, or Ring a Ring of Roses or she hears them on BabyTV she likes to sing along and sometimes initiates the song herself and she loves doing the actions.It´s all very exciting,seeing how her talking and bilingualism is developing and so far I´m pleased with how it´s going! She´s been calling my mum "Granny" but the other day she said something that sounded very much like "abuela" to my mother-in-law so maybe she is starting to distinguish who speaks which language? Then again it could have just been a coincidence or it could have just been repetition!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

7 Steps to Raising A Bilingual Child Review

As I have great interest in all things regarding bilingualism and multilingualism, not only to help me on the path with my daughter´s bilingualism but also to learn more about this subject as a language lover and teacher, I decided to read this book after it had been reccommended to me.

7 Steps To Raising A Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner M.D. with Susan L. Hayes is an interesting read, written in a easy-to-understand format, not sprinkled with too much theory or technical terms, which would weigh it down and make it less interesting. It takes a step- by -step approach to bilingualism, starting with exploring the idea of bilingualism and the myths of bilingualism to deciding your goals,making your bilingual plan etc. There is also a chapter about teaching reading or writing in the minority language and about school and the bilingual child, which I found useful as although my daughter hasn´t reached the age of these things yet, it gives some helpful advice about how to address these issues, when the time comes.Another chapter I found particularly resourceful was Step Five: Leaping Over Predictable Obstacles, which describes typical problems that bilingual families encounter and how to deal with and solve these types of situations.Another bonus is the list of resources at the back of the book of websites and organisations etc where you can find and contact other bilingual families etc and find out further information.

One drawback about this book is that it seems to be aimed at an American audience as throughout the book, it refers to English as being the majority language etc. Also the chapter about school and the bilingual child mainly mentions options of bilingual programmes available in the USA,which may not be available in other parts of the world. Although in parts the book isn‘ t very relevant for those who are not US citizens,in general it makes an engaging and interesting read for anyone who is embarking on a bilingual journey or who is interested in bilingualism and multilingualism as it gives a deeper insight into bilingualism and how to go about it.Here are more reviews about this book.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Bilingual Tots: 18-19 months

December has been a busy month with Christmas and everything so I just haven´t had much time to blog. Chloe has not long turned 19 months old and her language and speaking is coming on in leaps and bounds. Although she is still babbling loads and uttering gibberish, it is clear that she is definitely trying to communicate with us and get something across to us. She also points to things or pats the chair etc to let us know what she wants to sit down on the chair or that she wants something.

What I´ve noticed is that she seems to say certain words in one of her languages and other words in the second language as if whichever word is "easier" in one language,then that´s the word she´ll use. I don´t know if I´ve explained myself very well. For example, she says "ball" in English,but has never said anything that remotely sounds like "pelota" in Spanish and my theory is because the English word is shorter and therefore "easier". Apart from the words that she started saying when she 16-17months old listed in this post,  her vocabulary has increased to include "cheese"(although she doesn´t say it correctly),teeth (which sounds very much like cheese and is sometimes hard to distinguish whether she´s actually saying cheese or teeth), pa(n) which is sometimes "pan" for bread or "patatas" for crisps, caca for ColaCao(a Spanish chocolate drink) and I think she´s just starting to say it to mean poo too, "Winnie the Pooh"(although she pronounces Pooh like "po"! and "Peppa" although it sounds more like "Papa",do(dos-she can´t pronounce the -s very well yet!) and tries to count with us..."wa-wa" for parents actually thought that it sounded like she´d kind of mixed up both words "water" and "agua" and come up with a Spanglish word "wagwa". She also knows to say "pooh" when something is smelly for example for a joke I smell her feet and say pooh as it makes her laugh and she sometimes puts her feet underneath my nose after a bath or when I´m changing her and says "Pooh!". I have another cute story about this which I´m saving for another post!She also says "nigh-nigh(night night!) which is really cute too!She repeats words or phrases more and more frequently.The other day my mum said something about her being beautiful and my husband said" Of course" and she repeated "Of course" and we just cracked up, then because we were laughing she repeated it a few more times!

She also says the pronoun "tu" and is starting to string words together to form short sentences e.g. "allí", "allí está!", ¿Dondé está?".She understands everything we say 100% and will follow orders such as "Put it in the bin" or "Sit down" and can point to parts of her body if we say "Where´s your nose?" ¿Dondé esta tu nariz?, Where´s your head?/ ¿Donde esta tu cabeza? in both languages. We have kept up with reading in both languages and sometimes she likes to turn the pages and babbles away as if she is "reading" us the story! We do a lot of pointing to the pictures and saying things like "Where´s the red balloon?" etc in both languages and then she points to it.Sometimes we are really surprized at words that she knows or understands!One of her favourite books for this "game" at the moment is "What the Ladybird Heard" by Julia Donaldson, as you have to spot the glittery ladybird on each page!
I´ve also been singing nursery rhymes a lot to her as usual, all the songs I´ve mentioned on previous posts plus One, Two ,Three, Four ,Five, Once I caught a fish alive and "She´ll Be Coming Round the Mountain".It is very exciting seeing how she is acquiring languange and developing both language skills.She´ll be chattering away nineteen to the dozen in no time!!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Square Eyes: A Guide to English Language Kids Programmes Part 2

Chloe is becoming more and more of a telly addict although I try to only let her watch between half an hour to an hour a day. This means that I am discovering more and more British cartoons and TV programmes on Spanish satellite TV. I‘m not sure what Chloe‘s favourite programme is yet but one of our favs is Ben and Holly‘s Little Kingdom.(If you click on this link, it´ll take you to the official web page with stories, games,activities etc..) This is an animated cartoon about a fairy princess, Holly, and Ben, an elf and their adventures. I think it´s shown on Clan and on NickJr. Holly is often casting magic spells which don‘t turn out quite right and the cartoon is often humourous.
Another British programme I‘ve recently discovered is Olive the Ostrich, a cartoon about Olive the Ostrich´s  and her friends adventures. I‘ve only seen this once so can't tell you much about it but it seemed like a nice cartoon. Rolf Harris, a famous Australian entertainer, narrates the cartoon so you have both British and an Australian accent.You can find out more about this cartoon in this review.You can watch this cartoon on Nick Jr on Spanish satellite TV.

Ha-Ha Hairies is another new discovery so I can´t tell you that much about it.From what I can gather from the few times,I´ve seen it is that it´s about two animated fairies,one boy and one girl who narrate the story of the Ha Ha Hairy Family,played by actors.It seems like it´s for older chidren than Chloe maybe but she will still sit still and watch it.It is shown on Cartoonito.Again a British cartoon so is full of British accents.
      The Hive,or La Colmena Feliz as it´s known in Spanish, is a lovely cartoon about a colony of bees with the main characters being Buzzbee and his family and friends and the usual matters or problems that occur to children on a day-to-day basis such as playing,being friendly and spending time with your family etc.It is shown on Disney Jr but again I haven´t seen it that much due to the time it is shown at.

In The Nightgarden is another very popular British cartoon, which is shown on Clan (El Jardín de los sueños in Spanish)and is about the characters Igglepiggle,Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, the Tombliboos and The Pontipines and The Wottingers. It is a mixture of actors dressed in costumes, puppetry and animation and is aimed at calming children down. There is a lot of repitition and the programme is quite long. I have to say that I am not a fan and apart from the narrater, the characters don´t speak a lot and most of what they say is gibberish and there are quite a lot of invented words.It hasn´t seemed to hold Chloe´s attention for very long either although as I have said before,it is a huge hit in Britain and with the majority of children.

That´s all for now.I´ll be on the lookout for more British cartoons and TV programmes on Spanish TV. I hope you´ve enjoyed this brief guide and found it useful!

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Spirit of Halloween (no pun intended!)

I love Halloween although I didn´t celebrate it much as a child but I can´t wait to pass this slice of British(well, Irish really!) and American culture and tradition on to Chloe. I even thought about doing a party for her but then decided that she´s just a teeny-tiny bit young for a Halloween party at the moment.The week before Halloween it was my turn to host the bilingual playgroup at my house and I decided to do a Halloween theme. I don´t think there are many traditional Halloween nursery rhymes or songs or at least I didn´t know and couldn´t think of any  so we just did some pretty normal ones, Head,Shoulders,Knees and Toes and Row,Row,Row Your Boat. Unfortunately, Chloe was not very cooperative that day....I don´t think she was too impressed with all the other bilingual bubbas in her house,playing with her toys!!! Plus I think she was really tired! Oh and even better is that another of our bilingual bubbas and her parents joined us, increasing the group to 5 bubbas and 6 parents!!! I then read the story Owl Babies, not really a Halloween story but as it´s about owls and the pictures are quite dark, it was close enough without being scary. To end our Halloween bilingual playgroup, we finished off with a fingerprint spider craft (fun but messy and I think us, the parents ended up doing most of it but I think the children enjoyed it anyway!)I´m not sure I´ll be rushing to get the fingerpaints back out again for awhile yet though!!You can see our efforts in one of the photos!

The day before Halloween Chloe came home from nursery with her face painted, a paper pumpkin on a straw and a Halloween poem in English...I´m not sure if the native English people who work there made it up or whether it already existed but I´ve never heard it goes along the lines of "Run,run,run, Halloween is fun, walk, walk,walk but don´t talk, play,play,play,Halloween is today!" I like the fact that although Halloween isn´t really a Spanish tradition(although it is rapidly increasing in popularity!)that the nursery is embracing it as it´s great for her to get extra imput on British/American culture.Also, on the 31st October, they had a Halloween party and it was optional to dress up. I definitely had to dress Chloe up and found a cute little witch´s costume complete with headband with a little witch´s hat on it. She came home with a little witch that they´d made at nursery.It was even in matching colours as Chloe´s costume!!!You can see Chloe´s costume and her witch in the photos above.

Thursday was a Bank Holiday as Spanish people tend to celebrate All Saint´s Day although my husband´s family don´t really tend to celebrate it so I took the opportunity to make some Halloween  Eyeball cupcakes. I tried to get Chloe to help me mix the green icing but she just wanted to eat it and put the spoon straight to her mouth,then lost interest and went off to find Daddy!! I´m looking forward to making and decorating other Halloween treats together every´s going to be a tradition!!So, all in all that was Chloe´s first Halloween. Hopefully I´ll be able to take her trick-or-treating in the future but it´s going to be difficult as I work in the afternoon/evenings so don´t know how I´ll get round that little loophole!