Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The wonders of new technology

As part of my parents Christmas present, we bought them a Webcam so we could make video calls using Skype, which meant that my parents can see my daughter and my daughter can see them. Although she can´t really have a proper conversation with them yet at least she can also hear them and gain some extra English imput!!My mum sings to her, talks to her and even plays Peekaboo with her online!!It´s a great way for them to see more of each other! Chloe has even managed to switch off my husband´s iPhone a couple of time when trying to reach out and touch Granny!!!!

It´s amazing what the wonders of new technology can do. The Internet is a great resource for finding bilingual resources or for language learners. Apart from video calls to family and friends, you can find many songs and videos on You Tube , games,radio stations, programmes and activities in the languages you speak or are learning.

DTT television, which is now the norm in many countries, is also great because you can change the audio to the original language.This is really useful for bilingual or multilingual families or anyone who is learning a language.There are many American TV and some British programmes on Spanish TV so it´s wonderful to have the choice of watching them in the original version and Chloe is really going to benefit from this. You also have the option to put the subtitles on if you don´t understand something and I often still do this when I watch a film or programme in Spanish, even though I understand the majority of it, I just like to make sure I don´t miss anything!However, we watch a lot of American & British TV programmes in our house more than Spanish TV programmes and often in the original language so again that´s hopefully going to be a big help with Chloe´s minority language (English).

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Pancakes & Masks: When two cultures meet

Ok, so this post isn´t so much about Bilingualism as Culture but I think it´s equally important to teach my child(ren!)about the minority language(in this case English) culture as well as the majority language(Spanish) culture which they will grow up with. This Tuesday was Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday...whatever you call it! This English tradition mainly consists in eating pancakes and the traditional way is with lemon juice and sugar although you can eat them with anything you want,such as Golden Syrup, Maple Syrup, Nutella,jam just to name a few!Pancakes are different to the American variety as they are thinner and bigger,more like the French crepe.Here´s a photo of one I made last year (God,I sound a bit like Blue Peter!):

This is the recipe I usually make: Delia´s Basic Pancakes which usually turn out well, in case anyone wants to immerse themselves in British culture.

Needless to say, I made pancakes and Chloe tried her first pancake(which she ate as finger food, took forever to eat but ate a whole one apart from the bits that fell on the floor and in her highchair!)

Apart from that,there isn´t a lot more to Pancake Day that I can pass on to Chloe, especially at this age! In some parts of Britain, pancake races are held but I have never seen one as there weren´t any in my town. I can tell her about these races when she´s older and maybe we can watch a video of a pancake race,such as this one on You Tube: Although they don´t have anything to do with Pancake Day, I could also read her the following books about Pancakes to tie in with this tradition: The Runaway Pancake and Pancakes,Pancakes by Eric Carle (I´d also like to use either of these books in my EFL classroom to teach them about British culture but can´t until I´ve got hold of them!)

One custom that my Mum and I had when I was a little girl is I helped her to make the Pancake batter. Mum would bring the bowl with the flour and the eggs in and the jug of milk and two forks, then she´d gradually add the milk and we would beat the mixture with our forks till everything had combined together. This is another custom I´d like to pass on to my daughter.

This week is also Carnival in Spain, which meant that schools & academies had Monday and Tuesday off, so I got to spend more time with Chloe-yippee! I saw some really cute costumes, such as a ladybird but they were pretty expensive and I decided not to buy her a costume.I´m not a very crafty person either so I wasn´t going to make her a costume.However, in the end her Aunt has lent us a Minnie Mouse/cat type costume that was her cousin´s so she will wear it on Sunday. We usually go to my husband´s aunt´s flat to watch the Sunday end-of Carnival parade from her balcony, with the floats and dancing and music, although Chloe is probably still a bit too young to enjoy it at the moment. It´s quite long and can get pretty tedious after awhile! We have snacks and aperitivos such as tortilla, ham,lomo etc but I´m not really into nibbles!!!

On Ash Wednesday, there is usually the "Entierro de la Sardina" (The Burial of the Sardine), in which a figure of a sardine is burnt in the main square (don´t ask me why they chose to burn a sardine!).I have hardly seen this tradition as I´m usually working when the burning of the sardine takes place but when Chloe is older we will have to take her to see it!

February´s Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism is here!

February´s Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism is here and is being hosted by Medea at Perogies & Gyoza and she´s done a great job in gathering together so many useful and fascinating posts.If you aren´t familiar with this Blogging Carnival, you should really check it out as you will find many interesting articles & posts about various topics all related to bilingualism from other fellow bloggers. It is also the first one that moi has participated in and I will hopefully take part in future Bilingual Blogging Carnivals and maybe even host one myself!!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Billingual Nursery or not, that would be the question & Babeltots

Luckily, I haven´t had to send Chloe to nursery so far as I only work part-time in the afternoons so I look after her in the mornings and speak to her in English and her daddy looks after her in the afternoons and speaks to her in Spanish as his job is quite flexible. However, we are considering sending her to nursery school next year so she can mix with other children and in preparation for starting school.Also, it means that her daddy will be able to do more research and work.

I´d have loved to send her to a bilingual nursery school but am pretty sure there aren´t any where we live! Hmmm, a possible new business for me to open although I´m not sure if it would be my cup of tea!! I have seen that there are a few nursery schools that offer English but I´m not sure how good they will actually be and whether the "teacher" will actually have a decent level of English and English pronunciation.Maybe they will only teach the colours and not much else so I don´t know whether it will be worth it. Then, on the other hand when she is with her Daddy, she only hears Spanish so there´s not much difference as she´ll still be hearing English from me.I´d like her to know though that it´s not just Mummy,Granny and Grandad and a couple of Mummy´s friends that speak another language though and any extra minority language input would be great,right?We also want to send her to nursery in the afternoons as I want to spend my mornings with her and it seems that it might be more difficult to send your child to a nursery school only in the afternoons. I suppose, I´m just going to have to do more research so watch this space,I´ll be updating you on our search for a nursery school. I´d also love to hear about your experiences, opinions or thoughts about bilingual nursery schools or nursery schools in general!

I´ve noticed when I´ve been looking at some websites about Bilingualism etc that 1) they either no longer exist 2) have not been updated for a very long time or 3) have maybe moved address.I am only going totry and only include resources that are up-to-date and useful. This brings me to the next resource which some of you might find very handy. I´m very lucky as it is fairly easy to find English or bilingual Spanish/English toys and books but for those of you who might struggle more,particuarly depending on the language(s) you speak: I´ve heard about the following UK-based company Babeltots on the Multilingual/International Parents group on Babycentre so thought I´d check it out (Click on the link for more information). They sell a number of bilingual toys and books for various languages from Finnish & Dutch to Swedish. Unfortunately the down side is that currently they only ship to the UK and they don´t sell any toys or books for languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Russian.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bilingual Babies: 7-8months: Love & Understanding

Chloe has now turned 8 months!I can´t believe how fast time is flying by and how quickly she is growing! As she´s still so young, there isn´t much I can report.She´s still babbling away and singing and her babbling is starting to sound more and more like vowel sounds. We´ve had a few "Ba-ba-ba´s" (my husband was convinced she was saying "Pa-pa-pa" or "Papa"...I think it was more wishful thinking!!)and now it´s turned into "Da-da-da"!My mum was visiting for the last four days which was great plus it meant extra English imput for Chloe!!She was also there to witness the "da-da-da" and prove that Chloe really did utter those vowel sounds and it wasn´t our imagination running away with us again!

Chloe´s understanding of both languages is coming on in leaps and bounds. If you say "Kiss, Kiss " and put your face near hers, she´ll give you a sloppy kiss if she feels like it!She´s also starting to understand the Spanish "Beso" or "Besito"My husband always shows her the mobiles in her room and says "¿Dondé estan las peces?" and "¿Dondé están las pajáritos? and if he says it when she´s on her changing mat,she´ll look towards the fish mobile or the bird mobile. My mum started to do the same but in English and she also appears to understand the words in English too so I´m carrying on doing it every day so she doesn´t forget them!

Apart from that, I haven´t got much else to report.We are continuing to read to her most nights in Spanish and English and I keep saying the phrases like "All gone" ,"ta" etc to her.We are trying to teach her to clap so I keep singing "If You´re Happy and You Know it" and a rhyme that my mum told me,which I didn´t know before:

"Clap handies, Clap handies
For father to come
To bring you a cake,a tart and a bun"

I think her abuela does Palmas Palmitas with her occasionally but I´m not sure. That just about wraps up all my news for now!