Thursday, 27 September 2012

Spanish Resources for Non-Native & Native Parents

Although I´m the minority language parent which means I mainly speak English to my daughter and sing English nursery rhymes and songs and read English books but it occured to me that Spanish resources may be hard to come by. Even my Spanish husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law seem to stick to the same old Spanish nursery rhymes...Cinco Lobitos and Palmas Palmitas....I did learn Pica Pica Pollito too off my cleaner but my husband doesn´t really seem to know many nursery rhymes and even though my daughter will probably learn a lot of nursery rhymes at nursery school and school, I thought it might be a big help for those non-native and native parents alike to have a list of Spanish resources. I hope you find this useful!!

Here is a Spanish version of the English lullaby "Rock-A-Bye Baby" called "Duérmete niño", which has the Spanish lyrics and the English translation.I also found another version of Duérmete niño on YouTube. The material for nursery came with a CD which includes some popular Spanish nursery rhymes such as "Aserrín, Aserrán"....there also appears to be many versions of this nursery rhyme, here´s one version and here are some other versions. Another is Date,date,date, which uses gestures to play with baby.I keep telling my husband he has to learn them so he can sing them to her!

The CD also has some traditional or popular stories on it. Garbancito is Spain´s answer to Tom Thumb (at least that what it seems like!).Here are two versions, one in YouTube and the other written so you can tell it to your children yourself.Another tale is the story of La ratita presumida which tells the story of a vain mouse who finds a coin,you´ll have to listen to the story to find out what he spends it on and what happens next!

Cartoons and TV programmes are also a good way to increase your child´s imput of a foreign language and at the same time raise culture awareness too. My daughter mainly watches cartoons etc in English as that is the minority language but sometimes I let her watch cartoons in Spanish too, especially if they are of Spanish origin. Some good Spanish cartoons are Los Lunnis, which is shown on the Spanish children´s TV channel, Clan and can also maybe be accessed online and on Amazon es.Los Lunnis is a series of brightly coloured puppets that sing and dance etc and are similar to The Muppets or Sesame Street!Pocoyo is another cartoon about a little boy called Pocoyo and his friends and their adventures, the characters don´t speak much and much of the story is told by the narrator.Again, Pocoyo is shown on Clan and here is a link to the official Pocoyo webpage.

I´m sure there are many more traditional songs and nursery rhymes, stories, books and cartoons and TV programmes from Spain and South America but these are just a handful to help non-native and native parents alike! If you have any more you can add or suggest, I´d be grateful.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Bilingual Bubbas: Setting up a bilingual playgroup

As the city I live in is fairly small and there aren´t any bilingual playgroups, my friends and I decided to set up our own with our bilingual bubbas.Seeing that there is only a few of us, we´ve decided to take it in turns holding it at each other´s houses and that we are going to meet every Saturday at 11am as due to work commitments etc, that is the only day that we can all get together at the same time.

At the moment there are only the six of us, 3 mums and 3 babies, although I did mention it to two other British friends who have babies but they haven´t shown much interest yet unfortunately!I suppose I could advertise but then we might be inundated with Spanish parents wanting to bring their children and really I just wanted to keep it only for native speakers and their children or in other words, proper bilingual children as it just wouldn´t be the same with parents who don´t speak English or don´t always speak to their children in English as then the majority language might start creeping in or worse our children could pick up grammatical mistakes or mispronunciation errors from the Spanish parents. Don´t get me wrong, I´m not trying to exclude people here and I have nothing against Spanish parents joining but I´m just concerned about what effect it could have on our children´s own language. In fact, one of my friends´ Spanish friend and her child may be joining us for awhile or until her second child is born (She´s due in October so not long!)We could do with a few more people though so the whole thing just doesn´t fizzle out.

The first "meeting" took place at my house and we sang Five Little Monkeys and did some actions to it which I think they enjoyed....unfortunately there is a bit of a gap between my daughter and Bilingual Bubba 1 to Bilingual Bubba 3, a difference of a year but anyway at least Bilingual Bubba 3 can listen and take it in subconsiously!I then read "Dear Zoo" to them and my daughter and Bilingual Bubba 1 enjoyed seeing the animals,making the animal noises and opening or lifting the flaps.We then let them have free play while we had a chat and refreshments!It was fun and seemed quite successful. Bilingual Bubba 1 calls my daughter Coco as she can´t pronounce Chloe yet and Chloe seems to have picked that up off her so I think it´s working although it´s still early doors so we´ll have to wait and see!

The following week Chloe was ill so we called it off and then the next week one of the Bilingual Bubbas couldn´t make it but we still went ahead with the playgroup with my daughter and Bilingual Bubba 3, otherwise the playgroup will definitely just die its death particularly if we keep cancelling it every time someone can´t make it!Anyway, I´ll be reporting on our activites and updating the progress of our bilingual playgroup from time to time and we´ll see how it all pans out! I´d love to hear from any of you who go to a bilingual playgroup and your experiences or if you set up your own bilingual playgroup!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

First week at nursery school!

This week was a difficult and emotional one because it was Chloe´s first week at nursery school and her first time ever really being apart from us.As I work in the afternoons,she is going to nursery school in the afternoons for about 4 hours. Unfortunately,many nursery schools where I live are shut in the afternoons and due to the crisis, even more are choosing to shut in the afternoons because there is little or no demand for nursery schools in the afternoons. After my search for a nursery school which you can read about here, I´m very happy with our final choice. It´s one of the best nursery schools in my city, is open in the afternoons, does activities in the afternoon and is the nursery school that is the closest to being a bilingual nursery school.

The first day came and we dressed her in her little nursery uniform(a bit ridiculous a nursery school having a uniform but at least her clothes will keep clean!).They have a summer uniform till October, girls wear a little blue and white striped dress, boys wear a blue and white striped knickerbocker/shorts type thing....I haven´t really paid as mcuh attention to the boys´uniform!!In winter, they have a different uniform...not sure what it´s like yet, plus a" baby",which is like a smock, to protect their uniform.That cost 50 euros already and we haven´t even bought the winter uniform yet!

When it came time to drop her off,she screamed, cried and tried to cling on to my husband for dear life. It was awful and we felt so bad leaving her. We rang after an hour to see how she was and they said she was ok but she was having her moments of crying.We went to pick her up after two hours and she was very happy to see us. This scenario was repeated the following two days although on the third day,she did stop crying for a little while but started again when the nursery nurse took her off me.She didn´t go the rest of the week as Wednesday night she started with a high temperature(which could´ve been down to teething though too!) and she was full of a cold...I hope it´s not a sign of things to come!!!

When we spoke to the head of the nursery school, she told us that she liked being sung to and that she had stopped crying when she heard English!We were given a list of materials we had to provide which included glue,crayons (and they had to be a certain brand!!!),a pad of different coloured card, non-slip socks, white finger paint, glitter gel,EVA rubber, 500 sheets of blank paper...I think that was everything!!I was really surprised....I never had to buy all that stuff for school,never mind for nursery!!!She´s only 1!We also paid for the "books" they use "El Conejita Juguetona"(another 35 euros!), which also comes with a CD with all the songs she´s going to learn, animal sounds and everyday sounds such as breathing etc and two English nursery rhymes "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and " Pat-a-cake,Pat-a-cake". My daughter is already familiar with these two rhymes as I sing them to her occasionally.

The nursery has two English speakers,one of which is native English and the other is bilingual although she speaks English with a Spanish accent. I was disappointed to learn that the native only works in the mornings and that children who go in the mornings get 5 hours of English, in other words they have 1 hour of English every day whereas the children in the afternoons only get 2 hours of English per week(and with the bilingual person not the native unfortunately). I don´t see why kids that go in the afternoon should suffer and get less than their morning peers but I suppose the afternoons are shorter! So it´s definitely not as bilingual as I´d have liked!Maybe I will see if she can go once a week in the mornings too although  it probably doesn´t matter so much as she´s still going to hear a lot of English off me!

I´m hoping that her time in nursery will encourage her speaking in both languages and that her talking will come on in leaps and bounds....we´ll just have to see how it goes!!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Devoradores de libros: Spanish bookworms

Most of the books on my daughter´s bookshelf are English mainly because due to living in Spain I figured that it  is much easier for her to borrow Spanish books from the library or from her friends and cousins, than borrowing English books.Another reason is that many Spanish children´s books seem to be translations of English books or books written by authors from different countries,such as France, Germany, Holland etc. There appears to be a bit of a gap in Spanish literature of books for babies and toddlers. I remember asking a few bookshops and even a librarian if they could reccommend me a classic Spanish children´s book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Guess How Much I Love You or Dear Zoo? but none of them could give me an answer!!! Surely there must be some classic Spanish story?

I decided to do this post so that you can discover some good (at least I think so anyway!) Spanish children´s books but I´m always on the lookout for more and would be grateful for any other suggestions,particularly from any of my Spanish readers!!

One of my favourites is El Dragón frío by Andrés and Ana Guerrero, which I borrowed from the library. I don´t own a copy unfortunately as haven´t seen it in any bookshops but maybe you can order it directly from the publishers? It is a sweet,simple story about a dragon that can´t breathe fire and is illustrated simply but colourfully.Andrés and Ana Guerrero have written quite a few other toddler´s/children´s books and I think we have read them all or at least most of them but El Dragón frío remains my favourite.

Although I knocked the English translated versions of  Tento stories, I did think they seemed good stories and after buying this for a friend´s daughter and seeing that it was a sweet story, I decided to buy it for Chloe. There is a series of Tento books but so far we´ve only bought and read this one, Tento y El Regalo de Mamá by Ricardo Alcántara and illustrated by Gusti. Tento is a little dog, who in this particular story doesn´t know what present to give to his mum and the book tells us his search for the present and what present he eventually decides to give her....I won´t reveal the ending but it is very sweet and tender! The illustrations are again simple but cute and colourful.I have seen it reccommended for 2 yr olds but we read it to Chloe and she enjoys it now at only 15mnths old!!

Anyway,these are my two favourite Spanish toddler books, which I reccommend any native or non-native parents to read to their children in Spanish.I´d love to hear any reccommendations for other Spanish/ South American toddler´s books, which are preferably not translations!