Thursday, 23 February 2017

What to expect if you visit a speech therapist

As my daughter´s languages developed so did her pronunciation although there were certain sounds she stumbled over,such as the -r in both majority and minority languages. When she was younger, she´d often pronounce the /-r /as a /-l/ sound therefore "Granny" became "Glanny" etc and even when she had learnt to pronounce the /-r/ sound in English,she still had the problem of rolling her r´s in Spanish.This is however a common problem and even Spanish monolingual kids have problems mastering this sound so we weren´t too worried about it although her previous teacher had mentioned that she might need to see a speech therapist. Fast track to this year, when by now at age 5-6 Spanish monolingual children should be able to pronounce all the sounds including the tricky rolling -r  and although my daughter can actually roll her r´s, her current teacher has picked her up on her pronounciation of certain phonemes or sounds,particularly her /-s/´s and advised us to send her to a speech therapist to straighten out her pronunciation. This is because they will start to do dictations next year when they start primary and might affect how she spells words. We were surprised as we hadn´t noticed that she didn´t pronounce some sounds correctly although I had noticed that occasionally she would say things like "gromitar" instead of "vomitar" but I thought this was down to mishearing the word rather than mispronunciation and I usually leave Spanish correction to my husband. I´d go so far as to say her pronunciation in English is near perfect!!

Now we take her twice a week for 1/2 hour sessions before her ballet class to the speech therapist, who works in the school. This can be quite expensive but is also available through the public health care system.This however makes our Mondays and Wednesdays very hectic and it´s difficult to squeeze in English reading or homework.During the first session. I think the speech therapist just asked lots of questions and observed my daughter to find out which sounds she was having trouble with and in the follow-up sessions they have been practising the -s sounds. Usually the parents wait outside while the children are having their session so I don´t really know what they do but I know that they´ve taught her how to position her tongue and lips/mouth when pronouncing the /s/.She also brings home "worksheets" with pictures of things beginning with -s that she has to practice saying and a Ludo type game with lots of pictures of things beginning with -s. She´s only had 4 sessions and they are saying that she can pronoun the sound and only has to practice it now so hopefully she shouldn´t have to go much longer. I´m not worried about it and nor do I think that it has anything to do with her being bilingual as many of her monolingual Spanish classmates are also going to the speech therapist. I´m inclined to think it´s more to do with her having a dummy when she was little and when she first started speaking, she was talking with the dummy in her mouth...however being bilingual could also play a small part in it. Have you had to visit a speech therapist with your bilingual child? What have your experiences been?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Valentine´s Day fun

I have so many future posts in my head waiting to be written but unfortunately just can´t seem to find time to do them all so I´ll start with one of the most recent events, Valentine´s Day. Even though Valentine´s Day is done and dusted for this year, thought I´d still post about the activities we did this year so you can maybe refer to them or do them the following year.
 Valentine´s Day is not celebrated as much in Spain as in the UK and the US , where it is widely celebrated so as I like to teach my children British culture as well as the language, I like to do activities so that they learn about this special day. Plus it´s a great way to learn lots of vocabulary relating to love and emotions. The only book we have in English that fits the topic of love and Valentine´s Day is Guess How Much I Love You? by Sam MacBratney,and is ideal to read on Valetine´s Day. I also went to the library a few days before Valentine´s Day and got some other books in the majority language about love, Pedro está enamorado by Sara Pennypacker & Petra Mathers &  Besos Para Cada Momento by Antoine Guillope. As they are in Spanish and my husband is the one who reads Spanish books to our children,I can´t really tell you much about them although I think my husband didn´t like them too much and thought that the topic of Pedro está enamorada was too old for my daughter although I think I disagree but would have to read the book to form a true opinion.                                            .

In the UK they sell some sweets all year round called Love Hearts  (pictured top left and top right hand corner)which have little hearts and a little message on them, which says things like "Blue Eyes", "I Love You" etc on them so I asked my mum to bring some when she came. You can probably order them online at shops like British Corner Shop and the British Foodstore Online, which sell and deliver internationally.I also downloaded the free Valentine´s Day activities from Bilingual Avenue and decided to do a scavenger hunt type thing by hiding the sweets around the house and then when we found the sweets, we would read the messages on the sweets before eating them(working on reading skills in a fun way!)My daughter loved this activity especially as it involved sweets....she´s got a very sweet tooth just like he mum!

We then went all arts and craftsy and made some homemade Valentine´s cards with pink and red card I had bought....I also brought out the fingerpaint,thinking it´d be something fun and easy that my 17 month old could join in with-what a mistake!! Paint nearly ended up was pretty messy! I let my daughter get creative with her card and for my card(or joint effort!) I made hearts using my thumb prints and then tried to get my daughter and son´s handprints. I had wanted my daughter to write her card in English but as it was for her Daddy,who she always talks to in Spanish, I guess it was quite normal for her to choose to write it in Spanish(the majority language)After we´d left the cards to dry out and I´d cleaned up the kids and the mess, I wanted to do the Love Coupons but by this point my daughter had become tired and no amount of persuading her could get her to join in or do any other activities unfortunately. So, on the one hand we had a lot of fun doing these activities, however on the other hand I was  a bit disappointed that maybe it hadn´t generated as much vocabulary etc about Valentine´s Day but in the end the main thing is that they (or we!) enjoyed doing them.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Sourcing Minority Language Resources & English Bookshops in Spain

When you´re bringing up bilingual children, you can never have enough minority language resources, especially books but sourcing them can be expensive and difficult. Thanks to Amazon and Ebay  which make it easier and cheaper and are my usual go-to places when sourcing minority language resources. However, they do have the drawbacks of having the extra cost of postage and the problem of not being able to see the book (or other language resource) before buying it.

Although you can find some English language books in bookshops where I live,there is only a limited selection and they usually cost more so I tend to buy most books from Amazon and sometimes Ebay.However, I suppose at most bookshops you could order minority language books. In big cities such as Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and in touristy areas you can find English bookshops. Here are a couple of English bookshops I´ve come across although I´ve only visited one of them!! First of all there was Petra´s International Bookshop in Madrid,a small,friendly bookshop, which I actually visited quite a long time ago and  which sold secondhand books in English and Spanish and many other languages and it was also possible to exchange books.Apparently,according to an Internet Google search Petra´s International Bookshop is no longer exists but has been reopened/been replaced by Desperate Literature.

I have come across two English bookshops in Valencia through Facebook and although I´ve never visited them, they appear to be two great ways to source minority language resources. The first is English Wooks a specialist English bookshop which sells English books,textbooks and other English language materials for educational purposes for parents and teachers. The second bookshop is an online bookshop based in Valencia called The English Box which sells books and stories for children and teenagers from 1-18yrs old in English. I´d love to visit both of these bookshops when and if I ever go to Valencia!!I´m sure there are others throughout Spain so if you know of any good international or English bookshops in Spain,please let me know!!

Other ways to source minority language resources is to visit your local library as they are sure to have some books in English and other minority languages,although again where I live the choice is limited and are mainly "readers" or graded level reading books for majority language speakers learning another language.

You could also do a book swap or exchange with fellow native speakers and their children to widen the range of minority language resources and books available. I have suggested this to my friends but so far we haven´t got round to doing it!

One of the best ways to access minority language resources is to register at Oxford Owl and what´s more it´s completely free and you can download and access 250 ebooks for free at different levels and age groups, plus they give you many tips about teaching your child to read and Maths,book reccommendations ,storytelling videos,and fun ideas etc to help your child learn.There is even a blog and I have found this website very useful in the struggle with teaching my daughter to read.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Reflections on the 2017 Family Language Challenge

After participating in the 2017 Family Language Challenge set by Bilingual Avenue I thought I´d finally get round to posting my reflections and observations about it! I really enjoyed taking part in the challenge as it helped me think about my vision and ideas as to where we are heading and what my objectives(or our obejectives as a family!) are in our bilingual journey.I have to say I don´t really think about it and plan how to achieve our fact I don´t even really set goals for our language learning but rather let things run their natural course.

A Facebook group was set up for those participating in the challenge and it was good to come into contact with other like-minded parents of bilingual and multilingual children and find out their goals and aspirations for their bilingual/multilingual children, which also helped bounce ideas off of one another. There were many language combinations but particularly those of Spanish & English- there were even two from Madrid!! 

We were sent a task every day to complete for the five day challenge....the hardest part for me was trying to keep up with the tasks and even now I still have to complete Day 5´s task(yes, I´m a bit of a slacker!!)Day 1´s task was involved in envisioning our goals for our children by a certain age, Day 2 was a look back on the previous year´s achievements and failures, Day 3 was looking ahead to the future and how we are going to achieve our goals,Day 4 was contemplating how to create exposure and need to the languages and Day 5 is putting the plan into action. After each task you could share your visions or goals on the Facebook group if you wanted to. The challenge also included a Bilingual Planner so you can plan and write down your observations....there are also questions and pointers to help you try and achieve your goals month by month.I still need to fill out January´s and start on February´s! All in all, a very useful and helpful guide that I´m sure is going to help us on our bilingual journey.