About the "Mom"
ABOUT THE "MOM" : I grew up in Miami, in a home where both parents spoke Spanish. (Almost) effortlessly, I was raised bilingually, English/Spanish. I later learned French and German, just for fun. Today, I have two toddlers of my own. I want them to grow up loving foreign languages, too. I want them to learn about their cultural heritage and be fluent in Spanish, and maybe even have a bit of "fun" learning a third language conversationally. One little hiccup: my husband speaks only English. I don't have the benefit of two parents in the home literally "speaking the same (foreign) language." So how do you raise bilingual, bi-cultural children in a primarily monolingual home? Can it be done? All I know is that with a lot of effort and creativity, I am sure trying and because I firmly believe it is beneficial for my children to speak multiple languages fluently, I hope against hope that it all works out. I know that there are many of you out there in similar situations and I am excited to share my successes (and a few foibles) with you. I'm equally eager to hear what others of you are trying and experiencing in raising your children bilingually, whatever that second language might be. So enough chit-chat...let's start TALKING!!
Mom of 2, Speaker of 4 and CEO of SmartMouthLearning.com
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Today, I have a confession about the latest "sneaky" thing I've done to my poor kiddos...
I am normally anti-workbook. I prefer introducing foreign language in a more organic way- conversation, games, activities, toys, music. But, my oldest is entering Kindergarten next year and he is not quite where I want him to be regarding his Spanish language learning. So I decided to get tough (in a sneaky sort of way). I added a few sheets from a workbook to his already dense pre-school homework folder his teacher sends home. It worked like a dream! He didn't question it. He simply worked through the problems and I sat with him and helped when he got stuck and we spent a good 15 minutes really working on Spanish. Next week, I'll add 2 more and we'll work our way through the Workbook I bought. I'll post follow-ups as we go. Certainly, if this works for my son, I'll look into adding workbooks to our children's Spanish books and learning materials at SmartMouthLearning.com
What sneaky things have you done to/for your children in the name of improvement? How do you feel about foreign language workbooks? We'd love to hear from you!
Let's start talking!
Monday, March 5, 2012
We headed out to the local park so the kids could enjoy the swings and slides. No sooner had we hit the sand than my son reaches out and taps me on the belly, " Tag- you're it!" and off we ran! Giggling and running, we were having so much fun I barely noticed the other little hand that soon tapped me on the belly. A little boy wanted to play. "Me?" he asked and pointed to himself in question, could we include him in our game?"
With our new little friend we continued to run and play and soon discovered an important detail- this little boy had recently moved to Florida from China. He spoke little to no English. But, he spoke "kid", so he and my son played merrily for an hour or so. I hung back and watched. Fascinated by what I saw unfold in that short span of time. In one short hour, that little boy was talking- his new vocabulary including words like "run!" "Me,too" "push" "slide" "my turn" and even "count! 1,2,3,..."- after my son introduced him to the wonderful new world of "hide and go seek" James was even repeating a few words back in Chinese- don't ask me what he was saying, I haven't a clue- but they were speaking to each other and it made sense to them- which I guess is what matters in children's language learning, Chinese or otherwise!
Children learn so quickly. They learn particularly well from each other. So the lesson of the day? Get out there and play. Maybe start a playgroup of children who are all trying to learn the same language, or even better- if your child is trying to learn a language, start a playgroup with children of that native language who are trying to learn English! Is there a part of town where the language you are trying to teach your child is spoken more predominantly? Find a park there and go play- your children will quickly make friends and learn so much in the process- language, culture, friendship and so much more. It's a small world, after all.
Enough with the chit-chat, let's start talking!
CEO of SmartMouthLearning.com
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Part 2, Parent Resources: Spotlight on Foreign Language Children's Educators- An Interview with Lucelis Torres of Montessori Bilingual Academy in Orlando, FL
I'm excited to print this second interview in our series with Lucelis Torres, founder and director of Montessori Bilingual Academy (MBA), a bilingual and Montessori-based school in Orlando, Florida. MBA's program was founded in 1997, born of Ms. Torres' frustration with the lack of quality bilingual programming available to students in the area, and her enthusiasm for the Montessori schooling her own daughters (then 9 and 10) had received thus far. Lucky for us! Since over a decade later, Central Florida students have the opportunity to learn at what has become one of the most unique and effective Montessori programs in the area, marrying the Montessori philosophy with a complete, Bilingual education program. Read on to learn more about MBA's innovative programs, their inspiring founder, and get some great advice about how to support your child's foreign language classroom learning at home (whatever program you choose to follow).
1. What do you see as the biggest challenge in teaching children a foreign language?
In the beginning, gathering materials and teaching tools to operate a bilingual classroom (particularly one for the younger children) was a real challenge. I traveled back to my home country regularly to acquire Spanish language children's books and materials for the school. Today, my biggest challenge is the competing role "English" plays in my students lives (particularly in the case of students whose parents are bilingual but opt to speak English at home anyway), given the few hours I have to present them with Spanish each day.
2. What have you found most rewarding? What has been the biggest achievement for MBA so far?
3. What makes MBA unique? Our Spanish culture in the classrooms. The students live and work in a fully bilingual environment
4. What are some of the details parents should know? At MBA, classes are taught in a fully bilingual format, but also employing the philosophy of Maria Montessori. We are located in East Orlando, Florida and teach from ages 2 (pre-school) to 3rd Grade.
5. Do all or most of your students come from bilingual homes? Does your method or approach differ when students have no background in the second language?
Our students are so diverse- they come from so many different backgrounds We are a true melting pot here- so no, not all students are bilingual English/Spanish. Our method does not differ- we approach all students using the same curriculum and methods regardless of whether they are familiar with Spanish or not.
My advice is to listen to Spanish music and Spanish tv channels. Especially when you don't have the support for the language at home. Use visual and auditory resources to help you out. If you are a Spanish speaking parent, then speak Spanish with your child. Reading Spanish children's books to them or buying Spanish children's books with an audio or CD component (for those that don't speak the language themselves).
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I use my daily commute to and from school as "language learning time" for my kids. I have a small collection of really great music CDs in Spanish (and French) that my kids love to listen to. A few, I merely tolerate, but there are several that I LOVE.
Putumayo Kids puts out a variety of multicultural and foreign language music CDs for kids that are very "easy on the ears" for adults and children alike. Their French children's CD, "French Playground" is so much fun. No sooner than I have her buckled in her car seat than my 2-year old daughter begins her daily chant, "Can I hear the French songs? PLEEEEASE!" And it is certainly a delight for me when I hear her singing- she knows all the songs by now, including my favorite, "Lutece," where my daughter belts out about how Paris wasn't built in a shoe ("Paris ne c'est pas fait, en un Shoe!!!")
What are your favorite children's music CD's in Spanish? French? Other foreign languages? Share your favorites, we'd love to know!
Friday, October 7, 2011
Part 1, Parent Resources: Spotlight on Foreign Language Children's Educators- An Interview with Brita Schumacher, President of Futura Language Professionals
I'm excited to print this first interview with Brita Schumacher, President of Futura Language Professionals. Her enthusiasm for learning foreign languages rivals my own- she's infectious! And isn't that just what you need when teaching children? An obvious love and enthusiasm for the subject taught? Futura's program is a community-based school currently operating throughout Central Florida, Michigan, Texas (S. Texas & Houston), Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois (Chicago), offering several thousand students the opportunity to develop fluency in Spanish and even Mandarin Chinese (in limited locations). Read on to learn about Futura's innovative programs, their amazing founder, and get some great advice about how to support your child's foreign language classroom learning at home (whatever program you choose to follow).
|Brita during a volunteering with children in Guatemala|
3. What have you found most rewarding? What has been the biggest achievement for Futura so far?
Also, each fall training new teachers is incredibly invigorating. This week I am training 110 Futura teachers in Milwaukee and Minnesota--It is a room full of energy and so much experience. Collectively we have traveled the globe. Furthermore, bi-annually I lead a group of community members to Guatemala. This is also an incredibly enriching experience, as I think travel, especially Third World travel can truly change lives.
5. What are some of the details parents should know? We teach Spanish in all locations and Mandarin in limited locations for children in Kindergarten to Middle school. Enrichment programs last 16 or 20 weeks before or after school. We also offer integrated programs that last throughout the school year.
6. What can students/parents expect when attending one of your classes? They can expect a lively, dynamic atmosphere where students are learning without it feeling like 'school'. I once walked into an upper level class where the students were learning how to conjugate verbs. The teacher had the class divided into a volleyball game with a team of verbs and a team of pronouns. The pronoun would hit the ball to a verb and they would have to conjugate the verb correctly before hitting it back. "Yo bailo!" "Tu bailas", etc. I heard a little girl say, "This isn't even Spanish." I thought Perfect! We have absolutely tricked these kids into thinking they are having so much fun playing volleyball that they don't even realize they are learning something complex in Spanish.
7. How long before students achieve fluency in the second language? I think it is important to be realistic in language learning--It takes a lifetime dedication to achieve true fluency. However sticking with language instruction from kindergarten and beyond is the first step.
8. Do all or most of your students come from bilingual homes? Does your method or approach differ when students have no background in the second language? I would say that a lot of our families come from monolingual homes. I think it is wonderful that families of all kinds are recognizing how critical it is to learn a second language in this day and age. Our approach is the same for all students and they seem to blend wonderfully together in our classes.
11. How can parents find you? Do you have a website or email address I can publish? In the event of multiple franchises, how do they locate their local learning center? You can find all of us at www.futuraadventures.com. You can reach me directly at email@example.com
Friday, September 16, 2011
|SmartMouthLearning.com is OPEN for fun language learning!|
Our new store has so much to offer bilingual families and children in the midst of learning a new, foreign language:
- TOYS, DOLLS, & Other fun accessories for language learning- everything about teaching children a foreign language should be fun, accessible and not over-bearing. What a better place to start than with toys!! The holidays are around the corner- give your child the gift of a second language!
- BOOKS: Bilingual and foreign language additions of your child's old favorites (and some soon-to-be favorites)! We feature books in Spanish, French, & Chinese- with more languages coming soon!
- Music, DVD's, Computer Media- it's all coming soon
Please visit us soon & join the language learning fun!
Thursday, September 8, 2011
So what are you waiting for- SAP to it & you'll marvel at how quickly your children start "hablando"!