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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Music

This post is mainly going to be reflective, and maybe a little informative. As my kid grows, I notice how he's learning new things. It is almost dangerous to do anything around him without thinking twice before doing it. I take my vitamins in the bathroom. I don't want him to see me. If I am eating something, he immediately demands to eat the same thing. I eat really spicy food, so I sometimes give him an itsy-bitsy-tiny taste so he knows what it tastes like and whether he wants more. Although it may be dangerous that he wants to do everything I do, I do take advantage of this and try to teach him as much as I can.
I was talking to a music friend of mine. He's a teacher, and works with children. I asked if it was worth taking Nesta to those music classes offered around town. Nesta is 13 months and whenever we go to any 'class' he doesn't stay still to listen to a story and he gets upset if I try to sit him down. With that in mind, my friend told me that those classes may not be necessary right away. He said to play classical music for him and to rub his arms and legs to the rhythm of the music. I started doing that with Nesta. Some of the music I've been playing for him lately is classical and some of it is mixed kid's music with classical music from the album Trepsi: a clown who sings with children. Now, every time Nesta hears this certain song with violins, cello and violas he looks at his arms. I usually rub his arms when the song plays or tap on his legs. He looks towards the iPod and moves his head from side to side as if in rhythm with the music. It feels like this is the same way children learn language. Maybe not exactly the same, but the music, the repetition and the clapping or tapping really help.
Today during story time there was a little boy who loved singing and dancing. We were clapping and singing phrases in Spanish and this little boy danced up to me and repeated everything I said. He said it in his two-year-old accent and sometimes a little mumbled but we all knew what he was saying. He clapped and repeated "libro, libro, libro." Then there were bubbles and "burbujas" is a big word, but he sure tried to say it over and over as he sang and clapped. His mom kept tapping his legs, and the teacher repeated everything three times. 
Now, I find myself singing more than before. I also use the floor as a drum or anything around to make a beat as we learn new words. It might be that one day he'll surprise me and start singing before talking. And that's the idea, isn't?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sing it sister! (or brother).

I am the worst singer in the planet! Maybe not the planet, but I am a pretty bad singer. Nesta doesn't know that, and until he does I will sing sing sing. Why? Well singing is fun for kids, and it's more than just singing, we dance and we make faces and we point to things, and we sing and repeat and repeat stuff we're learning over and over. Yes, I sing in Spanish of course. I have busted out the "Itsy-bitsy Spider.." during car rides when he's about to lose his temper, because that spider seems to calm him down. Is there itsy-bitsy in Spanish? 
Back to repetition, it really goes a long way. Kids like to watch movies over and over, and they want to read their favorite book over and over, and they want you to do that funny thing you did over and over. You get the idea. They like repetition. You may not like it, but just remember that they are learning. When teaching a language (or anything) repetition works great. Also showing works great. For example I've been teaching Nesta about where his big cabeza is and his ojos and nariz. We have a little song, and a lot of pointing and touching. Mainly he likes to pat my head or his dad's. If you were to walk in my kitchen you may find me singing cabeza cabeza cabeza while touching my head over and over. I do the same with other movements like when I pick him up and then bring him down. Arriba y abajo. There are also songs that we have been listening to that sing about moving hips and shoulders and so I point to those as we dance. It may seem like a lot of information (and sometimes I think so), but then I remember that his brain is growing super fast and that even though it seems all this information can be overwhelming he certainly doesn't seem overwhelmed. He likes to dance, and to pat my head and to put food on his head. He knows the things he likes, and if he wants them he needs to learn how to ask for them. Even if for now he just wants to point after I say the word.
It's funny because people have asked me "doesn't he get confused when you speak in Spanish and his dad speaks to him in English?" I want to say, "No m'am my kid is a genius!" He really isn't, (maybe he is :) ) he's just a baby who is growing and growing and so is his brain. All kids are capable of learning a new language just like they are capable of learning a new task. Today he finally understood how to use his spoon without flinging cheese in my face. 
Learning a language doesn't have to be confusing, not if we start them young. It may be more difficult for a 12 year-old, but even that 12 year-old's brain will pick it up pretty quickly. My 9 year-old nephew has an awesome accent when speaking Spanish. It may be more difficult for an adult, but really anything is possible for anyone. 
El Cuento at Multilingual Chicago starts with singing and ends with singing. The singing only stops while the book is being read, but even then sometimes the instructor goes back to her sing-song tune probably out of habit. The kids love the singing and respond to it. They also like to get up and dance. Of course, there is something to be said for learning styles, but when the kids are so young singing and dancing seems like the fun way to do anything.
Remember, your kid is a genius- now go on a teach him a new language, a new song, a new trick or a new way to to get a laugh! Just hit repeat.

P.S. A mom of a kid who goes to a very fancy school recently told me that the Spanish teacher is the best one there because everything they do seems to be in song, and her kid really remembers the lessons and enjoys them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Story Time in Spanish. "El Cuento."

Do you want your kids to learn Spanish, but you don't speak it? Would you like your kids to experience a new language from time to time? 

I teach Nesta Spanish at home, and I read to him in Spanish. However, I wanted him to experience Story Time in Spanish. I remember back in Denver I would take the kids I took care of to story time at the library. Some libraries offered story time in Spanish, but it was always for older children (3-5 years-old). So , I was beyond excited when I saw that Multilingual Chicago offered story time in Spanish or "El Cuento." The age range at Multilingual Chicago is 11months to 3 years. I took Nesta right away.

Story time in Spanish at Multilingual Chicago is 3o minutes long, which is just long enough for little guys like Nesta. The class starts with toys on the ground for the kids to play with. Then we sing "adios juguetes" and the toys are put away. The instructor then plays with her hands and feet by clapping and stomping. There is some movement of the hands to the front and to the back. Sometimes if the class is large a big circle is made and then a little circle. The kids love the little circle. Then the instructor asks for each kid to say his/her name. She'll say "me llamo _____" and then when the kid says his/her name we'll sing it a couple of times like "me llamo Nesta, me llamo Nesta." By we I mean the moms because the kids don't say much. The parents are encouraged to participate as much as the kids. Some older kids do respond after a lot of repetition, but some kids like Nesta walk around trying to check out all the furniture in the room. More singing takes place, then a puppet comes out and says hi to the kids. The book finally comes out and the kids are encouraged to sing "abre el libro" which means open the book. The last two times we've gone the book has been a pop-out book which means I have to keep Nesta on my lap so he doesn't jump up and tear it! The instructor doesn't read a story from the book, rather points out the characters and makes the animal noises. In one case the story was La Oruga Muy Hambrienta, and the instructor had each fruit(fake)  that the caterpillar eats. She handed each kid a "ciruela" or "manzana" or "naranja." After looking at the book, each kid was asked to feed the very hungry caterpillar the fruit they had been given. This was my favorite story time. Maybe because I love La Oruga Muy Hambrienta, or maybe because of all the props the instructor had. Either way, story time in Spanish is a great tool for kids to learn Spanish. There is a lot of singing and repetition. The best, I think it's that the parents or caregivers have to participate. So, if your kid is shy, he or she may do what you are doing. I do have to say that I felt a bit foolish jumping around and dancing around to all the commands the instructor was giving, while Nesta was off somewhere else trying to find toys or the door. These are the things we go through as parents, and at the end of the day they do a little something that helps you realize that they were listening and they learned something new. I knew this when I praised Nesta for using his signs, I started singing a song I learned at Spanish story time which went like this "Bravo, bravo, bravo, bravisimo, bravo lo hiciste muy bien," as I clapped for him. He started clapping and humming the song. It's funny because Nesta never claps when others are clapping, he usually claps for himself on his own time. This time he clapped with me as I sang the song.
It's the little things. Oh, it's the little things.

Friday, January 18, 2013

¿Cómo se dice...?

I am thirty-four years young, and I arrived in the United States a month after I had turned fourteen-years-old. I've been immersed in the culture of the United States and the English language for about twenty years. I probably became fluent in English in my twenties. I cannot tell you which day, but I do remember thinking that I could understand things better. Most of the jobs I have held have not been jobs where I could speak Spanish constantly. Needless to say, I forget how to say certain things in Spanish. Some things I never even knew the name for it in Spanish. It's kind of funny sometimes, but definitely frustrating. This is another challenge.

A couple of weeks ago we took Nesta to the Shedd Aquarium during one of the free days. We were excited to show Nesta all the cool fish. Nesta was excited to walk around on carpeted floors. For some of the time I carried him and showed him certain types of fish that I found cool. At first I was telling him "Mira los peces, y el del rio que grande!" I was also using the sign for fish. Then we came across a stingray. I was like "Mira la... stingray." Ahhhhh it was so frustrating, and so funny. My husband and I had a laugh, but the entire rest of our time there I kept digging in my brain for the word for it. I also couldn't remember how to say walrus in Spanish, and I just did not know how to say sea otter in Spanish either. This all took me back to a conversation I had with my mom and cousins recently. I was telling them how Nesta loved eating scallops. No one could think of the word for scallops in Spanish.  I looked it up and according to the online dictionary it is vieria.  http://www.wordreference.com/es/translation.asp?tranword=scallop
Maybe I never dined on scallops when I lived in Mexico, but I definitely had never heard that word before. Actually, I have heard it but as someone's last name.

Well the word in Spanish for stingray is mantarraya. Of course, it came to me once we were home and there were no stingrays for me to show Nesta.
Another word I never knew in Spanish is nutria marina, which is the word for sea otter.
The translation of walrus is morsa. I had to look this one up, and once I saw the translation I remembered that I knew it. Just because we're in the topic of sea animals here are some more translations:
Fish: pez (note-pescado is what you eat, pescado means fished out).
Shark: tiburón
Dolphin: delfin
Whale: ballena

I wish I had taken a picture of Nesta at the Shedd Aquarium, but I was too busy chasing him around. Until next post!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Challenges

As with everything, there are challenges to raising a child bilingual. However, this is a choice that I am sticking with (gosh darn it!). As a new parent I have recently started to give myself a break. At first I beat myself up over not cloth diapering when he was first born. Now, I think that it was the best decision, because we do not have laundry in our place. Then I beat myself up for not letting him CIO, and the list goes on. I have become more relaxed about some of these things. But, there is one thing I will consistently beat myself up over and that's speaking in English to Nesta.

The most challenging time was Christmas. We were so excited to go to Brown County to visit my in-laws, and to see everyone we only see once a year. I was excited for Nesta to see everyone and for everyone to see how much he had changed. I did not realize that being around English speaking folks would really throw my game off. Even my mom was speaking in English to Nesta. She doesn't speak English often. I would be having conversations with one of my sisters-in-law and then I would turn to Nesta and tell him something in English. I caught myself many times and switched quickly to Spanish, but I felt incredibly guilty. Everyone was really great and kept asking me how to say snow in Spanish and so on. I don't think is affected him greatly that mama spoke in English to him, but I don't know that for certain. I did take this time as a learning experience. Now, I am more conscious of when I am around English-speaking folks and Nesta. I right away switch to Spanish when I speak to him because that's what I want him to do. I want him to look at me or anyone who speaks in Spanish and speak in Spanish to them. I also want him to turn around and look at Dad or anyone who speaks English and speak in English to them. Perhaps that's too much to ask for, but I'm his parent and I have high expectations of the little dude. Mainly, I have high expectations of myself. It is my responsibility to teach him to do this.

One of my biggest fears is to speak in Spanish to Nesta and to have him respond to me in English. I think I will cry if he does that. I was just recently at my cousin's house and she too is raising her children bilingual. She is also a dual-language teacher. Her child spoke to her in English while I was visiting. My cousin told her child that she could not understand what she wanted and to please speak in Spanish. Her child responded in English one more time, and my cousin asked her again to speak in Spanish. The third time her child responded in perfect Spanish and from that moment on she spoke in Spanish to her mom. 
I'm sure this scenario happens to her often, and I liked the way she dealt with it. I hope that if this happens to me that the solution is the same. Still, I hope my child knows who to speak in Spanish to.

Something that I thought might be a problem is the fact that my husband and I speak in English to each other. I don't want Nesta to think that Spanish is just the language between Nesta and mama, but then I realized that I speak in Spanish only to my mom. I have also made sure that Nesta hears me speaking in Spanish to other people. This is the reason I take him to Story Time at Multilingual Chicago. This is the reason why whenever a cashier at Target or Whole Foods decides to practice their Spanish with us I welcome it. My mother usually congratulates anyone who speaks in Spanish to her and I find that funny and awesome. My husband and I were once talking about the books we read to him at night. When my husband mentioned that he had been reading books in Spanish to Nesta I cringed. I wanted to tell him (maybe I did) that he should stick to English since that is the language he knows best, but then I thought that he might be learning Spanish by reading these books to Nesta. 

Nesta and Dad over Christmas break (12/2012)

I'm sure there will be more challenges as he grows and I teach him the alphabet in Spanish, and then to read in Spanish. I am not sure what my husband will do then. Right now when I teach Nesta something like "right" and "left" my husband echoes in English. We're new at this, and I am not sure if this is the right way. Right now this is the way for us.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Immersion

Per the definition of http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/immersion : instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study; especially  foreign language instruction in which only the language being taught is used <learned French through immersion

I believe that learning language through immersion is the best way and most effective way. This is just my humble opinion. I grew up in Mexico, and I lived in Mexico until I was 14-years-old. Throughout my life there I often took English classes. My mom paid private tutors and then in Secundaria that was part of my regular education. Yet, I was terrible at it. I didn't even know the cool new NKOTB songs. I mean I liked them, but I could not sing them. I remember my friend Myra Luna, you can see her blog here: http://www.myraluna.blogspot.com/ would sing to a bunch of songs in English, she knew every word. I won't mention here who she was listening to :D I would stare and wonder why I couldn't learn English, and why didn't I know the words to Ice Ice Baby! 

Well Myra learned English while in school, or maybe because her mom was an English teacher she could pick it up faster. Whatever the reason (and maybe she'll tell us, wink wink) I was not picking it up. In fact, I started failing my English class. This was a year before I was to travel to the United States that I started doing terrible in class. Crisis averted, I passed and I moved to the United States. I started going to high school and was in bilingual classes. Except my classes we not bilingual; they were in Spanish only. I demanded that I be switched to English classes. For some reason my counselor listened to me, and with the support of my amazing ESL teacher I was fully immersed in English classes. A lot of people were surprised that I was speaking in English by my sophomore year and giving my English teacher hell. Honestly, I just think that being in the culture of the United States, listening to all my classmates speak English, being involved in gymnastics and soccer, and doing homework ALL in English really helped me. Immersion really helped me. It doesn't mean that there aren't other ways. Not everyone can pick up and move to France to learn French (oh but I so want to), but there are other ways where immersion works.

Our household currently consists of: mom, dad, grandma, Albert (cat) and Nesta. Everyone here speaks to Nesta in the first language that they learned (mother tongue, native tongue, etc). So, I speak in Spanish to him, Dad speaks in English, and grandma speaks in Spanish to him. This works for us because the majority of the time he hears Spanish spoken and is starting to understand basic commands. He also understands English and the commands spoken by his dad or any family member who speaks English. Again, this is what works for us. It doesn't mean that this is what everyone should do. 

A friend of mine from high school is also raising her children bilingual. However, her and her family do it a bit differently. Her first language is English, but she speaks Spanish fluently. Therefore, she speaks in Spanish to her children. Her husband also speaks in Spanish to their children. She mentioned to me that because she home schools her children she has to do some instruction in English which is required by the state of Illinois. She said that her and her husband speak in Spanish to the children 75-80% of the time. Of course, they try to do 100% whenever possible! You can see her blog here http://www.quetzalbilingualacademy.blogspot.com

Another lady who I once babysat for also learned English first, but then was moved to a Spanish speaking country at a young age at which point she was immersed in Spanish and is now fluent in Spanish. Her husband speaks English, and she decided to divide her time speaking in English and Spanish to her child. 

A bilingual family :)

Of course, if we all spoke Spanish in our household then we would all speak in Spanish to Nesta. Why? because everyone around us is constantly speaking English and I am not afraid that he will grow up and not know any English. Our friends are English speaking, most of our families speak English and in general English is all around us. From day 1 Nesta heard English and Spanish and I hope that never stops. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Multilingual Chicago


This is a teaser about language schools in Chicago. I am doing some research to post a lengthier more informative post about this. 
Today Nesta and I headed to Spanish Explorers class at Multilingual Chicago on Milwaukee and Central Park Avenue. I had set it up all via email which is the best way for me to do anything, since talking on the phone while Nesta is around gets me nowhere. He just wants my phone at all times. Anywho, Elise from Multilingual Chicago was my contact there. I emailed about trying out a class, and she emailed me back. I originally set it up for today at 10:30 am but seeing as how naps had been changing I emailed her to see if we could switch it to 9:30 am. She was great and she said no problem.
We arrived at 9:28am and she greeted us. She showed us the room, told us to take our shoes off and informed me that after class there would be juice and cookies for the kids. As I entered the room I heard Spanish spoken only. There were kids from 1-2 years of age with their care givers. One of the care givers had two little girls and she spoke Spanish to them. There were some toys and the teacher Sarah was playing with the kids. Nesta was still acting shy (nadie se la cree) but soon enough he was pulling out toys. Shortly after the teacher sang a song where we said good bye to the toys. Nesta did not like that song. This was weird for Nesta since we do not say Adios, we say Bye. Even when I lived in Mexico we said Bye, so Nesta did not get what Adios was. 

The class started with a song and introductions. Most of the kids were too shy to say anything in Spanish (or English) but one little girl did respond in Spanish. I noticed that her mom also spoke Spanish. The next song asked each kid his or her age. Then we stood up and raised our arms arriba and then brought them down abajo. We then made a circle which grew bigger grande and then smaller chiquito.  Like this the class continued with dancing, and many opposites; fast or slow, to the left and to the right and so on. After the moving and singing the teacher presented the theme of the class which was learning the clothing for winter; hat, gloves, and scarf. A song went along with this as she pulled out each item from a bag. Of course my dear Nesta wanted to hold all these items. A paracaidas was then taken out and Nesta was beyond excited. He loves all the colors. After this she moved on to a project where the kids glued a snow man to a piece of paper and added his hat, gloves, pants and scarf. For the little ones she had crayons so they could color instead of glue. Nesta ate half a crayon. After the projects were done she pulled out a book where a frog was dressing itself with socks and boots, and a hat. Some of the kids pointed to the items she asked of them. At this point, my energetic child took off and was trying to unlock the door or throw himself on someboy else’s grandma. I’m not sure what happened, but I think they were still looking at the book. When we got back to the circle we heard good-bye song.
Overall, I really liked the class. I liked the project even, but at this point it was a struggle for me because Nesta wanted to stick the glue stick in his mouth and he is not even interested in coloring. The other 1 year olds were not walking much so they seemed well behaved, although they were not coloring either. I don’t know what kind of project I would have for a 1 year old.  At home we have edible crayons, but the point is not to eat them. We’re not there yet. I think Nesta would have enjoyed the class more if it had been more about singing and moving around. He really liked that part and of course you have to move around when you are 1!
I spoke to Elise on our way out, and I asked her what she thought of a toddler learning a third language. My husband took French in high school and he wants Nesta to learn French too. I think they will try the French Explorers class next week. 
Some great things about Multilingual Chicago:
  • They have adults classes.
  • They let registration happen whenever you are ready. $270 for the class, but pro-rated if you start late.
  • Free parking if you get a spot at 5/3 Bank.
  • They teach kids all ages.
  • They offer classes for toddlers in Spanish, French and Mandarin.
  • They have Spanish Story time on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:30 am. 
Here is the website if you want to check them out:http://www.multilingualchicago.com/

Libros para niños en español


When I was pregnant the one thing I wanted to buy for my unborn child the most was books. Let me first say that I'm a nerd. I love books. I love to read, and reread. I love it all. My top five books are:
  • To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • The God Of Small Things.
  • One Hundred Years Of Solitude (in Spanish).
  • The Hummingbird's Daugther (In Spanish).
  • Of Love And Other Demons (In Spanish).

The list constantly changes. So, you see how important reading is to me. There are benefits to reading and that's why we should ALL read ALOUD to our children. I could go on about the benefits, and how this will help them in school blah blah blah. Yes, that's great, but for me reading is more than that. Reading is a way to let my imagination go wild. Reading is a way for me to fly away and experience new things that I may never experience in my life time. I get to feel what it is like to see a train for the first time like in One Hundred Years of Solitude. I get to feel the magic that seeps out of Teresita in The Hummingbird's Daughter.  This is what I want my son to feel when he reads. It will benefit him in great ways, but I also want him to read a book and live the book. I want him to appreciate literature. Honestly I want him to love reading as much as I do. If he doesn't love reading as much as I do, at least I hope that he can read in English and Spanish ha!
To prepare him for that I started picking up books that were either bilingual or in Spanish. Obviously there is not as much variety in Spanish, but I found some good ones. His favorites are:
  • Cuaquito  (the story of a little duck who is afraid to go in the water).
  • La Oruga Muy Hambrienta (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).
  • Los Pollitos Dicen (Bilingual).
  • No Llores Chiquitin   (the story of a baby who cries because he needs to burp).
  • Buenas Noches a Todos   (bed time routine book).
  • 8 Monitos (8 Little Monkeys).
  • Donde Viven Los Monstruos (Where the WIld Things Are).
  • ¿Dónde Esta El Ombliguito?

We have many more books that may be some of my favorite's or dad's favorites but maybe not Nesta's favorites, yet. 
Because there are more books in English than in Spanish I sometimes translate as I read. I really like Good Night Moon,  and I know there is one in Spanish, but I couldn't find it. So I translated it and put little post-its on it so that I can be consistent in my translation. Some books are so simple that it is easy to translate. One book I translate is Animal Talk which was a gift by his cousin Jack. It is just pictures of animals with the sound they make plus a question like "What does the happy chimp say?" This book is easy for me to translate, as well as the book Where's Spot?

I will not translate all the time. At some point I will start teaching him to read, and at that point I will just have to read him books in Spanish. I don't know if translating books is a good idea or not. I started without really planning it. It seemed he was getting sick of La Oruga Muy Hambrienta and Cuaquito so I picked up a book in English and started reading it to him. He did not like that I was reading in English. He kept swatting at the book, and trying to close it. I started translating the book and he stared at me for a minute. I continued with the translation and he sat and listened. I thought it was weird that he didn't like me reading in English. His dad reads to him in English and he seats through it just fine. Well, since that day I read to him in Spanish only.

If you find any awesome books in Spanish that you think a 1 year old will enjoy it, please send me the title :)

Soothing.. in Spanish.


It was done. The decision to raise our child bilingual was made. Now, the baby was home and the process had to begin. However, there was so much more to do. There was breastfeeding which is more difficult than just attaching a baby to the breast. There was sleep, I mean NO sleep, there was no time to shower and sometimes breakfast happened at 2am. There were guests, there were many hands wanting to hold my baby.
It took a couple of weeks until the dust settled. My husband went back to work and my mother came to help me out everyday. I could shower every day thanks to her. This is when I decided that I would start searching for soothing music for my son in Spanish. I kept hearing my mom singing to him in songs that I sort of remembered. "La patita de canasta y con rebozo de bolita...lalala.." I needed to know what was next! So I opened my iTunes and started searching for kid's music. I also went on youtube and found a video for "El Raton Vaquero," a song by Cri-Cri a.k.a Francisco Gabilondo Soler. Just go on youtube.com and look up "El Raton Vaquero," it is the first video that comes up. This way I started looking up songs I remembered and trying to memorize them. Some of my son's favories (and momma's too) are:
  • El Raton Vaquero
  • La Patita
  • Metete Tete
  • Caminito de la Escuela
  • Los Cochinitos Dormilones
That last one is the one I sing to him before he takes a nap or goes to bed at night. I also sing him "Los Pollitos Dicen." This last one is also a bilingual book. The book is in English and Spanish and it's supposed to be a song, I just don't know the tune for the song in English. The full song is:
"Los Pollitos dicen pio pio pio, cuando tienen hambre, cuando tienen frio. La gallina busca el maiz y el trigo. Les da la comida y les presta abrigo. Bajo sus dos alas acurrucaditos hasta el otro dia duermen los pollitos."
It's such an easy song and my son loves it. It's soothing and I just sing it over and over since it is so short. You can also change the tune to it. This is about the time I learned that even babies have preferences. I was choosing to sing in Spanish and my list of songs was short. So far I was singing "Los Pollitos Dicen" and humming "Impossible Dream." My next favorite song was by Cepillin, it's called "Bosque de la China," and it is about a boy who ran into a girl in China and he liked this Chinese girl but she was not so sure she liked him. Cepillin has an annoying voice, but if you are a kid then you don't know much about voices. I listened to the song over and over on youtube.com until I learned it and I sang it to my son and he hated it! It may sound ridiculous but he would just cry or stare at me with his huge eyes. (My son has huge eyes!). So I went back to just singing "Los Pollitos Dicen" until I learned "Los Cochinitos Dormilones."
Cri-Cri has many songs, but I realized thanks to my husband that they are not all very PC. The ones I have chosen to download are great, but even some of the ones I like I started to really listen to them and realized I may not want my son to listen to them.
You can be the judge of the songs: http://www.cri-cri.net/Canciones/canciones.html
Cri-Cri was my favorite as a child and I knew every song by heart and had all his records. I really wanted my son to listen to what I listened to when I was a kid. Also, I do not know many kid's songs in English, so this really helped me.
P.S. He loves "The Itsy Bitsy Spider." That's one song I do know in English.

Decisions, decisions...


How does one decide to raise a child one way or another? Sure, when the baby is still in the womb many decisions are made. We will cloth diaper! and we will only give him/her organic food, and baby will sleep in his crib every night, and the cat won't be allowed in the room AT ALL... I've heard many of these, my husband and I said many of these. Our child was cloth diapered until the diapers didn't work, he eats mostly organic and sleeps in bed with us. However, the one thing we have stuck to is raising him bilingual. I'd say that I speak to him in Spanish 95% of the time. Sometimes, as I am speaking to an English speaking person I will look at my son and say something in English. This happens seldom, but it happens and I feel very guilty about it.
Some of the reasons why we decided to raise our son bilingual:
  • I am bilingual: I speak, read, and write in English and Spanish.
  • Bilingual children are more accepting of others.
  • Bilingualism is often biculturalism (more on this later).
  • Bilingualism increases mental agility
There are many more reasons why we decided to raise our son bilingual. The easiest one is that I am bilingual and I know how handy that's been for me. I also like to speak in Spanish. I love the way it sounds, I love how diverse it is.
Sure, you already speak Spanish...
It may seem that speaking Spanish to a baby is the easies thing to do, especially if one already speaks Spanish. I thought so too. I've been a nanny in the past, and I spoke in Spanish to those children as well. However, when I suddenly spoke in English to them for whatever reason I did not feel as guilty as I do with my own son. When he was born my mother helped me a great deal. She speaks Spanish only. She sang to him, talked to him and all of it in Spanish. When I hung out with him, my mind was overwhelmed with all the newborn caring stuff that I sometimes struggled to speak in Spanish to him. I felt silly often. I had to look up lullabies in Spanish to sing to him. Not that I was singing to him in English, because I don't know any lullabies in English either. It was a learning experience, as everything is with children. It was also a walk down memory lane. I downloaded a lot of music by Cri-Cri.
The reason it was so difficult for me it is because I speak in English to my husband and to everyone else. The only person I spoke in Spanish to before my son was born is my mother. I spoke in Spanglish to her too, which is not something I do with my son. After a year of speaking in Spanish to my son, it has become much easier. He understands commands like when I say "mano" to him, he gives me his hand. He knows what "agua" means, and often responds with "ahh" which is what you do after drinking water.
Music and Television
Television has recently been introduced to our son. Really only in the form of video. He watches the Baby Signing Time video and it is in English. I do wish it was in Spanish, but I couldn't find one. I have caught him and my mom watching telenovelas which are in Spanish. I don't know if I should be angry about this. I also grew up watching telenovelas. I just hope he grows up to dislike them as much as I do.
Music is diverse in our household. My husband loves jazz and hip-hop. I love everything else. I did download some music in Spanish that I grew up with, like Cri-Cri and Cepillin. However, I do listen to music in Spanish and so does our son. My mother listens to gospel style music in Spanish and so does our son. When it comes to music I think he should be exposed to as much variety as possible. Of course, we'll not allow Barney in this household.
I read somewhere that children's music isn't necessary. That children should be exposed to all sorts of music. Although I agree with the second part, I don't have anything against children's music. Like all music, I like some children's music and I stay away from some of it. When I downloaded Cri-Cri for him I mainly did it because it was part of my childhood and I wanted him to listen to it and enjoy it like I did. So far he likes "El Raton Vaquero." More on Cri-Cri on my next post.