Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hola Pocoyo!

If you have a little one, you might want to check out the Pocoyo channel on Youtube. I'd heard of the cartoon before, but I never really paid much attention to it. I saw it mentioned online again, so I decided to see what it was about.

Bean was fussy and I just needed to get some rest, so I put him on the bed next to me and turned this on. I should have turned on the camera to record him because he just went crazy. I don't know what is so exciting about Pocoyo, but he loved it.

The episodes are short, and there doesn't seem to be too much conversation going on, so I think it's a good fit for little ones.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Language?

I've been thinking about learning another language sometime in the future. I know there are benefits to learning languages simultaneously, but I'd rather wait a few years before introducing another one. I like to do as much immersion as possible, so I think I'd be overwhelmed if I was trying the immersion method for another language. Plus, I don't know what language to choose.

I believe that "creating a need" is an important part of language learning. I have to ask myself, what other language would we have a need to speak? Of course I could pick Italian or French for the fun of it, but I don't know if I'd stay motivated because I can't think of a situation where I'd need to use those languages, and I don't know if I'd have easy access to native speakers.

Mandarin is popular these days, but I don't know. I can see potential problems with that.

There are so many different languages in the world, it seems a shame to limit yourself to one or two. I am going to keep thinking about it, but for now I guess I have enough on my plate with trying to increase my Spanish proficiency.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blast From the Past

I find it so ironic that just as I get back into my Spanish immersion obsession, I get a LinkedIn request from my foreign exchange buddy. About 10 years ago, my family hosted an exchange student. Then, later on that year, I went to her country and stayed with her family.

I haven't spoken to her in years, and it's so funny that she found me on LinkedIn. In fact, it looks like she found my dad on LinkedIn and then found me. Strange.

In my excitement, I accepted her request and then proceeded to write her an email. She speaks English very well, but I wanted to write in Spanish. Boy, do I need practice.

My goodness it took me a long time to get through that simple email. How embarrassing for me. I mean, it's been 10 years and I am still struggling to write an email?!?! Maybe I am too hard on myself, but I really need to get it together. But honestly, I am secretly hoping she writes back in English.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How Cleaning the Bathroom Improved My Spanish

It's no secret that I don't like to speak Spanish. In fact, if you ask me if I can speak it, I will say no. I know that I can speak it if I absolutely have to, but other than that, I'd prefer not to. Does passive bilingualism ringing a bell for anyone?

Anyway, I have just discovered the reason for this.

Deep down I knew that it was my inhibitions holding me back, but I never really realized that until I had a situation where inhibition went out the window.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Have You Heard of the OPOLAMAP Method?

My intention was to use the OPOL (One Parent One Language) method with Bean, but I'd say that I use the OPOLAMAP (One Parent One Language As Much As Possible) method. To be honest, sometimes I just don't feel like thinking in Spanish, and other times I truly forget. I want to get to the point where Spanish just flows naturally from my lips, but I am not there yet.

I need to make more time for input, input, input....but I've been slacking lately. 

So a typical conversation looks like this. "Bean, what are you doing? Don't take that off. Oops I mean... ¿Que haces? No te quites eso. Vamos. Ya es la hora de almuerzo."

I suppose it could be said that I am "damaging" him by going back and fourth, but it's not like I am mixing languages in the same sentence. It's more like once I catch myself speaking in English, I switch to Spanish.

I remember reading about a woman whose mother would speak in English, then say the same thing in Spanish and that is how she raised her to be bilingual. Also, I remember reading that children need to be exposed to a language 30 percent of the time in order to be able to actively speak it. So I am not quite convinced that strictly adhering to OPOL is the only way to get results.

But I am no expert, I don't know what's going to happen. All I can do is to keep trying my best.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Bean and a Biscuit

Bean is going to have a little hermano or hermana soon, thus my lack of posting. Pregnancy is very hard for me, and I don't handle it well. I barely feel like doing activities in English, let alone Spanish, but I've managed to keep up a bit of exposure.

Bean LOVES the Professor Toto DVD's. We've had them from the library for so long that we can't check them out anymore. So I decided to just bite the bullet and buy the set. We just checked out the Little Pim series from the library. I don't know about these DVD's. I'll give it a chance before commenting any further, but I don't know if I'd describe them as entertaining and engaging.

Another round of Spanish classes is starting soon and I've love for Bean to go, but I just don't have the energy. I know I would see it as a burden and not a fun thing. So I guess I'll just wait until Spring when I don't have to worry about aches, pains, migraines, and vomiting. Plus, the third trimester makes me very antisocial.

On a more positive note, now that I have an opportunity to start using Spanish from birth, I am excited. I planned to start that way with Bean, but it didn't happen. It took a few months to get into my groove.

I am going to keep up my blogging because it keeps me motivated to keep on speaking Spanish even though I really don't like to.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What's So Funny?

Spanish class is going much better. Bean is still himself, but with the other kids having meltdowns, running out the room, and doing all sorts of other things- it's really not that bad.

Right now we are watching Padrinos Magicos, or Fairly Odd Parents on Antena Latina. We don't have cable, but we can stream the station from our Roku player. You have to be careful with this channel though because sometimes there is some questionable content during daytime hours.

I wish I could find this show on DVD because Bean is laughing hysterically. The Fairly Odd Parents DVD's on Amazon only have an English soundtrack so that's too bad. It's just funny watching him laugh because there is no way he could understand what is going on. I'd really like to know what is so funny.

As for progress, there are some things that Bean only responds to in Spanish, and some things he only responds to in English. That makes perfect sense, so I guess that means everything is going well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spanish Class With Bean (No Me Gusta)

Bean and I had our first Spanish class last week. I can't really say that I am looking forward to the next class, but it's not because of the class itself.

My first issue is that it's about an hour away. I knew this, and I didn't think it was going to be a big deal because I figured Bean would sleep in the car since it would be his nap time. Well, he didn't sleep in the car, but he was sleepy, so that was a very long ride.

Then we get to this class, and he is just being loud...really loud. Now I shouldn't have been surprised because I always call him my little fuss box, but it's different when you are in public. He wasn't crying, and that's a plus, but he was just "talking" in a very loud voice. Everyone else was quiet and he was just babbling away. I felt like all eyes were on us.

Then he didn't want to put the toys away, and I didn't really blame him. He was sitting there, just fine, holding that maraca. He was quiet, not bothering a soul. Class wasn't over, so why did she come around in the middle of the class and have everyone put their toy in a basket? Is this some sort of conditioning exercise? *gives side eye*

However, he kept the maraca until I was able to sneak it away. But there was another "here's a toy, now I take it away" exercise that did not go over too well.

So I don't know, it was just too stressful for me. I can't even comment on the Spanish aspects right now because that's all I can think about. But on a positive note, it's always good to increase the amount of language exposure....I guess.

¿Cuántas clases más?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Free Spanish Shows For Kids

I've been checking out a lot of children's materials from the library. They have a nice little selection of Spanish-only and bilingual books, as well as DVD's and CD's. I must say that for the most part I've been disappointed with the DVD's.

I think they'd be great for an older child who is just being introduced to a new language; but for our purposes, I don't like how many of these DVD's translate everything. They say a sentence in English and then they say it in Spanish and it goes back and fourth. Not only is it boring to watch, but it's really not necessary. If you just watch it, you can tell what is going on without the translations.

I prefer materials that are solamente en español. So I decided to get on Amazon and see if they had anything I we could watch on Demand via our Roku. I was pleasantly surprised when I found episodes of Sesame Street in Spanish- for free. It's actually Sesame Street, not Plaza Sesamo. You can get the episodes here.

If you don't have a Roku, you can still watch them online or download them to your PC. Too bad they don't allow people with Macs to download the episodes.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Duck or Hot Dog?

Am I the only one who thinks that "pato" sounds like "hot dog"? Seriously.

Bean has this toy that says all the animal names when you press it. I didn't know that it was a bilingual toy because I didn't buy it. So you press it once it says the name in English, you press it again and it says it in Spanish. Press it again and it breaks out in song. So each time he'd press it, I'd hear "duck" and then "hot dog". I was very confused about this.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Oops, I Forgot

This past weekend Bean, Mr. Bean, and I went to visit our families. We live about 500 miles away so it was quite a drive. Bean is not good with long car rides. This meant we had to stop more than I wanted to.

When we got there, I immediately started speaking to him in English. I didn't even realize it at first. Then something popped in my head and said "HOLA!" and then I switched back to Spanish. But really, the whole weekend I spoke to him mostly in English with a bit of Spanish sprinkled in.

Why? Was it because everyone else was speaking English so I just started speaking it? Was it because I wasn't watching my Spanish movies and listening to my audio courses? Was it because I didn't want anyone to feel left out? I have no idea. Usually when we go in public I don't care if anyone feels "left out" because I am talking to my Bean- not them. So I don't know what happened.

My mother jokingly made a comment that Bean was going to get older and not understand English so I guess that I was speaking some Spanish. But still, I feel that I slacked off, so excuse me while I go find my iPod so I can get back to my Platiquemos.

Friday, March 25, 2011

No Soy Latina, pero....

( English is below.)

No soy Latina pero a veces cuando escucho mi música, soy blacktina. No me digas nada cuando mi cumbia, reggaeton, merengeue, o otra música esta en la radio. Es tiempo de bailar, mover mi cintura, y mi nombre es Juanita Domingo Santiago de Acha.  Mira, nada con r porque no puedo rrrrrrr.

Escucha esto y dígame que no le hace quiere bailar. No ver el video si los niños están en la cuarto, pero sólo escuchar. No es nada malo, no es sólo una parte pequeña que no me gusta.

¿Quieres bailar?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Besides responding to "let's eat!" in Spanish, Bean also responds to "Dame beso" (Give me a kiss) and leche (milk).

When I say "dame beso" he smiles, then I put my cheek next to his lips and he tries to give me a kiss. All he does is open and close his mouth, but that's good enough for me. When I mention leche his eyes light up and he'll rock his head back and fourth.

He also waves his hands back and fourth when I sing Dos Manitas, Diez Deditos

He's still a little sprout, and really we just started this last month, so I'd say that's pretty good. I am getting pretty close to only speaking to him in Spanish. My constant immersion has really helped. The more I watch tv, read, and listen to music in Spanish- the more I feel comfortable speaking it.

This is reminding me of the days when I was younger and I was so into the language. I think that I thought I was Latina. I was so wrapped up in it that at times I'd forget words in English. It was as if my brain would get in these Spanish modes and that was all I knew. I see it creeping up because I keep speaking to my husband in Spanish.

The other day he turned to me with the most serious look on his face and said "I....don't.....understandddddd.....whattttttt....youuuuuuuuu....arrrrrre....saayyyyying".

Then we laughed. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

La Cucaracha Did What?!

Bean was having one of those days where he couldn't be out of my sight without having a meltdown. So I decided to snuggle on the couch with him and watch Spanish cartoons on Youtube. He is fascinated by my laptop so I knew that would settle him down.

I happen to come across a Speedy Gonzales cartoon. When you are a child you don't realize what messages certain cartoons are trying to convey; so to see these same cartoons as an adult can really be an eye opening experience. Aside from the stereotypes, I was quite surprised by this little song.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spanish Friday

I not only want Bean to be bilingual, but I also want him to be biliterate. After all, if he is going to learn to speak Spanish, he might as well learn how to read and write it. That being said, I am going to start participating in Spanish Friday, which basically means, much to my chagrin,  on Friday's I'll write in Spanish. Thanks to Latinaish for the idea. I'm so rusty but here we go...

No me gusta escribir en espanol. No me gusta leer en espanol. Pero es necesario. Cuando era en la universidad, escribía todo el tiempo. Entonces necesito relajarme y escribir.

Hablé que no puede estudiar gramática porque no es natural. Pero necesité revisar, especialmente los mandatos. Encuentré un sitio para este. Dr. Lemon tiene mucho información sobre los verbos. Me gusta este sitio porque las páquinas son muy breves.

Un otro sitio que necesité este semana fue Study Spanish; en particular la páquina que explica como escribir a máquina los acentos porque yo nunca recuerdo.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Press 1 For English...Press 2 If You Are Upset

I'm not political, so don't even go there with me. But I did find myself shaking my head in agreement with this quote from a few years ago. (Emphasis mine)

"Understand this: instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English—they’ll learn English!—you need to make sure that your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language. Yo! It’s embarrassing… it’s embarrassing when… when… uh, Europeans come over here. they all speak English. They speak French. They speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and… and all we’s can say is “Merci beaucoup.”- Barack Obama  (Video)

I live in my own little world and march to the beat of my own drum so in general, I surround myself with people who are supportive of language learning. But every so often, I get a nasty whiff of the "This is America, learn English" crowd.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vamos a Comer

I posted this on Twitter awhile ago because it's just funny to me.

Whenever I say "vamos a comer" Bean opens his mouth so his pacifier falls out and then he starts making faces like he is chewing. He looks like a cute little muppet. You'd have to see it to get the humor, but it proves that he is learning!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do Small Changes Equal Big Results?

Photo By Dominik Gwarek
I've been making small changes in hopes that they'll lead to big results. Based on reading blogs like Spanish Only and AJATT, I feel pretty confident in what I am doing.

I am so busy these days with work, starting a new business, watching the baby, and studying for a class- I feel like I don't really have room to add Spanish in there. So I am trying to ease it in as much as possible.

I usually have some background noise going when I'm working so I've added a "Spanish Contemporary" station to my Pandora account.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

One Parent One Language...Kind Of

I'm trying to speak to Bean in Spanish as much as possible. Ideally, I'd like to only speak to him in Spanish, but I just don't have all the vocabulary I need. I figured it would be easy because he's just a baby and you shouldn't need to say that much- but in reality, I talk to him a lot. All day, everyday I talk, talk, talk, talk.

Plus there are the times when I forget my Spanish only rule. It's just not natural to me yet.

But each time I come across a phrase that I only know in English, I find out how to say it in Spanish and make note of it in my SRS (I use Anki).

I'd love to find a list of parenting-related sentences to add just for review, but I guess I'll have to take it one sentence at a time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are People As Critical In Real Life?

I have a confession to make. I can't roll my r's. I also can't whistle so maybe that has something to do with why my r's will never trickle off my tongue.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, it seems to me that people online are extremely critical of Spanish accents. I understand that if you are going to speak a language, you should learn how to speak it properly. No one wants to sound like this. But sheesh, the way some people criticize online it makes you afraid to say anything.

But I don't think people are like that in real life. If you speak English with an accent no one is going to bother you as long as they can understand what you are saying. Now some people are jerks, but for the most part people don't go around critiquing people's accents when English is their second language.

Likewise, from my experience in a Spanish-speaking country; no one was rude about my obvious accent. Everyone was just so happy that I was trying to learn and communicate with them. They didn't have time to critique me on that. BUT ironically, I did get some criticisms on my English. That bothered me, and it still annoys me when I think about it.

For instance, someone pointed to something and asked me how to say it in English. I said "trash can". She said, "no, that's not how you say it." I was confused. Later on she remembered the word and told me, "that is a [something I don't remember because that's not what we call it in the US]". It was like they wouldn't say anything about my Spanish, but they surely did try to tell me how to speak English. I understand that they learn English from an early age in that country; but please...let's not get besides ourselves.

I digress...

So what's up with people being so harsh online? Do people need to be criticized on every single vowel they mispronounce and r they can't roll? Why is that a reason to make fun of someone?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bilingual Preschool

Bean will be homeschooled. This decision, like many others I've made, was determined years before he was conceived.

Cienpies Design
But, I'm big on immersion so my mind started to wander to the possibility of sending him to a bilingual preschool. He's just a little tater, so it's not like we'd be sending him tomorrow; but as you will soon learn- I love to plan in advanced.

So I started looking into it, and I immediately stopped when I saw the price tag. $800 a month. Do you know what I could do with $800 a month? Do you know how many videos, books, DVD's, and supplemental activities I could buy with $800 a month? Heck, we could save that money and go stay in Mexico for a little bit each year.

I'm going to have to pass on that idea and go back to my original plan. But I did find a lovely weekly mommy-baby Spanish class for less than $200. That, I can handle.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Best Way to Learn a Language

Bean and I are following the immersion method of learning. I'm not going to spend time reviewing grammar books or any other conventional method. We are simply going to immerse ourselves in the Spanish language.

As a sidenote, I will be using SRS (or space repetition software) so that I can retain phrases, but other than that I am trying to keep things as natural as possible.

So what does that mean?

In general, I don't like TV, but if it's on it's going to be in Spanish. Books I read need to be in Spanish. When I teach songs, colors, etc to Bean- it will be in Spanish. I'm going to find a church that's conducted in Spanish. Websites I guessed it, it's time to start incorporating Spanish sites into my day. And so on and so fourth.

We also have to get out and meet native speakers, etc- which shouldn't be too hard because there are many of them in this area. Grammar drills, vocab lessons, traditional classes- been there, done that, wrote a postcard- and I don't think that's the best way to learn a language. It works for some people and that's great- but I learned English without sitting in a classroom being quizzed so I feel confident that my baby can learn Spanish the same way.

Who Am I?

It's time to start over with a clean slate. This is my second blog dedicated to chronicling my journey en espanol.

I am not Latina but I've always been fascinated with the Spanish language. I took four years in high school, four years in college, and traveled abroad for a short period of time.

I think my reluctance to study abroad hindered my learning ability, because in college I was fine with the language and then the third year hit and I felt like I was behind two years. I didn't understand why I struggled while everyone else flourished, but I pushed on.

Since I'm used to picking up things quickly, I didn't take well to feeling behind. My interest faded and I did just enough to get by.

Years later here I am thinking it would be silly to let all that knowledge go down the drain. I used to have a goal of raising any children I have to be bilingual, and now I realize that I don't have to let that dream go down the drain.  Especially since I now have a baby! For the purpose of this blog, my baby will be called Bean.

So I'm going to immerse myself Spanish...again, but this time it's going to be fun. No reading textbooks that bore me or poetry from the 1600's that I don't understand. I'm just going to do it in a (hopefully) natural and fun way. Of course, I haven't forgotten everything, but I still like to refer to this process as learning the language again.

Anything else? You can email me here.