Category Archives: Bilingual Education

A Bilingual Journey of Spanish and English. Guest Post by Diana Sampedro

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My name is Diana, I am a Spanish mum of a 6 year old girl, and we live in Spain. Her dad is Spanish, too. I love languages and speak English so I decided to raise my kid bilingual, even though I am not a “native” English speaker myself.

I think babies and kids have the natural capacity to simply repeat whatever you tell them, so I thought, why not try to give my daughter the chance to learn two languages in a natural and effortless way? Since I had the motivation I could find the tools I needed back then and the ones I could not find, I created them myself. I wrote a book about this. Baby English: Cómo conseguir que tu hijo sea bilingüe. Published by Vaughan system, 2016. I ´ll come back to it later.

I was living in the UK when I got pregnant. I used to attend to some mum-to-be groups and playgroups and I met some multilingual families. I started getting familiar with babies English vocabulary and I was amazed to see that some little kids could communicate in more than one language with their parents.

I decided to speak English to my daughter. She was born in Spain. But even when she was still in my belly I used to sing to her lullabies and talked to her in English, just to get used to both of us! I think this is really important when you talk to your child in a non native language, you both need time to get comfortable, and guess what, you will!

When my daughter was a baby, I used to write a blog about maternity and bilingual education. I posted vocabulary and ideas and personal experiences in my non-native bilingual journey with her.

But my baby was so little, she needed me, and blogging can be a huge commitment, so I decided to quit and focus more on her, and on having some family and some me-time

However, every day I had these doubts about vocabulary, Am I doing the right thing? Is this going to work?…and some years later I started to write about all of that and the solutions I was coming across with. You know, I love reading, I love writing.

THE BOOK: BABY ENGLISH: CÓMO CONSEGUIR QUE TU HIJO SEA BILINGÜE.

One day I told myself, why not writing a book? This could be the kind of book I was looking for before starting this bilingual project.

Because out there in the market you can find some very good books about bilingualism, but it was hard to find a book that actually helps couples who are not native speakers in one of the language they want to teach their kids. And I needed to know how to say for instance, “Mete la camiseta por dentro”, that is “Tuck your T-shirt in”, for example. O “Te echo una carrera”, “I´ll race you”, for example.

This book is perfect for Spanish speakers who want their kids being bilingual or very fluent in both Spanish and English

There are so many situations in a day with a child in different contexts and on the book you´ll find all these useful phrases, songs, games, both in English and Spanish and with an audio to check the right pronunciation. There are rhymes, games, tricks to improve your English for Spanish speakers, the evolution in the language of a bilingual kid…

There is also a chapter about reading in English and how to help children to get used to the English sounds.

BILINGUALISM

Everybody talks about bilingualism nowadays. There are some benefits about bilingualism that I can mention. I am not an academic so I cannot speak about the advantages of bilingualism in a scientific way but I have been reading more and more articles about benefits of being a bilingual.

What I can talk about it is the easiness you find when travelling, living in another country if you are able to speak more than your native language. You have a better and deeper access to other cultures, other interesting ways of living, thinking.

It also offers you the chance to see reality from a different perspective, and I guess that can have a good impact in the way you interact with the world. It gives you an open approach, a curiosity, a connection with your feelings in a wider way.

As I mentioned before, at the end of the day the main and most beautiful thing related to your children and you is to connect with them, to feel close and loved, through words, (languages), and actions.

Thanks Suzanne for the opportunity to share my experience and congrats on you blog.

If you want to contact me or know more about my story, please go to:

www.facebook.com/babyenglishdianasampedro

If you interested in purchasing Diana’s book, please go to:

http://www.casadellibro.com/libro-baby-english/9788416094769/2795572

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/8416094764/ref=s9_simh_gw_g14_i1_r?pf_rd_m=A1AT7YVPFBWXBL&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=BXBPCT98Q39QVF398BAM&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=6d8f0343-6251-45c8-9899-ea554850c331&pf_rd_i=desktop

I am happy to introduce our first guest post on the blog Interpretations of a Bilingual Life. Diana seems to have done an amazing job raising a bilingual child. I identified with her story because as a mother raising 2 bilingual daughters I have found myself feeling insecure about my Spanish because I never studied it in a school setting. Her and my personal experience are examples that there are multiple paths to bilingualism.

baby english portadaDiana y Diana

* If you are interested in writing a guest post for Interpretations of a Bilingual Life please feel free to email me at suzanne@mateus.com

3rd generation bilinguals: an anomaly?

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Statistically speaking my daughters should not be speaking Spanish. It is a well known fact that most U.S. born individuals lose their parents or grandparents “native” language by the 3rd generation. First generation being the parents that immigrated to the U.S. and 2nd generation being the children born in the U.S. I have to admit we are likely an anomaly in the world of bilinguals in the U.S.A. It really should not come to a surprise that I have managed to raise one very bilingual 5 year old and a 2 year old well on her way to speaking 2 languages as well. After all, I am in the process of getting a Ph.D. in bilingual and bicultural education.

I am writing this post because I think there are distinct approaches in passing a heritage language to 2nd and/or 3rd generation immigrant children being raised in the U.S. As a parent I have certainly experienced what the process is like and as an academic, very well read in the literature of bilingualism, I am also very aware that we raise bilingual kids differently than parents who only speak one language and are seeking to have their child become bilingual.

In future posts, I hope to share a few of the strategies my husband and I learned along the way in our raising of 3rd generation bilinguals.

 

Multilingual Education: California Education for a Global Economy Initiative (California EdGE Initiative)/Senate Bill (SB) 1174

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This post is about Senate Bill 1174 which would repeal and amend proposition 227 of 1998 in the state of California. Proposition 227 ended bilingual education services for students who did not speak English. The new bill would provide services for ALL students in the state of California that would put them on the path to becoming bilingual.

I’m in the middle of writing the findings chapters of my dissertation, so this post is not as developed as I would like. What I am going to do is list websites below that talk about the upcoming SB 1174 in order to help spread the word. My goal is to include a diverse set of website that offers different perspectives:

https://ballotpedia.org/California_Multilingual_Education_Act_%282016%29

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/04/opinion/carter-bilingual-education/index.html

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1174

http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-calif-senate-panel-advances-bill-to-restore-bilingual-education-20140430-story.html

http://sd33.senate.ca.gov/news/2014-02-20-senator-lara-announces-bill-supporting-multilingual-education

http://moramodules.com/sb-1174-talking-points

http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_1151-1200/sb_1174_bill_20140423_amended_sen_v98.pdf

Video about the bill by Senator Lara:

I will continue to add to the list.

The one aspect about this SB 1174 that I, as well as many other advocates of our heritage speakers of Spanish in the U.S.A., would like to point out is that the promotion of this senate bill fails to mention the cultural and linguistic benefits it can have for the population it was initially intended for.

#roughdraft

Multilingualism is like los manglares de Ecuador.

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The mangrove forests are found in tropical places all around the world. One of the places they are found is in and around the surrounding areas of Guayaquil, Ecuador. According to World Wildlife:

“The world’s mangrove forests have been described as one of the most distinctive emersed tropical ecological systems on the planet (Fundación Natura 1995). The mangrove forests located in the province of Manabí (Ecuador) are small regions of coastal forest that shelter great biodiversity and play important ecological roles. Nonetheless, these ecosystems have suffered serious habitat changes and are critically endangered.”

When I first saw los manglares I was taken aback by their physical characteristics because unlike most trees the manglares (or mangroves), typically found in swamps, have their roots above ground. The roots form a dense network and to the naked eye it can look like there is no beginning and no end. If you try and follow where one root goes it will be impossible to see where it ends. Instead what you will see is one root after another kind of like a spider web. What I found fascinating about the manglares is that if you were to fly over them they appear to be traditional trees. From a birds eye perspective all you would see are the leaves and below would be what you imagine a “typical” tree look like. We lived across the street from a mangrove for a year and a half in Guayaquil’s prominent peninsula, Samborondon. During that year and a half I was writing my dissertation (still am!) and thinking about the way people use language. I would think about my dissertation (all the time) while cooking dinner, while bathing my daughters, at the park, in the shower, and at our weekly visit to El Parque Historico in Samborondon. The park had various attractions. It had a bridge that led visitors across the park to see tropical birds, spider monkeys, alligators, and even a children’s park. Along the way we would be constantly in conversation with one another about the animals, commenting on their behavior (or lack thereof). Many times the trail would be crowded with visitors depending on the day of the week. My favorite part was towards the end where the manglares were because just before that last section visitors had the option of exiting the trail. Many visitors chose to exit the trail because the section where the mangroves are located did not include animals to observe and comment on, there were simply trees. I loved that part of our walk because it was quiet. The mangroves offered a simple form of serenity. Each time I went by that section I admired the ways their roots intertwined for what seemed like forever. It was peaceful. And it was in that part of the trail where even for a brief moment I would think about my dissertation. It was where the manglares were located that I had an epiphany about bilingualism. It occurred to me that the mangroves or manglares are an ideal picture of how language works. On the outside languages can all look the same, in terms of structure and use, some may even say that most languages share the same roots (and many do!). For years researchers have been talking about language use in school settings in a binary fashion. As in students and teachers should use one language at a time, BUT in reality the ways bilinguals (students and teachers alike) use language is similar to the way los manglares de Ecuador interact with nature and quite frankly survive. Our linguistic resources are always in contact with one another. There is no beginning and there is no end with the way we use two or more languages. And what is more fascinating (to me!) is that this kind of dynamic bilingualism is only found in certain parts of the world. Like the mangroves, the climate, or context, in which individuals constantly draw from various linguistic resources simultaneously depends on (language) contact with other natural resources. For the mangroves this includes a swamp, for bilingualism it includes language contact. This analogy is a work in progress…..

I am Bilingual or Translanguaging Practices

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If you speak to me in Spanish and I respond in English it’s not because I don’t speak Spanish well it’s because I AM BILINGUAL.

If I start a sentence in Spanish and finish it in English it’s not because I don’t speak Spanish well it’s because I AM BILINGUAL.

If I can’t remember a word in Spanish, but remember it in English it’s not because I don’t speak Spanish well it’s because I AM BILINGUAL.

If you say you like my accent in Spanish, but not my accent in English it’s not because I don’t speak English well it’s because I AM BILINGUAL.

My Toddler’s Bilingual Development

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I have been recording (mostly on Facebook) my daughters’ bilingual development. The following conversation took place when she was 1 year and 11 months old.

Me: Sabrina, ven a comer los frijoles.
Sabrina: No, jole!
Me: Ven aquí.
Sabrina: No ven
Me: Si
Sabrina No, si!

As you can see  her words are “fragmented” and she echoed what I was saying, yet all in Spanish. It has been an amazing journey that not a single person could have described to me prior to deciding to raise my daughter with 2 (at least) languages. I have seen her change from a predominately Spanish speaker at 2 and a 1/2 years old to having a strong command of English within 6 months of being immersed in an English daycare. Today, at 4 years old, it can be difficult to tell which of the 2 languages she speaks “better.” Just the other day the following conversation took place between her and a new friend:

New Friend: Sabrina, por que hablas ingles?
Sabrina: En Austin hablamos espaniol y in Ecuador we speak English!
Me: That’s right, honey. You are bilingual and your friend is becoming bilingual just like you!

In fact, one could argue, based on that single sentence she uttered above, that she has a strong command of both languages because she managed to code-switch while maintaining the grammatical structure of both languages!

When it comes to raising a bilingual child it seems like, as I have said before, there are many trials, joys, and tribulations. Having moved to Ecuador recently we switched to speaking English with Sabrina for the first time in her life! She refused to speak to us in English for about 2 months UNTIL she came home from her first day at a Spanish school. The teachers and classmates were so impressed with her American English that she, what I assume, felt proud. Since that day she speaks mostly in English to us. It was a complete shock to me to see how drastically she switched all due to what her peers thought. Now, as I mentioned, my biggest concern is asking her to switch back to Spanish IF we ever decide to move back to the U.S.

Have your children successfully switched back to the original language you had spoken after moving back to a country of origin?