Hola mi gente, it’s been a minute!! I’ve missed this writing time so I’m glad to finally have some time to get some stuff out. We had a super busy weekend, pero I have new stuff to share with you! Today, vamos a chismear about raising bilingual chamacos and resources we love and that work! Tengo un pan dulce and my warm tea, porque the weather is so on and off – it feels like invierno all over again. Cozy up, que empieza el chisme.
Growing up I was raised in a trilingual casa, where I spoke Spanish with mi mama, English with my dad and Sign Language with my brother who is deaf. I also went to school enrolled in a French Immersion Program, asi que, let’s just say I am proof that learning more than one language at one time is not confusing or hindering for chamacos. I am now a French Immersion teacher, teaching at the grade 1 level here in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).
Ahora that I have my own chamacos, my little Mexipinos (Mexican/Filipinos), I am committed to also raise them bilingually. Pero como todo, it is no easy task. As mi esposo is Filipino, he doesn’t speak Spanish and only understands un poquito. My own parents don’t live here, asi que the only Spanish exposure they get is from me, myself, and I. If you also live in Canada, our Spanish resources are slim pickings and not so accessibly found. If you live in a big city, como Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, or Vancouver, you have SOME resources and anywhere else, pues buena suerte. Jajaja.
Lucky para mi, I do live near Toronto and have found a couple resources for Spanish books and materials. This past weekend we went to check out Toronto’s Spanish Bookstore, located near Yonge and Bloor. It is such a cute little bookstore with a good selection of libros para los chamacos and even adult reads. We even found some DVD’s and travel guides en Espanol too. Entonces, we picked up some books and vocabulary flashcards for los chamacos and a novel for myself, which I can’t wait to read and hopefully share with you later on.
Our other biggest resource is la maravilla of the Internet. Jajaja. Gracias for online shopping!! I can order pretty much cualquier cosa that we want, pero that comes at a price… + shipping… +duty… +US dollars… = Ay ay ay! Entonces, when we do order it has to be something we REALLY MUST have. De otra manera, we will actually make the time for a weekend getaway or day trip to the US (Buffalo), and hit up our (well mostly mine) favorite store: TARGET. Jajaja. Enserio!! I always find cute things from graphic tees with Spanish sayings on them, books and activities in Spanish, Movies and toys with Spanish settings – no pos guuuuaaaauu!! Es lo mejor! The only thing they’re missing are my all time, numero 1, Lay’s Lime flavored chips. <– Taget, get on that. Enserio.
All these resources, materials, books, flashcards y ahora que? Pues, now comes the hard part jajaja. Por supuesto! You have to commit. You have to be consistent. Y no te rajes!! You cannot give up.
Make a commitment plan. Set casa rules on who speaks what language and when. Para mi, while I was on Mat Leave and alone with los chamacos I spoke to them mainly in Spanish. Ahora that I’m back at work, this has been trickier. Since I’m a French Immersion teacher, I spend September to January teaching my students French. They come into my grade one class not knowing NADA, and by the end of the year they are fluent. Entonces, when I’m done work all I want is for people to just understand and follow what I’m saying jajaja. Ademas, as I mentioned, mi esposo doesn’t speak Spanish, entonces I don’t want him feeling left out or not understanding what I’m communicating to los chamacos when he is present. Si, si, ya se – if I’m more consistent then he would learn too, I know… I’m slacking on that part, I won’t lie. That is why consistency is key.
Be consistent. Si, si I will take my own advice. Once you have set who speaks what language en la casa, los chamacos will follow suit and adapt before you even realize it. Growing up, I knew as soon as I heard mi mama or seen her, only Spanish came to mind. Asi fue with my dad tambien, with English of course – and even in school. Anything to do with school, to this day in my career, is in French. I’ve kept that consistency jaja. This will also guide los chamacos on when and with whom to use what language. When chamacos know what is expected of them, they have an easier time fulfilling those expectations and in turn experience success. Win, win, win! Me gusta, me gusta!
Y no te rajes! Don’t give up on it, don’t let it slide, don’t get lazy with it. Porque being bilingual is like company: the more the merrier. Every language is a whole new door open for opportunity, connections, knowledge and experience. Ademas, it is a proven fact that knowing more than one language is even beneficial for your first language and will help strengthen your mother tongue skills – as well as aid in making connections in other learning experiences (te juro, google it!). Adicionalmente, if you are Latinx, you can preserve and pass on nuestra idioma, cultura y tradiciones to your chamacos. Que hermoso.
Languages are the greatest gifts my parents could have ever given me. It has given me so. many. opportunities. I was educated in French and attended a CEGEP college program in Trois Rivieres, Quebec for a summer, I could live and communicate in the bilingual city of Ottawa during university, I even became a French Immersion teacher. My Spanish has allowed me to better communicate and understand mi mama, visit Mexico every year growing up and maintain relationships with mi familia y amigos there, I am now able to assist new comers to Canada who are enrolled in my school with translation, I am able to enjoy all those bilingual shows like Jane the Virgin, Texicanas, Queen of the South, One Day at a Time, without having to read the subtitles jajaja and not to mention enjoy all that musica!!! *cue Reggaetton beats* jajaja. Y tambien, write this Blog!! Claro!
I hope our Spanish routines en la casa immerse mis chamacos as well as I was. We make the effort to rotate bedtime stories: one night English, one night Spanish and the occasional French book – pero, we will leave that language for them to learn at school. We make time to bring out the Spanish puzzles, coloring books, and even go through some flashcards during playtime to make things fun and keep it light. I don’t ever want to make learning and maintaining Spanish boring and strict. Just like in the classroom, los chamacos need to feel confident and encouraged – quitales el miedo of making a mistake and praise the attempts.
Every minute counts, so make it count! Even right now, I’m typing at our breakfast island, facing la comida cooking on the stove and my ears are open to Mireya playing in the living room. Mucho multitasking jaja. Pero enserio, find those small pockets of time and use them wisely. When los chamacos are en el carro with me, we listen to Spanish music – I mean, not always age appropriate jaja pero mami needs some entertainment too *Cue Reggaetton music again* jaja. When we take our perrita, Chica for a walk, I point things out in Spanish and get them to repeat it. We even put their shows or movies in the Spanish setting, asi they hear other voices and accents other than mine. Y siempre, siempre, siempre when we facetime con Abuela and Grandpa, we encourage los chamacos to use their Spanish. I want them to know that it’s not solely from me, pero from their Abuela.
Do some research. Si, andale, abre el google y find some classes, activities, meet ups, where you and your chamacos can unite with other Latinxs and practice! Last summer we decided to stop over at this park in a nearby barrio on our way home from groceries. We ended up meeting a familia Mexicana who is a part of this group called Latinos en Markham (we live in Markham). We exchanged contact information and she added me to the group, where I now receive invites to local get togethers and events with other Latinx in our area. I’m hoping we have a playdate soon or a picnic for los chamacos to get to know each other better.
I also found out about this International Languages program which is offered through the school board I work for (YCDSB), as a summer program for Javi. It’s designated for school aged chamacos who would like to preserve and maintain their heritage and culture through language – y tambien is open to any other chamacos interested in learning a new language. No pos guuuuaaaauu!!! Ademas, you won’t even believe how much it cost to register… $20!!! For 3 weeks of summer, every morning from 9am to 11:30am. Esta padrisimo!! I’m really hoping this will get Javi producing more in Spanish and hear more output from him. Ya que entiende casi todo, pero si hace caso es otra historia jajaja. I’ll have to keep you posted on how that summer program goes for him. Espero que muy bien!
As for Mireya, pues ella apenas is starting to really talk so her language is more Spanglish jaja. She only says a few words in Spanish, como “agua” “casa” “mama” “abuela” “con calma” ajajaj <— blame Daddy Yankee, it’s her number 1 song right now. Pero ahi la lleve, she will learn with time. Y mas if Javi really starts speaking in Spanish.
Veremos lo que pasa. Pero what I do know is that the commitment is there, our consistency can be better and will be, and we will not give up.
Here are some of our favourite resources for you to check out:
Lil’ Libros Bilingual book collection (various titles) – @lillibros on IG or http://www.lillibros.com
http://www.target.com – check out the books and activities they have, or even some gear!
Toronto’s Spanish Bookstore, located at Yonge & Bloor.
http://www.spanishcentre.com for more resources or go visit their Bookstore, Libros del Sol.
Chamacos’ Subscription Box ***I have yet to try this one, pero I think it’s so shido!! I can’t wait to order one, I’ll let you know how it goes!*** @holaamigobox on IG or http://www.holaamigobox.com
Pic provided by @pachangueras_valy on IG – go follow for some motivational posts and accessories!