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Kids Can Learn Spanish - Articles Surfing
Kids Can Learn Spanish! Spanish for Children
I just got a call from my two year old granddaughter. She wanted to sing "Los Pollitos" to me. You can find this children's classic in most of the collections of songs that we are recommending.
It is perfect for hand gestures. These gestures are ideal for language learning because they imprint the sense of the words as the child recites.
The text is: (translation follows)
Los pollitos dicen p'o, p'o, p'o
(the kids make gesture of shivering)
La gallina busca el ma'z y el trigo;
(the kids make the gesture of Mom hugging her kids.)
(the kids should ham it up, making a little chick face!)
The little chicks say peep, peep, peep
Some parents are interested in preparing their children for life in today's world where it is important to know more than one language. This is even more important in our hemisphere where it becomes increasingly valuable to know Spanish.
Other people think of the intellectual stimulation that learning a language provides. They think that they can give their children a an additional intellectual challenge in a painless way. Researcher in London, England have determined that learning a second language boosts brain power which remains throughout life.
Learning a language can be a source of pride and self esteem for the child who is fortunate enough to be exposed to learning outside of the classroom.
There are some parents who are concerned that their children grow up respecting the different heritages that surround them. Concerned that the nativist tradition of United States history is always present, many parents, not of a Spanish Speaking background, choose to prepare their children to accept and embrace the Hispanic culture they live alongside of.
Their reason to encourage their children to speak Spanish is based in part on the history of a previous group of Latin immigrants to the United States, the Italians.
"Some social critics were aware of the consequences of sudden assimilation. Mary McDowell, a social worker, wrote en 1904:
'The contempt for the experiences and languages of their parents which foreign children sometimes exhibit... is doubtless due in part to the overestimation which the school places upon speaking English. This cutting into his family loyalty takes away one of the most conspicuous and valuable traits of the Italian child.' She attributed the lawlessness of some of the immigrant children to their disrespect for their parents and therefore for all authority."
(La Storia: Five Centuries of the Italian American Experience, Mangione and Morreale, p. 222)
Reflection on this same national history, and often more importantly personal experience, moves many Hispanic parents to keep their language alive in their children. They want to preserve their heritage for their children by giving them its most evocative and powerful manifestation, the language of their forebears.
'Buena Suerte y adelante con su cometido!
Although most of us agree that it is a good thing for our kids to speak Spanish, most kids in the US whose parents were born in Latin American countries do not speak Spanish well.
Even if both parents speak Spanish at home, quite often the kids answer their parents in English. Look around at your Latin friends and relatives and you will see that most give up on teaching their kids to speak
Spanish. Chicano and Puerto Rican families seem to have a little better luck than Latinos from other countries with keeping Spanish alive in their barrios but even their younger generation is losing fluency in Spanish.
However, parents who want their children to speak Spanish can go against the current and set the stage for their children to grow up speaking Spanish. It is not easy. Most families fail in their resolve but it CAN be done. Take a look at our bilingual study. How to Get Your Children to Speak Your Language/'C'mo Lograr que Sus Hijos Hablen Su Idioma? You can find it in http://www.leerespoder.com/comoeng.htm. This report will give some hints on how to improve your chances.
But it is most important for you to get your kids reading Spanish BEFORE they learn to read in English.
Don't be afraid that it will hurt their English. Unless they are living in a closed Spanish Speaking Barrio,
their English will be perfect. They will absorb it on the playground and in the school. Your job is to keep the Spanish up!
Take a look at the fuller argument presented below for the importance of your kids learning to read FIRST in Spanish.
Finally, another idea for native speakers of Spanish: You may want to review (or study it for the first time) your Spanish. I found one reference for you. Sorry it is expensive; that's because it is used as a textbook. But that will make it easy to use and will surely be complete. Take a look at Nuevos Mundos, Spanish for Native Speakers 2nd Edition, Workbook : Curso de espanol para estudiantes bilingues"
If their children learn to read Spanish, they may not have the proper pronunciation. This is a tough issue. Some might say that pronunciation is not important for children. However, why not try to expose them to the correct values of the Spanish sounds. Parents should work on their own pronunciation to model as correctly as possible for their kids.
Nevertheless, the value of the parents' involvement in reading and singing in Spanish with their children more than outweighs the disadvantage of the child hearing their poor pronunciation. Much of the damage can be remedied by having the child listen to as much Spanish spoken by native speakers as possible.
So, in general terms parents can fall into one of three groups:
All of the above boils down to three tactics that are valid for all kinds of parents and all kinds of kids of all ages and level of Spanish.........
2. Pattern Response Drills: Those parents who know some Spanish can try to run through all the permutations of the new expressions that the child learns. For example, suppose your child just learned to say. "Pedro tiene cuatro a'os" rather than translating from the English incorrectly, "Pedro es cuatro". Now to make this new element of the language stick, you should go on substituting different ages and the names of different people. The child will soon be able to say comfortably, "Mar'a tiene cuatro a'os." "Juan tiene ocho a'os." "Yo tengo tres a'os." "'Cu'ntos a'os tienes t'?" There are many examples of these drills in most language courses but the parent can generate them herself.
The Alphabet: If your child is coming up on kindergarten age,
Spanish is completely regular. They can learn the vowels in one sitting.This is how Spanish Speaking kids learn: from "abecedarios", the same as English Speaking children used to learn from primers. If your child learns to read (even if only simple words) Spanish first, in effect you are giving them a
You can start the child reading the simple words like Mami, comida, mesa, Papi, mu'eca, carro, etc. Basically you are giving them phonics without having to buy any expensive program.
As they progress in English they will still have to deal with the irregularities of this language. However, they will have learned the consonants by applying them to completely foolproof regular vowels.
I said I would be brief. I am very convinced of the value of this method. I have no scientific proof, just intuition and my own experience. To work, you have to teach the child to read the alphabet in Spanish BEFORE they begin to learn in English. If they are already learning in English, it will confuse them. But if you get there FIRST, you will do them a great favor! to see a bunch of alphabet resources for you to choose from.
Toys and Games: Of lesser importance but still a possible beakthrough for certain children could be the use of toys and games (board games and others) as a way to sneak in some fun and variety into the learning process. See if Spanish Educational Toys would be useful for your child.
Computer Programs for kids If you or your child is computer savvy or if you want to combine math or science with Spanish you may want to check out the Educational Software for Children in Spanish: Reader Rabbit, Disney, Jump Start and many more...
Some First Recitations
Pinp'n es un mu'eco,
(the kids smile for "muy guapo",
se lava la carita
con agua y con jab'n.
que quiero ser tu amigo
'Pinp'n, Pinp'n, Pinp'n!
Pinp'n is a doll,
Pinp'n give me your hand,
"'con e"! "Le mer estebe serene; serene estebe le mer".
"'con i"! "Li mir istibi sirini; sirini istibi li mir".
"'con o"! "Lo mor ostobo sorono; sorono ostobo lo mor".
"'con u"! "Lu mur ustubu surunu; surunu estubu lu mur.
You'll find the kids really like this one.
It might be interesting to do some "reverse engineering" and look at the world of those Spanish Speakers who want to learn English. Check out http:www.leerespoder.com
If you want to keep up your Spanish. Try to keep reading books in Spanish on a wide range of topics, la familia, la salud, los negocios, el ni'o, el adolescente, etc. A good source is http://www.bookslibros.com/LibrosEnEspanol.php
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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