Resources for raising bilingual kids

resources for raising bilingual Kids

Guest Post by Heather Whiteley

Would you like your child to learn a language that you have learned to love? If you're like me, you probably wish you already spoke that language perfectly, and maybe you feel embarrassed of the mistakes you still make in the language, but you still dream of one day seeing your kids master both your first language and a second one as well. 

Fortunately, we're surrounded by incredible resources that can help us achieve our goals. 

Bilingual Phrase Books and Apps

If you find yourself wondering how to say a large number of phrases to your toddler or baby in Spanish, I'd recommend these books which are like phrase dictionaries.  They were written for Spanish speaking parents, but like many bilingual dictionaries, it works for English speakers wanting to learn more Spanish phrases as well. 

The following books have mainly European English and Spanish, but can be very useful worldwide:

Baby English by Diana Sampedro
You can buy this as a paperback or as an e-book for Kindle.  Here is what Amazon says about it:
Baby English es un libro dirigido a los padres que saben lo importante que es ofrecer la oportunidad del bilingüismo a sus hijos y, sin embargo, no saben cómo o por dónde comenzar. En él hay anécdotas, consejos y recomendaciones para que los padres conduzcan a sus hijos por el camino más apropiado.

Mejora tu inglés y haz que tu hijo sea bilingüe by Pilar Vera
This book packs 1700 typical household phrases, as well as 80 authentic conversations into its 200 pages. It's divided by theme, and the author is giving away one of its chapters here if you'd like to have a preview of what the book has to offer. The author is a Spanish mom who found native English translators to help her learn the phrases she would need to teach her children English.  She has a great blog, "La No Nativa", about her experience raising her kids speaking English, her second language. 

The MamaLinuga App has more Latin American Spanish and is in app format.  You can enjoy a limited version for free, and then make a purchase if you think it's something that you'll use. 

 

Online Resources

WordReference.com
This is a combination of a high quality bilingual dictionary and a question and answer forum.  It's very searchable, and useful for learning word usage, and it also has a forum where you can ask specific questions.

Facebook Bilingual Parent Groups
Here you get to hear different parents' struggles and ask for advice.  You learn that you are not alone.  Parents share their best advice, encouragement and tips, and you can make friends. At the moment, my favorite two groups are: 

Non-native Speakers Raising Multilingual Children  and Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children

WhatsApp.com A group of friends from a Facebook Group made a Whatsapp group that has been amazingly invaluable to me.  The group consists of non-native parents teaching Spanish or English to their children. So while I'm asking them for the best way to say something in Spanish, they're asking me how to say something in English.  We all go away with more knowledge and a lot of encouragement. 

YouTube

My kids are able to watch programs such as Pocoyo, Toys on the Go, Louie, and la Gallinita Pintadita in Spanish.  They love screen time, so it's a great way to get some more exposure to native Spanish for my kids. I've recently started making playlists to help curate the content that my kids watch. 

Google I don't just use Google translate. I also use google to see if an expression is commonly used or not.  For example, when I wanted to know whether it was more common to say "cuida al gato" or "cuida el gato", I googled each phrase in qutotation marks, looked at the number of sites using the exact phrase, and then clicked on a few sites to see if any were examples of native speakers using the phrase in their everyday lives.

Humor
I collect Spanish jokes.  They're great for understanding langauge, and I have found them to be fun learning tools for myself and my students.  I look forward to teaching my kids good jokes as they get older.  You can see my collection here.

Physical Resources

DVDs I'm slowly building a collection of DVDs that have Spanish dubbing.  I usually buy them used at sales like the Just Between Friends, an all-around amazing consignment sale for children's toys, clothes, books and more. 

Our Library

If your library has a multilingual children's book section, this can be a huge time and money saver! I get to expose my kids to a wonderful variety of books in Spanish, and then choose which ones to buy for myself after seeing what they're like and how my kids like them.

 

A notebook

I write down words I'm learning.  Sometimes it's just a list of English words that I want to look up and learn in Spanish.  . Eventually, I look up the words and can use the list to review them. On another page, I list words that I need to memorize whether they are masculine or feminine in Spanish.