Motivating Kids to Use the Minority Language

Motivating Kids to Use the Minority Language

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Last night I was curled up on the couch with Janio (3), reading before bedtime. He brought some of his favorite books, one of them a book in English with little farm stories. I usually translate the stories into Spanish as I read aloud. It makes it less relaxing for me, but seems worth it. Last night I was really tired, and halfway through reverted to English. Janio didn’t miss a beat: “Mommy, no inglés. Quiero escuchar en español.” How does a 3-year-old know the different between me speaking Spanish and English? That I don’t know. His insistence on Spanish, though, confirmed that the hard work has been worth it. The stories and conversation and laughter in Spanish have produced a sense of affection for the language, an early sense that Spanish means family and warmth.

Rita Rosenback from Raising Multilingual Children asked a group of bloggers our best tip for motivating kids to speak a minority language. There are so many things to say, but I’d like to focus on advice for non-native speaking parents. (more…)

Being Brave With Language

Being Brave With Language

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I have a terrible habit I’ve had to work against my whole life: I compare. Constantly. It’s a battle to remind myself not to do this. I do it with everything: how much I get done, how clean my house is, how our children behave. And it spills over into Spanish: how well my lessons go, how my classroom compares to others, how much Spanish our children speak, and how well I speak. (more…)

Terms of Endearment in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Terms of Endearment in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Inside: Terms of endearment in Spanish, explained and examples.

You can’t be in a Spanish-speaking place long before you realize that greetings, good-byes, and addressing people takes on a whole new level. You never leave a party without saying good-bye to everyone single person, and “hola” really isn’t a sufficient way to say hello. Better to include a “buenos días” or “cómo está” if possible. And, the more you love a person, the less you say their name.

In Perú, you kiss to greet and meet and farewell. It takes a bit of figuring out, as a foreigner, and is even more complicated because kissing rituals vary across Spanish-speaking countries, and when people know you’re a foreigner, a la this post on awkward bicultural kissing moments

 

via GIPHY

 

But here’s where you can never go wrong or overboard in Spanish-speaking countries: using terms of endearment. Truly.

In Spanish, it’s very common to address a person by who they are in relation to you. Students will call their teachers “profesora” or just “profe,” and friends would greet each other as “hola, amiga!” (hi, friend!). The rule seems to be, use the person’s title as much as possible.

(This was a lifesaver to me when I was culture-shocked and not speaking Spanish at all yet, and had no idea what anyone’s name was. All the people at our huge church constantly greeted me, and I would resort to “buenas tardes, hermano/a” (good afternoon, brother/sister) every. single. time.)

Especially in romantic relationships, terms of endearment in Spanish are huge. Actual names are generally saved for moments when you are trying to get your special someone’s attention in a roomful of other people who get called “amorcito” as well. To address one’s partner, you choose from a plethora of terms of endearment and add an –ito or –ita if at all possible. Affection is important, and I remember an older lady bragging to me that she and her husband, in their 40 years of marriage, were so in love they had never addressed each other by name.

 

terms of endearment in Spanish

 

When addressing your children, it’s more similar to English: names are used, but also often replaced with a term like “cariño” (dear). What’s different when  addressing people in Spanish is that you actually use their title — “tía” (aunt), “hijito” (little son), “profe” (teacher), or “compañero” — without using their name at all.

I’ve pulled together common terms of endearment for both romantic couples and for sons/daughters. Any Spanish-speaker will probably notice the glaring omissions: gordo/a (fatty?), “flaco/a” (skinny person), viejo/a” (old person), and “negro/a” (dark person?). These are very common, and though they translate negatively, they’re meant  affectionately. One of those lost-in-translation sort of things.

When my Peruvian boyfriend called me “gordita” for the first time, I didn’t react well. Since then, and since we got married, I say it myself. The process of becoming bi-cultural, I suppose!

So here you are. I know I missed some, so please let me know what I should have included!

Terms of Endearment in Spanish for children/sons/daughters:

terms-of-endearment-hijos (2)

 

Terms of Endearment in Spanish for romantic couples:

terms-of-endearment-spanish (1)

If you are looking for more Día de San Valentín / Día de los Enamorados / Día del Amor y Amistad things in Spanish, check out my Valentine’s Day in Spanish post, and Pinterest board!

Follow Spanish Mama’s board El día de San Valentín on Pinterest.

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Why Your Bilingual Child Needs Poetry

Why Your Bilingual Child Needs Poetry

Inside: Why poetry is beneficial to bilingual kids.

When my son was two, it became obvious his English was more advanced than his Spanish. This wasn’t shocking (we live in the U.S.), but I wanted to figure out how to maximize our minority language. I began to watch what was happening in English.

While I teach, the kids are with my mom, a veteran homeschooling mother of over 20 years. My mom was always quoting and reading poems with us– from “This little piggy went to market” to Robert Louis Stevenson. And now Janio is getting the same dose of songs, nursery rhymes, and poems several days a week.

I realized I needed to up my game in Spanish to keep up, which meant some homework for me too. I didn’t have the repertoire of ditties to say when we were getting dressed, when the moon came out, or when we spotted a bird. So I bought Pio Peep, the classic (and beautifully illustrated) books of songs and rhymes in Spanish, and began collecting poems from Peru and Latin America here on my site. They needed to become part of me in order for them to be part of our family culture. Spanish is a beautiful, lyrical, language and perfect for rhymes.

So why does your bilingual child need poetry?

Poetry paves the way for reading, writing and speaking– for mastery of BOTH languages

Celeste Cruz of Joyous Lessons explains poetry this way:

It teaches an ear for language. It models brevity in writing. It prepares one well for more sophisticated reading. It is the mark of an educated person in many intellectual circles. It gives one a sense for diction and rhythm. It aids in understanding the many cultural references that draw on the classics. It provides a sense for metaphor in writing. It helps with public speaking. It sharpens the powers of observation. It exercises the memory. And so on.

I suspect this is why in centuries past children who spent far less time in the classroom could be articulate speakers and good writers, even without the plethora of books we have today. Their oral traditions were strong, and in many families even young children could recite vast quantities of poetry and prose.

Poetry develops a ear for good language and speech.
It teaches children how sounds work together: how to distinguish between different sounds and what sounds are similar. Poetry expands their vocabulary and embeds patterns of grammar and speech.

Poetry promotes cultural literacy.
Most bilingual children are also bi-cultural, and knowing the sayings and rhymes of both cultures allows children fully participate. Poems often include clues into a culture’s history and traditions, or insight into their way of thinking.  Knowing the little rhymes everyone else grew up on helps you get jokes and literary references, too!

Poetry is beautiful.
Pragmatically, poetry is good for your child. But the actual reason we teach poetry is that it is delightful, and trains children to recognize what  beautiful language is. Every child should have a repertoire of rhymes and poems they know by heart (and love) by the time they go to school. Charlotte Mason wrote,

Older (age 9?) children should practice reading aloud every day, and their readings “should include a good deal of poetry, to accustom him to the delicate rendering of shades of meaning, and especially to make him aware that words are beautiful in themselves, that they are a source of pleasure, and are worthy of our honour; and that a beautiful word deserves to be beautifully said… Quite young children are open to this sort of teaching, conveyed, not in a lesson, but by a word now and then.

For very young children like mine, I never make poetry into a lesson. It’s just a part of life: we say poems in the bathtub, when we read Mother Goose or Pío Peep, when we’re putting a band-aid on a scraped knee.

To find poems in Spanish, see my poems page or follow my Pinterest board! Let me know if you have any favorites– I am always looking for more!

Follow Spanish Mama’s board Poemas y Rimas on Pinterest.

About Me

Spanish Mama

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Disclosure

Elisabeth Alvarado is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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