I’m Elisabeth, the teacher and mother behind Spanish Mama. I actually never expected to speak Spanish, teach Spanish, or raise my kids in it. But here I am!
I struggled in my Spanish classes, back in school. Multilingualism seemed to be for a special crowd: people less self-conscious or with a “better ear” for languages. As much as I loved the adventure of travel and different cultures, a second language felt out of reach.
I created this little corner of the internet because life surprised me. I did learn a second language, and later, I discovered resources that gave me confidence as a teacher and parent. I want my readers to feel the same. You can raise little Spanish-speakers; your classroom can be full of living language that sticks!
You’ll notice I have a little bit of everything. If it feel overwhelming, my start here page is a good place to get oriented.
In 2003, I entered UNC-Chapel Hill with plans to major in Elementary Education and minor in Spanish. After floundering through Spanish 2, I dropped the minor and figured a second language wasn’t for me.
In 2007, I moved to the high jungle of Peru to teach English. Five months turned into two years, and along the way I fell for a local guy named Pocho. We got married in the U.S. and lived there 8 years, before returning to Peru in 2017.
I’ve taught a little bit of everything over the past 10 years: English in Peru, 1st and 2nd grade in the U.S., and Spanish from preschool to high school.
Even when dating, we talked about raising our kids bilingually. It seemed like a no-brainer when our first baby was born! But when the time came for cooing and baby talk, and then little baby commands, I felt a little lost and unnatural.
I realized that being a bilingual family was going to involve more intentionality than I’d realized. It’s meant building a library of books, music, and poetry in Spanish, making a language plan, and working really hard. We’re planning to home school bilingually in a few years as well, and are exploring options to follow a Charlotte Mason model in Spanish.
I teach Spanish in my newly textbook-free classroom— an exciting and challenging change. I’m a firm believer now that we should start with the whole, and then move to the parts (rather than starting with bits of grammar rules and vocabulary). Now we are proficiency-based and comprehensible input-driven.
I teach using a combination of TPRS, authentic songs and resources, games, and novels to give students real-life Spanish skills. I have lots of ideas and fun as a teacher, but am not always super-organized. Interactive notebooks help keep us anchored and organize class content and the few days we do grammar. I feel like teachers face a lot of judgment on the internet, whichever way we teach. I hope you don’t feel that here!
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