Monolingual Parents, Bilingual Children: Tips for Success + Giveaway!

Monolingual Parents, Bilingual Children: Tips for Success + Giveaway!

Inside: Resources for monolingual parents raising bilingual kids.

 

Limited-time only: this post includes a giveaway you won’t want to miss! Make sure to enter by midnight, September 28th to win some amazing Spanish resources from Linguacious!

Raising multilingual kids is a big goal for any family, but especially daunting for monolingual parents wanting to raise bilingual kids. Most of my resources are geared to teachers, or parents who at least speak some Spanish. But is it possible, if they parents don’t speak Spanish themselves?

There are families doing just that! It is not easy, but here I’ve got some tips and amazing resources for parents in this situation. 

In today’s post, I’m writing with families in mind whose kids are learning a second language that is not the majority language. In other words, I’m not really writing to the Spanish-speaking family with kids who just moved to the U.S. In cases like that, your children will probably go to school and learn English beautifully. Your main focus will probably be keeping up Spanish at home, so they stay bilingual!

These specific tips are geared toward an English-speaking family in the US, for example, who would like their kids to learn Spanish. Read on for some great resources and help!

 

1. Learn Together, As a Family

 

Ideally, you’ll be learning alongside your kids. This shows your kids that you are truly invested in their bilingualism, and allows you to work the language into your daily family life. In fact, it’s probably the key factor as to whether your children reach higher levels of the new language.

Read up on how to teach yourself Spanish using free online resources to get started. You’ll make mistakes along the way (and maybe your kids will get to the point where they correct you!), but your willingness to make mistakes is a good lesson for them as well. I’ve also teamed up with Bilingual Kidspot to create a starter kit for families learning Spanish, and you can find specific steps and resources there. 

 

2. Get Organized

 

As with any major goal, the biggest obstacle is just making it happen! Take a whole weekend to make a plan. Research materials, order resources (see below!), look at your calendar, and think about your family dynamics. Go ahead and print some posters or plans and get a physical Spanish notebook going. Here are some questions to help you get going:

  • What is a realistic weekly time commitment?
  • What do your kids enjoy? (Books, games, sports, etc. How can you attach Spanish to these hobbies?)
  • What space in your home is the “gathering” space? Can you hang posters there or fill a basket with some games and books?
  • What is your budget? Can you invest in some materials or classes?

 

3. Gather Resources 

 

Don’t leave yourselves with any excuses! As monolingual parents, you will need to surround yourself with materials that provide the language for you. Here are some helpful things to already have on hand:

I always recommend games to families, because they are one of the most enjoyable ways to learn a language. However, they also involve speaking, which can be tricky for parents who are learning along with their kids. I just recently came across an amazing resource that solves this problem!

Linguacious flashcards, available in over 15 languages, were created by Ph.D. linguists and parents of bilingual children to support families learning together. They can be used for a variety of games and for all four language skills: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. The cards are sturdy for little hands and years of use, and use realistic photos for the images.

And the best part? They all include QR codes that work with the Linguacious App, so you can check for pronunciation on the spot, with examples from native speakers. Kids LOVE this feature, since they can scan the cards themselves!

 

 

If you’d like a set for your family, enter the giveaway below to win a Linguacious product of your choice! Linguacious also offers posters with QR codes, that you can set up around your house. Having visuals around really helps keeps Spanish continually present, not something you try for a week and give up. You can hang the poster in places that make sense for daily use, too, like a food poster in the kitchen or dining room. 

 

 

 

4. Look for Ways to Immerse Your Kids/Family

 

Hopefully, you will be able to take classes and/or find a tutor at some point. I also recommend looking for ways to immerse yourselves in Spanish, however possible. Not only will you learn more Spanish, but it’s incredibly motivating to continue in the language. 

Some families will be able to do something like vacationing in a Spanish-speaking country, or finding a language school. For others, it will need to be a local option. Here are some ideas:

  • Look for bilingual story hour at your local public library
  • Find opportunities to volunteer with Spanish speakers
  • Swap English lessons for Spanish lessons
  • Find a native speaker who will Skype with you once a week

 

Linguacious Cards Giveaway

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

All of the Linguacious sets are available on Amazon. Click on the image to see for yourself!

 

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German Children’s Songs: A YouTube Playlist for Beginners

German Children’s Songs: A YouTube Playlist for Beginners

Inside: German children’s songs: some introductory German music on YouTube, for learners. 

 

Let’s state the obvious: I don’t speak German, or know much about it!. However, I am working on a world music collection for Multicultural Kid Blogs and got some suggestions for German songs from our MKB community. So I’m including their suggestions, as well as a few more, to help parents looking for German children’s songs.

If you are looking for other music collections, I have a post on songs in French for kids, and well as an extensive list of songs in Spanish for kids

 

German Children’s Songs

Special thanks to The European Mama and Erin at Large. If you have some more ideas to help me out, I would really appreciate it!

 

1. Fünf kleine Fische

 

 

2. Grün, grün, grün sind alle meine Kleider

 

 

3. Was müssen das für Bäume sein

 

 

4. Alle meine Entchen

 

 

5. ABCs in German

 

If you click on this song, you can also access songs for each letter of the alphabet. 

 

6. Numbers 1-10 in German

 

 

7. Day of the Week in German

 

 

8. Greetings Songs in German 

 

 

Some support for understanding the song above:

 

Did I miss one of your favorite German children’s songs? Please let me know in the comments!

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German Children's Songs

French Songs for Kids: A Playlist for Beginners

French Songs for Kids: A Playlist for Beginners

Inside: A collection of French songs for kids on YouTube. 

 

As we raise our two bilingual kids, I’ve always planned to introduce a third or even fourth language. While this has always been the goal, I’ve been pretty spotty on following through. My son is super interested in French, and my goal this fall is to be more consistent with that. 

always recommend songs for parents wanting to teach their kids Spanish. It’s the perfect way to pick up pronunciation, remember words, and hear language in context.

I created a huge collection of songs in Spanish for kids, but haven’t found something similar for French. So here goes step 1: creating a YouTube playlist! 

We don’t want to set our kids loose on YouTube, and I don’t want him just listening to random songs. Here’s my collection of what we’ll be using as we started!

 

French Songs for Kids on YouTube

 

1. French Greeting Songs

 

Greetings are a good place to start as we learn to introduce ourselves and say hello. I like “French Greetings Song for Children” (also introduces numbers) and “Bonjour, Bonjour.”

 

 

 

2. French Colors Song

 

This one is nice for just learning each color word:

 

3. French Numbers Song

 

We’ve definitely learned 1-10 after a few listens!

 

 

 

 

4. French Alphabet Songs

 

More lighthearted than most on this list, Yo no sé mañana speaks to the uncertainty of new love with an upbeat salsa tone.

 

 

 

5. French Songs to Learn About the Family

 

 

 

 

 

6. French Songs for Parts of the Body

 

 

 

 

7. French Folk Songs for Kids 

 

Frère Jacques

 

Au Clair de la Lune

 

Nous n’irons plus as bois

 

 

What would you add? I am NOT a French speaker, and would love to hear your suggestions! Let me know in the comments!

 

Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Things Bilingual Moms Do In Public

Inside: Thing bilingual moms do.

 

Mothering is interesting. So full of sweet moments!.. and also full of moments in which we would clearly choose teleportation of the entire family as our superpower. 

Sometimes I think my kids save up those “special moments” for the grocery store, the playground, or the dinner table at somebody else’s house. We react and handle things as best we can, hoping it’s the right thing to do. 

And sometimes, multilingualism saves the day. What can I say? Being bilingual– especially when you live in a fairly monolingual place– does give us some extra options. 

You can’t assume who speaks what around you, but it’s confession time. Here are five things I’ve actually done as a bilingual mom. Dads probably do them too. 

 

 

1. Make dire threats in the minority language.

Angry Comedy GIF by Bounce_TV - Find & Share on GIPHY

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Er… I mean, redirect. Some moms have to rely on that look; we can straight up say what we need to say in that grocery store line. 

 

2. Bribe our children in the minority language.

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Bribery is universally frowned upon in the parenting world, even though I’m pretty sure everybody does it. The good thing is we can get away with it.  Everybody around thinks we just repeated ourselves in a firm voice, and it magically worked. I’ll take it!

 

3. Redirect our kids in the majority language (for the benefit of other nearby parents). 

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Here’s a time to break out of the minority language: when your kids clearly need redirection, and you need all the other parents around to know you’re on it.

“Honey, let that little girl have a turn too,” exchange a smile with the mom across the playground, and you’re good to go.

 

4. Breathe a sigh of relief when our children say something rude(after realizing nobody understood it).

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Children say what they think: it’s a fact of life. It can also be horribly embarrassing. When my son once remarked that a nearby man looked like a wolf, I just prayed that the gentleman was monolingual and took the chance to quietly explain why he has to be careful saying things like that. The fact that is was said in English (and hopefully not understood) helped me play it cool and make the most of that teachable moment. 

 

5. Translate the positive…

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My three-year-old speaks whatever language she wants, in the moment. Did she just say something polite and adorable? Well, allow me to translate that for you. 

 

…and lie about the negative. 

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OH MY GOSH you CANNOT say that out loud.”
He loves it. Thank you sooo much.”
Don’t judge me but yes, yes, yes I’ve done this one.

 

6. Say sappy things to our kids without embarrassing them.

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Kids too embarrassed to show affection in front of their friends? No problem if they’re bilingual. You can sneak in all the mushy-gushy things you want as you drop them off at school. And maybe you’ll get that “love you mom” back, even when they’re “too old” to say it. 

 

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love being a Spanglish family. Of course, Spanish and English are widely spoken languages, and I should probably get going on a third, more obscure language, if I want to use of these “strategies” more effectively. #goals

 

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Things Bilingual Moms Do

Spanish Bug Books for Toddlers and Kids

Spanish Bug Books for Toddlers and Kids

Inside: Spanish bug books for kids. 

 

My kids are really into bugs. Sometimes I’ll find them turning over rocks in the yard to see what treasures they’ll find underneath. I’ve had to study up to learn a lot of the names myself! Today I’ve collected my favorite books about bugs in Spanish, to read as a family. (Looking for more books? See my posts on 50 Bilingual Books in Spanish and English, and 50 Authentic Picture Books in Spanish.)

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

 

Spanish Bug Books for Kids

 

Insectos! (Dk Readers En Espanol. Level 2)

Here’s a general guide and easy reader for bugs in Spanish. I like the DK readers for non-fiction, and this one will be helpful if you have a curious child or a learning the names together. 

 

 

 

..Sabes algo sobre insectos?/ Do You Know about Insects? 

This is another general guide, with good realistic photos and facts about insects in Spanish. 

 

 

 

La araña muy ocupada (Spanish Edition)

My kids really enjoy this book, which is a delightful introduction to how spiders spin webs. The spider and her web are raised, and little hands love to feel the growing web. 

 

 

 

La abeja de más (Spanish Edition)

A funny fictional story about a colony of bees who discover an unknown bee has entered their hive. This is a fun look into the inner workings of a hive, the queen bee, and worker bees. 

 

 

La vida de la abeja (¡Mira cómo crece!) (Spanish Edition)

Here’s a close-up look in the entire lifespan of a bee, from egg to adult. 

 

 

 

La oruga muy hambrienta/The Very Hungry Caterpillar: bilingual board book (Spanish Edition)

This is one of our very favorites, and a gentle introduction into the lifecycle of a caterpillar and butterfly. It’s hard to get better than Eric Carle! 

 

National Geographic Readers: De la Oruga a la Mariposa (Caterpillar toButterfly) 

Here’s a non-fiction look into the lifecycle of a butterfly, witch good photos and explanations. As a non-native Spanish speaker, it’s so helpful to have the technical terms for me to learn!

 

 

 

 

La Mariposa

Butterflies are just the backstory to this touching book about a boy who doesn’t speak English in his new school, but it’s a beautiful story with beautiful pictures. 

 

 

La Mariquita Malhumorada (Spanish Edition)

Another Eric Carle treasure that’s been translated into Spanish, this one follows a grouchy ladybug who meets lots of other insects and finally learns some manners. It’s also a good peek into a ladybug’s life.

 

 

 

 

La luz de Lucía (Spanish Edition)

This story is about a little firefly who learns to accept her own uniqueness and shine her light. 

 

 

 

 

Non-fiction Guides to Specific Insects in Spanish

 

If you are looking for specific guides or want to have a collection about different insects, you may want to check out these titles!

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for more activities to do with bugs in Spanish, I have a bilingual game pack, with picture cards to play Memory, Go Fish, Bingo, and a mini-book. Check it out for some extra bug fun!

 

The Best Spanish Board Books for Babies & Toddlers

The Best Spanish Board Books for Babies & Toddlers

Inside: Spanish board books (or bilingual books) for babies and toddlers. 

 

The earlier you start introducing language, the better. Studies show, in fact, that babies recognize language sounds from the womb

By far, my favorite baby shower and birthday gifts have been books in Spanish, or bilingual books. And board books will last for years, through little brothers or sisters too! I still have some of my own books from my childhood: think of how this will encourage your kids to pass on Spanish to their kids, one day!

I love having bilingual books when they’re available. I will warn you, though, that our kids get attached to the stories we read over and over. When they’ve memorized it in a certain language, they sometimes insist on that one!

(For more book lists and suggestions, be sure to see my Spanish children’s books page.)

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support!

 

Spanish Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

 

Here are sturdy little board books that will last curious fingers and maybe even some chewing (right??). Fill those little mind with beautiful language, from day one.

 

Diez deditos de las manos y Diez deditos de los pies

This one is just too sweet, from the illustrations to the text. Rhyming words introduce babies from all over the world, through a fingerplay of counting baby’s fingers and toes. 

 

 

Little Chickies / Los Pollitos: A bilingual lift-the-flap book 

Los pollitos is part of a series from Canticos introducing well-known rhymes in Spanish. I love Los pollitos, and you can find other rhymes like Un elefante se balanceaba. So cute!

 

 

La oruga muy hambrienta/The Very Hungry Caterpillar: bilingual board book

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is such a classic, you can’t go wrong with this one as a baby shower gift! Every Spanglish home needs this treasure.

 

Global Babies/Bebes del mundo

I love the text of this book, and I love the global images of babies from all over the world. My kids always enjoy seeing the real pictures of babies. 

 

 

 

Zapata: Colors / Colores

Lil’ libros is a great company that has been busy writing bilingual board books packed with Latino culture. This one is a sweet introduction of the colors, but be sure to check out their whole series!

 

 

Oso pardo, oso pardo, ¿qué ves ahí?

I am so glad these classics are available in Spanish! Learn both animals and colors with these anticipatory rhymes. 

 

 

 

Sweet Dreams/Dulces Suenos (My Family/ Mi Familia)

This is a wonderful little bedtime book, and perfect for Spanglish families who are trying to do Spanish bedtime routines. 

 

 

 

      

Buenas Noches, Bebe! / Good Night, Baby!, Buenos Dias, Bebe!

These soft board books were helpful to me as a new mom trying to speak Spanish with my kids. The books take you through morning and night routines, with some phrases I hadn’t been sure how to express. 

 

 

 

Cinco monitos brincando en la cama/Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (A Five Little Monkeys Story)

We love all the Monitos books and their antics. My kids ask for these quite often, still!

 

 

El camioncito Azul (Little Blue Truck, Spanish Edition)

There are several titles available about El camioncito azul, with good stories and beautiful illustrations. 

 

 

 

Buenas noches, Gorila

This is a fun book that makes little ones laugh over naughty Gorila. The text is scant, so it may be best for native speakers and not parents trying to learn (or remember!) Spanish along with their kids. 

 

 

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes/Cabeza, Hombros, Piernas, Pies 

I love, love fingerplays and movement songs. This is one babies will be sure to love too!

 

 

 

 

Besos for Baby: A Little Book of Kisses

This book is bilingual in the sense that it switches between languages. Very sweet!

 

 

 

 

Ve, Perro. Ve!: Go, Dog. Go! (Bright & Early Board Books

Another classic available in Spanish as a board book!

 

 

 

What Spanish board books do you love? Let me know in the comments?

 

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Spanish board books for babies and toddlers

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