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Showing posts from April, 2020

Emerging Bilinguals Glossary Entry

The term emerging bilingual is fairly new, but my work with bilinguals dates back to 2010, when I completed my student teaching in a bilingual English-Spanish class at the Joseph J. Hurley K-8 . Immediately following my practicum, I was hired as a long-term substitute to finish the year as a 5th grade teacher and it was at that little community school in the South End of Boston that I fell in love with working with bilingual students. From there I had my first full-time teaching job in a bilingual 3rd grade class at the Sarah Greenwood K-8 in Dorchester, which then morphed into a role as ESL specialist half-way through the year. After one year in Boston Public Schools, I decided to cast my net a bit further, and found my forever home of Framingham. Throughout my decade of teaching experience, the field of teaching English has continued to evolve. Schools commonly use the terms EL or ELL when describing English Language Learners in the United States. Formerly, the

This is not school, this is SLIFE

The governor of Massachusetts officially canceled school for the state for the rest of the school year, and everyone is responding in their own way. This news will likely bring about a lot of different and difficult emotions. I’m sure most parents and teachers expected this to happen, like I did, since so many other states across the country are doing the same. But that doesn’t make it any easier to acclimate or accept that this mandatory social distance quarantine really will be our status quo for the unforeseeable future.  I’ve seen a few people I know starting to post on social media regarding the school closures. “School is not closed,” some have professed, justifying that learning is still taking place, but just in a different way.  Well, I’d like to counter that argument. School is closed, and it will be closed indefinitely. What we are doing right now is not school. It is not distance learning. It is not e-learning, or online classes, or hybrid education. This is a r

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Buenas Noches Luna”

This week's Storytime Bilingue features Buenas Noches Luna , the Spanish translation of the beloved children's book Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. We love the vivid language and images, and the black and white contrast pages are particularly compelling for the little ones whose eyesight is still developing. You'll see how much Mateo interacts with the book during this reading! This is a story I have nearly memorized, because I read it to Maya consistently before bed during our bedtime routine. We've read it so much, she practically has it memorized, too. Sometimes she likes me to read it aloud, and sometimes she likes to "read" the book by describing the images. I actually wrote about her as an emerging bilingual reader in my earlier blog post,  Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader , but the highlight of that post is that research shows repeated readings of the same book really benefit early literacy and vocabulary acquisition. For that reason I

My Burgeoning Bilingual

Maybe it’s because she’s almost three-years-old, or because we’ve been spending so much time cloistered in the house together, but I’ve noticed a huge improvement in Maya’s language output as of recently. She’s been stringing along sentences and recounting stories in Spanish with increasing accuracy, and even her English vocabulary and lexicon has expanded. It also impressed me how she has begun to bridge the two languages, even code-switching when she switches between family members. Although Sofia usually speaks directly to Maya in Spanish, Sofia’s preferred language is English, so it’s no surprise that Maya mimics almost everything her older cousin says. But she’s also spent a lot of time on FaceTime phone calls with my mom, who speaks only English. So the credit goes to Sofia and Memay for Maya's English language development during this time of quarantine. Each morning, Maya gets up and comes into my room, where Francisco and I sleep with Teo’s crib next to our

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Besos for Baby”

This week’s Storytime Bilingüe features “ Besos for Baby ,” a little book of kisses, written in English and Spanish by Jen Arena. My dear bilingual friend, Rachel, gave it to Maya and Mateo, and I thought it would be perfect for our bilingual story time because the text seamlessly incorporates both languages, with the purpose of teaching a little Spanish to English readers. It teaches some specific, high frequency vocabulary in Spanish, with a glossary page in the back of the book. My sister was the guest videographer, and with her extra set of hands to occupy Maya and Mateo, I had the chance to spend some time editing this video into our best Storytime Bilingüe yet! Editing the video reminded me of when I was a production assistant for Boston City TV at the Mayor’s Cable Office , and we were nominated for an Emmy for the episode of ReadTV we produced featuring The Dot by Peter Reynolds . And Facebook memories tells me that was 12 years ago today! ( Here I am at the

Who's the Boss?

Since the kids and I have not left the house for almost a month now, we haven’t had any experiences out in the world as bilinguals, which is usually my inspiration for blog posts. It’s surreal to go out for walks on the rail trail and stay six feet away from everyone we encounter. In the past, we interacted with many people on our daily excursions, but now we can only nod a greeting of “hello,” or venture a smile. I feel like we are living in some type of dystopian film, and I expect in the future we might refer to our lives pre-quarantine and post-quarantine.  But there is one member of the family whose life has not been completely upturned by this mandatory social distance quarantine. Although landscaping is not explicitly considered an essential role , it requires little to no social interaction, so we are lucky that my husband, Francisco, can continue working. Especially because my year-long maternity leave is unpaid, so our family depends on the income his business prov

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “La oruga muy hambrienta”

After the success of our first story time bilingüe featuring Siesta  by Ginger Foglesong Guy, the kids and I have decided to fill the monotony of quarantine life with a weekly bilingual story time. Every Monday, we are going to record and produce a live reading of a children’s book in Spanish. This is our chance to show what our bilingual literacy at home looks like, and it will help us get excited about Mondays! Because my co-stars are two-years-old and ten-months-old, we’ve learned we only have one shot to record, and our fist take is also our last take. Hopefully, the more live story times we do, the more we will all improve in front of the camera. I chose to read La oruga muy hambrienta , which is the Spanish translation of the popular and beloved The Very Hungry Caterpillar  by Eric Carle. I thought this would be good for a bilingual story time, because most English speakers have heard of it and have read it, so as I read in Spanish, they would know what I was saying. Add

The Barrios Family Farm

In our new status quo of social distance quarantine life, we’ve been enjoying a little more screen time that normal. Oh well! But we’ve tried to use it to our linguistic advantage, and always have on the subtitles, if possible, and watch as much educational programming as possible. For Maya and Mateo, that means nursery rhymes and children’s songs in Spanish. Our favorite YouTube channel is La Granja de  Zenón , which means the farm, and is full of catchy songs, with tunes that don’t annoy the grownups when listened to on repeat.   One such song is “ En la granja de mi Tio ,” the Spanish version of “Old MacDonald had a Farm.” As we listened and sang along, calling out the animal noises as loudly as we could, it made me think about the cultural transference like this. There’s a lot of mainstream content, songs and books that are translated from English to Spanish, and back when I first became a Barrios and taught Heritage Spanish for Native Speakers at Fuller Middle School