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Showing posts from June, 2020

How to Raise your Kids in your Second Language

Since I'm a native English speaker who has made the decision to raise my children bilingual, I often get asked about strategies for incorporating another language in our lives. With my masters degree in language acquisition, this is not only my passion, but my speciality, and I'd love to share a few strategies here with you! There’s two different processes to become bilingual. Sequential bilingualism is probably the most common in this country, as it is when a person becomes bilingual by first learning one language and then another. This is what happens when I teach my students ESL, or when high school kids take a foreign language requirement. My husband and I both followed the sequential process, him learning Spanish as his native language growing up in Guatemala, and then learning English after immigrating to this country. Although I was exposed to a lot of Spanish growing up in Southern California, I didn’t learn to speak it fluently until I took Spanish language classes in

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Quiero Mi Papa Porque.../I Love My Daddy Because...”

This Father's Day, we celebrate the man who is the most emergent bilingual among us--nuestro Papi! He came to this country when he was 19-years-old and didn't know a word of English, and now he owns his own business and a couple houses, and has a beautiful bilingual wife and family. A few months ago I wrote a blog post on how he has attained the American Dream, and if you'd like to read more of his story, you can check it out here if you like. " Bilingual Business Owner ." In honor of Father's Day, I asked Francisco to be our guest reader for Storytime Bilingue this week, and he did not disappoint. Here he reads Quiero a Mi Papa Porque.../I Love My Daddy Because...  , a bilingual book that features all the ways fathers love and care for their offspring, illustrated by animal families. I particularly liked this book because not only is it a sweet, short read, each page also teaches the name of the animal and its baby in English and Spanish.  This story is the p

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “The Birthday Box/ Mi Caja de Cumpleanos”

It's birthday season in the Barrios family! My children were both born on the same day, and my sister and I were born two weeks a part. So the four of us all have had our birthdays consecutively over the past three weeks. For this week's Storytime Bilingue, we celebrate Tia Margaret's birthday with another birthday book, and a guest-star appearance by the cumpleanera. My sister has helped with many of our story times from behind the camera as our videographer, but this week we got her in front of the camera to read a bilingual birthday book. Since Tia Margaret speaks Spanish fluently, she animately reads both parts to the kids. Because it is actually quite a challenge to read aloud on video with two squirmy toddlers on your lap, Tio Robby also joined the story time to celebrate and wrangle one of my children.  We chose  The Birthday Box/ Mi Caja de Cumpleanos by Leslie Patricelli, a whimsical story about a toddler who loves the box his present comes in just as much as he l

Hello, Hello, The View from this Side of Quarantine

So my kids left the house for the first time in 90 days this week. We got a small above-ground pool to make it through the summer, and so after Francisco installed it on Sunday, we trekked to Ocean State Job Lots on Monday after nap time for some essential pool supplies. I would have preferred to go shopping alone, but the store was almost closed by the time I could have left the house solo on Sunday, and since now we are at the height of landscaping season, Francisco leaves at dawn and doesn’t return each day until dusk, which made it just about impossible to go out on my own when he comes home from work.  I weighed the risks of going shopping with all three kids, and thought about all the precautions I would take to keep them as safe as possible. I decided to bring the double stroller, so I could contain both Maya and Mateo and keep them out of the possibly contaminated shopping carts and aisles. Sofia would be in charge of pushing the stroller, so her hands would be occupied, too, a

Piyo by the Pool

Does this mandatory social distancing have anyone else dreaming of a getaway? I feel like this quarantine is like living those newborn days all over again--the days are long and the years are short. We have now been officially limiting all social interact for exactly three months, and it's almost like April and May never even existed. We jumped straight from March to June, and now we've nearly made it to summer! The quarantine for us has meant a lot of long, long days at home. My plan had been to get on the trail with the jogging stroller as soon as spring arrived, and we did get out as much as we could before face masks were made mandatory in all public spaces. But the idea of doing exercise and breathing my own recycled air grosses me out, so I had to figure out something else. My sister and her boyfriend came and built us a trail on our property that we like to hike along, but moving at the speed of my two-year-old doesn't give me quite the workout I need. So when I

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “Alicia's Happy Day/ El Dia Mas Feliz De Alicia”

For this week's bilingual story time, we have a bilingual birthday book in celebration of Mami's birthday! Three years ago and one year ago, I received the greatest birthday presents of all--Maya and then Mateo were born exactly one week before my own birthday. But that means Mami's birthday is now a bit of an afterthought. That's okay, because seeing their joy over celebrating the next year of their life is so much more rewarding than gaining another year on my age!  So for this week, we are continuing with our theme of birthday books.  Alicia's Happy Day/ El Did Mas Feliz De Alicia  by Meg Starr is a special story is narrated in English and Spanish, about little Alicia who spends her birthday being greeted and celebrated by all of her friends in her neighborhood.  Although we weren't able to celebrate our birthdays with all of our loved ones around this year, we look forward to when this quarantine is completely over and we can all join in the chorus of "

Raising a Bicultural Upstander

Two years ago we moved to the 11th safest town in Massachusetts. I felt so safe and confident in that choice, and now I can say we are lucky to be far away from the looting, the riots, the mobs, and the police brutality that has surged in the aftermath of George Floyd 's death. But just because we out of harm's way, does not mean we are safe from discrimination. While I have always left the house safely insulated by my white privilege, every other one of my family members with the last name Barrios has been racially profiled or discriminated against, in big ways or small ways, due to their diversity. My husband was even charged with a crime he didn't commit when he first came to this country and spoke very little English, because the arresting police officers told him to just say yes and he would be able to go home. The charges were quickly dropped and his record expunged, but just remembering him telling me about the event makes my heart pound and my blood boil. I

Storytime Bilingüe featuring “La Noche En Que Tu Naciste”

In celebration of Maya and Mateo's first and third birthday this week, we have a special bedtime story edition of Storytime Bilingue. I bought this book on Maya's due date, and read it to her in my belly every night for all 12 days she was overdue. Even though reading it did not induce labor as I had hoped, the melodic story helped sooth my mother-to-be nerves, and have become a bedtime favorite of ours. La Noche En Que Tu Naciste is the Spanish translation of the New York Times best-selling picture book On the Night You Were Born , by Nancy Tillman. It's a beautifully illustrated poem in which animals and all of nature celebrate your birth and individuality. The moon smiles and polar bears dance and the wind whispers your name. I love the rich vocabulary and images, which hold the kids' interest for read after read after read. So snuggle up with your little ones and enjoy a bedtime story brought to you by Mami, Maya and Mateo.