Skip to main content

Learning ABC's in English and Spanish

 Maya has shown a lot of interest in the alphabet recently, so I figured it's time to start learning some letters. As a bilingual family and now that I'm doing homeschool preschool with the kids, I gave some thought as to whether I should teach the alphabet in English or Spanish first. 

Since quarantine, Maya's English vocabulary has exploded. I think back to when my mom was worried that she wouldn't learn any English at all, and now Maya is nearly fluent without me having to explicitly teach her a word. Since she has been spending so much time with her English-speaking grandparents and watching children's programming in English, her vocabulary and fluency really bloomed. As soon as she figured out that English is the language of the community, she now demonstrates a preference for English.

I continuously find myself having to remind her to speak in Spanish with my husband and me, so I decided it made most sense to focus on teaching her Spanish phonics. That way we would have specific instruction in Spanish each day, and since the Spanish alphabet and the English alphabet share the majority of their letters, there will be a lot of skill transference from one language to the other when she is ready to start learning to read and write in English.

But then my second conundrum arose. Which Spanish alphabet should I teach her? And did you even know there are variations of the Spanish alphabet? First, there are two different words in Spanish for alphabet: alfabeto and abecedario. Then, there's the single-letter version, which includes the same 26 letters as the English alphabet and also ñ. There's also another version that includes language-specific consonant blends as letters, such as the double l (ll) which makes a sound like the English (y), the "ch" sound, and "rr." 

To start, I chose the 27-letter version, because in my opinion ll, ch, and rr are not letters specifically, but consonant blends, and when we begin phonics instruction, I'll be sure to teach Maya and Mateo about them. We found an old finger pointer Sofia had purchased at a school book fair a few years ago, and I scribbled a hasty abecedario on some butcher paper and our one-room school house was open! 

But when I told my friend Ashley, an elementary Spanish teacher, was vehemently against this idea and said she intentionally teaches all 30 letters to her students. She felt in order to give my emerging bilinguals a well-rounded education, it was imperative that I teach them all 30 letters. And a few days after, this beautiful poster arrived in the mail! 

Now Maya and Mateo love practicing their abcs, identifying the corresponding images that start with each letter, and even practicing the colors of each row. And it's no surprise their favorite letter is .... M.


Popular posts from this blog

Why my Children Won't Believe in Santa Claus

Tonight all across the world, children are waiting for Santa with bated breath. They've made lists of wants and perhaps written letters addressed to the North Pole, baked cookies, set out milk, and dream of sugar plums dancing in their heads. But not my children. Well, maybe the dreaming of sugar plums part, but definitely not the white beard, chubby and plump right jolly old elf part. Even before my two biological children were born, my husband and I made the decision to not deceive them with the narrative of Santa, and in fact, not give them any gifts at all on Christmas. Intrigued? Infuriated? Here's why... My husband is from Guatemala and was raised Jehovah Witness , and one of the tenants of that faith is a strict adherence to not celebrating anything here on earth. This includes not celebrating Christmas or birthdays , and not giving gifts to commemorate these days. While he isn't a practicing Witness right now (instead we attend Celebration International Church

Why My Daughter Won't Be Attending Preschool

There's no doubt that the first five years of a child's life are formative and indicative of later success throughout their lives. As an educator, I know preschool can play an important part in the cognitive and social development of toddlers. However, in this unprecedented time of pandemic life, social distancing and remote learning, sending your child to preschool is a personal decision that varies by family. And our family has decided not to send our daughter to preschool.  The research on the benefits of preschool is irrefutable, and there have been incentives for families to enroll their children in preschool since the 1960's and 1970's. Many BIPOC families have actually been targeted and encouraged to send their children to preschool, with HeadStart and other free programs available. According to a DOE report , access to high-quality preprimary education can be the key that unlocks education equality across races, geography and income.  With all of my experience a

Apple Picking without Discrimination

In New England, apple picking is the quintessential fall fun activity. I actually didn't know going to an orchard to pick your own apples was a pastime until I moved to Boston, but after I went with my youth group during my freshman year of college I was hooked, and I've been apple picking with friends or family every fall since. I have beautiful memories of walking up and down rows of apple-laden (or sometimes picked bare!) trees, trying to climb to the top and always searching for the shiniest, juiciest apples. Even one of Francisco and my first dates was apple picking.  In my 15 years of residency on the East Coast, I've visited a variety of apple orchards in New England nearly every autumn and a few years ago, I thought I had finally found the perfect place. Tougas Family Farm had everything you wanted for your perfect fall afternoon--apple and pumpkin picking, fresh apple cider and donuts, kettle corn, a petting farm, a hayride, and a playground for the kids. But it al