Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Journey into Spanish Immersion Classes

Our Journey into Spanish Immersion Classes

Photo credit: Clip art on Office online
As a bilingual mother trying to raise a bilingual child in an English monolingual environment has been challenging. However, my hopes and dreams of raising a bilingual child have been rekindled by both the opportunity to enroll him in Spanish Immersion class, and my son's continued interest in the Spanish language, and as he claimed some time ago, "Mommy I know Spanish!" :)


Three and a half weeks ago, I came across a language learning center The Language Buzz that promotes language immersion, and cultural experience. So I quickly jumped on it!  I was so excited for my son! This will be an opportunity for him to learn with other children his same age.   The language center offers a Spanish immersion class for preschoolers on Saturdays. This works for us, although not close to home; it's close enough to make a "teenie weenie" sacrifice of driving 47 miles so my son can learn Spanish with other children.

This is a big step towards helping my son to be bilingual, therefore we had to do a little prepping before his first Spanish lesson.  Little one and I had a talk.  I told him  how important it was for him to learn "some more" Spanish. (Remember when he told me that he knew Spanish? You can read about it here.)

I also told him we were going to be making some changes at home:
  1. He will be going to a new class to learn Spanish, and that he will  meet a new teacher and friends. He was a bit hesitant as he's a shy little boy. 
  2. That Mommy will be consciously speaking to him more in Spanish. I admit this has been my biggest flaw, and something that I myself have to work on. 
  3. We will practice at home everything learned during his Spanish lessons. 
  4. He's allowed to watch one cartoon in English, and another one in Spanish. 
  5. We're going to have bilingual and/or Spanish bed time stories.We may also have a craft session along with it during the weekend. 
  6. We will be alternating listening to Boca Beth's Bilingual CD in the car with his other CD's.  He's hooked on Yo Gabba Gabba's & Fresh Beat Band's CD. 
  7. We're going to sit together and watch Little Pim's bilingual DVD's.  
Update (It's been 3 weeks since his 1st Spanish lesson):
  1. I have found myself talking to him more in Spanish, and he's been receptive. However, there have been days that he says to me that he doesn't want to practice  Spanish anymore. (See #2 above).  I have respected his wishes because I don't want him to think that Spanish is forced on him. I want him to enjoy learning Spanish, and have fun! 
  2. We've been lucky enough to find a Spanish channel on cable that has Saturday morning cartoons dubbed in Spanish.  Such as Go Diego Go, Dora The Explorer, Backyardigans and Zigby.  He actually started laughing when he first heard Dora in Spanish, and said they sounded "funny!" I've also looked into his favorite DVD's and found some have the Spanish feature! For instance, we were watching the movie Chicken Little on DVD in Spanish. His 1st reaction: "Chicken Little is in Spanish, how cool is that!" Then he gives me this look & says, "Did you do that?" :) 
  3. He has some favorite books in English that I read often to him, and he has actually asked me to read them in Spanish! I translated as I read the book and pointed out to the pictures. He has been able to assimilate some of the vocabulary in the book since he knows the story in English already. He then repeats the words in Spanish. 
  4. We haven't been very successful with the Little Pim Spanish DVD's he seems to lose interest after 15 minutes. They are 30 minutes long. I'm thinking of using the DVD set in a more interactive way through at-home Spanish lessons
  5. He has been teaching Spanish words such as, "agua" and "manzana" to  his English speaking Grandparents! He has also verbalized his first sentence in Spanish, "Tenga cuidado."   
Reflection: 

Enrolling him in the Spanish immersion class is boosting his confidence by leaps and bounds! His Spanish instructor is using music, games, story time and short videos during her session. Like my dear sister, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher commented on a  Facebook picture of mine about his Spanish Immersion class: "The teacher uses essential tools that engages students and it's also challenging their creativity and significantly enhancing their knowledge and understanding."  I couldn't have said it any better!  

I am beyond happy, and so much more confident that my baby will become bilingual!

Have you had any experience with language immersion classes or school? How about at-home lessons, or tutors?

Would love to hear your thoughts, and comments. So please, share, like or pin!

¡Hasta luego!

This post has been shared at World Wide Culture Swapper.

6 comments :

  1. I've been really looking forward to this post - sounds like things are indeed changing at your house! I'm so happy for you and your son and I love his Chicken Little comment.

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    1. Thank you Jody! Right after I enrolled him in the Spanish classes, I went ahead and created the title for this post LOL but didn't have any content, until now. :) You would've seen the look on his face when he asked me about the Chicken Little movie, it was priceless!

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  2. We've been doing some informal Spanish practice at home, and it has been so much fun! I've been thinking much on the second language subject lately, too, and suppose that I probably have an advantage in a way, since my native language is not Spanish. I have known so many families who meet with resistance when they try to pass their native language on to their children as a minority language and, just looking in from the outside, I think there are some feelings springing from identity that can sometimes lead to a little or a lot of resistance on the part of the child in some instances. At least that is the sense I have gotten from many friends. I have known some whose child outright refuses to speak in Spanish at all, or gets upset when the parent does. Which is not to say that's what's happening in your house - just something I've seen elsewhere. For us, it's just fun, and I can introduce Spanish in the same way that I would painting or drawing or singing, with no real emotion attached on my part since no part of my identity is wrapped up in the language. I may be totally going off on a tangent, or may be off base completely, but that's a key difference I've been thinking about between introducing a language as a native speaker and doing the same as a non-native speaker. Of course I have the massive disadvantage of a lousy accent and lack of fluency!

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    1. You have touched some very valid points! My sister a grown woman now, when she was growing up she refused to talk Spanish at home, and hated it! She often struggles a bit with the language, and regrets not taking it serious when she was growing up. So I know exactly where you're coming from. I know at times he says, "No, Momma, no Spanish today" or he'd say, "Talk 'normal' (referring to English)" He's not completely refusing to speak or learn Spanish, but wants to do so in his terms. Sometimes he surprises me with a Spanish phrase, word or song Ahhh, what a struggle! That's why I try to make it fun for him, too. Through learn and play; and not "forced" upon him. You really hit right on target everything you said, so you're not off base at all! I really appreciate your opinion and view as a non-native speaker (with or without lousy accent LOL)

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  3. Frances, I am so happy for you! You have really been working hard at this, and it is starting to pay off! Glad you have found a class you like so much (though sorry for the drive!) Your son is lucky to have a mom who makes such an effort to teach him the language yet who is so careful not to pressure him about it. Can't wait to see how it all develops!

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    1. Thank you Leanna for your support, and kind words! Every single day I see an improvement on my son's Spanish language, and I'm truly happy!

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