Culture

If You Want To Raise Your Child To Be Bilingual, Here Are Some Easy Tips To Make It Happen

One of the biggest challenges faced by migrant families is deciding how to better get their kids to speak both languages. In the case of the Latino population in the United States and other Anglo countries, these idiomas are Spanish and English. Parents face the life altering decision of either fully embracing English at home or keeping the mother tongue alive. The choice might seem easy, but it involves a variety of factors. You might want your kid to be fully fluent in Spanish but don’t want them to feel left out when they go to school and their English is not there yet. You might be alone in the country and want your kids to fully assimilate, even though you don’t want them to lose your language and eventually forget your heritage. They say language shapes worlds and that is totally right: we use words to make sense of reality, to explain who we are to ourselves and to others.

Good news is, kids are really como esponjas, todo lo absorben. Children have an amazing capacity to assimilate words and concepts, and can easily switch from one language to the other if you give them the time and space to learn the difference between the two. By the time they are 18 months old, kids start categorizing the world: that is when they learn shapes, simple concepts like open/close and in/out, and also when they can start differentiating between languages. Like anything when it comes to parenting, there are no cookie cutter solutions or formulas, but here are some tips that can help out. 

No baby talk, ever.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

It is tempting to do baby talk with your little one. But it does them no good. Babies need to hear clear words, and going goo goo ga ga is not helping them. A good technique is to describe your actions: “I am changing your nappy, I am throwing it to the trash can, I am wiping your butt”. Or, the alternative: “Te estoy cambiando el pañal, ahora lo voy a tirar a la basura y te voy a limpiar las pompas”. Even if you are not raising a bilingual kid, this is the first rule: just dump the baby talk, porfas

Be proud of your heritage.

Children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for. In the current political climate, it is easy to fall into the trap and feel like being bilingual is shameful rather than something to be extremely proud of. Give racist gringos the metaphorical finger, chin up, speak up and show pride. If you are afraid of speaking Spanish your kid will be too. It is easier said than done, but establishing the richness of multiculturalism is the only way to make society more inclusive, poquito a poco

One parent speaks English, the other speaks Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @duallanguagefamily

This is an approach that is easy to take if one of the parents is a gringo. Kids can quickly understand that a parent talks to them in Spanish and the other one in English, and as they are learning to talk and bulking up on their vocabulary, they can categorize words. This is much clearer than saying “agua, water” while pointing to glass, as it might be too much information that is not put into the Spanish or English mental drawers right away. Also, it creates a great sense of complicity between parent and chaparrito

Spanish only con los abuelitos.

Credit: Instagram. @spanish.mama

Another good strategy is to have the grandparents speak to the child in Spanish, which also creates a special bond with the child. If you are lucky enough to have your Spanish-speaking parents or in-laws in your city, program regular play dates slash Spanish lessons. This can also give you and your partner some time alone, or some relaxing me-time if you are a single parent. 

Language is fun, so don’t make it too serious.

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Play games in your native language. For example, ‘I spy’, bingo or memory, key activities for incorporating new words into your little one’s vocabulary. You can also play a good old-fashioned LOTERIA. 

Turn life into a lively musical!

Credit: Instagram. @lumunariafunspanish

All kids love, love, love music. You can sing songs, dance and play music in Spanish. What about a daily dance session with La Sonora Santanera or Los Angeles Azules? Melody is a great way to help them remember things, as new information sticks to their tiny and amazing brains by repetition. You can also play English and Spanish versions of their favorite songs… Let it go, let it go…..! Libre soy, libre soy!

Never underestimate the importance of numbers.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

One of the first forms of abstraction that human beings learn is numbers. As your kids start counting, introduce both languages. There are some fun activities that you can do, such as taking them to the park and counting each push of the swing, first in English up to ten, luego hasta el diez. You can also get them to count characters or objects in books as you read to them at night. 

Teach them the Spanish version of key introductory phrases.

Credit: Instagram. @dosmundosduallanguage

“My name is…”, a key phrase that establishes a child’s individuality. There are such phrases that make social life possible. Teach your kids the Spanish formulation. 

Listen to the radio.

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Listen to radio programs in Spanish, including popular music programs and channels for kids. Thanks to services like Spotify it is easy now to listen to stations from all around the world. 

 Playtime!

Credit: Instagram. @language.trainers

Organize playtime with other children who speak Spanish. This will be key for building lifelong friendships. Parenting can sometimes be isolating, so this will also be beneficial for you, as you will be able to express yourself in your mother tongue, which sometimes makes for more intimate and lasting friendships 

No te rindas.

Credit: Instagram. @narrreyang

Like all things concerning parenting, raising a bilingual will involve plenty of patience on your part. Some days it might seem like your chiquito doesn’t want to say hola. However, just hearing you speak your native language will help your child learn it.

Yeah, sometimes your kids end up watching TV.

Credit: Giphy. @nickjr

But you can make the best of it in those times in which you feel you are the worst parent on Earth because you need to do the laundry or some work and your kids end up watching TV. Streaming services like Netflix provide the opportunity to change the language settings to Spanish, so the next time they watch PJ Masks or Paw Patrol they can actually learn some new words. Because dialogue in cartoons tends to be very descriptive, this will help them associate images and palabras

Attend cultural events in Spanish.

Credit: Instagram. @ponlenhingles

Many communities in the United States organize events in Spanish, such as playtime, mother’s and father’s groups and concerts. Attend as many as possible, show your kid that your language is awesome, something that will open doors rather than close them. 

READ: This Bilingual Children’s Book Will Teach Little Ones About The First Latina Who Went To Space

A Deputy Sheriff Is Fired After Video Shows Him Body Slamming 11-Year-Old Student

Things That Matter

A Deputy Sheriff Is Fired After Video Shows Him Body Slamming 11-Year-Old Student

@TheKingCenter / Twitter

A police officer in North Carolina has been fired and charged with assault after a video showing him body-slamming a student repeatedly has surfaced. Ex-police officer Warren Durham is being charged with misdemeanor assault on a child less than 12 years old. The video shows the officer slamming the child to the ground twice before picking him up by his hoodie and dragging him down the hallway.

School and law officials are investigating why a deputy sheriff would body slam a student during school. The student suffered minor injuries, and the sheriff was fired after first being put on paid leave.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

It’s unclear when the incident took place at Vance County Middle School in Henderson, North Carolina. However, the Vance County Schools filed a complaint against the sheriff last week. The deputy sheriff was initially placed on paid leave but was ultimately fired for body-slamming the student in the hallway and then picking him up and dragging him away. 

A surveillance video of the incident went viral on social media, leaving many shocked over the sheriff’s unexpected behavior.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

In the video, the sheriff is seen walking alongside the young boy in the hallway, when out of nowhere, he picks him up and slams him to the ground. The boy doesn’t move. He lays there for a second or two stunned before the sheriff picks him up again and drags him away. 

It’s unclear what the child did, or what was said because there’s no audio to the released clip.

Credit: @TheKingCenter / Twitter

“We are deeply concerned by the actions that took place,” Aarika Sandlin, a Vance County Schools spokeswoman, said in an email Sunday, according to the New York Times. “School and district officials are working closely and in full cooperation with the local authorities to address this matter consistent with school board policy and state laws. The safety of our students has been and continues to be of the utmost importance to our district.”

The student’s name has not been released.

Sheriff Curtis Brame said he was in complete awe when he saw the video of his colleague body-slamming the child. 

“We went over, and when we first saw the video, we were stunned, we were shocked,” Brame said to CBS17 News. “We all are parents and grandparents that have children at that same age, so it brought some great concern to us.” The video prompted the District Attorney to file charges of assault on a child less than 12 years old.

“This is just a stunning kind of incident. I don’t see any justification at this point for that officer’s behavior and action,” Vance County District Attorney Mike Waters said, according to ABC News. He added, “I don’t know what was said. I don’t think anything that was said or anything like that could justify his action. I don’t think that will be relevant to any determination.”

Just last week in Broward County, Florida, another sheriff was also fired for slamming a 15-year-old on the ground. 

While the April 18 incident didn’t occur in school, a video showed three law officers using excessive force on the teenager which including punching him in the chest. Last week at least one of those officers involved was fired. 

“When my deputies do the right thing, I will always support them and have their back. But I will not stand idly by while anyone violates his or her sworn duty to protect,” Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Gregory Tony said a press release last week according to ABC News. “Even a singular incident of excessive force by one of our deputies creates distrust between the community and our organization, and that is something I will not allow.”

The safety of students in schools has become a major issue in the U.S. after numerous school shootings over the years and the increased knowledge of police brutality.

Credit: YouTube

In March, the Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine released findings that between 1999 to 2017, 38,942 school-age (5 to 18) children were killed by guns. 

“It is sobering that in 2017, there were 144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active-duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms,” said Dr. Charles Hennekens, the study’s senior author and an academic adviser at the medical college, told CNN

READ: From School Shootings To Change: Here’s What’s Happened Since The Tragic Shooting In Parkland, Florida

People Are Rooting For Romeo Santos To Make His Young Fan’s Dream Come True By Performing With Him

Entertainment

People Are Rooting For Romeo Santos To Make His Young Fan’s Dream Come True By Performing With Him

romeosantos / Instagram

Odali Ferreras is just 10-years-old but might be closer than ever to achieving his ultimate dream: playing a song with Dominican bachatero Romeo Santos. Well before Odali was featured in a video segment on Al Rojo Vivo earlier this week, Romeo Ferreras had posted a video to Instagram of the bachaterito strumming up a tune. On two separate occasions, Santos has posted videos of Odali singing, captioning one, “Dios Lo Bendiga” or “God Bless You.” The fact that little Odali is on Santos’ radar, along with his 17.1 million followers, is a feat in itself. That said, once we heard him perform, we knew the recognition was nothing but deserved. 

Santos’ fans are calling on the singer to make this little boy’s dreams come true. We’re with them.

Odali is so skilled that he can play the guitar with it behind his back.

CREDIT: AL ROJO VIVO / YOUTUBE

“Right now, my biggest dream is to play a song with Romeo Santos,” Odali told Al Rojo VivoIn Odali’s short little life, he’s mastered the guitar. He started playing when he was just 6 years old, which sounds young until you remember that he’s been playing music for just four years. At first, he played the piano, but when his piano broke, his father made a fateful decision. “I gave him my guitar and taught him the basics,” his father told the outlet.

Ever since, Odali has been devoted to Romeo Santos’ música. “It’s that Romeo is a complete artist, who sings with a lot of feeling. And I like his style,” Odali told Listín Diario. While Romeo Santos is his favorite artist, he’s also a fan of Anthony Santos, Frank Reyes, and El Chaval, according to the outlet. Odali has long felt emotionally boosted by Santos. Santos commented on a video of Odali singing “Yo Me Quedo,” wishing God’s blessings on the young boy during a time when his mother was very sick. 

Odali’s mother died just four months ago, prompting him to sing his own version of Santos’ “Mi Madre Querida.”

CREDIT: @ODALIFERRERAS / INSTAGRAM

His mother tragically died of a severe case of pneumonia. As he started singing the words, “mi madre querida,” he got choked up but kept strumming. Eventually, he belted out the next verse. Odali told the Al Rojo Vivo reporter that he hopes his love for music will one day help financially support his widowed father and little sister, Odaliza. By continuing to sing, Odali would be living out his mother’s wishes, as she was a huge supporter of Odali. She was still trying to teach him to dance merengue when she died. Odali’s father says that music has been a great source of comfort for his son. “We are going to church, where he sings, and the company of his guitar has given him strength to continue,” his father told Listín Diario.

Little Odali has his own Instagram account, managed by his father, and when he noticed that Romeo Santos shared a video of Odali to the gram about four months ago, he responded. “Good afternoon Mr. Romeo Santos,” Odali (or his father) commented. “I would like to meet you one day when you come to the DR and play a song with you if God allows.”

Fans are calling on Romeo Santos to give Odali a little Christmas miracle at the end of a heartbreaking year.

CREDIT: @ROMEOSANTOS / INSTAGRAM

“My tears came out, *wao*, keep it up!” commented Cristian Fernandez. “We can make your dream happen and also study, future star!” “Help him Romeo,” one Instagram user comments on Santos’ post. “Lost his mother and wants to help his father and little sister…I was very sad that his mother died.” Folks are tagging Romeo Santos all over the place, asking “Babe, please give the kid a chance, you’re his idol and all he wants is to sing a song with you!” Odali’s father took him to see Romeo Santos just last week in La Vega, and was hoping to “even say hello,” according to Listín Diario.

“I would like to study music,” little Odali told Listín Diario, “but we have no money and here in Constance there is nowhere to study it, but I would love to be able to become a great artist like Romeo, with that style he has. I love his new songs.” Keep going for it, Odali. You’re all our teacher.

READ: Romeo Santos Became First Latinx Artist To Headline MetLife Stadium And The Latino Gang Was Their To Celebrate