Culture

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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“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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

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Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

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Lil’ Libros has been gifting Latino parents the gift of a single children’s book read in two languages to promote bilingualism in Latino niños around the world. The stories are all about Latino icons that have shaped and defined our culture throughout history, honoring stories like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Cuban music legend, Celia Cruz. With nearly 20 books in the collection so far, we thought Lil’ Libros couldn’t get any cuter or more relevant until it added the story of Ricardo “Ritchie” Valenzuela in “The Life of / La Vida de: Ritchie.”

The children’s book will cover all the highlights of Ritchie’s life.

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“Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist,” reads the book description. “His musical journey began at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie  Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!”

Ritchie followed his passions, and they became a gift to the music world.

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Ritchie is considered the father of the Chicano rock movement. He was the son of two Mexican immigrants, born in the Los Angeles valley as Richard Steven Valenzuela. Even though Ritchie was left-handed, he taught himself how to play the guitar, trumpet, and drums, and was so in love with music, he learned it all with a dominant right hand. He was always bringing his guitar to his high school to play for his friends. By the time he was 16 years old, he was invited to join The Silhouettes, and eventually became the lead singer. He only released two records during his lifetime, and is best known for “La Bamba.” He’s also known for being the first Latino to successfully cross over into the U.S. mainstream rock genre, inspiring Selena, Café Tacuba, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, and even Carlos Santana to fuse Latinidad with rock.

We *doubt* they’ll include that Ritchie dropped out of high school.

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He became a raging success with the release of his first and only three records and dropped out of school to keep up with his career. Ritchie actually didn’t know any Spanish, and his family only spoke English and Spanglish in their house. He learned to sing “La Bamba” in Spanish by learning the song phonetically. Just this year, The U.S. Library of Congress selected “La Bamba” to be preserved in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Or Ritchie’s tragic death by a plane crash at just 17 years old.

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Ritchie had a fear of flying that he eventually overcome throughout his short-lived music career. His fear started during the second term of his junior year in high school. Two airplanes collided over the school’s playground on January 31, 1957, killing and injuring several of his friends. It all happened while Ritchie was at his abuelo’s funeral. His first flight was to Philadelphia to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show, where he performed “Come On, Let’s Go.” The following month, he was flying to Hawaii to perform with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka.

Ritchie won a coin toss that fateful February 2, 1959 winter day in Iowa that won him a spot on a small plane that would later crash and kill everyone on the plane. His band had been traveling by tour bus throughout the Midwest without adequate heating, causing them all to catch the flu and, in one case, even frostbite. They were desperate to get on a flight out, and only the guitarist, Tommy Allsup, and bassist Waylon Jennings were spared, simply because they lost their coin tosses. 

Ritchie took off at 12:55 am and crashed just minutes later.

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Still, nobody knows why the plane crashed. It killed everyone on impact. Ritchie suffered a blunt force trauma to the chest and unsurvivable head injuries, dying at just 17 years old. His death inspired Don McLean to write “American Pie,” forever remembering February 3 as “The Day the Music Died.” The music may have died by Ritchie’s legacy continues to live on, now in both Spanish and English at storytimes.

READ:

Argentinian Teen Electrocuted To Death While Walking Barefoot in the Dominican Republic

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Argentinian Teen Electrocuted To Death While Walking Barefoot in the Dominican Republic

Melina Caputo, 17, was on vacation in the Dominican Republic with her family when one misstep ended her life. Caputo was walking back from the beaches of Punta Cana to her hotel room when she came in contact with a live wire and was electrocuted. By the time paramedics arrived, they were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead on the scene. Her brothers and cousins reportedly witnessed her death.

Caputo’s grandparents hosted Melina and her brothers on the Dominican Republic trip.

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It was the last day of their trip, and the group was heading back to the hotel, Be Live, presumably to pack up and head back home to Argentina. Melina was walking back from the beach barefoot, and once she stepped up onto some metal stairs, she reportedly “came into contact” with a live wire. Preliminary investigations assert that the teenager died from cardio-respiratory failure, but the family is waiting for results from the autopsy.

The Director of Communications for the hotel chain insists there were no live wires on the hotel’s property.

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The family was staying at Punta Cana resort Be Live of Bayahibe. Its parent company, Globalia, has issued a statement asserting that there is no live wiring on their property. There are no reports as of yet as to who is responsible for the live wiring found on the metal bridge linking the beach to the hotel property.

Melina’s father has since traveled to the resort to make arrangements for her body.

Credit: MeLina Caputo / Facebook

He’s also there to offer support to his family. Since her, her friends have posted emotional tributes honoring the young girl’s life. Nicolas Baistrocchi, who was Facebook married to Melina, shared, “We both thought that if we were going to separate, it would be when we are old, but I never imagined that I was going to lose you so soon.”

Her brother, Leandro, has taken to social media to honor her memory.

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“I saw you being born, I saw you growing up, I saw you fighting, I saw you crying, I saw you smiling, I saw you dreaming,” he wrote in an emotional post. “I know you were a good-intentioned person, as you were always fighting for the defenseless, I apologize my love for not being able to do more to have you by my side.” Leandro witnessed his sister’s death.

Just last week, Leandro shared a new tattoo: her name inscribed on his chest, por siempre.

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In pure poetry, Leandro captions the post, “We had those same pleasures, those of scratching ourselves like a school bench, those “gustos” of piercing our ears, nose, weird clothes, extravagant hairstyles. The sad tunes that only our souls could feel hugged by, and now it’s my turn to follow without you, how? I still don’t know, but with the hope that you give me, las fuerza hermanita, I love you madly, my guardian angel and wait for me, please. We still have a thousand songs to dance to.”

The last thing Melina posted on her social media before she died was, “me voy despidiendo,” which means “I’m saying goodbye.”

Credit: leandrocaputo_ / Instagram

Melina also had a separate Instagram account for her band. The photos she posted of herself wearing goofy, white plastic glasses with her friends and side-view car mirrored selfies are all framed with beautiful images of roses and palm fronds. 

After 13 Americans have died in the Dominican Republic so far this year, Melina’s death is only the latest.

Credit: MeLina Caputo / Facebook

It’s hard for any family to make sense of the reported deaths in the Dominican Republic thus far. While the DR’s minister of tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia, balked at the notion that the DR is any less safe than its ever been, the United States’ own FBI launched its own investigation. Since then, tourism has dropped by 74 percent on the island, and Javier Garcia is finally acting.

New measures have been put in place that could help save lives, and assure tourists that they are safe.

Credit: MeLina Caputo / Facebook

The Dominican Republic has newly officiated a Department of Tourism Services and Companies. The department will oversee the enforcement of new policies that include ensuring medical professionals on staff at hotels are sufficiently qualified, that lifeguards are fully certified, along with reinforcing an existing law that requires hotel staff to notify guests of what to do in the case of an emergency. After a string of deaths related to consuming mini bar liquors, resorts are now required to release their standard operating procedures for handling food items and a list of all their beverage suppliers.

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic