Culture

Things Only Multicultural Latinos Will Understand

MEMEGENERATOR/ THE WOLF OF WALL STREET/ PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Growing up Latino in the U.S. can be a pretty amusing experience: navigating between Spanish and English (thankfully, we’ve also got Spanglish), teaching mami to dance hip-hop and your gringo friends how to move to bachata (or trying to, at least), and constantly comparing fast food con la comida de abuela. But what about those of us with parents from different Latin countries? Things can get a bit more interesante:

1. You know how to speak at least two types of Spanish.

arepa

You start your day with the Colombian “¿Qué pasó papito, si durmió bien?” and end it with “¿Qué onda, mijo? ¿Cómo te fue en la escuela?” Or maybe you mix your “dale” and “wepa” with an “hijole” from time to time.

2. You can’t decide which abuela’s cooking you like better.

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Dad’s mom makes some mean pupusas, but you have never tried a better ceviche than your otra abuelita’s.

3. You have a pretty diverse record collection at your house.

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On Saturdays mornings, your mami blasts merengue while forcing you to mop the floors. At night, your dad has his boys over for tango and wine.

3. You live in three different time zones, at least.

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10 p.m. in L.A. = 11 p.m. in Nicaragua = 1 a.m. in Venezuela. And let’s not even think about daylight saving times.

4. “Traveler” is your middle name.

jetlag

For Thanksgiving, your family travels to Queens to visit los primos, and then less than a month later, you’re celebrating Christmas in Santiago de Chile. You end the year burning año viejos in Quito.

5. Your parents’ arguments can get pretty interesting.

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Usually, they’re short and to the point because they don’t really understand each other’s slang.

6. You get to pick and choose!

alien

Depending on who’s asking, you can be nicaragüense, panameño or Americano. Or all three!

7. You’ve basically made up your own language.

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A mix of “¿Qué bolá?,” “salir embalado” and “hanguear,” your lingo is Spanglish Reloaded.

8. You have the best of three worlds.

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From mami’s pajón to papi’s love of baseball, you’re quite the awesome mezcla. Be proud!


9 Things Every Latino Who Grew Up With A Gringo Parent Will Understand

Is your family made up of different cultures? Do you love it? Wanna invite us over for dinner?

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

Culture

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

Charlein Gracia / Unsplash

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.

Credit: Instagram. @maplebearglobal

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.

Credit: Giphy. Anonymous

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

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

Fierce

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

Instagram / @pattyrodriguez

The beloved bilingual children’s book series Lil’ Libros announced the subject of its latest storybook, and we’re probably (read: definitely!) more excited than the babies the series targets: It’s Dr. Ellen Ochoa.

A veteran astronaut, Ochoa was the first Latina to ever travel to space. In 1993, she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She’d journey beyond our planet four more times, including on the STS-66, STS-96 and STS-110. In total, the Mexican-American history-maker logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.

On Thursday, Patty Rodriguez, who co-founded Lil’ Libros five years ago with her best friend Ariana Stein, excitedly dropped the news on Instagram.

“‘The Solar System with/ El sistema solar con Ellen’ [is] a bilingual book that will celebrate the journey of a trailblazer. A book in English and Spanish that I hope inspires all our children to know that no dream is too big. Proof that we can touch the stars,” she wrote in a caption on a slideshow of Ochoa and of the cover of the book.

Rodriguez also noted how thrilled she was to have interviewed Ochoa, a fellow Latina from Los Angeles, for the book.

“My voice was shaking and my heart beating so fast,” she said of their encounter.

Rodriguez and Stein launched the Los Angeles-based publishing company in 2014. Since then, they have released more than 15 Spanish-English board books that teach numbers, letters, shapes and words in English and Spanish. One of its most popular sellers are its biographical installments, which include “The Life of Selena (La vida de Selena)” and “The Life of Celia” (La vida de Celia),” among others.

“At Lil’ Libros, the mission is … to elevate our stories and voices. And thanks to you we have been able to create beautiful books that celebrate who we are and our contributions,” Rodriguez added in the post.

The book, which does not have a release date yet, shows a youthful Ochoa proudly standing in her orange space suit, holding onto her helmet, among a starry night.

“This image of her brings me so much pride and joy. Dr. Ellen Ochoa, in her space suit and the American flag. Just wow,” ⁣Rodriguez said.

Ochoa, who was also the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center, and its first-ever Latinx leader, is a brilliant barrier-breaker, and soon the babies in our lives will learn about her life and legacy through the illustrated, bilingual book — that is, if we don’t keep it for ourselves.

Read: Selena’s Story Just Got Turned Into A Bilingual Children’s Book And We Are Pumped To Read It Because Anything For Salinas

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