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Friday, December 31, 2004

Noticias de Disastre...News Reading for the Day

After several days of reading endlessly about the tragedia in Asia, today brought some terrible news from Buenos Aires about a fire in a discoteca where many teens and young people in their 20s were gathered celebrating the holidays. While it is very sad to read all of this news, it is a good time to practice your Spanish - as the events and vocabulary are not likely to be forgotten. At the website linked in the title of the article below you'll also find audio from survivors of the fire - while the people are speaking very quickly, it's a good idea to listen to some of the audio accounts to help reinforce your listening comprehension. El Clarín and La Nación both have very good news sites.

A las 22.50 una bengala inició el fuego - La Nación

Eran las 22.50 de anoche cuando el cuartel de Bomberos de la Policía Federal recibió el primer llamado de alerta: una bengala lanzada hacia el techo, revestido en gomapluma y tela, del local bailable República Cromagnon del barrio de Once, generó un incendio que rápidamente se propagó y en menos de cinco minutos el lugar se convirtió en el Infierno de humo y fuego.

Minutos antes, según los distintos testimonios recogidos, aún no coincidentes del todo, indican que entre uno y tres chicos, lanzaron luces de bengala, cuando el grupo de rock Callejeros acababa de iniciar su recital.

Key Vocabulary:

bengalas = flares
fuego = fire
humo = smoke
incendio = fire
iniciar = to initiate, begin
techo = roof


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Thanks so much for your notes about Bo Bo!

I have received a lot of email from newsletter readers & bloggers offering me condolences for the loss of our family's dog Bo - and I wanted to thank you all! Thanks for your stories & kind words that have helped make this week a bit more bearable. Bo Bo would love to know that he's still the center of attention!

Blessings to all for a very Feliz Navidad :)


Spanglish Christmas Poema

I newsletter reader forwarded this cute poem to us today, author unknown -

Christmas Poem

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature was stirring... caramba, que pasa?
Los ninos were all tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pajamas.
While mama worked late in her little cocina,
El viejo was down at the corner cantina.
Living it up with amigos, carracho!
Muy contento y poco borracho!

We had hung up the stockings with mucho cuidado,
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado.
To bring all the children, both buenos y malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.
Outside in the yard there arose such a grito,
That I jumped to my feet like a frightened cabrito!
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?

St. Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero,
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh. instead of venados,
Were eight little burros, approaching volados!
As I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre.
"Ay pancho! Ay pepe! Ay cuca! Ay beto!
"Ay chato! Ay chopo!, maruca y nieto!"

Then, standing erect with his hand on his pecho,
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea.
Then huffing and puffing, at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala.
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos,
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim... and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all... y Feliz Navidad


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Mi Querido Perro Bo Está en el Cielo Ahora

This week I don't have the heart to write much of a newsletter, because I am saddened by the loss of a very dear friend - my dog Bo. No va a ser una Navidad tan feliz sin Bo...but we know in our hearts that he has gone to a better place. One request I have this week is that if any of you know of a good Spanish blog for learning or teaching - please submit it to our new Spanish Blogger Directory. We are hoping to build a nice directory of helpful blogs with family friendly content. ¡Gracias y felices fiestas a todos!

"Bo Bo" era nuestro gran amigo aquí en la tierra por más de 12 años. Casí jamás ladraba, porque no le gustaba hacer mucho ruído. Tampoco le gustaba ensuciarse - muy extraño por un perro! Cuando yo estaba aquí en esta casa, él se quedaba a mi lado en mi oficina todo el día, "trabajando de asistente..." No hacía mucho trabajo, pero así es la vida de un perro. Ojalá que todos un día puedan tener la suerte de conocer a un animal tan tierno y simpático como Bo Bo. ¡Te extrañaremos!

Mi Perro Lindo Bo


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Raising Bilingual Children

Hola amigos, my name is Sandrita and I am the Mexican-American expert at Spanish Online (the one who writes the recipes, as Stacey is no great cook :) I would like to share with you how my husband and I are are raising our three children in a bilingual setting, and a few key points that I think are important. My husband Juan speaks only limited English, so it has been a real priority for us to have children that can communicate both with their parents and with the outside world.

My oldest son, Alejandro is eight years old and in second grade (Dios mío, los años van rápido!) We were very fortunate that being bilingual came natural to Alex. We started speaking to him only in Spanish from day one, and he seemed to learn the majority of his English by watching Sesame Street and cartoons! That may sound funny, but Alex took to immitating the children on TV, speaking new words and phrases each day. While occasionally he would mix these words in with the Spanish he already knew, I was astounded by how even at an early age, he understood that these were 2 distinct languages. In addition, he also learned quickly that Spanish was more effective with Juan, and English more effective with me! That shows you how important motivation can be when it comes to learning, and nothing motivates a child stronger than the desire to be understood.

My second daughter is named Erika. She is a precocious five year old who just started Kindergarten. While she is just as bright as Alex, in the beginning Erika had zero interest in speaking Spanish. Her first words were in English, and it stayed that way for a long time. This was quite frustrating for us! I found that Erika didn't begin speaking Spanish until we visited Mexico for the second time as a family. Somehow being immersed in an ALL Spanish speaking environment, where there was "no way out" - gave my little Erika the extra push she needed to begin replicating & reproducing the words she was surrounded by. I find that she still has trouble making sense of irregular verbs and words that don't fit the patterns she already knows, but making mistakes doesn't seem to phase her. Perhaps the fact that her older brother speaks to her exclusively in English has also been one of the reasons Erika was slow to take an interest in Spanish. If she needed something from her Dad, she could just get Alex to translate. The lesson to be learned here is once again about motivation & necessity: if kids have no real need to use the language, it is hard to make it stick. Simulating immersion & making Spanish mandatory even for a small period of time each day can be a real help.

My third child is 20 months old, and named Aracely. "Ari," as she is affectionally known - responds much quicker to Spanish than to English. I'm not exactly sure why this is, ¡así que quién sabe! It may be that she is genuinely daddy's little girl...My older children tell our friends that "Ari no habla inglés, no más español). So it appears she may have the opposite problem that Erika had, in that she doesn't seem interested in learning English. However at 20 months she is still very young, and I'm sure that her desire to communicate with both her siblings in their "special lingo" and the outside world, will make English easy for Ari to learn. At least I hope so, or I will have to send her down to live with the in laws in Michoacán! :)

Growing up as the children of 1st generation Mexican Americans, my brother and I learned the importance of keeping our language alive from my dear padre Damian. I recall reading books with him as a child, and even though the books were in English, he would ask me to read them aloud to him in Spanish. As I read he would help me along with the words and correct my grammar. While I didn't always find that too fun at the time...I am eternally grateful for his efforts. For my father, education was the most valuable and important thing he could give us. He stressed the importance of an education in getting a good job. He was a hop laborer who worked hard to support his family, and he wanted my brother and I to learn to work with our heads not our bodies!

I have cousins that do not speak any Spanish. This is ridiculous according to my father! How can you call yourself a Mexican and not speak the language...He lectured his in-laws on the importance of raising bilingual children and keeping traditions alive, but this always fell on deaf ears. Now as adults when I talk to my cousins, they really regret not being able to speak Spanish, and have trouble communicating with our older aunts and uncles.

I also see this with my own neices and nephews. My husband's brother has two children ages 11 and 9, who speak almost no Spanish. I've never quite understood how they communicate with their father, who doesn't speak English! It saddens me to see this, and I try to teach the kids spanish when they spend time with me. As a Christmas gift they are getting some of Stacey's great products from the Spanish Online store...:)

The bottom line is that if you want your children to be bilingual, effort and careful attention matters more than whether you are native Spanish speakers. I hope you've found these tidbits helpful - I am happy to answer any questions that any of you may have, just write a comment here on the blog or send us an email.


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