Archive for the ‘Bilingualism’ Category’s Supplement on Spanglish

April 27, 2010 2 comments recently published a supplement on Spanglish. Many of the articles are in Spanish for those of you who read in Spanish, and there are also a couple of articles in English:

Codex Espanglesis

Viaje a través del spanglish: ¿fenómeno útil y creativo?

El Inglañol: inevitable, pero…

El Spanglish de los políticos hispanos

Spanglish: Una lengua en desarrollo

Por favor no Spanglish: La aventura de ser bilingüe

Spanglish: Entre costumbre y sabor hispano

Monólogo angelino: Dos hispanos se encuentran en la Plaza Pershing

El boyfriend de Laura

La misma moona

The Mestizo Tongue

Origin and Perspective of Spanglish (I)

Origin and Perspective of Spanglish (II)

From Yiddish to Spanglish: my life as an immigrant

The Spanglish of the cholo

El Spanglish National Anthem de Pedro Pietri

After clicking on each of the links, scroll to the bottom of the page below the links and you will find the articles!

Categories: Bilingualism, Spanglish

Attention Bilingual Parents: Student Needs Assistance

April 13, 2010 2 comments

Yesterday a student who is writing a paper about bilingualism posted in our comments section that she needs assistance from people who are raising bilingual children. She is requesting assistance with the following questions:

1. What is the language spoken in your country of residence?
2. How many children do you have? Where were your children born?
3. What language/s do you speak? What language/s does your husband speak?
4. Do you believe in and encourage your children to speak more than one language? Why or why not?
5. Have you tried different methods to teach your children to be multilingual? Which ones?
6. Which method do you think worked better?
7. Many parents just give up because it takes too much work or they do not get support from their friends or husbands/ wives. Did you, at any point, think about giving up?
8. What advice would you give other bilingual parents who might not know how to help their children learn the home language?

If you have a little free time, it would really help her out! Please take the time to answer these questions in the comment section!! Apart from the paper, it would be really interesting to also learn more about you!!


Categories: Bilingualism

Why Should My Child Learn a Second Language?

March 30, 2010 4 comments

Why should my child learn a second language?  Can growing up in a bilingual home actually yield long term benefits?  Is multilingualism right for my family?  If these questions sound familiar, you are not alone.  Plenty of parents puzzle over whether or not to introduce a second or third language into the household mix.  A little research quickly reveals the endless advantages associated with raising your child to be bilingual:  rewards that he or she will continue to reap well into multilingual adulthood.  Follow along to learn more about why your child should say “¡Sí!” to a second language.

The best time to learn a new language is before the age of ten

Young brains are specially equipped to process and understand new languages.  Within six months a baby is able to discern between different languages while learning how to listen to and repeat various sounds.  In fact, some research suggests that babies begin adapting to two or more languages while in the womb.  This research supplements the contemporary understanding that it is never too early to learn a second language.  Moreover, children who start off as bilingual babies and toddlers are also more likely to master native-like pronunciation.

Learning a second language enhances a child’s mastery of her native tongue

Bilingual children consistently exhibit high levels of metalinguistic awareness:  the ability to process and analyze language codes.  Monolingual children often struggle to grasp the symbolic function of language, while multilingual children instinctively objectify and compare different dialects .  A child’s capacity for understanding language as an abstract system will increase her reading aptitude and overall communication skills in any tongue, including her native one.

Being bilingual improves academic performance and problem solving skills

In addition to higher metalinguistic awareness, bilingual children also exhibit other types of enhanced cognitive function.  A high aptitude for flexible and creative thinking is shown to strengthen a bilingual child’s problem solving abilities and literacy skills.  This often translates into higher grades and overall scholastic success.

Multilingual children score higher on standardized tests like the SAT

Studies show that steady bilingual education can improve a child’s test scores as early as in the third grade.  Research on bilingual education techniques consistently confirms that children who are exposed to at least four years of consistent language study routinely outperform monolingual students in standardized testing situations.  This is especially true of the SAT; students who pursue a rigorous foreign language curriculum in high school typically score higher than other students on the college admissions exam.

Bilingualism will open doors for your child for the rest of his life

Foreign language study is linked to higher rates of college attendance and overall collegiate performance.  Adding multilingual skills to a resume also helps to give job seekers the competitive edge in the expanding global economy.  Bilingual employees often earn higher wages than their monolingual colleagues.  And in addition to collegiate and career success, bilingualism will hone your child’s sensitivity to different cultures, expand his travel opportunities, and broaden his social horizons.

About the Author: R.K. Albers is a freelance writer and translator living in Mexico, where she serves as a volunteer English teacher, computer instructor, and web designer for several social and environmental justice non-profit organizations. In her spare time, she loves to sustain and improve her bilingualism by reading novels and watching movies in Spanish.

You Might Also Like:

The Myths and Realities of Raising Bilingual Children

The Benefits of Bilingualism

Safeguarding Your Home Language: Do Our Children Have to Choose Between Two Languages?

Categories: Bilingualism

A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

Picture this scenario: You’re having a tête-à-tête with an old friend from your alma mater, who is a wine aficionado. So you pick an al fresco table at a chic little café, and order from the a la carte menu. However, your companion won’t stop exchanging double entendres with the woman in the sarong at the next table. So you’re stuck listening to the klutz of a waiter droning on ad nauseam about the soup du jour. At that point, you’re ready to say hasta la vista — but you don’t want to seem like a diva.

Try to say all that in “English.” You probably wouldn’t change a single word. How else would you describe such a scene if it weren’t for the thousands of foreign words and phrases we’ve snuck into our conversations over the years? We all use them without a second thought. But how much do you really know about the origins of the borrowed words and phrases you use every day?

Did you know, for example, that when you place an order for apple pie a la mode, that you are using a phrase that dates back to the days of King Louis XIV? His court became such a standard of good taste that the British aristocracy wanted to do more than dress in French fashion; they wanted to use their phrase for it, too. In the seventeenth century the term was anglicized to become alamode — a light silk used to make scarves. And at some point in small-town America, the combined flavors of cooked apple, sweet pastry, and cool, creamy vanilla represented the very latest in fashionable, cutting-edge gastronomy, giving the term its modern meaning of “with ice cream.”

And there’s hundreds of other examples from France: laissez faire, joie de vivre, fait accompli, faux pas, I could go on but you’d only become blasé. And with good reason; English speakers have been word collectors since the fifth century, when the dialects of Anglo-Saxon settlers, Celts, and Norse invaders were cobbled together to create Old English. When the Norman conquerors arrived in 1066 it must have seemed natural to steal some of their vocabulary, too. By the end of the thirteenth century, more than 10,000 French words were absorbed into English — and we still use 75 percent of them today.

But we’ve done more than add a French lilt to our lingo. Those Normans also introduced us to Latin. In medicine, we have words like post-mortem and placebo, while in legal language, Latin phrases such as in camera and quid pro quo are still bounced around the courtroom. And others have crossed over into broader use; an agreement or contract signed in good faith is said to be bona fide. However, in everyday use, the phrase has become interchangeable with the word genuine and usually describes someone or something whose authenticity can be trusted.

More foreign phrases joined the fray during the marauding, seafaring days of our English-speaking ancestors, who filled their boats with strange Asian spices, exotic fabrics, and loads of new words for all the animals, garments and foods they had discovered.

Even ketchup, that favorite sidekick of French fries, is an import, starting life as a spicy pickled fish sauce in seventeenth-century China. The word is a Westernized version of the Malay word kichap, which came from koechiap, meaning fish brine. The sweet red version we love with began to take shape when American sailors added tomatoes, which are excellent for preventing scurvy. In 1876 John Heinz launched his infamous tomato ketchup and the rest, as they say, is history.

And there are stowaway words in your wardrobe as well as your pantry; your pajamas, dungarees, and even your bandanna have their origins on foreign shores. Bandanna comes from the Sanskrit word bandhana, meaning to tie, from the tie-dying technique used to decorate scarves and handkerchiefs in India. The anglicized “bandanna” was incorporated into the English language during the days of the British Raj, though they’re now more popular with wrestlers and cowboys who want to give their look a certain panache.

And while the Brits went abroad to gather additions for their dictionary, in seventeenth-century North America, words were coming to the English language by the boatload. Soon words from Italy, Poland, German, and Eastern Europe were leaping off immigrant ships and landing in the American English lexicon. To uncover the backstory on some of these, from alter ego to zeitgeist, explore the pages of A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi — The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English by Chloe Rhodes, published by Reader’s Digest, and voilá! Soon you’ll easily be able to schmooze with everyone at the next cocktail party without making a single faux pas.

© 2010 Chloe Rhodes, author of A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English

Author Bio
Chloe Rhodes, author of A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”: The Origin of Foreign Words Used in English, is a freelance journalist who has worked for The Telegraph, Guardian and The Times as well as numerous other respected publications. She lives in North London with her husband. For more information please visit

Categories: Bilingualism

Video: Parent Views on Bilingual Education

Check out this video about parent views on bilingual education:

Categories: Bilingualism

Raising Bilingual Children: Community-Based Language Maintenance

March 14, 2010 3 comments

Last week I attended the CABE (California Association for Bilingual Education) conference in San José, and I was fortunate enough to attend many interesting and inspiring workshops! I plan on blogging more about the conference over the next few days, but today I wanted to talk about an inspiring parent workshop that I attended yesterday morning.

Yesterday morning I attended a workshop about strategies for raising bilingual and bi-cultural children, which was presented by two amazing women who are raising bilingual and multilingual children. Regina Camargo and Eliana Elias, early childhood educators in Northern California, discussed many of the activities that they do within their community-based “Portuguese Club”.

Parents and children convene frequently at Regina or Eliana’s house, or other houses and locations in order to participate in a variety of family oriented activities that are designed to raise the status of Portuguese as well as to create a positive and affirming environment that encourages use of the Portuguese language. The community-based Portugues club provides an environment for parents to model usage of Portuguese, eliciting children to practice and learn the language in an authentic context.

One of the activities that they discussed was that they all get together and made books in the target language. They brought a few sample of books that were made out of cloth and decorated:

Even some of the older students made books covered by cloth. This book even has “chapters”:

In addition to making books, they also have organized many other activities such as gardening, writing about pets (they even had all the children bring all their pets to someone’s house!), invite guest speakers from the local university or community, go on camping trips and much, much more! The main idea that they emphasized was that they make language learning as fun and as authentic as possible!

At the end of the session, Regina Camargo read aloud a beautiful poem that she had written about being bilingual. It was so powerful! After speaking with her, she informed me that her husband is a musician and they are recording music for many of her poems!

Trust me, you have not heard the end of these two talented women because I plan to hunt them down and interview them, if possible!

Categories: Bilingualism

Por favor no Spanglish: La aventura de ser bilingüe

March 12, 2010 5 comments

We’re so excited to welcome Marga Britto, our first writer to write exclusively in Spanish! We think that she has a great story to tell, and are currently translating it to make it accessible to English speakers!

Cuando mi esposo y yo tomamos la decisión de tener un bebé, establecimos acuerdos en torno al nacimiento, educación y desarrollo de nuestro futuro(a) hijo/hija.  Originarios de culturas distintas, encima con dos idiomas, tuvimos que enfrentarnos a un universo de dudas, algunas todavía sin respuesta, así como a un proceso de negociación bastante exhaustivo antes de conseguir los acuerdos que rigen nuestra actual vida familiar. Sin embargo, un punto que no requirió ningún estira y afloja, fue que nuestro bebe eventualmente sería  no solo bilingüe, sino bi-nacional y bi-cultural.

¿Qué quiero decir con estos “bis” agregados? Nuestra meta es lograr un hogar donde se hablen ambos idiomas con la mayor naturalidad y fluidez posible, pero además se conozca y valore la riqueza de ambas culturas, así como su historia, y más importante aún, su creación artística y literaria.

¿Por dónde empezar? Este fue un gran dilema, escuchamos todo tipo de teorías, algunas bastante absurdas como que el niño bilingüe se atrasa en la escuela, ergo: es más lento para aprender. También nos aconsejaron distintos métodos de aprendizaje, por ejemplo: hablar en casa exclusivamente el idioma no nativo (en este caso el español), ya que el idioma nativo (inglés), lo aprendería en la escuela.

No tengo herramientas para decirles enfáticamente qué sistema funciona mejor para llevar la educación bilingüe o multilingüe de sus hijos, lo que si puedo contarles es qué haremos en nuestra casa, basados en estudios que defienden la capacidad del ser humano desde corta edad, de manejar no solo una lengua sino múltiples, sin afectar su capacidad de asimilación. El cerebro puede con eso y mucho más. (Ver: Darmouth Researchers found a Neural Signature of Bilinguism using infra red light to study the brain).

“Shoeteria is a Word according to me”.

Uno de los más grandes retos que ha representado para mí vivir en Estados Unidos, aunque usted no lo crea, es acostumbrar mi oído a ciertas palabras misteriosas que para algunos aquí, forman parte del vocabulario de la lengua española.

Y no me refiero a términos clásicos por todos conocidos como:  Parkear, Marketa o Yonque; sino a novedades realmente folklóricas como “Shoeteria”, palabra que encontré en un aviso espectacular camino a Manhattan Beach, CA.  Tuve que detener el coche para averiguar exactamente a qué se refería el anuncio, y obviamente era una publicidad para una zapatería local.

No tengo ningún prejuicio respecto al ejercicio de jugar con el lenguaje para crear palabras nuevas (acabo de utilizar “folklóricas” que viene de folk), esta es la forma en la que se enriquece una lengua, sin duda alguna, lo que me preocupa de esta soltura para sacarse de la manga palabras, es que con la mala práctica y el uso, llegue a considerarse como un término correcto de cualquier lengua. Esta anécdota les dejará un poco más claro mi punto anterior.

Tenemos la suerte de vivir a unos cuantos pasos de uno de los accesos al Bosque Nacional de Los Ángeles y por estos rumbos viene mucha gente a caminar, con carriolas, en bicicleta o a correr, por lo mismo hay ciertas reglas del sentido común que hay que respetar para evitar ser atropellado por una bicicleta, por ejemplo, hacerse siempre hacia la derecha del camino para que pasen los ciclistas por la izquierda y nunca caminar por el centro. En algún momento de nuestro recorrido  nos encontramos con un grupo formado por dos mujeres y cuatro niños(as) de entre 8 y 2 años de edad, al poco rato dos de las niñas que aproximadamente tendrían 8 y 6 años respectivamente, se nos adelantaron, quedando sus madres tras de nosotros. Obviamente las niñas entienden un bledo de sentido común y menos aún sobre reglas a seguir al caminar por bosque, por lo que a pesar de que un par de ciclistas se les aproximaban a una velocidad más que media, las niñas seguían al centro de la vereda; y tristemente las madres ignoraban a las niñas y a las bicicletas.

No pude contenerme y les grité : ¡Bicicletas! Con la intención de que se hicieran a un lado, pero desafiando todas mis expectativas, la niña de 6 años, giró hacia mi, para corregirme categóricamente:

“No se dice Bicicleta se dice Baika!!— no me atrevo siquiera a sugerir  la manera de escribir “baika“. Mi esposo y yo nos miramos perplejos y aprovechando el receso que hicieron en su camino, nos adelantamos para hacerlas hacia la derecha y dejar pasar las bicicletas o “baikas”, ya no sé cómo llamarles.

“Se acostumbra al bien hablar leyendo a menudo a los que han escrito bien; así se hace un hábito de expresar noblemente y sin esfuerzo su propio pensamiento”.  Voltaire.

En nuestra casa, el sistema que manejamos es el siguiente:

Mi esposo habla con nuestro bebé siempre en inglés y yo lo hago en español. Cuando estamos los tres juntos, alternamos los diálogos en inglés y español, pero siempre utilizando el mismo idioma entre nosotros, nunca mezclándolo.

La teoría que estamos siguiendo, nos dice, que el bebé no traduce, sino asimila los sonidos y los relaciona con quien le habla. Por ejemplo, el bebé sabe que para Papá un objeto se llama ‘Table” y para Mamá, el mismo objeto se llama “Mesa”.

La literatura es crucial,  nunca utilizamos libros que mezclen palabras de los dos idiomas en una sola frase, los libros siempre son en un idioma. Mi esposo lee los libros que tenemos en inglés, y yo los libros en español. Tratamos de conseguir el mismo cuento en ambos idiomas, eso es aceptable. Lo que NO se permite es la mezcla de los dos idiomas en una misma frase.

Cada quien debe probar el sistema que mejor acomode a sus circunstancias personales y a los objetivos que quiere alcanzar en cada idioma, es decir, qué nivel de lenguaje es deseable para sus hijos.

El nivel de lenguaje no siempre denota el nivel de compresión en términos reales, pero si socialmente. Si la lengua es el medio que tenemos para expresar nuestros pensamientos, lo que queremos, nuestra visión del mundo, entonces alguna importancia debe tener que un idioma sea manejado de manera articulada y se cuente con un vocabulario suficiente que nos permita realizar el ejercicio diario de comunicarnos con los demás de una forma, al menos, comprensible.

Marga Britto: Aprendiz de madre, malabarista del tiempo, exiliada por opción, cuestionadora de todo, objetora de muy poco, activista de closet, escritora sin oficio. Marga nació y creció en la ciudad de Tijuana, México. Es licenciada en comunicación y comparte su tiempo entre vivir la maternidad a tope, escribir la columna semanal Tijuana Blues, en la revista digital angelina Hispanic LA, y desahogar sus crisis en su blog Actualmente radica en la ciudad de Pasadena, California. Twitter: @MargaBritto; Email:

Categories: Bilingualism