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The Best Spanish Language Advice (Episode 6)

We got in touch with book authors, bloggers, curricula writers, and other important people that share a passion for raising future generations bilingually. They will bring you a breath of fresh air into the world of Spanish language education through their story, their experience, and their advice.

The BEST Spanish advice comes from families that have spent their efforts figuring out what works for their families; adjusting, and continuing to move forward. The best advice comes from real-life experience and involvement with the language for many years.

Last time we interviewed Corrie Wiik from Mama Llama Linguist. It was a delightful interview and Corrie shared her wisdom and experience with us. If you missed last episode, you can read it here.

Today, we will be talking with Anne Guarnera from Language Learning at Home. One of the most visited blogs in the United States regarding Bilingual (Spanish)education. Anne holds a PhD in Spanish and is the creator of the curriculum Living Legends: Latin America. She has dedicated part of her life to learning spanish, immersing herself in the language and culture and using her knowledge to equip other families interested in raising bilingual children. We hope you enjoy this interview!

1.Meet Anne:

Anne, thanks for being here. We are really looking forward to getting to know you better today and explore your ideas behind bilingualism. Why don’t you start by sharing a little bit of your story. Tell us about background. 

I was raised in a monolingual English-speaking family in New Jersey, and like most people, I didn’t actually start learning a foreign language until high school, when I chose to study French. I actually went to college planning to be a French major, but when I did so  poorly on the speaking portion of the French placement exam that my college placed me back in French 101,  I gave up that dream! I decided to start over with Spanish and was able to learn it much more quickly and fluently. Having that initial experience of language learning failure taught me a lot about what it takes to learn a language and strongly influenced my teaching methods when I later  became a language teacher myself. 

That is a fascinating story! I love that you didn’t give up and instead used the obstacles to figure out a plan for the future. It shows that you are person who perseveres!

Tell us more about your educational background

After switching my language study from French to Spanish, I majored in Comparative Literature at college and spent a few years working at education non-profits that served Hispanic students. Those were great organizations, and I was very happy to be using my Spanish in “real life.” Finally, when I was 24, my husband and I decided to return to graduate school. I wanted to pursue a PhD and knew that it would be a long road ahead! I graduated with my Ph.D. in Spanish in 2017 when our first two sons were three years old and eight months old. While in graduate school at the University of Virginia, I taught Spanish to undergrads, which I adored.

I think it’s wonderful that you had the experience of using your new language skills in a real Spanish speaking setting! Also, being a graduate school while having a 3 year old child and an 8 month old baby is not for the faint of heart–That’s remarkable!

Could you share a little bit about your family today and what you enjoy doing together?

I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have three wonderful boys, who are now 9, 7, and 4 years old. We live outside Washington, DC and despite the challenges of this area, we love our city. We feel so privileged to have access to the incredible museums, the historic sites, and even the outdoor spaces that we have here. As a family, we love to spend time outdoors, visit new places, play board games, and read. We are always reading, in both languages. We’re also very involved in our church, which is filled with people from many different countries, and spending time with them is a big priority. 

That is so neat! It sounds like you guys are so close and like to have fun together! We are a big board-game family over here too!

Tell us about your decision to raise bilingual children. What kind of conversations did you have with your husband, what stirred up that desire, and what was agreed on regarding how you would start?

My husband shares my passion for language learning and has learned three other languages himself, so our initial conversation about raising bilingual kids was pretty short. It was something along these lines:

Me: I think I should speak Spanish to the kids. 

Him: Yes. 

Before having kids, we had imagined sending our children to dual-immersion bilingual schools and my oldest did attend a bilingual preschool that we loved. As the time approached to put him in school full-time, however, I felt increasingly convicted that we needed to homeschool him. The Lord gave me a vision for what a classical, Christian, bilingual education might look like in our home and the courage to step out and try it, and by His grace, we’ve been home educating ever since! We’re now entering our fifth year of homeschooling.

Hahaha! I love spose conversations like that! Not agreeing on things are, of course, a big part of a relationship but it is neat when just a few words show you are on the same page about something. Right?!

And, you decided to homeschool your children, congratulations–Such wonderful blessing!! Sounds like we have been homeschooling for the same amount of time as well. Like you, we started the kids in school but after just a few years, we brought them home so we could homeschool them bilingually.

Were your extended family members and friends supportive of your decision to raise bilingual children?

Our family and friends (many of whom speak other languages themselves) have been nothing but supportive. Honestly, I have never experienced any criticism for this choice, which is a privilege that I don’t take for granted. We live in a neighborhood with many native Spanish speakers and they frequently compliment our family on the fact that we speak Spanish in public. Total strangers have stopped me to tell me how meaningful it is to them that we’re teaching our kids their native language. The fact that we are blond-haired, blue-eyed Spanish speakers draws a lot of attention.

Wow, can see the level of commitment here. I feel like your children are gifted with very caring parents! And how special that you do speak to the kids in Spanish in public! I bet that is a memory that they will always remember! I am sure it hasn’t always been the easiest thing to do, but will be treasured in the long run nonetheless.

Not even mentioning how the regular practice promotes confidence, motivation, cultural awareness and ever grammar “on the go”. They are getting such an immersive experience!

Anne, Why is bilingualism so important to you?

When my kids were little, I encouraged them to speak Spanish by saying, “Double the languages, double the friends.” While this was really practical advice on the playgrounds in our neighborhood, it’s also more profound. I have seen first-hand how being able to speak another language has given me a deeper understanding of and love for other people. My Spanish skills have allowed me to learn, work, and worship alongside others from different backgrounds and that’s enriched my life (and hopefully theirs’ as well). For me, language learning isn’t about verb conjugations and vocabulary—it’s about other people. You have to “get out of yourself” to learn another language. You have to put aside your own comfort and be willing to make mistakes–like looking ridiculous when you can’t remember a word or say the wrong thing–and you have to be willing to take risks like that. When I’ve done that, however, I’ve learned much from others and had opportunities to serve them. My life has been enriched by that, and I want my kids to have the same experience.

I completely love this, Anne. It is beautiful to look at a language from the perspective of outreach and not just the skill itself. It’s like adding a soul to the task!

2.About Anne’s Blog:

What have been some of your favorite tools for teaching your kids a second language?

As a bilingual parent who is not a native Spanish-speaker, I’ve gotten really good at hunting down resources to provide my kids with exposure to native Spanish. My number one most important tool is the library. I have been reading aloud to my kids in Spanish since they were born, and most of our books have come from the library (or we would be bankrupt!). We also love audiobooks and podcasts in Spanish, which have allowed us to fit in lots of authentic language while we’re going about daily life–driving in the car, eating lunch, doing chores, etc.

The library is our jam! We attend it regularly and I deeply enjoy scrutinizing the Spanish section-ha! It’s almost like a challenge…”how many new amazing Spanish books will I find today?” 🙂

How have those changed as your children grow up?

As my children have gotten older, we’ve added in live online classes in Spanish, which are just one of the greatest things about this Internet age. My oldest son has taken art classes in Spanish since he was five with amazing teachers from Mexico (, and my second-born does conversation classes and piano with two different teachers who are from Colombia.

Check out our new Cultural/Geography unit study about COLOMBIA

What were some of your family’s biggest challenges while teaching your kids a second language, and how did you overcome them?

Two of the challenges that we’ve faced have been the following: 

As a non-Hispanic family raising our children bilingually, we’ve had to be very intentional about creating a positive, Spanish-forward community for our children. Since we don’t have grandparents or cousins who share our family language, we’ve had to build that real-life community from scratch. Luckily, we’re found enough Spanish-speaking homeschoolers in our area to make that a reality, but it has taken coordination and drive on my part to organize that. 

Prioritizing language learning also requires that we invest our time and money accordingly. We don’t participate in organized sports, for example, or other co-ops, so that we have the time and resources to pursue Spanish classes and plan worldschooling trips. Sometimes when I start to think about adding additional things to our schedule, I have to hold myself back and ask, “What would we have to drop in order to do this? Is this actually aligned with our priorities as a family?” It does take focus to keep language learning at the top of our priority list. The second challenge–the one that tends to keep me up at night–is that of balancing my own expectations with the actual needs of my kids. One of our children has some learning disabilities, and writing in both languages has proven to be a big challenge for him. Another one of our children is very resistant to speaking Spanish with me–although he’ll happily speak it in other contexts–and another child speaks only Spanish with me. Challenging and supporting each of my kids in these circumstances requires some juggling! It hasn’t been as simple a process as I imagined at the beginning of our homeschooling journey, yet the Lord has blessed us at each step. As with every other subject in homeschooling, I do need to remind myself that this is a long game and to focus on progress over arbitrary timelines or “milestones.” After all, I’m still a language learner myself–in English and Spanish. I’m still learning new vocabulary in both languages and learning to use them in different circumstances. When I remind myself of that, I can empathize with my kids better and keep the focus on my own consistency as a teacher rather than on outcomes that are beyond my control.

The level of commitment is so important, isn’t it? I think you have such motivation regarding your children’s bilingual education. So neat to see!

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3. Anne’s encouragement:

You are the Creator of the Language Learning at Home Blog (Which I absolutely enjoy!). Tell us how that project started, what fired you up to begin, and where did you start?

Before I even began homeschooling myself, I met a lot of families who had questions about how to homeschool foreign languages. I started the blog as a way of answering those questions and using my education and experience to be a resource to the homeschooling community.

Your blog has been a fantastic resource for my family and has helped support our language learning goals positively! I am a native Spanish-speaking mom, and I have found so many valuable tips and resources on your website. Thank you for putting your time and ideas out there for the world to benefit from. I guarantee that, like me, many parents share the same sentiment!

Please tell us a bit about the language resources that you offer to the community

Most of my resources are free and can be found at the articles page on my blog. I always recommend that families start there to find the advice or encouragement that they need. 

In addition, I offer Living Legends, a bilingual curriculum that I designed for elementary school students. Living Legends is a literature-based curriculum designed to immerse families in the history and cultures of ancient Latin America. Each week focuses on one picture book or story and includes discussion questions and hands-on activities in history/geography, poetry/music, and art. The curriculum is “flexibly bilingual”—all plans are written in English, and the curriculum can be completed completely in English, but Spanish-speaking families can also complete read-alouds and activities in Spanish (both options are included in the curriculum). 

I’d love to develop more curricula like this in the future. While I think there are a number of excellent resources for learning the Spanish language at home, there’s still plenty of room in the homeschooling community for resources focused on Hispanic history and culture.

Yes, I 100% agree. Each creator also brings a unique flair to the cause, and plenty of families have different learning styles, goals, and desires, so diverse resources are a positive thing!

What encouragement would you give to families with low income or limited access to teaching resources?

I would encourage them to access their local library and to become friendly with the librarians. If there is a book that you’re interested in, ask your library to purchase it, and don’t be afraid to supplement with free online resources, like podcasts. Language learning doesn’t have to come from an expensive curriculum, especially if you speak the language yourself. It can simply be a part of your home atmosphere. Secondly, I would urge them to network among local families for support. We have found other Spanish-speaking homeschoolers through Facebook, but you can also network through churches, local libraries, or other groups. Many, many families want to encourage bilingualism in their children, so you might consider partnering with them and starting a Saturday Spanish playgroup or book club. If you can take on the role of organizer, other families will want to participate.

Thank you for that, Anne. Lastly, If you could give a piece of advice to families that are considering teaching their kids a second language, what would you tell them?

I would tell them to start taking consistent baby steps and to keep building off of that. This year, set a goal to practice Spanish for 10 minutes a day. Next year, it can be 15 minutes. But do it every day, just like math practice or practicing an instrument. It will add up over time.

Thank you for your time, Anne. I feel inspired and encouraged by your story and it’s been a pleasure chatting with you today. I wish you the best on future endeavors regarding your children’s education, your blog and resources!

Interested in learning more about our Book Report Program? Click HERE

Thank you for reading this interview. We hope that through these interviews, you can leave fired up and ready to continue pursuing your language learning goals for your family and students with new ideas, resources, and motivation.

If you have any questions, ideas to share or comments please get in touch with us through email, contact form or in the comments below.

Here is Anne’s website.

¡Hasta la próxima!

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The Best Spanish Language Advice (Episode 5)

We got in touch with book authors, bloggers, curricula writers, and other important characters that share a passion for raising future generations bilingually. They will bring you a breath of fresh air into the world of Spanish language education through their story, their experience, and their advice.

The BEST Spanish advice comes from families that have spent their efforts figuring out what works for them and their families; adjusting, and continuing to move forward. The best advice comes from real-life experience and involvement with the language for many years in the past.

Last time we interviewed Colombo-American mama Ana Kim. She shared about her passion for bilingualism, the reasons why it is so important for her, the ways she incorporates her native language at home and the whys behind her Charlotte Mason-inspired literature-based resources. If you missed last episode, you can read it here.

Today we have the amazing pleasure to sit down and chat with Corrie Wiik. M.Ed., Founder and CEO of Mama Llama Linguist. She is a favorite in the Spanish education community and has so much passion for what she does. Grab your favorite drink and read on, friend!.

1.Meet Corrie:

Corrie Wiik. M.Ed is a former Spanish teacher turned CEO of Mama Llama Linguist, a Spanish education site. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two bilingual children ages 6 and 5. She loves Mexican food, reading, hiking and her church community.

Thanks for accepting my invitation to interview you! I have been looking forward to thank you for being here today. I am excited chat and find out what fires you up to do what you do!

Corrie, when did you decide that you wanted to raise bilingual children and what stirred up that desire?

Languages have always been my passion and my whole education and career revolved around them. In my early 20s, I lived and worked in Spain and that season of immersion was life-changing. Spanish became a part of me, but I wasn’t sure how I would share that gift of bilingualism with my kids. When I became pregnant with my first in 2015, I thought it would be a breeze and it would just ‘happen’.

What I didn’t expect was how all consuming that first-time parent role would be! I was in the USA living very very far away from my family in England and my son had colic. It wasn’t until he turned one that I started to recover from that ‘survival mode’ of first time parenting. When my daughter was born, I felt far more confident and capable in my role as a mom, and everything just felt far more natural.

So it was then that we started the ‘Time and Place’ strategy (choosing a specific time and place to speak Spanish) and it worked so well for us. This looked like reading stories, listening to songs and watching cartoons in both languages.

A couple of years later when my children were both in preschool, and far more fluent, we merged into a mixed-language at home family.

I think it’s wonderful that you had the experience of living abroad in a Spanish speaking country! How wonderful that you had that experience that later on would come in so handy in raising your own bilingual kiddos! Life is wonderful like that- isn’t it?

Also as a Colombian mom living in the US with zero family here when I had my first child, I can almost feel your pain of those first years as a mother. Bless your heart!…They are truly shaping years, aren’t they?…

What are your favorite tools for teaching your kids Spanish?

We are a homeschool family and that has given me a chance to really preserve and nurture my children’s Spanish throughout the years. I use children’s literature as our main Spanish input. We are always reading beautiful books in Spanish as part of our learning experience. I also like to incorporate lots of music, art and poetry into our Spanish learning.

That is so neat! I think your approach sounds very appealing and fun for any child! I know thats the type of thing my students and my own kids enjoy.

Other than living abroad and enjoying the language yourself, when did you decide that you wanted to raise bilingual children? Why is Bilingualism important to you and your family?

There are several reasons why bilingualism is important to us. Living in San Diego, we are surrounded by Spanish, or Spanglish! Being able to communicate with our neighbors and the locals is essential. Also, for my kids, bilingualism can only be an advantage for them now and as they grow up and pursue their own careers.

Our children also have Hispanic heritage on their paternal Grandmother’s side. Despite only being a very small percentage Latino, since they are 50% English and about 25% Scandinavian, we still feel passionate about reviving that heritage and language, since it was not passed down after their Great-Great Grandmother, who only spoke Spanish, passed away. 

Beautiful reasons! I love that you’re thinking about your community, their heritage and their future!

What are your favorite tools when you are teaching your kids Spanish?

Reading stories and singing songs were the biggest sources of input when my kids were little. As they grew, we then took advantage of outsourcing a lot more with Dual Language Immersion programs. 

Music is a powerful way for children to acquire vocabulary. My kids love to sing and dance to Spanish nursery rhymes: Canticos on Youtube is a great tool for this. Jose Luis Orozco, 1 2 3 Andrés, Alina Celeste, Little Parade and Nathalia Música are some of our favorite Spanish musicians for children.

I would have to agree with that. When I was teaching Spanish Immersion classes at our home, music always brought the kids together in learning best. They still sing and share songs I taught them when they see me in other places. It’s so sweet 🙂 …It is also nice that you had the fortune of having Dual Language Immersion programs accessible locally to you. I think a lot more of those are needed around the U.S. although it’s something that is getting better, thankfully.

What are or were some of the biggest challenges you faced during the journey of teaching your kids a second language. How did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge by far was when we lived in South Carolina for a few years and struggled to find Spanish speaking communities, and therefore lacked ‘real life context’. I was my children’s most significant source of input back then.

One day I remember my son (who was about 3 at the time) became frustrated when I was reading a book in Spanish, and asked “Why do we have to do Spanish anyway? Nobody speaks it except you.” That hit me hard and became a huge turning point. I knew he needed context, even at such a young age and I wasn’t able to provide that.

This is quite a drastic solution, but we actually moved back to San Diego in 2020, where my husband is originally from, and that was a game changer. We moved into a community where the majority of our neighbors are Latinos. So instantly the kids were surrounded and immersed in Spanish, or Spanglish as we most often experience here with the kids.

My children have never ever questioned the importance of learning Spanish since we moved to San Diego. That’s not to say everyone should move to San Diego, although we do love it here! My point is that context is key. Finding ways for them to speak with native speakers, or connect with children who are native or heritage speakers is important if you are serious about raising active bilinguals.

I completely agree with that, Corrie.

2.About Corrie’s Spanish Ed. business:

Could you share with us about Mama Llama Linguist?

I am the Founder of a Spanish curriculum company called Llamitas Spanish®. We provide homeschooling and charter schools and families with academic Spanish lessons that are rooted in the Hispanic culture.

Our lessons are thematic and open-and-go! They include bilingual scripts allowing parents and teachers to facilitate the lessons in English or Spanish. Lessons include songs, stories, phonics, math, readers, games, art and native speaker audio.

We have a few programs including a Preschool Spanish Morning Binder, which is ideal for preschool. Level 1 which is ideal for Kindergarten, then Level 2 for lower elementary. Level 3 for upper elementary is in the works!

So exciting, Corrie! I know first hand how lovely your products are as we have worked together in previous projects. And level 3 in the works…Amazing. So happy for you and of course for the community!!

But, tell me, when did you decide to start working on creating educational resources for Spanish learners?

When my daughter was born (my 2nd child) I started a Spanish education blog called Mama Llama Linguist with hopes to share my journey raising bilingual children. I shared about the resources we were using, and encouraged other moms with bilingual parenting tips.

As my kids grew, I really struggled to find a curriculum that was focused on early years Spanish academics, like phonics and reading. I realized there was a need and felt qualified to fill it. I hired a team of native speakers and bilingual educators and, con mucho amor, Llamitas Spanish was launched.

Initially I had planned to simply create the Preescolar program, but it soon became apparent that more levels were needed, and so my ‘hobby blog’ became my family’s full time business. We are excited to continue providing academic Spanish curricula over the coming years!

Could you share with us about what is the drive behind the products that you create?

As I began my market research for Llamitas Spanish, I started to connect with so many Latina moms who were either native Spanish speakers, or heritage speakers, but struggling to raise bilingual children in the USA. The common struggle I heard from them was: ‘I speak Spanish, I just don’t know how to teach it to my kids’. That’s when we realized we needed this program to support them too.

So we pivoted! Hearing from Latina moms in particular about how much joy Llamitas is bringing to their homes and how it’s helping them keep their heritage or native language alive is what keeps me showing up to the curricula writing desk each day!

How neat is that! As a mom trying to raise bilinguals and as a curricula writer myself I totally get where you are coming from. There is indeed a need out there.

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3. Corrie’s encouragement:

What would you tell to families with low income or limited access to teaching resources?

I would say firstly that my heart is for helping all parents on all budgets. Teaching your kids Spanish shouldn’t break the bank. We have created a pretty sizable Freebie Library on our website that I invite them to check out. It has games, flashcards, rotating printables and guides to support them.

I would also encourage them to check locally for Spanish storytimes, playgroups at parks and even Dual Language programs. There are more and more opening up across the country and most are free (check Charters and public DLI programs). I also have a lengthy blog post that shares many more free Spanish resources out there.

If you could give a piece of advice to families that are considering teaching their kids a second language, what would you tell them?

Commit to providing daily Spanish input. It could be choosing a curriculum, an app, online classes, reading,  whatever works for your kids. It requires consistent input and intentionality for your child to flourish in bilingualism. 

yes, 100% agree. Raising bilingual children is such individual journey, isn’t it? But let’s not confuse our journey with our support and resources! We don’t have to do it alone. I always recommend to the parents of my students: Seek support, ask questions, find friends with similar goals, be proactive and consider starting or creating what your need and even go the extra mile and offer it to others!

Any additional thoughts that you would like to share?

You will never regret teaching your child a second language. It is such an incredible journey and has brought so many unexpected blessings and joys to my family’s life, and I know it will for yours too!

Thanks for being here today and for sharing your heart with me, Corrie. I appreciate your wisdom and all the tips you shared in this interview with my readers. I wish you the best of luck in all future endeavors.

Thanks for reading, friends. I hope you were able to catch glimpses of hope and practical ideas to incorporate and adjust to your own bilingual journey. As always, please let us know what you thought about this blog post and if you have any idea for future interviews or posts, let us know!

Here is Corrie’s website. She has graciously offered a 10% discount towards any order with the code: ‘CEDARHILLS’.

¡Hasta pronto!

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Los mejores consejos para incluir Español en casa (Episodio 4)

Do you want to read this page in English? Do so HERE.

Nos hemos puesto en contacto con autores de libros, blogueros, redactores de unidades de estudio y otros personajes importantes que comparten la pasión por criar a las generaciones futuras de forma bilingüe. Traerán un soplo de aire fresco al mundo de la educación del idioma español a través de su historia, su experiencia y sus consejos.

Los MEJORES consejos sobre el bilingüismo provienen de familias que han dedicado sus esfuerzos a descubrir qué funciona para ellos y sus familias, adaptarse y seguir avanzando. El mejor consejo proviene de la experiencia de la vida real y de la relación con el idioma durante muchos años.

La última vez entrevistamos a Maritere Bellas, madre emprendedora latina y defensora del bilingüismo. Esta semana entrevistamos a la mamá colombo-estadounidense Ana Kim.

Ana Maria Kim vive con su esposo e hijos en las afueras de Washington D.C., en Estados Unidos. El esposo de Ana es coreano-americano y juntos tienen dos hijos de 6 y 8 años. Les encanta la música, el arte, los libros y pasar tiempo en la naturaleza. Viajan con frecuencia, pero les encanta estar en casa y, lo mejor de todo, es aprender y crear recuerdos juntos. Continúa leyendo para conocer los motivos familiares de Ana detrás de educar bilingüe a sus hijos.

Ana, gracias por estar aquí hoy. ¡Estoy muy emocionada y feliz de conocer un poco más sobre una mamá Colombiana que educa en el hogar! Ya que somos ambas de Colombia, puedo decir que será un momento muy agradable, jaja. 🙂

Me encantaría saber un poco sobre tu historia y aprender más sobre tu trayectoria bilingüe.

¿Por qué es importante el bilingüismo para ti (tu familia)?

Nací y crecí en Medellín, Colombia. El español es una gran parte de quién soy y siempre supe que quería darles a mis hijos el regalo del bilingüismo. Quiero que mis hijos tengan la oportunidad de conocer y conectarse con ese lado de su herencia. Quiero que sepan que pertenecen a la comunidad hispana.

Eso es muy importante ¿no? Yo también trabajo duro con mis hijos compartiendo mi cultura y herencia con ellos porque, al igual que tú, quiero que sepan que ellos también son hispanos y que tienen un mundo ante ellos para explorar sobre sus raíces y de dónde vienen.

¿Cuáles son/fueron tus herramientas favoritas cuando enseñabas a tus hijos un segundo idioma?

Somos una familia que educa en casa y eso me ha dado la oportunidad de preservar y nutrir realmente el español de mis hijos a lo largo de los años. Utilizo la literatura infantil como nuestra principal aportación en español. Siempre estamos leyendo hermosos libros en español como parte de nuestra experiencia de aprendizaje. También me gusta incorporar mucha música, arte y poesía a nuestro aprendizaje de español.

¡Eso es tan genial! ¡Creo que tu enfoque suena muy atractivo y divertido para cualquier niño! Sé que ese es el tipo de cosas que disfrutan mis alumnos y mis propios hijos.

¿Cuáles fueron algunos de los mayores desafíos que enfrentó tu familia durante el proceso de enseñar a tus hijos un segundo idioma y cómo los superaron?

Nuestro mayor desafío fue encontrar recursos en español que estuvieran alineados con nuestras filosofías educativas y la forma en que queremos presentar el español a nuestros hijos y la forma en que queremos aprenderlo en casa. Queríamos que fuera una experiencia alegre y significativa para ellos. Después de buscar recursos durante aproximadamente un año sin éxito, decidí comenzar a crear nuestros propios recursos basados en literatura. En realidad, así nació Pequeños Lectores.

Felicitaciones por dar el paso para crear lo que tu familia necesitaba. Además, es sorprendente que hayas decidido compartirlo con otras familias que también podrían estar en tu lugar. ¡Eso realmente demuestra que tienes un gran corazón!

¿Puedes compartir con nosotros un poco más sobre los recursos que creas?

Pequeños Lectores es un proyecto que comencé para presentar y enseñar español a mis hijos utilizando la literatura infantil. Leemos y exploramos libros hermosos y creamos recursos para otras familias/clases que quieran hacer lo mismo. Usamos poesía, estudios de la naturaleza, música, arte y artesanías para explorar las historias que leemos, todo en español.

Eso es maravilloso. Suena como un enfoque muy de Charlotte Mason. ¿Es esa la metodología que sigues?

Sí, exploramos historias llenas de vida, en español, ¡y creamos recursos para que tú también puedas hacerlo! Nuestras guías de exploración de historias están inspiradas en los métodos educativos y la filosofía de Charlotte Mason. Con ellos podrás crear una atmósfera de aprendizaje que podrá brindar a tus pequeños un viaje maravilloso a través de las historias de estos libros llenos de vida.

¡Eso es maravilloso! Me encanta eso de tus recursos. ¡Tengo que contarte, hemos usado un par de sus recursos con mis propios hijos y todos hemos disfrutado cada minuto de esa experiencia!

¿Cuándo decidiste que querías crear material sobre educación bilingüe o multilingüe?

Sabía que tenía que empezar a crear nuestros propios recursos hace unos dos años, cuando mi hijo mayor empezó a aprender a leer y escribir y no pude encontrar ningún recurso en español que funcionara para nuestra familia. También sabía que no podíamos ser la única familia pasando por esta dificultad, así que eso me dio la esperanza y el último empujón que necesitaba para iniciar Pequeños Lectores. Me hizo muy feliz pensar que también podría compartir nuestros recursos con otras familias y comunidades que buscaban nutrir y preservar el español en sus vidas.

Mi principal motor son mis hijos. Realmente quiero que experimenten la belleza del idioma español. Por supuesto, ver que otras familias puedan disfrutar de nuestros recursos ha sido una gran parte del porqué detrás de Pequeños Lectores. Estoy feliz de ser parte de una comunidad que atesora y se siente orgullosa de nuestro idioma y está trabajando duro para mantenerlo vivo.

Si pudieras dar un consejo a las familias que están pensando en enseñar a sus hijos un segundo idioma, ¿qué les dirías?

Crea un ambiente alegre. Ese es mi lema cuando se trata de enseñar español a mis hijos o cualquier otra materia. Hacer del aprendizaje una experiencia alegre y significativa. Encontrar formas de darle vida al idioma y también de hacerlo personal para ellos. Además, ser paciente y constante. El aprendizaje es un proceso, a veces de por vida. Disfrutar del proceso con tus hijos. Confiar en que están aprendiendo todo el tiempo, incluso si no siempre lo parece.

Me encanta eso, Ana. Creo que cualquier cosa con alegría siempre es mejor. Especialmente en la formación y crianza de las generaciones futuras 🙂

¿Qué les diría a las familias que se encuentran en una situación similar a la tuya en lo que respecta a la educación en el hogar?

Se intencional y sigue adelante. Toma un día a la vez y haz que cada día cuente. Tenemos el poder de llenar nuestros días de belleza y experiencias significativas, incluso en los días difíciles. La educación en el hogar ha sido una bendición increíble para mí y mi familia. Hemos crecido juntos de maneras que ni siquiera podía imaginar. Nos ha hecho más fuertes, más amables y más plenos. Sé que todas las familias que educan en casa pueden disfrutar de estas mismas bendiciones con un poco de coherencia e intencionalidad.

Gracias por charlar con nosotros hoy, Ana. Les deseo una feliz trayectoria hacia delante!

Y a todos ustedes,queridos lectores, gracias por leer esta entrevista. Esperamos que se sientan motivados para continuar con la educación bilingüe con sus hijos y esperamos que puedan encontrar los recursos adecuados para sazonar sus esfuerzos.

Aca esta la página web de Ana

¡Buena suerte!

Nos vemos la próxima vez. ¡Estaremos hablando con Corrie Wiik de Llamitas Spanish y no querrás perdértelo!


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The Best Spanish Language Advice (Episode 4)

Quieres leer esta entrevista en Español? Leela AQUÍ

We have gotten in touch with book authors, bloggers, curricula writers, and other important characters that share a passion for raising future generations bilingually. They will bring you a breath of fresh air into the world of Spanish language education through their story, their experience, and their advice.

The BEST Spanish advice comes from families that have spent their efforts figuring out what works for them and their families; adjusting, and continuing to move forward. The best advice comes from real-life experience and involvement with the language for many years in the past.

Last time we interviewed latina mompreneur and bilingualism advocate Maritere Bellas. If you miss it, feel free to read it here. This week we are interviewing Colombian-American mama Ana Kim

Ana Maria Kim lives with her husband and sons outside of Washington D.C., in the United States. Ana’s husband is Korean American and together they have two sons ages 6 and 8. They love music, art, books, and spending time in nature. They travel often but love being home, best of all learning and making memories together the most. Continue reading to find out Ana’s family motives behind bilingual educating their children.

Ana, thank you for being here today. I am so excited and happy to get to know a little bit more about a fellow Colombian homeschooling mama! I can already tell this will be a fun time 🙂

I would love to hear a little bit about your background and learn more about your bilingual journey.

Why is bilingualism important to you (your family)?

I was born and raised in Medellin, Colombia. Spanish is a big part of who I am and I always knew that I wanted to give my children the gift of bilingualism. I want my children to have the chance to know and connect with that side of their heritage. I want them to know that they belong in the Hispanic community.

That is so important isn’t it? I work hard with my children sharing my culture and heritage with them because like you, I want them to know they are also hispanic and they have a world before them to explore about their roots and where they come from!

What are/were your favorite tools when you are/were teaching your kids a second language?

We are a homeschool family and that has given me a chance to really preserve and nurture my children’s Spanish throughout the years. I use children’s literature as our main Spanish input. We are always reading beautiful books in Spanish as part of our learning experience. I also like to incorporate lots of music, art and poetry into our Spanish learning.

That is so neat! I think your approach sounds very appealing and fun for any child! I know thats the type of thing my students and my own kids enjoy.

What were some of the biggest challenges your family faced during the journey of teaching your kids a second language, and how did you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge was finding resources in Spanish that were aligned to our education philosophies, and the way we want to introduce Spanish to our children, and the way we want to learn it at home. We wanted it to be a joyful and meaningful experience for them. After looking for resources for about one year without any success, I decided to start creating our own literature based resources. This is actually how Pequeños Lectores was born.

Congratulations on taking the step to create what your family needed. Also how amazing it is that you have decided to share it with other families that might be in your shoes as well. That truly shows you have a big heart!!

Can you share with us a little it more about the resources you create?

Pequeños Lectores is a project I started to introduce and teach Spanish to my sons using children’s literature. We read and explore beautiful books, and create resources for other families/classrooms that want to do the same. We use poetry, nature studies, music, art and handicrafts to explore the stories that we are reading, all in Spanish.

That is wonderful. Sounds like a very Charlotte Mason approach. Is that the methodology you follow?

Yes, we explore stories full of life, in Spanish, and we create resources so that you can do it too! Our Story Exploration Guides are inspired by Charlotte Mason’s educational methods and philosophy. With them, you can create a learning atmosphere that can give your little ones a wonderful journey through the stories in these books full of life.

That is wonderful! I love that about your resources. I have to tell you I have used a couple of your resources with my own kiddos and we all have enjoyed every minute of it!

When did you decide you wanted to create material about bilingual or multilingual education?

I knew I had to start creating our own resources about two years ago, when my oldest son started learning to read and write and I couldn’t find any Spanish resources that would work for our family. I also knew we couldn’t possibly be the only family going through this difficulty, so that gave me the hope and the last push I needed to start Pequeños Lectores. It made me very happy to think I could also share our resources with other families and communities that were looking to nurture and preserve their Spanish in their lives.

My main drive are my children. I truly want them to experience the beauty of the Spanish language. Of course, seeing that others families can enjoy our resources has been a big part of the why behind Pequeños Lectores. I’m happy to be part of a community that treasures and feels proud of our language and is working hard to keep it alive.

If you could give a piece of advice to families that are considering teaching their kids a second language, what would you tell them?

Make it joyful. That’s kind of my motto when it comes to teaching my children Spanish, or any other subject really. Make learning a joyful, meaningful experience. Find ways to bring the language alive and also to make it personal for them. Also, be patient and consistent. Learning is a process, sometimes a lifelong one. Enjoy the process with your children. Trust that they are learning all the time, even if it doesn’t always seem like they are.

I love that, Ana. I think anything with joy is always better. Especially in the training and upbring of future generations 🙂

What would you tell families in similar situation as you as far as homeschooling goes?

Be intentional and keep going. Take it one day at a time, and make each day count. We have the power to fill our days with beauty and meaningful experiences, even on the hard days. Homeschooling has been an incredible blessing to me and my family. We have grown together in ways I couldn’t even think possible. It has made us stronger, kinder, fuller. I know every homeschool family can enjoy these same blessings with a bit of consistency and intentionality.

Thank you for your chatting with us today, Ana. I wish you a joyful journey ahead.

And to all of you, readers, Thank you for reading this interview. We hope you feel motivated to keep pursuing a bilingual education with your children and we hope you can find the right resources to season your efforts with!

Here is Ana’s website

¡Buena suerte!

See you next time. We will be talking with Corrie Wiik from Llamitas Spanish and you won’t want to miss it!


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The Best Spanish Language Advice (Episode 3)

We have gotten in touch with book authors, bloggers, curricula writers, and other important characters that share a passion for raising future generations bilingually. They will bring you a breath of fresh air into the world of Spanish language education through their story, their experience, and their advice.

The BEST Spanish advice comes from families that have spent their efforts figuring out what works for them and their families, adjusting, and continuing to move forward. The best advice is that that comes from real-life experience and involvement with the language for many years in the past.

Last week we interviewed Jenna from Bilingual Balance and this week we are interviewing latina mama, award winning writer and cultura advocate Mrs. Maritere Bellas.

Maritere is an award-winning author, bilingual-bicultural parenting expert/mentor, speaker, writer, podcast & IG Live host, and parenting influencer.  A language and cultura advocate, Maritere combined her devotion to motherhood and her passion for writing to create a diverse platform of resources for parents raising bilingual, multilingual, multicultural children long before online resources were available. She is the author of 4 books for parents, published in English and in Spanish, and two bilingual children’s books. 

Mari, it truly is an honor and pleasure to chat with you today. I am very glad we’ve crossed paths as I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know the terrific influence and presence you have in the world of bilingual education and multiculturalism.

I would love to hear a little bit about your background. Who is Maritere, and where does she come from?

I have fond memories of my childhood and upbringing in Puerto Rico. Frankly, when I traveled to California for school, it was not my intention to stay.  I wanted to grow old close to my family, but life intervened or shall I say fate? I met my husband in Los Angeles and we made Southern California home. We will be celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary this year. Life out west hasn’t always been peaches and cream, is it ever? But I have learned many lessons and when I have failed, I still got back up!  Having a supportive family has helped.

Well, guess what? We have this in common. I came to the U.S. to study English and here I am 15 years later, with my american husbands and my three bicultural children. I never intended to stay nor to have a family here as I was coming to work on my second language skills and learn more about the culture! I guess this was the predetermined path we were meant to be in.

Tell us a little bit about your children

My children are my everything! A boy and a girl. Raised with two languages and three cultures: Hispanic, Greek and American. They have traveled extensively since they were very young and now, at 30 and 27, I’m convinced that this upbringing has contributed to the young adults they are today: embracing diversity with a deep appreciation of others.

Why is bilingualism important to you (your family)?

I was bilingual and bi-literate when I graduated from high school. Then I went to study abroad and met families whose kids spoke four-five languages without batting an eye. That was fascinating! I learned firsthand the benefits and advantages of communicating in different languages and learning about other cultures.  I was 18 and vowed that my kids would be bilingual and multicultural!

I do think multilingual people are incredibly talented and fortunate. Not only are they able to communicate with so many more cultures and races; but the worldview and fruits of diversity they have is extensive and rich. And, that’s not even touching about the career advantages they will get in life. It is wonderful that you chose a bilingual path for your family!

What are/were your favorite tools when you are/were teaching your kids a second language?

Puerto Rican music was a staple in my house when my children were growing up.  As was the food. I enjoyed making my favorite Puerto Rican dishes and sharing anecdotes and stories about my own upbringing while I was cooking “habichuelas, “ (beans “arroz con pollo,” (rice and chicken)  “asopao,“ (soup) among other dishes—typical dishes from the island.  We also listened to Greek music and ate Greek food. 

Awe, how special! Nothing beats the comfort and love shared through food and music. HEre at our house, we have Colombian food every Sunday. Abuelita comes over and we make easy, simple yet delicious traditional meals like Ajiaco (Chicken soup), and Empanadas. The kids look forward to it and have learned to cook a few of those dishes themselves. I love that you were intentional in preserving your Puerto rican roots while raising your kids bilingual!

What were some of the biggest challenges your family faced during the journey of teaching your kids a second language, and how did you overcome them?

Two decades ago, bilingualism was not as popular as it is today. There were little or no resources available. My husband and I used our instincts.  We used the OPOL (One parent, one language) method BEFORE it was called OPOL!  Now there are many methods parents can choose from and the science behind them!  I also had to explain my choice of raising bilinguals everywhere I went!  In the park, people would either ask me why I was talking to the kids in Spanish or roll their eyes at us.  The mental load was real but no one was talking about it, and we didn’t have much information to back up our choice. Today, we know so much more and can be more intentional, committed, and determined. 

Wow. I can only imagine how challenging it was to keep pursuing your family’s language goals and hard it must have been to feel judged and somewhat isolated. We are fortunate in this aspect nowadays. And truthfully, it is because of people like you that we can now count with support, encouragement and resources to continue working in our bilingual goals.

Sounds like you enjoy staying busy. Tell us about your writing journey

I always knew I wanted to write, it wasn’t until I became a mom that I really pursued it. At the time, there was no information for Latino immigrant parents who were raising bilingual and bicultural children in Los Angeles. It was the early 90s and the internet wasn’t that popular yet. Resources were not readily available. I became the voice for Latino parents that were grappling with the challenges and rewards of raising children with the new culture they had adopted while still preserved their native culture.  My parenting column ran in La Opinión newspaper for twelve years, and to this day, I visit Spanish language media regularly imparting my parenting knowledge, including television and radio. Today, you can also find my work in many online publications including my own blog. Quite often, you can find me at conferences and/or book festivals. In addition to writing about parenting issues, I enjoy featuring Latinas who are making a difference in their communities, and around the globe.  

That is wonderful. Good for you and thank you for supporting other latinas!

Share a little bit about the books you have written

My e-book, Raising Bilingual Kids is an easy, user-friendly, how-to guidebook for the new and technologically savvy immigrant parent. This is the book that busy parents will go to when searching for advice and direction about the everyday joys and challenges of raising a bilingual child. It is published in English and in Spanish.

Arroz con Pollo and Apple Pie: Raising Bicultural Children provides a no-nonsense guide to raising bicultural children in modern times.  It includes real-world experiences from the writer and others who shared their adventures in multicultural parenting.  The book is published in English and Spanish in paperback and e-book formats.

Luisito’s Island/La Isla de Luisito (not for sale) is the story of a six-year-old Puerto Rican boy that leaves the island with his family after Hurricane Maria. In his new school, he meets new friends, and he shares with them all the places he misses from the island.

I have a secret/Tengo un secreto – the first in Yunito Rodriguez Series, tells the story of 6-year-old Yunito confronting the challenges of bullying and cultural assimilation in a fun and engaging story for families, ultimately delivering an inclusive and inspiring message on the love of language and the value of friendship.¡Soy Unica!  The Spanish edition of the book I Am Unique was written by Jennifer Vassel. A story about inspiring kids (and adults) to overcome their insecurities so they can share their unique gifts with the world.

I have read tengo un secreto and I really enjoyed it. A very heartwarming title! I love the title of your book about raising bicultural children! I recently just ordered it and I can’t wait to ‘dig in’ so-to-speak. I am in that very same journey currently with young children and I am very curious to find any insight that you can provide through this book.

When did you decide you wanted to write books or create material about bilingual or multilingual education?

Before my first book was published in 2014, when I wrote for the column for La Opinión newspaper in Los Angeles. The column was directed at parents raising bilingual and bicultural children.  It ran for 12 years. That led to my writing books. To provide information, suggestions, tools, resources, motivation, and inspiration for parents as they navigate their bilingual and bicultural journey.

It sure takes bravery and dedication to write a book or more. That shows of your character and commitment to the topic!

What encouragement would you give to families with low income or limited access to teaching resources?

There is a lot of free information out there. A huge bilingual parenting community in social media, Instagram, and Facebook that offer daily tips, and strategies. There is also a big community of teachers that are always sharing free material.  Talking to other parents and asking for referrals is also helpful.

That is so true! Families now are fortunate. This is why I create educational resources at very low cost and are constantly offering free products. I always think about families having the drive but perhaps not the resources.

If you could give a piece of advice to families that are considering teaching their kids a second language, what would you tell them?

Do it!! Today, so many studies and so much research have proven the benefits and advantages for a child and so much support for parents.  There is no excuse not to do it!

There really is no excuse. It sure takes a lot of work, dedication and commitment, but the fruit that it will reap is worth every second!

Thanks for your time, Maritere. It’s been a pleasure.

Thank you for reading our interview with Maritere! We hope you were able to catch glimpses of her drive and passion for the Spanish language and preserving her culture.

To win a copy of Maritere’s book:

  1. In the comments section of this blog post tell us what part of the interview did you enjoy the most and why
  2. Share this blog post in your social media channels, follow and tag @spanish.atcedarhill and @latinaboomermom

That’s it. ¡Buena suerte!

Maritere’s Website:

Remember to check next week as we will be talking with Charlotte Mason en Español advocate and resource creator Ana María Kim from Pequeños Lectores!

See you next Monday!


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The Best Spanish Language Advice (Episode 2)

We have gotten in touch with book authors, bloggers, curricula writers, and other important characters that share a passion for raising future generations bilingually. They will bring you a breath of fresh air into the world of Spanish language education through their story, their experience, and their advice.

The BEST Spanish advice comes from families that have spent their efforts figuring out what works for them and their families, adjusting, and continuing to move forward. The best advice is that that comes from real-life experience and involvement with the language for many years in the past.

Last week we interviewed Rachel from Seven in All and Wheredyoulearnthat, thank you to those who read the interview and provided feedback via Instagram or Facebook. Especially thanks to those who messaged us with questions that you would like to see us asking our guest! This is a collective effort so keep the comments coming!

But we are eager to present our next guest, so without further ado, here she is:

Jenna is a bilingual teacher and mom passionate about helping families raise bilingual kids.  She has teaching experience in dual language immersion programs (Spanish and English) in three different states, has a Master’s degree as an elementary reading specialist, and is raising her own three children bilingually.  Jenna shares bilingual parenting tips, language learning ideas, and fun Spanish resources for families on her website, Bilingual Balance.

Jenna, thank you so much for taking the time and chatting with us today. I know working moms have limited time so I appreciate having you here.

Why don’t we start talking about your heritage. What is your background?

I grew up in an English-speaking family in the United States, with relatives originally from several European countries.  I’m a Midwest girl and have lived most of my life in Iowa and Minnesota.  My parents instilled in me a love for learning and an appreciation of my own cultural background – among many other things.  But people often ask me how I learned Spanish!  When I was able to take my first Spanish class in high school, I absolutely fell in love with the language and learning about different cultures around the world!  Hosting a foreign exchange student, going on a Spanish language trip to Central America, and studying abroad in Mexico all helped solidify my decision to pursue a career in bilingual education.  And as a teacher, I had the amazing opportunity to work with students, families, and teachers from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, and beyond.  I love Spanish and feel blessed that learning a second language has allowed me to raise my own three kids bilingually!

WOW, you’ve had such wonderful connection and experiences related with the Spanish language! So neat. I love it that Spanish learning is not limited to any type of background and whoever wants to go for it can pursue it. Your kids are lucky!

Why is bilingualism important to you (your family)?

Bilingualism is so much more than two languages!  Teaching my kids both Spanish and English, for me, means helping my kids become positive and kind global citizens.  I want them to be able to build relationships with more people around the world, learn about other cultures, and respect and appreciate diversity.  It’s making a new friend because you speak their language, value someone else’s cultural background, and connect with more people.  Bilingualism is a lifelong gift that I choose to prioritize every day for my children!

I love that. One time at the bus stop, there was an older lady that only spoke Spanish, and she wanted to get off the bus but the driver didn’t hear her. My daughter turned to me and said “momma, that lady asked the driver to stop here but he didn’t hear her”…so I got up and helped her…such heartwarming experience.

Raising global citizens is vital. Teaching our kids respect, open mindedness, empathy, a sense of community, will help shape a new generations with a little bit more kindness and grace for others. So important

What are/were your favorite tools when you are/were teaching your kids a second language?

Books, books, and more books!  They’re my very favorite tool to help kids learn the language.  We plan regular trips to the library for new Spanish books and have built our own Spanish home library as well.  Through books, we dive into new vocabulary, connect and talk together, and can read about any topic that interests my kids!  Books are also an excellent tool to focus on literacy skills and try to develop a lifelong love of reading and learning.  After books, we love to use Spanish music, Spanish language TV programs, and Spanish podcasts or audiobooks.  Games, puzzles, and playtime also help me make Spanish language learning fun at our house!

That is so true, books are just such wonderful learning tool in general.

Since you hold a Master’s degree as an elementary reading specialist, how do you use your expertise in reading to help your kids become good readers in Spanish?

That’s a tough one because it’s important to remember that learning to read starts with a foundation in pre-literacy skills (in any language).  Starting to lay down the building blocks for reading can begin at birth!  We spent a lot of time talking and interacting in Spanish at home to develop my kids’ oral language skills.  I had short, silly songs I sang to my babies for daily routines – like going for a walk in the stroller or changing diapers!

My kids probably got sick of all the songs, poems, and little rhymes in both languages – but it expanded their phonological awareness (or ability to recognize and manipulate different sounds in words).  We also read aloud and still have dedicated book time every day – learning concepts of print (how to hold a book, how to turn pages, that we read left to right), developing new vocabulary, and starting to understand that letters have sounds that make up the words we say and read.

From word play to syllable songs, fun reading games and plenty of quality reading material, I’ve used a variety of resources and strategies to support them as they’ve gained independence in reading.  But most important for me has been trying to instill in them a lifelong love for reading!

I love this! It’s so important to not only teach such foundational concept but a passion and interests as well. Here at our house our favorite is to play active and/or board games that would support our reading skills! The kids love it, and honestly, it feel less than work for me as the educator. So, I’ll take it!

In parallel, how do you use your dual-language teaching experience at home with your kids?

While I don’t homeschool my kids, their Spanish language input has been almost entirely on my shoulders until kindergarten (my husband doesn’t speak Spanish).  That’s a lot of responsibility!  So our home is absolutely a bilingual “classroom” and I’m always looking for ways to make Spanish fun and meaningful.  For us, that looks like having a consistent family language plan (we use a schedule for Spanish and English days during the week).  We surround ourselves with the target language through books, music, and environmental print.  And we have fun together by playing games, watching shows, cooking, or going on outings together – all in Spanish!

Sounds like you guys also have a lot of fun with the language, that’s fabolous!

What are/were some of the biggest challenges your family faces/faced during the journey of teaching your kids a second language, and how do/did you overcome them?

Finding the right balance of input to meet our own family’s language dynamics and our goals for our kids’ language proficiency has been the biggest challenge.  It’s why I named my blog Bilingual Balance!  My husband and most of our family don’t speak Spanish, and we live in a community where Spanish is not very prevalent, either.  So Spanish has had to become a bit of an obsession of mine!  I choose to prioritize it in my parenting and am always searching for fun, interactive ways for my kids to develop the language.  A consistent language schedule at home as well as surrounding my kids with engaging Spanish resources, has been incredibly helpful.  When my kids started school, we also searched high and low for a dual language program.  Our school has been an amazing asset in helping our kids gain exposure and have a need to use the language on a daily basis.

I am glad you guys found a good match for the kids school. I can relate to what you said about feeling isolated based on the region where you live and or the rest of family not necessarily sharing the passion we have for the language and raising bilingual children. I recently started a bilingual hiking group just to keep our journey going during the summer months!…Sometimes you just have to get creative, don’t you?!

Please tell us about your business or what you do for work currently.

I am a full-time mom at the moment but have spent my professional career as a dual language teacher working with bilingual learners.  Most of my career was spent in first and second grade because I love teaching reading in both languages.  I decided to get my master’s degree as a K-6 elementary reading specialist and spent a year as a literacy intervention specialist for a first-fifth grade bilingual school.  Now, I enjoy staying involved in bilingual education through the work I share on my website.

First and second grade is sure a special time.

It is wonderful to see moms using their skill and professional background to bless their own kids at home and other families through informational material and resources. It is a neat collaborative effort!

Share with us about your blog. What is your drive to create content for other families going through the same language journey?

Through my website, I offer recommendations for quality language learning resources, fun activity ideas for teaching kids Spanish, and helpful printable resources.  I create fun and interactive resources to use with my own three kids and to share with others raising bilingual kids!  You’ll find printable scavenger hunts in both languages, home object labels, daily routines, chore cards, and more.  I also create and sell bilingual resources through Teachers Pay Teachers.

Good for you, Jenna. I think parents are in the constant lookout for new resources and fresh ideas to keep moving forward with their kids language learning. We can call ourselves colleagues in this aspect since we also focus our attention on creating educational material for families pursuing bilingual education. Let me ask you…

What is your drive to create the resources you offer to families on your website.

I’ve been creating resources since my first year of teaching about 15 years ago!  I create resources to fill a need, make a learning topic more fun or interactive, or to develop an engaging product that is in BOTH English and Spanish.

I really like that. Those are specific goals and I’m sure that helps you stay focused when creating material and offering diverse and helpful material in your shop.

If you could give a piece of advice to families that are considering teaching their kids a second language, what would you tell them?

Bilingual parenting is a marathon, not a sprint!  Stay inspired, keep up your daily, consistent efforts, and always keep your language goals for your child in mind.  Surround yourselves with Spanish language resources – books, music, games, and activities – to make language learning fun and meaningful.  Remember why you’re giving your child the incredible gift of a second language!

This is great advice. It reminded me of a quote from the Book Maximize your Child’s Bilingual Ability by Adam Beck:

It has been a pleasure to chat with you today. It was lovely to learn more about you, your reasons for bilingual education, and your passion for teaching children and equipping families through your blog and digital store.

I hope to have you back sometime soon!

Would you like to provide a gift to our readers?

Yes, of course!I’d love to share my new bilingual daily routine and chore cards with your readers!  They are in both English and Spanish and just the right size for parents to create their own routine poster or checklist to help with getting ready in the morning, after-school chores, and more.  I hope they can help families add in more Spanish to their everyday moments!

Download Jenna’s cards here:

Thank you for reading Jenna’s interview! We hope you were able to catch glimpses of her story her whys and the things she does to support and nourish her family’s language learning journey!

Next week we will be back with another wonderful interview. This time we will be chatting with award-winning book author, mentor, speaker and podcast host Mrs. Maritere Bellas. Stay tuned!


Jenna’s Website: Bilingual Balance

Jenna’s TpT Store: The Bilingual Balance

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Incorporating Spanish into your homeschool

Being bilingual provides a great advantage in life, expands our cultural horizons and helps us gain cognitive and academic advantages. When you learn a second language, you are also encouraging love of learning, empathy, and dedication.

If you are a homeschooling parent who understands how especial it is to become proficient in a second language and you have a set mind that this is what you want for your children, then it is important for you to support their journey at home.

But “How do I do this?” you wonder.

There are 3 essential things that you must do to be able to help your child or children achieve a comfortable level of Spanish learning on a regular basis at home.

Being from Colombia and having Spanish as my native language, has caused me to worry over my children’s language learning because I truly want them to learn the language and regret not doing it from the very beginning. I’m sure you have heard and read that the sooner you start the learning a second language, the better.

However, please know that it is never too late to start.

We decided to home educate our children about 3 years ago and one of the main purposes was to be able to focus more on Spanish learning. When we started doing research on material and different approaches we wanted to include in our homeschool, I came across an excellent amount blog posts on this topic and these are the three common recommendations, I took out of my research, which I happen to agree with 100%.

How to help your children achieve a comfortable level of a language:

  1. Have a clear understanding of how languages are learned. Now, please keep in mind the age of your children so you take the right approach to teach the language. If your children are under 12 years old, an Immersion approach is ideal. If you have older students (middle school-aged or above) you can still have an immersion approach, but they should also obtain direct grammar instruction. Having students in groups has great benefits. For younger learners they will just learn through experiences and all the knowledge will come “naturally”. Older students will learn efficiently because they will be able to make connections and draw parallels between their native language and the one they are trying to learn.
  2. Choose an appropriate curriculum or program and plan to use it consistently. Once you have assessed the type of approach that works best for your child (children), then you can take some time to do some research and find the right Spanish program. Whether it is a Spanish Immersion Class, at home unit studies, and online program and so on. Make sure you map out an easy-to-follow schedule where there is at least 20 minutes of Spanish learning per day. Consistency is key to learn a second language. Thankfully though, we live in an era where we can have access to millions of resources at our fingertips.
  3. Surround yourself with resources and support. No mama should try Spanish homeschooling alone!! Connecting is important. Try to make Spanish speaking friends or neighbors who can share with you about the language, their culture and can give you a word of encouragement during hard times. With a little bit of research and planning you can also join a CO-OP or find a group of people that shares the same Spanish goals as your family. Places like this one is great ways to find Spanish friends. Check your local Facebook pages or through your church. Make sure you supplement as much as possible with books, movies, music and most importantly: try to incorporate Spanish on your regular activities. Check with your local library to see if they host any activity or story time in Spanish, set up playdates and try to stay in the loop of any Spanish resources available in your area. YouTube has a wide range of excellent stories, Storytime, and videos in Spanish. Just make sure your scan those first for safety before you show them to your kids.

LEGO Duplos are a good option to help your kinesthetic learners!

I cannot stress how important it is to be consistent and to bring the desired language to the usual rhythm of your house. If your child sees this is something “we do” then it’s going to become a natural thing for them. It is also important that you teach by modeling to your children how to do it. If they see you excited about it, then they will become excited too.

A couple practical things you can do are:

  • Label the parts of your house in Spanish
  • Write down a list of common phrases you use in your daily life and perhaps consider translating them and saying them in Spanish. Remember that Spanish friend? – Try to run those phrases though her so you can hear the proper pronunciation.
  • Whether you are a family that runs on schedules or rhythms, consider writing those in Spanish and teaching them to the kids. For example, every day when it’s time to transition to a new activity, consider saying it in Spanish. For instance, say “Recoge los juguetes” If they give you the kind of response like “Whaaat?”, try to say “yes, remember? pick up the toys- Recoge los juguetes” and then say it slowly and ask them to say it with you. Simple intentionality goes a long way when learning a second language!
  • Their favorite movies, shows, audiobooks? Most of them have a Spanish setting. Try playing those in Spanish for your kids. Most of the time, they won’t even complain because- hello…screens!!. this is a way to efficiently use their screen time!

I hope this ideas are helpful for you. You don’t need a whole lot to start. I’d say the only thing you need is the desire to teach them, a dictionary or a translating app, and a video site.

Did you enjoy this article?, did I leave some ideas out? share them with me in the comments.

¡Mucha Suerte!