Sunday, June 29, 2008

Medical Spanish and Spanish Grammar Review Podcasts

Molly Martin, M.D. started producing these podcasts last year and in my opinion, is providing a very helpful service in light of the increase of native Spanish speakers needing medical services. Topics include lyme disease, glaucoma, stroke, physical exams and so much more.

Dr. Martin is a practicing Internal Medicine doctor and has been speaking Spanish for over 10 years. Her friend Maria Bjorklund, MS, who is originally from Peru, often plays the role of the patient in the dialogs, proofreads the podcast transcripts and is a high school Spanish teacher.

She also supplements the medical podcasts with Spanish grammar podcasts.

So, if you're in the medical field or know someone who is, I would recommend these podcasts. And now that I think about it, it might be possible to use these in more advanced classes - learning about parts of the body and so on.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Free Sesame Street videos in Spanish on iTunes

While exploring iTunes one afternoon, I ran across these free episodes in Spanish. Here's how you can find them:

1) Open iTunes

2) Click on TV Shows

3) Scroll down to the bottom of the middle column to where you see Free on iTunes.

4) Click on See All

Click through the pages to find the episodes. I believe there are about seven episodes (green covers). You can also find the same ones in English (purple covers). Perhaps you and your children could watch an episode in English first, then watch the Spanish version. Did I mention that they were free as in gratis?

To download iTunes, click here. You will need an iTunes account in order to download from the store. Account registration is free, but may require a valid credit card.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mi pequeño día - una revista

As I was going through some of my bookmarks, I ran across this neat little online magazine. It's called Mi pequeño día and it's a Spanish-language magazine for children ages 4 to 8. You'll find games, songs, articles, interviews with children and so much more. I encourage you to take a look!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Make some puppets and put on a show in Spanish

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I'll just point you to the site I used to make my puppets. You'll find detailed instructions at Danielle's Place. You could also buy them if you're not in the mood to make one. I really like the Melissa & Doug puppets, because they're well made and are reasonably priced.

Get the whole family involved and put on a show (el espectáculo de títeres) in Spanish. The kids will certainly get excited and you'll be amazed by what they do know.

For starters, have the puppets greet each other:

Puppet 1: Hola.

Puppet 2: Hola

Puppet 1: ¿Cómo estás?

Puppet 2: ¡Estupendo! ¿Y tú?

Puppet 1: Muy bien, gracias.

Puppet 2: Adiós.

Puppet 1: Adiós.

In between "acts" you can have them sing a song such as Buenos días (tune: Frère Jacques):

Buenos días, buenos días,
¿cómo estás? ¿cómo estás?
Muy bien, gracias,
Muy bien, gracias,
¿y tú? ¿y tú?

Then do the same with buenas tardes and buenas noches. Also, ahead of time, the children could make a program (el programa) and tickets (la entrada, las entradas).

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Giveaway: Bilingual Fun DVD Set

At the Mamas Like blog, they're giving away a set of Bilingual Fun DVDs. I would highly recommend participating in this. Just visit the blog and leave a comment. A winner will be chosen on June 25th at 11:59 EST.

For more information about Bilingual Fun click here. They're also having a GREAT sale on several of their items with free shipping included. It's worth a look!

¡Buena suerte!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Puppets and foreign languages

Using puppets and teaching foreign languages go hand in hand in my opinion. I've seen the positive effects firsthand with my children and students.

In the past, I've used a puppet named Marisol, who only understood Spanish, to draw out the children. Even the most timid child would talk to her. Basically I would have her greet the children and ask them their names. Sometimes I would also have her play games such as Simón Dice and even sing some of the songs.

Another idea is to have the children make their own puppets - they could be as simple as ones made out of paperbags. They could either talk to their puppet in Spanish or have the puppets talk to each other.

I'll be posting more about puppets soon. It's one of my favorite subjects. *grin*

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reading motivation: Harry Potter y la cámara secreta

Near the end of the year, Adam's teacher had started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to the class, but was unable to finish it. Adam asked if I could read it aloud at home. I gladly said yes and we finished it a couple of days ago.

Now we're reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but this time around, I'm reading for my own practice the Spanish version - Harry Potter y la cámara secreta. So far, I'm really enjoying it! (Yes, I actually haven't read any of the books and I've only seen the first movie. *gasp*)

So, before I read a chapter aloud in English to them, I first read it in Spanish. Today I read three chapters! I even read some aloud to practice my pronunciation. (I highly recommend doing this on a daily basis - even if it's for 10 minutes.) As for my motivation, it comes from the boys. "Mom, have you read the chapters? When can you read to us? Aren't you finished yet?" Too funny...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Parts of the body: songs and game

This evening the boys and I were having Mexican restaurant night at home. I pretended to be their waitress and spoke in Spanish pretty much the entire time and they played along as well. I put on the cd Animales y Movimiento by José-Luis Orozco in the background to add some extra authenticity.

As I was cooking, Juanito came on which reminded me that this is a terrific song for learning parts of the body. It's such a great tune that you can't help but dance to it. The first part goes like this:

Juanito cuando baila,
baila, baila, baila.
Juanito cuando baila,
baila con el dedito,
con el dedito, ito, ito.
Así baila Juanito.

Then it goes on to using other parts such as el pie, la rodilla, la mano, etc.

To build on the theme, play a game of Simón Dice:

Tócate la nariz.
Tócate la boca.
Tócate el pie...

And so on... once your students get the hang of it you could make the commands more difficult. (If speaking to more than one person, use tóquense.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Salsa: Spanish language program for children

I just ran across this little gem this evening and had to share. Salsa is a Spanish language program for children which uses puppets, vibrant graphics and animation produced by Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Click on the Episodes link and you'll see a list in the sidebar. Click one of those and you'll see six episodes listed in the main screen. There are 42 in all.

Now get this, there are transcripts in English and Spanish for each show! To find them, click on the Parents & Educators link in the sidebar. Also in that same section, you'll find activities for each show as well as focus words! For even more print resources click the Wyoming Department of Education site. WOW! This is certainly a find.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eric Carle books and teaching Spanish

At first, you may not think they would go together, but I used his books quite a bit this past year in my preschool Spanish classes. The first one was Oso pardo, oso pardo ¿qué ves ahí? which covers colors and animals. What preschooler doesn't enjoy learning about these two subjects?

First I scanned the images and then printed them on magnet paper. We talked about the animals first. I asked the children if they had un gato (cat), un perro (dog), una rana (frog) and so on. While many answered yes, I didn't have anyone say that they had un oso at home. Go figure. *grin* As we talked about the animals, I would place a picture of each on my magnetic/dry erase board. Then I would read the book.

If you wanted to go further, you could sing Que llueva from Diez Deditos. You could use the animals from the book and place them in la cueva (cave) made out of crumpled up construction paper. Also, you could simply draw a cave on the dry erase board and stick each animal "inside" it. Reinforce by asking "¿Qué ves en la cueva?" The child can either say the animal or the entire sentence, " Veo __________ en la cueva."

I also use this book to introduce colors. All I pretty much do is constantly use them in context as we talk about the animals and read the book. In upcoming lessons, I'll use colors to describe everything. Before too long, the children are telling me about the colors. For instance, I was reading another book, when one little boy piped up and proceeded to tell me the colors he saw on that page. It becomes a part of their vocabulary. One thing I don't do is translate into English. I point to the object and say what it is in Spanish. Evidently is does sink in.

Another post about Eric Carle.


My friend Graham made this for the Notes in Spanish forum. He's originally from Scotland, but lives in Wales. ¿Qué opinan uds?


(Sorry for the confusion. When I edited my earlier Pocoyo blog, the YouTube video disappeared! Anyone know how to prevent this in the future?)

It's a children's program out of Spain. También pueden visitar el sitio web:

¡Qué mono!

(I only found one in Spanish which you can find in the resource store.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Songs for learning parts of the body

Here's a song about every preschooler knows: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies):

Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies*
rodillas y pies
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies
rodillas y pies
Ojos, orejas, boca y nariz
Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies
rodillas y pies

I would recommend introducing the vocabulary first:

Cabeza - head
Hombros - shoulders
Rodillas - knees
*Pies - *Pies means feet and dedos de pies is toes, it's shortened to pies to fit the rhythm of the song.
Ojos - eyes
Orejas - ears
Boca - mouth
Nariz - nose


Another good song is the Joki Poki - for the lyrics scroll down to the bottom of the page:

¡Qué divertido!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish (High school & older)

I just added this site to the links section (web sites for adults), but I thought it also deserved its own post.

From the web site:

Destinos teaches speaking, listening, and comprehension skills in Spanish. This telenovela, or Spanish soap opera, immerses students in everyday situations with native speakers and introduces the cultures, accents, and dialects of Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. Understanding of Spanish and appreciation of many Hispanic cultures increase as students become absorbed in the mysterious and entertaining story. Closed captioning in Spanish can be used as a teaching and literacy resource. The series is also appropriate for teacher professional development.

You can watch all 52 episodes for FREE. All you have to do is sign up for a free membership with (The only email I get from them is a montly newsletter.) I watched them on television when they first came out. I highly recommend adding this to your Spanish learning routine.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Let's talk about podcasts

For the foreign-language student, podcasts can be very useful. To listen to them, you don't really even need an MP3 player. You could just listen to them on your laptop or desktop. Here are the ones I listen to on a regular basis:

1) SpanishPod - There are five levels offered: newbie, elementary, intermediate, upper-intermediate and advanced. I mostly listen to the last three. Normally you'll hear a dialogue and then the host and teacher break it down afterwards. They talk about the grammar and vocabulary in some detail. Please check the web site for more information.

I enjoy these podcasts a great deal. The hosts are quite personable and talk about everyday topics which I have found to be very useful. If you have an mp3 player that displays lyrics, you can also read the transcripts of the dialogue as you listen. If not, you can see the transcript on your computer if you have iTunes (right-click on podcast-->get info-->lyrics tab). Peninsular and Latin American Spanish

2) Notes in Spanish - This is done by a husband and wife team. Ben is originally from England, but has been in Spain for many years. Marina is from Spain. There are three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. I listen to the last two. They have also put out some videos. I enjoy their podcasts as well - they seem like old friends to me. You can also post in the forum about the podcasts as well as many other topics. It's a great way to practice your written Spanish. Peninsular Spanish

3) Español Segunda Lengua para Todos - This podcast is all in Spanish. First she talks about a topic and then she goes back and explains certain phrases and words. On her podcast page you can find the transcript in Spanish and English. What I like to do is copy the Spanish version, then paste it in the lyrics section in iTunes (see above). This way I can read the transcript on my iPod as I listen. Peninsular

4) Radio Nederland - Now, this isn't exactly an educational podcast. It's simply a news podcast that I like to listen to while cooking supper. I don't undertand everything they say, but my comprehension is improving. It's a good one to have on in the background as you're doing other things. I try not to worry too much if I don't catch it all.

5) El Bloguipodio - "Los blogueros" talk mainly about politics, but believe it or not they actually make it entertaining. I really enjoy listening to them when I have the time. They're based out of Washington, D.C.

Okay, so we've talked about a few podcasts. Now what? The next thing is to download iTunes which is free. For me, since I have an iPod, this is about the best way to subscribe to the podcasts and keep them organized.

What are some of your favorite Spanish-language podcasts? Please list them in the comments section. ¡Gracias!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Put the oxygen mask on first...

Well, in order to help my kids with their Spanish, I need to work on mine first. My plan:

1) Listen to SpanishPod, read the dialogues aloud and then write, in Spanish of course, a post in the comments section on their website. I will also listen to other Spanish-language podcasts. (I'll post my favorites either later today or tomorrow.)

2) Read in Spanish regularly. Right now I'm reading Saltamontes by Barbara Vine. I need to devote at least 15 minutes or more a day.

3) Do exercises in The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice three days a week. Perhaps 30 minutes worth.

4) Most importantly - CONVERSE IN SPANISH! This one may be a little tricky to do. Right now I'm in a Facebook group which chats once a week using Skype and then once a month I meet with a group of ladies from my church who are all native Spanish speakers. Needless to say I need to do more than this. I would like to chat with someone either daily or ever other day. There are several language exchange sites out there such as or My Language Exchange. I guess I just need to take the plunge and sign up.

5) During all of this, I will speak more Spanish at home - even to the cats. LOL!

So that I will stick with this, I'll write the activities in my calendar.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

So far...

What I have done so far with the kids is mainly speak Spanish in context throughout the day. This seems to be sinking in, because I would say that they understand me the majority of the time. Of course, you couldn't get them to admit it. They are very stubborn.

As for plans, starting this summer, I'm going to make a chart. Each activity (listening/reading a book, watching a movie, holding a conversation, etc.) will be worth a certain amount of points. At the end, if they reach their goal, they can buy a book. My older son, who is very goal-oriented, is pretty excited about this. My younger one, not so much. I'm going to see if I can set up some playdates with his friend who speaks only Spanish at home. Every time we see him, Nathan always peppers me with questions afterwards. "Mom, how do you say 'run' in Spanish?" or "Mom, what does 'juguete' mean? He is so intrigued with his friend who can understand/speak two languages.

I also plan to use Spanish even more throughout the day which means I need to immerse myself more. I'll talk about what I plan on doing in my next post.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Time for motivation

Earlier today I read a terrific blog by Jessica. It was simply inspiring. I decided if she can teach her own children Spanish, then so can I. Okay, actually I've been "teaching" them for several years, but I haven't really put my heart into it. Well, this time will be different.

So, what's my plan? Here I will talk about the ups and downs of teaching Spanish to my little guys (ages 5 & 8). There will be times I'll probably will want to pull out my hair and other times I will be jumping up and down with joy. I plan on writing about the activities I do with them, including the resources we use (cds, web sites, podcasts, books).

I will also write about my preschool Spanish class. (Now you're probably wondering why I can't seem to teach my own children, but can teach a class. Ever heard of the shoe cobbler's children?) I'm about to enter my third year of teaching at the same preschool and I can't wait for it to begin. I love teaching this age group.

And lastly, I'll talk about continuing my own Spanish studies. I have been studying Spanish since I was 14 years old and except for a few years after my college graduation in 1993, I haven't stopped. I have a BA in Spanish and studied abroad in Spain, but unfortunately those few years when I didn't keep up with the language hurt me. I'm determined more than ever to get back to my previous level.

So, thank you for joining me on this journey. Now let's get down to business. ¡Adelante!