Monday, April 6, 2009

Blog Spotlight: English Tricks

Huh? Wait a minute… isn’t this a blog for learning Spanish? It certainly is and that’s why I thought I should bring this particular blog to your attention because you might not have noticed it otherwise.

Ramses from the blog, first brought it to my attention via Twitter. (Seriously, Twitter is a great resource for finding things like this.) I started subscribing to it immediately and have kept up with it ever since.

The blog author who is a native Spanish speaker writes about English expressions and vocabulary. First, what the expression or word means in Spanish, then example sentences in English followed by the same sentences in Spanish.

An example from the blog:

Once and for all

El equivalente en español es: “de una vez por todas” y se usa para mostrar que algo termina definitivamente, después de un gran esfuerzo o de muchos intentos.

The pipe has been leaking for months. I’m going to fix it once and for all.

La tubería lleva goteando meses. Voy a repararla de una vez por todas.

Where to go:
English Tricks:

Family Literacy Bag for The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Just received this in my inbox this morning from CASLS (The Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon):


Eric Carle's classic picture book is celebrating 40 years of delighting young children and adults with its simple concepts and brilliantly colorful illustrations. Reading Rockets has created a new family literacy bag inspired by the Hungry Caterpillar — activities that invite parents and kids to explore together the book's themes (in English and Spanish).

Read about the Family Literacy Bags at .

Download the activity kit in English from or in Spanish from .


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dinosaurs and numbers in Spanish

Funny how a teachable moment can evolve… The boys received their Easter baskets a week early from their grandma. Each one was packed with toys and lots of candy. Included in each was a 3-D foam foampuzzledinosaur puzzle. In the package were two pieces of foam with the pieces precut and then a diagram of the pieces labeled with numbers. The directions were fairly simple… choose two pieces with the same number and construct the puzzle according to the numbers.

So, my little guy and I began putting together the tyrannosaurus which had about 25 pieces. As we were working on it, I realized that this definitely could be a teachable moment. So as we searched for the matching numbers, I started speaking in Spanish only. My son didn’t bat an eye! Then he started speaking in Spanish. I would ask “'¿Dónde está número once?” He would then look at the diagram saying over and over “once, once, once” until he found the piece. I honestly don’t think he realized he was doing this!

Oh, and we listened to Spanish language music in the background (Jarabe de Palo station on

So, if you’re teaching your children Spanish at home, look out for those teachable moments. They’re everywhere!

Additional numbers activities: printable worksheets: activity:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

¡A Prepararse Para Kindergarten!

¡A Prepararse Para Kindergarten! (Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!) is packed with information in both Spanish and English for your up and coming kindergartner. Some of the early childhood skills your child may acquire in both languages include learning the alphabet, recognizing your left and right hand, knowing the basic colors, shapes and numbers 0-20, using positional words and more.

Stacey Kannenberg is the co-author and publisher (Cedar Valley Publishing). According to her bio, she is a nationally renowned letsgetreadyeducation expert and award winning author with an expertise in children’s education. For the Spanish translations, she enlisted the help from native speakers and educators alike.

As a Spanish-language teaching tool for someone who is a native speaker or someone who is very familiar with the language, I think this book could be quite useful. It covers many of the basics from numbers, the alphabet, colors, shapes, parts of the body, days of the week, months of the year and so on. Quite handy to have in one book. Another thing I liked is that you can use dry erase markers on all the pages, so that makes it more interactive for your child.

On the other hand, if you’re not very familiar with the language, I’m afraid this book wouldn’t be as useful. Some of the words have the phonetic pronunciations included, but not the majority of them. I realize space was probably at a premium, but I would’ve liked to have seen this throughout the book. Additionally, some of the pages were very busy with the graphics and text. For example, the frequently used words page is quite confusing. Perhaps if the words had been organized in a table, it would've been easier to digest.  Also, with the Spanish vocabulary, I would have liked to have seen the definite articles used where applicable.

Overall, I think it would be fine for a teaching tool for those who are knowledgeable in the language. Personally, I probably will not use it with my younger child only because I prefer the immersion method as opposed to translation.

Where to go:
Cedar Valley Publishing:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Library of Classroom Practices

Every month I receive the newsletter from Annenberg Media which is always full of great links and resources for teachers. There is one resource that I particularly wanted to share with you - Teaching Foreign Languages K-12, A Library of Classroom Practices. annenbergFrom the website:

The Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library and professional development guide bring to life the Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. Illustrating effective instruction and assessment strategies, the series documents 27 teachers and their students in K-12 classrooms around the country as they study eight languages across a range of competency levels.

The components of the library are the introduction, standards and the five Cs, assessment strategies, classroom programs, and a professional development guide. Spanish, Latin, German, Japanese, French, Chinese, Russian and Italian are the eight languages included in the library.

For example, here are the lessons for Spanish:

Creating Travel Advice
Food Facts and Stories
Fruits of the Americas
Hearing Authentic Voices
Interpreting Literature
Interpreting Picasso's Guernica
Politics of Art
Routes to Culture

Where to go:
Library of Classroom Practices:
Newsletter sign-up: