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Tips to Market your Self-Published Children’s Book (if you’re not tech savvy!)

  • Get your book out there: Your best (and easiest) bet is to begin close to home if you plan to promote a children’s book independently. Contact booksellers in your neighborhood and ask if they have a Local Author section, then request to be included.  Offer autographed copies of your book to help spark sales. Stores often put markers on the covers of signed books to make them more attractive to buyers. 
  • Host an in-person event: If your book has a theme, offer to host a promotional event. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Interactive events are a great draw for families and the media (as well as a fantastic opportunity sell your books whilst you’re there)!  People are more likely to buy children’s books from authors they’ve met or read about online.
  • Connect with your local library and book stores: Many authors are surprised by the role libraries can play in children’s book marketing. Donate copies of your book to your local libraries or offer to hold a reading at your library, as most libraries provide activities for children.  If the library doesn’t let you sell books on-site, be sure to hand out promotional material or business cards directing people to stores or online sellers where your book is available.
  • Get to Know Your Neighborhood Schools (or teachers!): Schools are always looking for guest speakers and authors. In most cases, you can arrange to donate books to the school while parents receive order forms for autographed books—which are great for them to give as gifts! Don’t forget to be prepared with an exciting presentation about a theme in your book or your background.  
  • Talk to People!: Always have a camera with you to document children reading your book and viewing your presentations.  Don’t be shy about asking for testimonials, either! Testimonials from teachers and librarians are especially valuable because they lend credibility to your book. Make sure to include photos, testimonials, appearances, and events on your website and post to your social media.

Marketing your self-published children’s book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not keen on using social media or other digital platforms. But whether you’re using tech or not, the key is to build relationships!! I don’t always have time to post on SM but I make it a point to build genuine relationships with people that are interested in the knowledge and ideas I have to share. And there’s no better way than to do that face-to-face!

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Writing a Teacher’s Guide for Your Children’s Book

As a bilingual educator and Ph.D. student in bilingual education, I know first hand that there is an increasing demand for bilingual education books and authentic resources for teachers that are developed and originally written (not translated!) in the languages of their diverse student populations.

As a children’s author, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and connect with other talented children’s book authors who have brought beautifully written stories to life. However, many of those authors don’t have a background in education and are unaware of what is needed in schools or how they can align their published books to those needs.

Writing and publishing a children’s book is one thing. Marketing that book to the right audience is another thing entirely. Authors, particularly those who are self-published, often struggle to find an audience in a saturated market. There is a market in schools, however. The increasing number of bilingual and dual language programs, for example, has created a significant need for resources that will help teachers integrate language, literacy and content in their instruction. Bilingual resources are needed to model rich vocabulary to students. Multicultural texts are needed to increase representation and depict stories from various cultural perspectives.

My books, Mi prima islena y yo/ My Island Cousin and I & Somos gemelas pero no somos identicas / We Are Twins but We Are Not Identical! are just two examples of bilingual children’s books published in the last year. Both of my books were published during the summer of 2021 and highlight the themes of multicultural identity and pride. Mi prima islena y yo juxtaposes the experience of two Puerto Rican cousins: one who lives in the island and one who lives in New York City. The first cousin has the privilege of being immersed in the language and culture of the island on a daily basis. The other cousin lives in a city surrounded by all of the world’s cultures, yet remains closely connected to her island heritage. Somos gemelas y yo juxtaposes the experience of two family members as well, but this time compares the experience of twin sisters of multicultural backgrounds. The twins’ Italian ancestry is more dominant with one twin whereas their father’s Guatemalan ancestry is more evident in the other. The themes of personal and cultural identity are important to highlight with young children who are learning about their connections to their families, their cultures and the world.

My bilingual children’s books (published in June & July 2021) are available for purchase on Amazon

I am working on publishing a teacher’s guide for these books, which will be published at the end of 2022. I will post updates on my progress as well as information regarding the launch of the guide.

I also recently had the pleasure of creating a teacher’s guide for author Naibe Reynoso, based on her collection of bilingual biographies including Be Bold! Be Brave!, Fearless Trailblazers & Courageous History Makers.

My experiences working on Naibe’s teacher’s guide as well as my own has inspired me to share important considerations for aspiring children’s authors who are looking to expand their work to a wider audience or hope to align their stories to topics students learn at school:

Familiarize Yourself with the Content

If you’re thinking of writing a teacher’s guide, it is important to ask yourself who the guide is for. Is it for elementary school? Middle school? High school? Will your teacher’s guide be focused on one subject area or will it be multidisciplinary? Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the content area topics that may be covered for your target grade level(s). If you’re doing a teacher’s guide for social studies, for example, you want to make sure that the topics that are covered are appropriate for your grade level audience.

Does your children’s book align with a particular subject? If not, is there a prominent theme you can extract from your book that can help drive the focus of your teacher’s guide? Maybe your children’s book touches on the development of social-emotional skills or executive functioning skills. The content of a teacher’s guide doesn’t only have to be linked to Language Arts, Math, Science, etc.

Get to Know the Standards

If you’re trying to break into the educational market, it’s important to consider that teachers follow standards when planning for instruction. There are different standards, depending on the course subject, but a great starting point would be to check out the Common Core Standards. These standards are organized by grade level and you can familiarize yourself with the skills students are expected to develop in both English Language Arts and Math. If you’re working on a bilingual teacher’s guide, like me, it’s helpful to also consider the Spanish Common Core Standards.

Make it Engaging, yet Rigorous!

As someone who was in the classroom for fifteen years, I can tell you that I have tried pretty much everything to “entertain” my students. Yes, school should be about learning and not entertaining, but let’s be real. It is much easier to get children to do what they’re “supposed to do” if they are highly motivated and engaged.

That is why it is very important to make sure that the activities and lessons included in your teacher’s guide are fun, as well as highly educational. Your teacher’s guide should have more than simple worksheets and fill-in-the-blank activities. If possible, make sure to include 21st-century activities and skills like digital literacy and environmental stewardship.

Teachers are busy, busy people. They are highly appreciative of resources that will make their busy lives easier and will save them time. If a teacher can find a resource that is well aligned to the content and the standards they teach AND will make their kids happy because they’re engaged and having fun, you have a winner!

Final Thoughts

These are just some preliminary considerations for anyone interested in creating a teacher’s guide. I will continue to share my progress in the coming weeks and months as well as some sample lessons and activities.

If writing a teacher’s guide seems too overwhelming and you’d much rather delegate the task, I’d be happy to help! Please reach out to me by completing this contact form so we can set up a time and date to meet to discuss your teacher guide or children’s book’s authorship vision!

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LATINA AUTHORS VIRTUAL HOLIDAY BOOK FAIR 

I am happy to announce that I will be part of this years LATINA AUTHORS VIRTUAL HOLIDAY BOOK FAIR! 

This HOLIDAY SEASON, get the gifts that your loved ones can open forever: BOOKS!

Please Join me and other amazing others on Sunday, Dec. 5th – at 2pm PT/3pm MT/4pmCT/5pmET!

Click on the link below to register: 

⚡️Free to Register!

⚡️Get Discounts on amazing books

⚡Support Latina Authors 

#supportsmallbusinessess #latinxstores #supportLatinaownedbusinesses #shopLatina #shopLatinx #smallbusinesssaturday #latina #bilingualbooks #spanishbooks #booksforbilingualbabies #ownvoices #ownvoice

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The Challenges of Raising Girls in a Misogynist World

A lot that has already been said about bringing up girls: Ones who refuse to be defined by their gender, that demand equality and to have their voices be heard. Not much is written about the role of parents in bringing up these young ladies, however!

I have heard many parents (fathers especially) claim, “I am not a misogynist, but I do think girls’ roles are very different from boys, and we should accept this as just a fact of life.” As a proud feminist and mother to four girls, statements like these annoy me to no end.  Prejudiced attitudes like these sow seeds of misogyny early in children’s minds and lives and are then perpetuated on to future generations.

If you think about it on a larger scale, I do not think anyone can claim not to hold misogynist ideas. Signs of gender bias are everywhere: in our homes, schools, public spaces, movies, literature, advertisements, news, TV shows — it has permeated our entire lives. Inevitably, it is our choice on what to do when we become aware of this fact: We can either continue the cycle, or mindfully opt out and make a conscious change.

One way we can stop the sexist cycle is by becoming more mindful of our language. For instance, just observe the words we use to praise little girls: “nice”, “sweet” and the ever pervasive “good girl”; for boys we use “strong”, “tough”, “brave”. The way we talk to our children become part of their subconscious, and the way we talk about them become their life stories.

Language is also the thread that builds the discourse around identities. If girls are only “gentle” or “nice”, then their identities get restricted, and then they actively seek protection from men who are “tough” and “strong”. Do not mistake it: warped and restrictive dichotomies are set up for children from a very young age!

Misogyny always catches us unawares, whether it is through a sexist joke or a flippant remark. “Are you going to keep trying for another boy?” was one I used to hear all the time. “Your poor husband, living in a house with so much oestrogen”! is an old ‘favourite’. Sexism might come through in the way men in the family talk to the women in the house; what gets to be said by whom, with what authority, and what effects it causes. Like sponges, children absorb this, and internalise for future use.

Gender biases come in our homes in so many ways: dolls for girls and cars for boys, pink for girls and blue for boys, dance for girls and sports for boys. Yes, children ultimately show agency towards their choice, but you cannot deny that their choices are sometimes influenced by societal views on gender norms.

One thing I want my girls to learn is that boys have their own failings and frustrations that they deal with and give them the tools to handle themselves should a boy unleash these on them. In terms of gender politics in relationship, I find that when men feel inadequate, they take it out on women, and when women feel inadequate, they take it out on themselves. I want my girls to not be hard of themselves just because a boy has projected his inadequacies on them. 

That brings me to another critical issue: girls and their bodies. It horrifies me to think of the pressure we put on our girls to be of a certain body type and to look a certain way. It kills me to see young girls feel inferior just because they do not fit a cookie-cutter mould of what society thinks they should look like to be found ‘acceptable’.  All of us need to have open conversations on how there should not be conformity when it comes to body types and skin colour. Beauty is open ended and should not be defined by outdated and archaic preconceptions. 

When we talk about misogyny and gender differences, typically the issue of safety comes up. Parents try to put limits on how girls dress, or where their girls should go and when, whilst boys are giving much more freedom.  I understand the concern having lived through unfortunate situations myself, but I also worry that limiting my daughters like this becomes more of a sexist exercise rather than a moralistic one. I can already hear my frustrated younger self screaming, “Everything I do, say, and wear is always up for inspection! Meanwhile my brother can get away with anything just because he is a boy!” How unfair is that?

Rather than just putting the onus on our girls for their safety, what we should be doing having more conversations with boys on what they can do to make this world safer for girls. 

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem famously said, “The first problem for all of us (men and women) is not to learn, but to unlearn”.  I admittedly have much to unlearn, but hopefully by doing so I can help my daughters rise above the toxicity of misogyny and grow up to be “strong”, “tough” and “brave”.  

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Self-Publishing Bilingual Children’s Books (Part 2!)

My debut children’s book Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I will be released on Saturday June 12th

Countdown to launch!

It’s been a very hectic few months as I work to prepare all the final details for the launch of my debut books!

Self-publishing books hasn’t been easy. It’s been a journey full of as many ups as downs, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone truly interested in sharing a great story with the world to not take the risk and set out on this path.

In the first part of my self-publishing post, I talked about the first phase of my process, highlighting some of the major action steps that I took to get the ball rolling.

In this post, I want to highlight the steps I took after the illustration and proofreading process:

  1. Book Formatting: I’m sure everyone has a different experience, but for me, one of the most daunting and stressful process was the formatting process. Up to this point, my self-publishing journey had been relatively easy. I was fortunate enough to find fantastic illustrators for each of my books. However, before a book can be published, it needs to be properly formatted. Formatting entails that all of your spreads are laid out as they should be and that the illustrations and the text come out clearly.

Anticipate having to format your book multiple times! For one of my books, the spreads were off, so I needed to get it reformatted and reprinted. You have to pay each time you need to upload a new file and pay for the printing and shipping.

You should also establish a budget if you plan self-publishing your children’s book — something I quickly learned! With the illustrations, proofreading, formatting, etc. the expenses can quickly add up.

2. Choosing the right self-publishing platform: There are a few self-publishing platforms you can use to publish your book. Some of the most common ones are Amazon KDP, Ingram Spark and Lulu. Ultimately, I decided to publish the paperback and hardcover copies of my books on Ingram Spark. I decided to publish my e-books on Amazon KDP.

I found Ingram Spark to be very easy to use. Printing multiple proofs of my books and having them shipped out multiple times was a bit expensive, however. I ordered rush shipping for my proofs various times because I wanted to speed up the process. Expect to pay 15 dollars or more on shipping each time!

3. ISBN & Copyright: You cannot publish a book without an ISBN number, so you must apply for copyright protection under the U.S. Copyright Office to ensure that your work is protected. I purchased a package of 10 ISBN numbers along with two copyright registrations from Bowker. If you plan on publishing multiple versions of your book (hardcover, paperback, eBook), keep in mind that each version will require its own ISBN number.

Once you’ve purchased the copyright protection, you must complete an application from the U.S. Copyright Office website. You must pay a fee for each copyright registration.

4. Marketing: Once you are satisfied with your proofs and all paperwork has been completed, you are ready to enable your book for distribution. However, I wouldn’t recommend publishing your book without having done some serious marketing first. I spent about a month and a half launching my marketing plan and these are some of the things that I did to increase visibility for my book launch:

Organized an in person book launch: I am pairing up with another local author to organize a book promotion event on Saturday June 12th & Sunday June 13th. At this event, we will be doing a book talk and reading of our books. We will also have printed books available to sign and sell.

Interviews: A great way to bring visibility for your books is by doing interviews prior to your launch. I participated in an interview for a podcast called Wachame: Testimonios de Resilencia, which is set to air on Saturday June 12th (the day of the launch of my first book). Here is the link:

I also participated in a radio interview by Vocalo Radio in Chicago. There is a segment called Domingos en Vocalo and I had the opportunity to talk about my books, as well as the event I’ve been planning.

Social Media Promotion: Posting consistently on social media is also very important. I make it a point to post an update on my publishing journey, digital flyers advertising my book and promotion event, pictures of my books, etc. at least once a week. The two social media sites I use the most are Facebook and Instagram, but other platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn can also be helpful in raising visibility.

-Develop a launch team: Recruit people who would be willing to read and help you promote your book. Since I am a bilingual educator and I am publishing two bilingual children’s books, I am part of various social media groups for bilingual/multicultural parents, bilingual educators and bilingual education scholars. I announced my launch to various special interest groups that I am a part of, and I was able to gather a team of people who would provide me with feedback on my books and would help me promote the launch of each book.

Overall, I have learned SO much from this experience. I felt overwhelmed before I started and I experienced moments when I felt unsure about being able to pull this off. I didn’t give up, was able to push through and I learned a lot from the process.

I am beyond excited to announce the launch of my two children’s book, inspired by my four daughters and my experience raising bilingual / multicultural children.

My first book, Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I will be released on Saturday June 12th. It will be available on paperback, hardcover and eBook.

My second book, Somos gemelas pero no identicas / We Are Twins But We Are Not Identical! will be released on Thursday July 1st. It is also available in paperback, hardcover and eBook.

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Raising Children in Families with Different Cultural Backgrounds

As our world becomes more and more diverse, children are more likely to be born in families where various cultures are represented. Children may have a parent who is Latinx while the other parent African-American parent, for example. In some cases, children may have parents that are both Latinx and Spanish speaking, but one parent may be from one country (i.e. Mexico) while the other parent is from another country (i.e. Cuba).

In our culturally diverse world, many people grow up being surrounded by multiple languages, multiple cultures and multiple belief systems. Therefore, it is important that we have conversations with our children about identity at an early age, so they learn to identify and explore issues of cultural intersectionality and possible instances of cultural privilege or hegemony.

My children are being raised by Latinx, Spanish speaking parents. Some of the other children in my family are raised by one Latinx parent and others are being exposed to other cultures. There are a variety of situations present in our family and I can imagine that the complexities extend beyond our circle.

Even though my children are being raised to speak Spanish, one issue that has presented itself that I’ve often wondered about is whether or not they will “internalize” all of the cultures in the same way? Will their Spanish sound more Mexican, for example? Will they prefer arroz con habichuelas and arepas over tacos?

My experiences as a parent raising children exposed to different Latinx cultures inspired me to write two children’s books. The overall idea behind these books is to explore how cultural identities develop and what societal factors impact stronger development of one culture over another.

The first book, titled Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I tells the story of two cousins from Puerto Rico: One who lives on the island and has had the opportunity to be completely immersed in the island’s culture and the Spanish language, whilst the other cousin is Puerto Rican as well, but lives in the United States with her family. The book explores the sense of cultural pride expressed by both girls and touches on the development of diverging cultural identities between them.

The second book, titled Somos gemelas pero no somos identicas! / We Are Twins but We Are Not Identical! is a story inspired by my very own fraternal twins. This story is for twin parents who have been repeatedly asked the question: “Are they twins?” The book tells a whimsical story of twin girls who despite sharing the same parents and living in the same home, are also developing diverging identities.

Anyone who is raising multilingual or multicultural children should be prepared for the possibility that not all cultures or languages may develop at the same pace. There are various factors that impact cultural identity and these two books are an example of how diverging identities are being formed in my family.

Both books will be available for pre-order on Amazon on Saturday June 12th. They will be available in hardcover, paperback and e-book versions.

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Self-Publishing a Bilingual Children’s Book

I’ve been in education for almost twenty years and I do love it. As stressful as teaching can be, it is highly rewarding. I love children and it is a privilege to serve their families and their communities. That being said, my pipe dream has always been to be a children’s book author.

When I was a kid, I wrote many stories during my spare time. Internet didn’t exist and my mom didn’t let us watch a lot of of TV. Being bored helped me develop A LOT of creativity. So I began putting my scattered ideas on paper. Sometimes I wrote stories about animals. Sometimes I wrote about princesses. Some of my stories were about little girls, just like me. Sometimes, I wrote the stories and my younger brother drew the pictures. I stapled the pages together and created a book. I remember feeling an immense sense of pride whenever I created a new one. I didn’t realize it then, but I was acting out what, in my heart, I knew I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

At some point along the way, I internalized the message that writing wouldn’t be a lucrative career. I never saw many books with characters or stories that connected to me in a real way. Growing up in the 90s, I didn’t have access to a lot of multicultural literature at school. Writing and publishing a book always seemed like an unattainable dream. Who would publish anything I would write? What does publishing a book even cost? What if I published a book and everyone HATED it? So I put my dream in a box, and I tucked it away somewhere deep in my mind, so that I could focus my attention on following a path of certainty and stability.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I have loved being a teacher. Following that path of stability has served me well. It has taught me so much about children, our society and myself. Being an educator has helped me a better mother. It is helping me tremendously in my doctoral research. And perhaps now that experience and knowledge that I’ve acquired as a bilingual educator can help me unpack my tucked away dream of writing books for children who, like me, are eager to really see themselves in the stories they read.

For the past year, I’ve been working on self-publishing my first two children’s books. Both of these books are very personal and are also closely tied to my identity as a Latina, a mother and an educator. I will publish more details about each book in the weeks to come, but for now, I wish to share a bit of my journey as a self-published author.

Get inspired by your surroundings

It is no secret that many authors often connect their writing to personal experiences. When I taught Spanish literature at the high school level, my students and I would explore how many of the authors wrote about topics that were very closely tied to their lives. Federico Garcia Lorca wrote about his experiences living in under a tyrannical Spanish government. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fictional town of Macondo was heavily inspired by his own birthplace. It was through reading the stories of some of these world-renowned authors that I realized that I have my own interesting stories to tell. My life right now isn’t ultra adventurous but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about what I am most immersed in right now, right? And right now, I’m most immersed in the lives of my four young daughters.

My two books: Mi prima isleña y yo & ¡Somos gemelas, pero no somos idénticas! are inspired by my four daughters. In fact, one book is dedicated to my older daughters and the second book is dedicated to my fraternal twin daughters.

Work on your craft

Months before I sat down and wrote out each story, I signed up for a few writing courses on Udemy. The two courses I took are called:

  1. Publish your Children’s Picture Book
  2. The Foundations of Fiction

There are various other writing courses on Udemy and online, in general. The price of the courses now may be different than I what I paid for but Udemy often has promotions and I often purchase courses when they are on sale.

It was important for me to really verse myself on the elements of writing a good story before sitting down and writing one. Writing a children’s book isn’t as easy as people might think. It is true that the stories are generally shorter and the language is simpler, but because of those things, it is important to choose your words carefully and be thoughtful about the flow of the story.

I’m by no means an expert in children’s writing yet and I hope to continue working on improving on my style and my ability to tell a cohesive story.

Research the process

To research how to publish a children’s book, I also spent a good amount of time researching the process. I downloaded and read through various self-publishing checklists I found on the internet. I joined a few Facebook groups for self-published authors. I watched a few videos on YouTube. I tried the research various perspectives on the self-publishing process so that I could find overlapping themes and get some ideas on how to carve out the path that best worked for me.

Some of the videos that I found on YouTube are linked below:

  1. thatssojayah
  2. Scattered Brilliancy
  3. Michelle Farley

These videos stood out to me for various reasons. Firstly, all of the authors on these videos are people of color who write books to give a voice and authentic representation to children of color. Secondly, these authors provided interesting insight on how to self-publish a book entirely on your own. I learned something valuable from each of these videos ranging from book illustration, marketing, setting realistic goals and solidifying my niche.

Hire an illustrator

Drawing is not my thing. In addition to my fear of failure, my lack of artistic ability is probably the other factor that kept me from attempting to publish a children’s book for so long. Originally, I was hoping my brother would illustrator the two books I am now publishing but, unfortunately, our schedules didn’t coincide. I’m hoping to get him on board to publish some of my children’s books in the near future!

Thanks to the videos that I found on YouTube, I learned about Fiverr and the many services that are offered there. It was there that I was fortunate enough to find the illustrator of Mi prima isleña y yo: Vidya Lalgudi Jaishankar.

I worked with Vidya for a total of five months. The experience was fantastic. She is an extremely talented illustrator who is based in England. It was truly a honor to collaborate with her and have her integrate her personal style to make my book come to life.

I found the author of my second book, ¡Somos gemelas, pero no somos idénticas! on a Facebook group called Chicago Latina Moms (https://www.chicagolatinamoms.com/). I’ve been part of this fantastic community for years now and I’ve found recommendations from everything ranging to bakers and travel ideas. I knew that perhaps I could find a talented Latina artist in the group and I wasn’t wrong.

I knew that I wanted one of the illustrators of my books to be a Latina and working with a local artist was a tremendous bonus. Through CLM, I was able to connect to Diana Torres. Working with Diana has also been an outstanding experience. Her quirky style gives my second book a look that is different than the other book but breathes life into the story in a unique way.

Get your work proofread

Even though I am highly proficient in both Spanish and English, I knew that it was important for me to get my book proofread by an experienced, bilingual proofreader. I was able to connect to a bilingual proofreader through Fiverr who not only checked my story for grammar and accuracy in both languages but also gave me some meaningful feedback pertaining to the overall direction of my story. It was a bit nerve-wracking to have a stranger pick apart my story, but it was an extremely valuable experience. It is a part of the self-publishing process that should NOT be left out, by any means.

Both of my books are currently undergoing formatting and, at a later date, I will post updates on that process as well as another crucial component of the self-publishing journey: marketing. Marketing is a tricky beast and that topic may require multiple posts in the near future.

Conclusion

For now, I will end this post reiterating how important it is to not relinquish your dreams. I have learned so much from starting this process and I am hopeful for the future. All of our stories have value and sharing them with the world is both cathartic and altruistic.

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¿Son todos los programas de lengua dual creados iguales?

A principios de este mes, NPR publicó un artículo en el que destacaba la expansión de los programas de dos idiomas en la ciudad de Chicago. En el artículo, vinculado a continuación, se mencionó que CPS ha expandido el número de programas de lengua dual agregando 26 adicionales en los últimos cinco años.

Enlace al artículo: https://www.wbez.org/stories/as-cps-expands-gold-standard-bilingual-program-questions-are-raised-about-who-benefits/e6c10006-fba9-4617-9ef2- fa7435dd3c09

Suena como algo bueno, ¿verdad? Después de todo, ¿no es la misión detrás de los programas bilingües brindar igualdad de oportunidades a todos los estudiantes para que se vuelvan bilingües, bilingües y multiculturalmente conscientes? El hecho de que CPS esté implementando tantos programas en un período de tiempo tan corto debe significar que hay una mayor aceptación de los programas de dos idiomas y que esa aceptación probablemente se deba al increíble éxito que los programas de dos idiomas han demostrado en la educación. TODOS sus estudiantes participantes, independientemente de su raza, origen cultural y socioeconómico, ¿no es así?

Durante años, muchos estudiantes del idioma inglés han tenido que renunciar a su idioma nativo para aprender inglés académico. Los pediatras o maestros bien intencionados han desanimado a los padres de hablar su lengua materna en casa para no “confundir” a sus hijos. Sin embargo, las investigaciones actuales han demostrado lo contrario: los niños que están expuestos a dos idiomas experimentan muchos beneficios que sus compañeros monolingües no experimentan, como la pérdida de memoria retardada, una mayor conciencia cultural y una mayor capacidad para aprender idiomas posteriores.

Los programas de lengua dual se crean con la intención de promover la justicia social y desmantelar las desigualdades, específicamente al proporcionar a los estudiantes del idioma inglés el apoyo lingüístico y de alfabetización que les permitiría desarrollar las habilidades de alfabetización en inglés, sin tener que renunciar a su lengua y cultura heredadas. Cuando el programa se implementa con fidelidad, los participantes exhiben un crecimiento académico más fuerte que sus pares monolingües. Pero al igual que la Dra. Sonia Soltero, profesora de la Universidad Depaul en Chicago, menciona en el artículo vinculado anteriormente: “Lengua dual es un objetivo elevado y ambicioso”. Está destinado al fracaso si no se cuenta con los maestros que son capacitados, [y] apoyo y aceptación de los formuladores de políticas. Si estas cosas no están en su lugar, esto no funciona muy bien .”

Al buscar una escuela para mis hijas, decidí desde el principio que inscribirlas en un programa de dos idiomas no sería negociable. Mis hijas mayores, de 8 y 6 años, ahora pueden entender perfectamente el español y el inglés y también están aprendiendo a hablar, leer y escribir en ambos idiomas. Sin embargo, a menudo me pregunto cómo se desarrollarán sus habilidades lingüísticas y de alfabetización en ambos idiomas a medida que crezcan. ¿Preferirán el inglés al español? ¿Tendrán brechas en el lenguaje académico en un idioma o en ambos? ¿Cómo puedo yo, como madre, saber que el programa de lengua dual en el que están inscritos mis hijos está realmente promoviendo su desarrollo de bialfabetización? ¿Cómo sé que el programa de lenguaje dual del que forman parte es de alta prioridad en su escuela?

No creo que pueda responder a todas estas preguntas con absoluta certeza, dado que hay tanto sobre los programas de lenguaje dual que todavía necesito aprender, ver y experimentar. Sin embargo, hay algunas características que he identificado a lo largo de los años, a través de mis experiencias como padre y educadora en dos idiomas, que definitivamente vale la pena mencionar. Creo que las escuelas de dos idiomas que abarcan muchas o todas las características enumeradas a continuación tienen una mayor probabilidad de sostenibilidad del programa a largo plazo y es más probable que desarrollen un programa que sea consistente, coherente y equitativo.

  1. La visión a largo plazo de la escuela es expandirse a un programa de lengua dual “en toda la escuela”: Cuando una escuela tiene un programa de lengua dual “de una sola línea,” esto significa que solo hay un grupo de estudiantes inscritos en el programa dual programa de idiomas mientras que el resto de la población estudiantil está matriculada en clases de inglés monolingües. Los estudiantes de lengua dual que forman parte de un programa de una sola rama pueden asistir a la escuela en una burbuja y pueden sentirse aislados del resto de sus compañeros. Sin embargo, una escuela que tiene un programa de lengua dual “en toda la escuela” ha implementado su programa a una escala mucho mayor. La mayoría, si no todos, de los estudiantes participan en el programa de dos idiomas de la escuela y el valor del programa está profundamente inculcado en la cultura escolar. Cuando se implementa a nivel escolar, el programa de lengua dual pasa de ser una iniciativa más que pasa por la escuela a una prioridad mayoritaria. Las decisiones que se toman sobre los recursos, el personal, el desarrollo profesional y todas las áreas de la estructura escolar se toman teniendo en cuenta el programa de dos idiomas.
  2. Hay aceptación de TODAS las partes interesadas: Cuando ciertas partes interesadas tienen poco o ningún conocimiento sobre el programa de lenguaje dual de su escuela, lo desprecian o se oponen rotundamente a él, mayores son las posibilidades de que el programa no cumpla con los requisitos. necesidades de los estudiantes. Sin embargo, cuando todos los miembros de la comunidad escolar creen en los beneficios del lenguaje dual, será mucho más probable que todos trabajen juntos para mantener el programa. La participación de todas las partes interesadas crea un sentido más fuerte de propósito para la escuela y cuando todo un grupo comparte el mismo propósito, habrá más personas trabajando activa y en colaboración para lograr todas las metas del programa.
  3. Existe una colaboración sustancial y un respeto mutuo entre los profesores monolingües y de dos idiomas: He observado programas en los que los profesores duales y monolingües parecen estar en desacuerdo entre sí. He escuchado a los maestros de dos idiomas expresar su resentimiento por el hecho de que tienen que hacer el doble de la planificación que sus compañeros monolingües o se ven llamados a más reuniones mientras que sus compañeros monolingües tienen más tiempo para calificar o planificar el curso. Por lo contrario, he escuchado a profesores monolingües expresar sentimientos de miedo y ansiedad ante la posibilidad de perder sus trabajos por no ser bilingües. He conocido a maestros monolingües que toman los cursos para obtener una certificacion de ESL / Bilingüe solo para preservar su trabajo, no porque tengan un deseo real de aprender más sobre el desarrollo de la bialfabetización. Estos sentimientos son válidos y comprensibles, pero no muy propicios para el desarrollo de un programa de lenguaje dual que pone las necesidades de los estudiantes en primer lugar. Cuando los maestros monolingües y de dos idiomas tienen una comprensión clara del papel único que TODOS desempeñan en el éxito del programa de dos idiomas de su escuela, es más probable que encuentren el tiempo y desarrollen el deseo de trabajar de manera colaborativa y respetuosa para crear un plan de estudios que sea intencional, sobre tener en cuenta los matices de ambos idiomas.
  4. El equipo de liderazgo e instrucción en dos idiomas es consciente de promover la equidad lingüística: Otros comentarios basados ​​en el miedo que he escuchado sobre la instrucción en dos idiomas incluyen: “No podemos ofrecer matemáticas o ciencias en español porque es demasiado difícil” o “Si los estudiantes si toman sus clases de matemáticas en español, tendrán un desempeño deficiente en las pruebas estandarizadas de matemáticas que se administran en inglés .” He visto el español (y otros segundos idiomas de instrucción) pasar a un segundo plano frente al inglés una vez que se instala una sensación de miedo en que los niños se “quedarán atrás” en inglés. Estos sentimientos de miedo aumentan durante los años de prueba. Cuando una escuela decide implementar un programa de lengua dual, es crucial que a ambos idiomas se les dé el mismo nivel de prioridad y se les asigne el mismo valor. Las mismas oportunidades que se les dan a los estudiantes para aprender inglés académico deben brindarse en el segundo idioma de instrucción. La designación de espacios “solo en inglés” envía el mensaje de que el otro idioma de instrucción no importa tanto. Si este tipo de prácticas continúan expandiéndose, el lengua dual corre el riesgo de convertirse en otro programa de educación bilingüe sustractivo, en lugar del modelo aditivo que se pretendía.
  5. El equipo de liderazgo e instrucción en dos idiomas es consciente de la promoción de la equidad cultural: Durante muchos años, la educación estadounidense ha sido de naturaleza monolítica. Los estudiantes, independientemente de su origen cultural y lingüístico, han tenido que leer las historias de personajes que carecen de paralelo con sus propias vidas o estudiar la historia de la cultura mayoritaria, mientras que se presta poca o ninguna atención a la historia de las personas de su propia cultura. Hoy en día, los formuladores de políticas educativas están enfatizando la implementación de un plan de estudios antirracista, enseñanza culturalmente sensible y programas de lenguaje dual como iniciativas para desmantelar la hegemonía cultural que ha existido durante mucho tiempo en los planes de estudio estadounidenses tradicionales. Pero los viejos hábitos son difíciles de romper. ¿Qué pasa si estas ideas perniciosas de alguna manera logran volver a tejerse en las aulas? Los estudiantes en programas de dos idiomas no solo necesitan estudiar historia y literatura en otros idiomas, sino también desde diferentes lentes culturales. La misma atención que se presta para analizar las causas de la Revolución Estadounidense debe prestarse a la Revolución Mexicana, por ejemplo.
  6. El programa de idioma dual brinda acceso equitativo a quienes más lo necesitan: Un desafío importante presentado en el artículo que vinculé anteriormente es que muchos de los programas de idioma dual que se han lanzado en los últimos cinco años en Chicago resultan ser en barrios que se están gentrificando o se han aburguesado. La gentrificación de vecindarios como Logan Square y Avondale ha expulsado a muchas de las familias de habla hispana de bajos ingresos que han vivido allí durante muchos años y ahora no pueden pagar una vivienda en esas comunidades. Algunas de las escuelas en estas comunidades, que han experimentado una baja matrícula, han decidido implementar programas de dos idiomas para hacer que su escuela sea más atractiva y comercial para los posibles propietarios. Estas circunstancias hacen que los programas de dos idiomas parezcan una estratagema de marketing más que una herramienta para un cambio social real

Personalmente, no tengo ningún problema con la expansión de los programas bilingües. De hecho, espero un futuro en el que los programas de dos idiomas sean la norma. Sin embargo, también creo que toda la implementación de programas bilingües debe ser reflexiva, coherente y equitativa. La instrucción en dos idiomas debe colocar ambos idiomas de instrucción, así como sus respectivas culturas, en pie de igualdad. Pero, sobre todo, los programas bilingües de alta calidad deben estar disponibles para los estudiantes que realmente lo necesitan.

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Acceso a auténtica literatura española para adolescentes

Una noche, hace unos meses, mientras mi esposo y yo estábamos preparando a nuestras niñas para ir a la cama, les pedí a mis niñas mayores que fueran a buscar un libro de su biblioteca para leer. “Vayan y busquen un libro, “digo mientras suben a su habitación.

Leí el libro Contando con Frida de Patty Rodríguez a mis mellizas de dos años. Es uno de sus favoritos ahora que están aprendiendo colores, números y formas. Compré ese libro, junto con un algunos otros libros bilingües de Amazon. Obtener material de lectura en español para ellas ha sido bastante fácil.

Pongo a las mellizas a dormir y subo para leerles un libro a mis hijas de ocho y seis años.

Cuando entro al cuatro de las niñas, veo el libro que me eligieron para leer en la parte superior de la litera de abajo: Pinkalicious (en español). “¡Otra vez!” me quejo.

“Mamá, es que no encontré nada en español!” dice mi hija mayor. “Me acerco a su estantería y empiezo a hurgar en su selección de libros. Después de unos cinco minutos de buscar en todas sus estanterías, me doy cuenta de que mi hija tenía razón. Ya habíamos leído todos los libros en español varias veces. Mis opciones eran elegir un libro en inglés para leer o volver a leer Pinkalicious (en español) para lo que hubiera parecido la décima milésima vez esa noche. ¡Sin ofender a Victoria Kann (la autora del libro)!

Estoy compartiendo esta breve anécdota, porque hizo que me diera cuenta de algo importante: a medida que mis niñas crecen, me resulta cada vez más difícil encontrar textos apropiados en español para su grado escolar para que los lean en casa. Mi hija mayor, por ejemplo, está leyendo libros de capítulos. Al buscar en Amazon, descubrí que faltan opciones para libros de capítulos que pudieran llamarle la atención. Esto me preocupa un poco porque si el objetivo es asegurar que mis hijos sean completamente bilingües y biletrados cuando sean adultos, necesito poder encontrarles material de lectura en español que sea comparable al material que puedo encontrar para ellos en inglés. Necesito abordar este problema ahora que aún son más pequeños, antes de que lleguen a la escuela secundaria y no sé cómo ayudarlos.

Esto es definitivamente algo en lo que he empezado a trabajar bastante recientemente. Afortunadamente, he podido encontrar algunas librerías en línea que venden textos literarios en español para niños mayores (de 8 a 12 años) y adultos jóvenes (de 13 a 17 años). Muchas de estas librerías realizan envíos a Estados Unidos y ofrecen una amplia selección de libros de varios géneros.

El propósito de esta publicación es compartir estos recursos con otras personas
que están en esta situación también. Espero que puedan encontrarlos útiles y si puedo recomendar más, ¡dejen un comentario a continuación!

NOTA: Ninguna de las compañías a continuación me pagaron para anunciar o promocionar sus productos en esta publicación.

  1. LA Libreria:  https://www.la-libreria.net/iguales-pero-diferentes/

Nacida en 2012, como se describe en su sitio web, esta librería online se creó “con el objetivo de promover la literatura infantil en español en todas sus formas” En este sitio web, uno puede encontrar libros en español organizados por tema y apropiados para niños de 0 a 15 años. No solo puede encontrar libros que pueden complementar lo que su hijo está aprendiendo en ciencias, estudios sociales e idioma, pero puedes encontrar un montón de libros que atraen una amplia variedad de intereses. En particular, me encantó que el sitio ofrece clásicos del idioma inglés como Treasure Island, pero también ofrece series en español como A lomo de cuento, donde los estudiantes pueden aprender sobre la geografía y la cultura de varios países de habla hispana como Cuba y Perú.

2. Books del Sur: https://booksdelsur.org/

La filosofía detrás del trabajo que realiza Books del Sur es “Desarrollar Colecciones de Libros Españoles Equitativos.” Books del Sur ofrece una variedad creciente de libros para niños desde la primaria hasta la secundaria. Los libros ofrecidos son libros traducidos al español, libros bilingües y libros auténticos publicados en toda América Latina. Los consultores trabajan con usted en persona o en línea para ayudarlo a alinear sus prioridades con la selección de libros que tienen disponibles.

3. . Libros 787 (Puerto Rico): https://libros787.com/

Libros 787 es una librería en español en línea con sede en Puerto Rico. La variedad de clásicos ofrecidos en inglés en esta librería era un poco mayor que mis dos primeras opciones. Estaba totalmente emocionada de ver Alicia en el país de las maravillas, 1984, El Conde de Montecristo y muchos títulos familiares traducidos al español. ¡También estaba emocionado de ver muchas variedades del idioma español, como libros sobre historia, cultura y películas puertorriqueñas! Encargué el libro Ellas: Historias de mujeres puertorriquenas para leer a mis hijas antes de acostarme. Con más de 50 biografías breves en español, ¡definitivamente tendré mucho material para dormir ahora!

4. Syncretic Press: https://syncreticpress.com/collections/early-school-years

Syncretic Press no parece ser tan conocido como algunos de los otros títulos de esta lista, pero definitivamente veo espacio para el potencial después de leer detenidamente su sitio. Fundada en 2016 y ubicada en Wilmington Delaware, Syncretic Press es una “editorial independiente de libros para niños en español, con un enfoque especial en autores e ilustradores latinoamericanos.” Los libros a la venta en el sitio son para niños de entre 2 y 12 años. Una cosa que encontré intrigante en su sitio, más como maestra que como padre, es su oferta de “Club de lectura en español.” Al igual que en el Scholastic Book Club, cada vez que los estudiantes de un aula determinada compran cinco libros de Syncretic, sus maestros obtienen un libro gratis de la empresa para agregarlo a la biblioteca de su aula.

5. TiendaMia: https://tiendamia.com/libros

Esta joya de tienda en línea tiene su sede en Miami y vende más de MIL MILLONES de productos de los Estados Unidos y varios países de América Latina. Además de comprar todo tipo de productos (como ropa, electrodomésticos, etc.) TiendaMia cuenta con una librería online muy amplia. Los libros no solo son asequibles, sino que me encanta que puedo encontrar libros en español para personas de todas las edades e intereses, no solo para niños pequeños.

6. Libros in Espanol Libreria Online: https://librosinespanol.com/collections/8-12

Libros en español es otra gran librería en línea donde puedes encontrar todo tipo de libros geniales en español, para personas de todas las edades. Ahora que mi hija de tercer grado está empezando a leer libros de capítulos, estoy muy emocionada de ver títulos populares como El diario de un niño débil, Harry Potter y Los juegos del hambre disponibles en español para ella. Pude acceder fácilmente a textos de autores como Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa y Laura Esquivel. También me parece increíblemente fascinante que este sitio web tenga otros clásicos de autores como Shakespeare (Macbeth en español), Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Nathaniel Hawthorne y Victor Hugo. Realmente amo la versatilidad de este sitio web.

7. . Rueka Libreria Infantil (Colombia): http://www.rueka.com.co/home-2/

Esta librería en línea de Colombia contiene muchos libros lindos en español de varios géneros para niños de 0 a 12 años. El blog de este sitio web también es un gran recurso para los padres que desean aprender más sobre cómo apoyar las habilidades de alfabetización y el amor general por la lectura en casa. Sin embargo, lo que más me llama la atención de este sitio web es que cada libro que compra viene con algún tipo de actividad o material educativo que permitirá a los padres interactuar con el libro de una manera pedagógica con su hijo. Supongo que el propietario de este negocio en línea era un ex profesor. De cualquier manera, lo que están haciendo aquí es genial.

8. BuscaLibre Libreria Online: https://www.buscalibre.us/libros

Este sitio web es muy similar en formato a TiendaMia (mencionado anteriormente) con su propia selección de diversos títulos, todos disponibles en español. El pago de los libros se acepta en dólares estadounidenses, aunque los libros disponibles provienen de varios países como Chile, México, Colombia y España.

9. Libreria Internacional: https://www.libreriainternacional.com/Libros/Infantiles

La selección de libros para niños aquí solo varía de 0 a 11 años, pero todavía hay muchos títulos para elegir, especialmente para maestros de dos idiomas de secundaria. Hay muchos títulos en español disponibles en ciencia, historia, arte y literatura. Después de leer detenidamente el sitio web, definitivamente vi algunos títulos que compraría para usar como referencia al planificar una clase de ciencias o historia en dos idiomas, por ejemplo.

10. Lehmann Virtual Online (Costa Rica) : https://www.lehmannvirtual.com/

Esta librería costarricense fue fundada en 1896, lo que la convierte en una de las librerías más antiguas de América Latina. Se caracteriza por su servicio al cliente de alta calidad y su toque personal. El catálogo de libros en línea contiene una variedad de títulos de libros para niños tanto en el nivel primario como en el secundario. Hay muchos ejemplos de títulos españoles para jóvenes adultos como la popular serie Divergente y títulos de cómics y manga japonés. Lehmann también contiene varios recursos educativos para maestros de diversas áreas de contenido, como Historia Mundial, Historia Latinoamericana, Artes del Lenguaje en Español y Química.

11. Casa del Libro (Espana): https://www.casadellibro.com/

Fundada en 1923, Casa del Libro es la cadena de librerías más importante de España. La cadena cuenta con 47 librerías repartidas por todo el país. La librería en línea es impresionante. Si está dispuesto a gastar un poco más en euros para obtener títulos auténticos en español, entonces esta opción valdrá la pena. El catálogo de libros en línea de Casa del Libro contiene títulos de libros impresos y electrónicos en español de varios géneros para niños de 0 a 18 años. Los maestros de dos idiomas de secundaria también agradecerían la disponibilidad de libros de texto, libros de trabajo y materiales educativos disponibles en varias áreas temáticas.

12.  Librimundi Libreria Internacional (Ecuador): https://www.librimundi.com/lm#/home

Esta cadena de librerías de Ecuador contiene libros a precios muy razonables (usan dólares estadounidenses) para niños pequeños y adultos jóvenes. Al igual que Libros en español (mencionado anteriormente), Librimundi tiene una muy buena selección de literatura clásica traducida al español, como Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes y 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Cualquiera que esté interesado en presentar los clásicos en español definitivamente podría beneficiarse de las opciones que se ofrecen en este sitio web.

Creo firmemente que para lograr altos niveles de alfabetización bilingüe, debemos ser muy intencionales en lo que respecta a los recursos que ofrecemos a nuestros hijos en AMBOS idiomas. Incluso en hogares y aulas bilingües en los Estados Unidos, es muy fácil para el inglés dominar el idioma minoritario. Por lo tanto, es muy importante que elijamos recursos en el segundo idioma que aprovechen las mismas profundidades del desarrollo cognitivo que el inglés.

Como persona bilingüe educada en los Estados Unidos, no tuve muchas oportunidades de leer literatura en español a menos que me dieran la oportunidad de hacerlo en la única clase de español que tomaba cada año en la escuela (de las siete clases que tomé, en total) o si tomé la decisión consciente de leer un texto en español sobre un texto en inglés por mi cuenta. Ahora que muchos distritos escolares ofrecen programas de dos idiomas (una oportunidad que no estaba disponible para mí cuando era niña), las generaciones futuras de niños tienen el tremendo privilegio de acceder a recursos auténticos en dos idiomas.

Todos los sitios web que he incluido en esta publicación contienen recursos auténticos en español que podrían ayudar a desbloquear habilidades de alfabetización de mayor nivel para los adolescentes. ¡Espero que los padres y maestros encuentren útiles los recursos que he incluido en esta publicación!

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Three Major Challenges I Have Faced in Raising Bilingual/Multilingual Children in the United States

In the abstract of her academic article titled “Challenges and Benefits of Early Bilingualism
in the United States’ Context,” Linda M. Espinoza, from the University of Missouri-Columbia, states that although the young dual language learner (DLL) population in the United States has tripled in the last several decades, most young dual language learners in the United States are not receiving early child education that supports their emergent bilingualism.

Research findings conducted at the secondary level don’t yield very positive results either. In the academic article titled “Cultural and Linguistic Investment: Adolescents in a Secondary Two-Way Immersion Program,” Carol Bearse and Ester J. de Jong indicate that many of the students they interviewed in their study acknowledged that as they moved through the secondary years, their exposure to Spanish declined, while their English dominated their school day.

As a doctoral student doing research in dual language, reading findings such as these disappoint me. As a dual language program coordinator that has worked at expanding dual language programs at the middle and high school level, I find these findings frustrating. However, as a mother who is trying to ensure that her daughters grow up to be multilingual in the United States, these findings make me especially anxious and nervous for the future of my own children.

Many of my friends, family members and people I’ve encountered in passing have expressed to me that they’ve given up on the idea of “pushing” a second language on their children. They admit, with a strong sentiment of mixed shame and regret, that it is a struggle to get their children to do anything in Spanish (or their heritage language) and that they are just not interested in putting up a fight anymore.

Teaching our children a second, or third language, in the United States is a tremendous investment. I’m sure everyone will agree that there are both immediate and long term benefits of speaking multiple languages. However, making this an actual possibility just doesn’t to seem to be a priority in the United States.

There is no question that I’m fully invested in the biliteracy development of my daughters. It hasn’t been an easy process, though. That is why I’m going to share some of the obstacles that I am currently facing on my journey as a parent trying to raise multilingual children. These obstacles are currently on my radar as potential factors that, if not addressed, can cause a decline in my daughters’ Spanish (or other) language investment and growth.

  1. Pressure to Do Well in English standardized tests – My two older daughters are currently in school and even though they are both enrolled in a dual language elementary school, they are still required to take standardized tests that will impact the high schools and universities they attend in the future. These standardized tests all measure academic proficiency in ENGLISH. To my knowledge, their school district does not offer Spanish language assessments to help track their overall Spanish language development. These English language standardized exams are difficult enough for students who ONLY speak English. For instance, 50% of the students who take the NWEA MAP (the standardized test offered to students in my state) either meet or exceed their grade level expectations. https://www.nwea.org/blog/2013/partner-questions-month-percentage-students-meet-growth-targets/ This piece of data makes me a bit nervous for my oldest daughter, who is currently in third grade, and will be taking the NWEA MAP for the first time this year. In addition to the NWEAP MAP, she also has to take the ACCESS test. The ACCESS test is given to any student who doesn’t meet the required English Language proficiency at the time their language skills are screened in kindergarten. My daughter didn’t speak a word of English until she entered kindergarten, and obviously, didn’t meet the expected English Language proficiency when given the language screener. I definitely don’t like the idea that she will not have to take two standardized tests in English this year and I certainly don’t like the idea that her failure to meet English language expectations will cause her to carry the very much stigmatized label of “English Language Learner” and may also deter her from gaining admission to a more “selective” high school. Any parent who finds themself in the same situation as me can be tempted to “abandon” the use of the second language in favor of English. Using more English to boost test scores, though well-intentioned, can send the message to our children that the English language has more intrinsic value than their heritage language.

What to Do Then? I am in, no way, implying that parents should not encourage the academic development of English, especially if that is the language assessed in standardized tests, college entrance exams and so forth. Though difficult, it is important to consistently try to find a balance between the academic exposure our children get in both languages. I, personally, make it a point to familiarize myself with the topics that my daughters are learning at school and I look for any gaps. Currently with the pandemic leading to decreased live instructional time, my oldest daughter’s teacher is focusing her attention on Reading Comprehension, Math and Writing skills. I suspect she is doing this because these are the areas that will be assessed in the NWEA. When my daughter isn’t in class, I have work on either Social Studies or Science in Spanish or I try to touch on some of the grammatical concepts that I don’t really so covered in her classes. For instance, I’ve noticed that my daughters’ teachers don’t really do spelling tests like my teachers used to give me when I was in school. Therefore, I give my daughters’ weekly spelling tests to ensure they have the foundational skills they need as they move on to the upper grades.

2. Shortage of Bilingual Speech Therapists – A tremendous challenge that I’ve faced is supporting the biliteracy development of one of my three-year old twins, who has a significant language delay. She received some speech therapy for a few months but once everything shut down due to the pandemic, her services stopped. She was offered virtual speech therapy sessions once a week for 30 minutes at a time, but I turned them down. It was difficult enough to fight and get her a bilingual speech therapist and they could no longer guarantee that the same speech therapist would offer her the virtual speech language therapy. Therefore, I had to become her speech therapist. Her comprehension in Spanish is great and she attempts to repeat everything we say. However, much of what she says in Spanish is still not fully comprehensible. I’ve taken her to an ENT specialist, who ruled out that she is tongue-tied. Neither her pediatrician nor her previous speech therapist suggested it, but I strongly believe she has some sort of verbal dyspraxia. The articles that I’m linking below has been a great resource for me:

I’m still doing my research on this condition and I’m strongly considering sending her to a specialist. The research I’ve done points to a lack of support materials for parents with children who have apraxia/dyspraxia, in general. I can imagine the scarcity of resources for parents of children with apraxia who are making a conscious effort to develop their skills in TWO languages.

What to Do Then? I’m still actively looking for a bilingual speech therapist who specializes in apraxia/dyspraxia. In the meantime, however, I continue to offer bilingual support at home. I haven’t given up on the idea that she will be bilingual one day and I continue to use Spanish as the home language. However, I often have her repeat many of the words we practice with in English. The English language seems to have many more one-syllable words that are easier to pronounce. Many of the foundational words in the Spanish language are two syllables long, such as: si-lla, ca-sa, ma-no, a-zul. These same words (chair, house, hand, blue) are only one syllable long, in English. I have found that my daughter has an easier time pronouncing these words in English. However, that doesn’t mean that I plan on “picking” English over Spanish. I’m determined to supporting her development in both languages. I will definitely continue documenting my progress. I’m sure there are other parents who may be dealing with the same issue.

Lack of Academic Resources in the Second Language – On a previous blog post, I wrote about the difficulties I’ve encountered in finding Spanish reading material for my daughters as they continue to get older.

Finding books in Spanish that they would be interested in reading independently has been one issue. Finding resources in Spanish that would continue to support their development of academic skills in Spanish has been another issue.

When my daughters aren’t in remote learning live lessons or have completed their homework, they complete exercises from workbooks, such as Brain Quest. I LOVE the Brain Quest series! The workbook is very comprehensive and I use it to have my daughters practice some of the skills that her teachers perhaps don’t have the time to cover this year.

If ONLY Brain Quest would publish some workbooks in Spanish or some of the other widely spoken second languages in the United States! As mentioned at the beginning of this post, dual language programs continue to expand in the United States and quality second language resources are desperately needed!

My daughters’ dual language teachers rely heavily on online platforms such as Imagine Learning and Brain Pop to reinforce skills in Spanish. These platforms are good but, I’m a big fan of traditional paper and pencil tasks. When my daughters physically write down what they learn in a notebook or in a workbook, I can clearly see what they know or don’t know. That isn’t always the case with the online platforms.

The other day, for example, I caught my first grader coasting through Imagine Learning, randomly choosing answers without thinking just to move further along in the program. Her teachers track her progress on how long she is logged on, which is a minimum of 20 minutes daily. I would rather have her spend those 20 minutes writing in a notebook or workbook. Her responses will be documented for me to view at any time and I could have a clearer indication of what her skills are.

What to Do Then? I think it’s important for parents who are raising bilingual / multicultural children to ask themselves these questions: How well do you want your child to speak (or read/write/understand) the second language? Do you want your child to simply speak the second language or do you want your child to be fully biliterate, or multiliterate?

In my case, these are the language goals I have for my own children:

I want my daughters to have strong academic skills in both Spanish and English.

I want my daughters to feel equally comfortable speaking Spanish and English.

I want them to feel proud of their skills in both languages.

I want my daughters to have a strong enough language learning foundation, that they are able to learn a third (and maybe even a fourth!) language.

Because the language goals I’ve set for my own children are hefty, I recognize that I need to do the legwork and find them the resources they need to support their academic development in multiple languages. This is something I’m still working on and researching so expect a blog post on this topic soon , as well!

As a parent trying to raise bilingual / multilingual children in the United States (or anywhere, for that matter!), what obstacles have you encountered? What challenges have you found especially daunting?

Please share by commenting below!