Raising Bilingual Children in a Digital Nation

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Photo by specialKRB

Photo by specialKRB

Last week I was lucky enough to receive an invitation from PBS inviting me to join a group of Los Angeles mom bloggers to meet the producers of Digital Nation– the newest Frontline documentary to air on Feb. 2, 2010 that explores how technology affects the way we live.  They were eager to meet with us to hear our thoughts on how the explosion of digital media is affecting our children’s life and the way we, as a family, interact.

Of course, you get a room full of bloggers and most of the responses will be pro-digital media as a way to maintain communication and even as an educational tool for our children.  To some extent, of course.  The debate over how the internet and technology are changing our lifestyle and the way we interact with each other is huge.  And this PBS special and web project do an excellent job at exploring the many colors of this virtual rainbow.

I tend to believe that we must move ahead with progress, learn it, know it, be comfortable with it and then be wise enough to know how to use it to our own advantage.  As with TV, junk food, spending and other potential vices, the key is to choose wisely and with moderation.  That’s why I certainly encourage the use of the internet as one more tool in our arsenal for raising bilingual children.

Our kids are living life in a vast “virtual frontier,” as Frontline states with their slogan.  We already know that the experts recommend that we immerse our children as much as possible in fun and engaging activities in our target minority language.  There are many entertaining online games and apps that are designed to enhance  your child’s bilingual (English/Spanish) skills.  Why not immerse them in Spanish via a medium they’re already all-too-familiar with and that also gives them the necessary skills for 21st Century learning?

These are just a handful of  sites with simple educational games we´ve found useful and entertaining for bilingual children and/or children learning Spanish as a second language.  Check them out with your kids and enjoy.

  • Pancho y Pita–A new series of interactive computer adventures available in both English and Spanish.  The animated troll children and their bilingual pet, Flan, are so lively and well done that this could even work as a TV series in español! Plus, I now want to name my next pet Flan.  Recommended for preschool and elementary age kids.
  • PBS Kids Go! Maya & Miguel–Tons of fun games with activities ranging from soccer, to cooking with abuela, to creating jamming global tunes, to making your own ecard in Spanish.  All with Maya and Miguel as your virtual hosts.  Recommended for preschool and elementary age kids.
  • GoGo Lingo–An online Spanish-learning game for kids. Good for kids who are learning basic vocabulary in Spanish and computer skills. I would hurry to check it out since it´s available for free for a limited time!  Recommended for preschoolers.
  • Club Penguin–A safe online community created by Disney where children can live virtually as their penguin avatar and meet other pingüinos to play and chat with. Excellent resource for your kid to make virtual relationships with other Spanish speakers. Recommended for 6-14 year olds, but other ages can still enjoy it.
  • Las Tres Mellizas–Games, activities and movies featuring the adorable Tres Mellizas. My favorite is the karaoke video to sing-a-long to. Recommended for preschool age children.
  • Discovery Familia –The online portal of the Discovery Familia channel has games in categories like music, science, numbers, puzzles and more. All very well done and in Spanish.  Recommended for preschool and elementary age children.
  • BrainPOP–This incredibly original educational website from Mexico has tons (and I mean TONS) of short, animated movies in Spanish with fun lessons in topics related to  art + music, science, technology, social sciences, math, health and more.  Recommended for elementary, middle and high school children.
  • Arte Nautas–Another website from Mexico designed for children to learn about art and culture through games. Check out the game where you get to dress Frida Kahlo.  Recommended for elementary age children.
  • Little Pim Word Bag–This is a brand, spanking new App from Little Pim featuring the furry fellow lovingly known as El Panda in my house. It’s a very simple screen touch game that will have your kid repeating basic words in Spanish. Recommended for preschoolers.

If you have any favorites to add to this list, please leave us a comment with a link.  We’d love to see this list grow!

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