Bilingual is Better

This giveaway is now closed. Felicidades to our winner, Janelle!

Photo by moi

Photo by moi

Guest Posts… An occasional series…

The following is a guest post written by Beth Butler, bilingual educator of young children who strives to create better communication within our increasingly diverse society. She is the founder of the internationally acclaimed BOCA BETH language learning series which has garnered various parenting awards. You can find her blogging at Boca Beth: One Song at a Time.

I don’t quite recall when I gained an interest in learning Spanish as my second language, except that it was during junior high. That being said, it was almost a sure thing this blonde-hair, blue-eyed, freckle-faced Irish/Greek girl would NEVER become the owner of a business whose passion is to teach Spanish to little English-speaking children and English to little Spanish-speaking children!

Yet, here I sit typing a guest post for my new amigas, Ana and Roxana, and their fantástico site SpanglishBaby (of which I have become an avid reader and so very thankful of the resources they continue to share). In this post I hope to convey to you the whens, hows and whys of my bilingual passion and how I have turned into a business called The Boca Beth Program. Funny, you go to our web site, and the title on our home page sums up the why of my passion and my daily drive to succeed: You Don’t Have To Be Bilingual To Raise A Bilingual Child.

Born and raised in Florida, I took Spanish for almost 5 years between junior high and high school. I then traveled to Chile as an exchange student for one summer at the age of 16 followed by an exchange to Mexico one summer during my first year of college. It was while I lived in Chile that I became fluent and biliterate in Spanish – reading, writing, speaking conversationally morning, noon and night, and (the kicker!) finally dreaming in my second language of Spanish! I returned home so changed and so culturally aware! (I thank my mom to this day for the opportunity she allowed me to take during my teen years.)

I obtained my teaching degree in Deland, Florida. I graduated in 1981 when bilingual education was not even discussed. I cannot call to mind one class on ESL. When I got my first classroom of second graders I set up a listening center with a denim bean bag chair and cassette tapes that I made at home. These old-fashioned tapes would introduce Spanish vocabulary words to the children in a bilingual format – I would say, “Sister. Hermana. Sister. Say hermana……Air-mah-nah.”

At conference night, I would have an occasional parent tell me to please not allow their son or daughter visit the Say it in Spanish area in my classroom. They still believed in the myths that two or more languages would only confuse their seven-year-old child and delay the acquisition of English language skills. ¿Pueden creerlo? So I had a short list of students that were not allowed to learn Spanish because of their misguided parents.

You Don’t Have To Be Bilingual To Raise A Bilingual Child

Not sure yourself about your own child being able to successfully be introduced to a 2nd or 3rd language before the age of ten? I would advise you to keep reading SpanglishBaby.com, pick up a copy of a wonderful book titled The Bilingual Edge that addresses the many myths surrounding raising bilingual children, and visit my free resource area at any time!

I spent more than ten years in the classroom never venturing beyond my homemade Spanish lessons on cassette. I married a Latino man whose dad was born in Spain and mom was born in Cuba, and we had two sons. Our marriage came to an end, but never once have I allowed our boys to forget their Latino heritage and their Spanish language. In fact, both of them ended up Spanish student of the year in middle school and our youngest son is currently in Spanish 4. His teachers have called me personally to say, “¡Qué bilingüe es su hijo!“  I attribute it to the fact that I often speak in English followed by the Spanish equivalent with all three of my children. That, my friends, is HOW a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, freckle-faced Irish/Greek girl could get to a point to create a bilingual product line full of CDs, DVDs, coloring/activity books, puppets and mini maracas!

I met my Anglo husband after many years of being a single mom, and he encourages me to speak more often in Spanish so that he too can learn! The birth of my third child brought about the birth of my Boca Beth Program and product line. I became Ms. Music in her preschool in 2001 and started introducing Spanish vocabulary words through piggyback songs (that’s a teaching term for taking a classic children’s melody such as The Ten Little Indians and writing new words for it which I do to teach the days of the week on this song – look for song #12). That, amigas mías, is the WHEN of my journey as a bilingual mom of three and educator of thousands!  That year I started the story board for our first DVD and we released our My First Songs in Spanish/Mis primeras canciones en Inglés shortly thereafter.

Let’s close up with the WHY would I choose to introduce Spanish to young children since I am a non-native speaker. In addition to the many reports out that conclude being a native speaker is not a requirement to introduce a new language to young children, I have known this is my true calling since my first time presenting a workshop in front of my fellow educators at a state early childhood conference. Millions of parents and teachers feel incompetent to give the gift of language to young children simply because they themselves are not bilingual. Por favor… could we stop that nonsense right now?!?!

I love traveling the country speaking with teachers, homeschooling families and parents about how easy and fun it can be to give the gift of Spanish and English with our Boca Beth music and movement fun. It’s so cool providing hope to a gal from Grand Island, NE who e-mailed me just this week admitting she was a bit skeptical when I spoke of how fun and easy this introduction to Spanish as a 2nd language can be until her little three-year-old answered with ‘Gracias’ just days after hearing our Boca Beth bilingual beats!

Here in my home and in my office we are preparing our children to be global citizens one song at a time, having a blast, and creating lifetime language learners!

Not only was Beth nice enough to write this guest post, but she was kind enough to be giving away a BOCA BETH Beginners Backpack to ONE lucky winner! The backpack comes with a CD, a DVD, a coloring/activity book and BOCA, the puppet – among other goodies. This is a great giveaway you don’t want to miss! (Retail value is $49.99)

How to Be a Winner:

Leave us a comment explaining why you’d like to win this awesome backpack! Are you raising your kids bilingual or know of somebody who is?

If you want to increase your chances of winning you can get additional entries by doing any of the following:

1. Subscribe to Beth’s blog, Boca Beth: One Song at a Time.

2. Blog or Tweet about this giveaway. Just make sure to send us the link in an additional comment below.

3.  Email 5 friends and BCC us to: giveaways@spanglishbaby.com. Don’t worry-we’ll never share or collect anyone’s emails.

For the part that nobody likes, but we’ve gotta have, check out the Giveaway Rules.

This giveaway ends at midnight EST on Sunday, April 26th 2009.  Good luck to all!

Entries/Comments that do not follow the submission guidelines will be invalid and automatically deleted.  Sorry, just need to keep  it fair…

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