Bilingual is Better

Miren, lo que vamos a hacer es esto. Vamos a compartir primero un poco de cómo nos fue el año pasado. Y después, cada uno va a decir lo que espera del año que viene.

That would be my youngest daughter speaking, a natural organizer who believes strongly in the power of reflection, sharing, family and language. We were in a small town south of Lima, Peru ringing in 2012. At her direction (yes, that really was her tone), all of us – friends and family from many countries and generations – offered thoughts on the year that was ending and our wishes for the one to come. It was a perfect way to end the year and start another.

New Year’s Eve is a wonderful opportunity to share our memories and our hopes with people who are important to us. If your child speaks Spanish or is learning Spanish, it is also an opportunity to use the language in a supportive environment.

Not every family has someone as dedicated to organizing a group as my daughter is, so I made a printable activity to help you get started. To fill some of the time before midnight and make the sharing process easier, kids (and adults too) can write answers to the questions. Then the group shares their thoughts.

Click here to print the New Year’s activity.

Here are a few tips for using the activity with Spanish language learners:

- Before you start, point out to kids that most of the questions can be answered with one or two words such as a place, a person’s name or a verb.
- Make sure that children understand the prompts. Focus on key words like lugar interesante, feliz, and triste. Give examples to make the meaning clear.
- Encourage kids to write their answers. Even if they know what they plan to say, writing it will help them process the meaning of the question and their answer more deeply. It will also come in handy when it is their turn to share if they forget what they were going to say.
- Modeling is important. Fill out your own sheet as your child does hers. Read the prompts out loud and talk about your answers as you record them. Encourage other family members and friends to participate too.
- When you are ready to share your answers, choose a time and place without too many distractions.
- If you have a number of people, you can draw names, go around the room or go from youngest to oldest to determine who speaks next.
- Everyone does not have to share everything. Start with one prompt for everyone. Then go on to another. Jump to a hope for the coming year if the group starts to get restless.

Children learning Spanish need the chance to speak the language with different people and in different situations. Filling out the New Year’s activity lets them think about what they are going to say and ensures that they will be able to participate successfully. Their answers also makes a great keepsake; years from now, they will be a fun way to remember 2012.

Special thanks to Spanish Playground for providing this activity. Visit their site for more activities to teach Spanish to kids.

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