Tag Archives: day

5 Reasons Why Computer Games Improved My Son’s Spelling

Spelling Pic

I know what you are thinking! Computer and we limit the children’s time on it, trust me, I’ve been there, I still AM! But my son was reading very complicated books and was really great at understanding and reading them, but when it was time to write answers, to spell, oh no! Even words he had just read, simple day to day words would come out like some foreign language and trust me, they were not in any known dictionary!

Well, Minecraft and Clash of Clans came along and he needed to chat, sometimes, unusual words were involved in the game! He started observing other players and started mastering the most common words and also the harder ones. Let me share a secret – 7, 8 even 9 year olds don’t chat with acronyms or abbreviations, they write things down, full words as a way to communicate with each other. It’s their brain trying to make sense of thinking and typing at the same time, fast enough to ask for resources, for donations, for troops and for their buddy who is playing with them to follow them and attack.

So after my frustration with my son’s literature answers, and observing his progress and maturity in the written language and how it had developed in parallel with his game skills, I have reached the conclusion that games can have a positive impact on your child’s education, as long as they are playing games  that reach and use those skills.

As a linguist, these are my findings, comparing my observation and the data on my son’s homework:

  1.  Games can improve spelling if your child uses chat mode, because the speed and level of concentration will require that they master their spelling to write while they play.
  2. At age 6-8, children are trying to make sense of building sentences, without proper punctuation and connectors, so words need to have full meaning, because most times, two words will convey the meaning of a full 10 word sentence. Well, no better place then games, where speed will require precision and concision, above all.
  3. Children don’t want to sound “not cool”, so sometimes my son would shout across the room, mom, how do you spell? Spelling becomes a must have skill, so the cool older kids playing don’t make fun of you!
  4. My son’s communication skills also were enhanced while playing Minecraft, Clash of Clans and Terraria since he had to master Skype, research mods, glitches and tricks on You Tube, which brought extra hours of reading and learning, prior to playing the game.
  5. His typing skills were also developed, because with no formal typing lessons, he suddenly became a very fast keyboarder.  There is a chat section on Minecraft which has motivated him to learn to type faster and more accurately and sometimes communicate with several players at the same time. 

So more specifically about Minecraft, my favorite, way beyond spelling, when you spawn in Minecraft you are in the middle of nowhere with trees, caves and animals around.  If you are playing in survival mode, you will also see creepers, skeletons, zombies, spiders or endermen that will attack you starting at sundown.  You need to try to survive by cutting down trees and building some type of shelter to protect yourself from the monsters that come out at night.  You also have  hunger bars and if you don’t find food, you will die.

Sounds easy, but trust me it’s not.  You must come up with a strategy for surviving that first night and be quick about it lest you die at the hands of the monsters in the dark or a hungry belly.  I have seen the kids come up with elaborate plans for surviving that first night.  They’ve learned to hunt for food, build shelter, mine coal for torches and make tools from natural resources all within the span of a 10 minute Minecraft “day”. Tough, huh?

I’m impressed so much I have even recommended some parents to use games to help my foreign language students enhance their reading and spelling skills. Check it out on my post on favorite apps!

Just remember, the best way to help your child excel at any subject is to make it fun and help him feel successful. Nothing is more fun then playing video games!

A different Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo

We usually have a private fiesta at my home during Cinco de Mayo or going to a Hispanic restaurant!  This year, I decided to make our Cinco de Mayo more meaningful, since my son has been every day, resisting to speak Spanish and Portuguese.

I told him we will be celebrating in a different way:

I am a member of my church’s Hispanic Ministry and I offered my time to volunteer for their Cinco de Mayo party which will be this Friday and offered my son’s time on the day of, to attend and help with anything needed!

We are also now speeding our search to support a child in a country who needs comfort and love! He will be writing, sending small items and learning about that child’s struggles, life and culture, which I think, will give him a different perspective on gratitude and compassion!

We will also cook a Hispanic meal together on Sunday and make homemade pinatas!

If celebrating Cinco de Mayo is not a part of your culture or the place where you live, embrace something new this year and follow some of my suggestions to have fun with the children:

  • Click here for the how to do a mini piñata
  • Read stories and explain how it is celebrated by families in other countries and know that NO, it is not the independence of Mexico, let’s get the facts!
  • Make a fun make your own taco meal, where they will fill their taco with fun items, set up on a buffet setting!
  • Music is a great way to have children learn culture, grab La Bamba and other famous hits and dance around the house! Dance away! My son and I love that!
  • There are many cartoons with Cinco de Mayo theme, youtube is a great place for that!

taco buffet

Would love to hear your suggestions! Let us know if you try some of our suggestions!

 

 

Sneakers or Snickers- a conversation about monolingual bullying

I started my journey towards foreign languages, when at 18 months, I started repeating German words on my dad’s beer caps collection. My parents have never learned a foreign language, basically nobody in my whole family did! I had a wealthy uncle who went to the U.S. many times and basic knowledge of the English language was the closest to bilingual we had in our family at that point.

I grew up proud of my accomplishments and all the years I invested learning 4 languages and understanding a couple others! That was until I moved to the U.S.of A! I immediately found out my “perfect English skills” which opened the doors to many jobs in my country, were not good enough.

My husband started showing me subtle things like |i| |e|, as in little, which I used to say leetle…or capitain instead of capitan and the list goes on and on, like preposition use, since none of it made any sense to me, ups, on, in, nightmare….preposition nightmare is never really understood until you move here! You think you know the language, but here is a whole new world of possibilities!

His help was instrumental to bring my academic English to a stage very close to a.. native speaker.

But that did not prevent or spare me from suffering what I call the monolingual bullying! Yes, people who don’t speak a foreign language and use their lack of skills on foreign languages to bully people who do master them but would never live up to their standards on the ONLY language they speak, only being the key word!

I have hundreds of stories to tell, but will share just two, to illustrate the whole bullying nature! When I started my business and I attended networking events, I would always find  a person coming to me and saying, I detect an accent, where are you from? What they really meant was: “I hear your accent, you don’t speak English like I do”.

The other story is a little more dramatic as it involves a family member, and knowing she has absolutely no interest in foreign languages, there is a slim to none chance she will ever read my blog! We were in the kitchen of my sister in law’s home and I asked my son, please put the snickers (that is how I said it) on, she jumped with a sarcastic tone and said, Claudia we don’t have snickers bars,but we have other ones….everybody laughed….she continued, he couldn’t put snickers on anyway….laughing….I counted to 10 in any language I know and started, the room was silent because everybody knows my tongue is bigger than my body……I said, I speak four languages, understand about 8, when you learn your second language, we can talk about sneakers and snickers….she was floored, the room was empty all of a sudden. She hasn’t made fun of my English since!

I am a person open to learning experiences and I learn something new every day, I’m far from considering myself a native speaker and that feeling keeps me hungry to improve and perfect my skills, but that doesn’t give people the right to bully me or others who are in different walks in their journey to learn a second language.

I tell my students every day, I make mistakes in English every day, mistakes are a part of a learning process, so face it and know that it is ok and normal to make mistakes. Making those mistakes and walking in the right direction are the foundation steps to mastering a language or learning anything in life!

So while the sneakers are to be worn or the snickers to be eaten, put yourself in somebody’s shoes before you make certain comments and remember, diminishing or purposely criticizing somebody to make the person feel inferior is Bullying! Language Bullying, but it hurts as much as the food thrown at the chubby kid in the cafeteria or the mean words said by popular girls to the not so popular ones!

So embrace a foreign language speaker trying to speak your language as an asset not a handicap.

A Daddy’s Tips On Babies

Huggies Diapers

You’ve  probably heard many various tips from mothers and and grandmothers on how to deal with babies, right?

Well for this post, a daddy will let us know some of his tips for dealing with babies on a day to day basis! And where else would I look except to my husband … Mark? My husband, as a way of introduction, has two sons and is a few years older than I am. So he should have lots of wisdom when dealing with babies, right? You know, the older… the wiser?  😉

So I asked my baby’s daddy if he had any tips he’d like to share with my readers and here is what he offered up as tips for new moms and dads when dealing with the everyday mess and stress of having a baby in your house!

1.  Moms – don’t put the baby in bed with you!
Many times the baby will cry at night and after a long exhausting day of dealing with the precious little one, it’s very tempting to put the baby in bed with you when he starts crying. This is bad for a couple reasons. The first is that it’s dangerous for the baby’s health. You could roll over at night and accidentally suffocate the baby … this has unfortunately happened and often you’ll hear about it in the news. The second reason is that it can become a habit and it will then interfere with mommy and daddy’s “special times.” Every couple needs to have intimacy (not just the physical part) and trying to be quiet while dealing with a sleeping baby in your bed will certainly impede the two of you from having those “special times”.

2. Dads – try to help your wife with the baby anyway you can.

A)   Night-time: Most moms I know are quite capable of taking care of their baby, but after a long tiring day they’ll usually want some help. Try helping with the feeding of the baby, especially at night. If mommy isn’t breast feeding, you can help warm the bottle and maybe even feed your child while you let your partner get some well-deserved rest.

B) Any time: One of the worst jobs I’ve found when dealing with my babies was changing the diapers! It’s a stinky smelly mess.
*Side Note* My first wife thought that she would be green and save the world by using cloth diapers. But after the first load had to be washed and sanitized, she quickly changed her mind!   🙂
A more reasonable approach and  the one that we used was using disposable diapers. And Dads, it’s not that bad of a job, just make sure you have lots of baby wipes handy.  Just grab the baby’s legs, lift him up a little while you wipe and clean him, slide the new diaper under the butt, close it with the velcro tab and you’re good to go! Put your used dirty wipes in the old diaper and then fold it up and use the velcro strips on it to hold it closed and you’re ready to dispose of it.

Taking a walk with the baby can be very relaxing and help with stress management – Dads can do this to further help their wife out by giving her a break. (Just don’t go popping too many wheelies with the carriage as this WILL get the baby upset! )  😉

Finally, just give your baby lots of love and reassurance. He needs his daddy’s love as well as his mommy’s and this will help your child to grow up having a happy healthy life!

Well there you have it – My husband’s tips for dealing with babies.

If you’d like another man’s perspective on how to successfully deal with babies, I invite you to join Poncho de Anda on FaceBook!  Here are the details:

Who: Pancho de Anda – TV personality and father of two

When: September 2oth, 2012 from 12 pm EST to 1 pm EST

Where: www.facebook.com/Huggieslatino

What: Opportunity to ask Pancho de Anda how he tackles the challenges of parenting. Huggies would love to hear from you! Please note that the chat will be in Spanish. Look for the picture of Poncho on the facebook page to participate in the chat.

Thanks for reading!

Claudia – Bilingual-Buddies Mom

Please note that this post is in collaboration with and sponsored by Huggies and Latina Bloggers Connect.