Apr 05

How Parents Can Support Language Learning at Home

Did you know that you don't have to understand the language in order to help your child learn it? Here’s what you can do to help support your child's language learning, whether or not you speak it! (list from GreatKids):

How You Can Help:

  • Help your child make time to practice.
  • Have your student teach you to say something in the language every day.
  • Find cultural events connected to the language and culture being studied.
  • Ask the teacher for resources your child can use at home.
  • Provide videos, books and music in the language.
  • Look for opportunities outside the classroom, like a summer language camp
  • Volunteer to organize a career day that features jobs that use skills in more than one language.
  • Be an advocate.

Read the full article at the GreatKids by GreatSchools website:
Learning a second language: How parents can help»

Mar 31

Learning to Read in Spanish & English

Here's an article that does a great job explaining some of the similarities and differences in literacy instruction depending on the language. It also suggests the following activities you can do at home to complement your child's language instruction (list from ¡Colorín Colorado!):

Learning at Home: Tips for Parents

  • Create small places at home where your child can study, read and play. Areas set aside for learning and play are important for your child's development.
  • Stock the study area with books, pencils, pens, and paper. Encourage your child to read and then write stories using Spanish.
  • Have a play area where there are opportunities to play with materials. Provide labels for the materials (e.g., plastelina [clay], bloques [blocks], computadora [computer], rompecabezas [puzzles]).
  • Read aloud to your child in Spanish to help build vocabulary and comprehension skills. 
  • Provide opportunities to talk to your child about the world around him. Talk about things at the supermarket, during walks, or things you are doing as you cook or clean. 

Read the full article and even more tips at the ¡Colorín Colorado! website:
Early Literacy Instruction in Spanish: Teaching the Beginning Reader»

Jump! Immersion School embraces early literacy in both Spanish and English to ensure that your child reaches their full global potential!

Mar 11

7 Ways to Use Media & Tech to Raise Bilingual Kids

There are many ways to use media and technology to ease the sometimes challenging task of raising kids to speak a second (or third!) language.

For example, watching a movie/TV in the target language can help increase your child's vocabulary and help develop "an ear" for the language. Exploring bilingual apps and bilingual books are also great ways.

Read the full article at Common Sense Media:
7 Ways to Use Media and Tech to Raise Bilingual Kids»

Although the author's focus is on Spanish as the target language, these 7 tips can be applied to any language!

Read related articles on Jump! Blog:

Jun 01

Movies & TV Shows Children Watch in China

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

I polled teachers here at Jump! Immersion School to compile this list of movies & television shows for children in Mandarin Chinese--this is what children watch in China. Again, it is a work in progress, so input is gladly accepted!

(Pictured is a scene from an episode of the series"Pleasant Sheep & Big Bad Wolf".)

Note: You can find these on YouTube. It's best to preview or talk to your child's Mandarin teacher for the "green light."

Preschool & Up

    English Name
Format Mandarin Name Pinyin Topic
    "3 Monks" (movie)
Cartoon 三个和尚 sān gè héshang Shows teamwork. 1 monk comes down the mountain to gather water; 2 monks shoulder the burden together, but what do you do with 3 monks? You fight!
    "Baby Tadpole Looks for Its Mother" (movie)
Cartoon 小蝌蚪找妈妈 xiǎo kēdǒu zhǎo māma Tadpole asks animal friends who is his mother. Shows life cycle of frog.
    "Pleasant Sheep & Big Bad Wolf" (TV series)
Cartoon 喜羊羊和灰太狼 xǐ yáng yáng hé huī tài láng Mr. and Mrs. Wolf have one idea on their minds—eat the sheep! The sheep create ingenious ways to escape Wolf's traps. Discusses community, teamwork, etc.
    "Big Head Son, Little Head Dad" (TV series)
Cartoon; at least 150 episodes 大头儿子,小头爸爸 dàtóu érzi , xiǎo tóu bàba Good for preschool & elementary school crowd.Discusses community, family.

Elementary School, 7-12 years

    English Name
Mandarin Name Pinyin Topic
    Changjiang Qihao
长江七号 chángjiāng qī hào A coming of age story about a boy, his father and a small alien. Boy is raised by his dad who is absent for many hours due to work. A kind teacher and an alien show the boy what is important in life.

Middle School, 15+ years for economic and cultural themes

    English Name
Mandarin Name Pinyin
    Not One Less
一个都不能少 yīgè dōu bùnéng shǎo
    The Way Home
回家 huíjiā
    Beautiful Mother
漂亮妈妈 piàoliang māma

*Older kids in China will watch Japanese anime translated into Chinese.

Be sure to also check out our list of movie classics Jump! Immersion teachers grew up watching in Spanish!

May 22

Movie Classics We Grew up Watching in Spanish

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

A few months ago, when I found out about the NYC Children's International Film Festival (or perhaps it was during one of the many snow days here in New Jersey!), I started to think back to what movies or television shows I saw as a child in Spanish.

Very fuzzy memories... the character "Chapulin Colorado" of Mexico? The shows did not appeal to me at the time. But now I have children of my own and I would like them to see movies/TV shows from other parts of the world. I ask myself, how many Disney or mega-production company-fueled movies can I stomach?

I searched the Internet—strangely, in this New Age where we seem to list, post, and pin seemingly everything, I found nothing! So, I decided to informally poll the teachers here at Jump! Immersion School. I caught them off guard during drop-off and at pick-up, but then they started to remember. The list I have compiled is at the end of this post—it is a work in progress, so input is gladly accepted!

Parents, many of these movies can be found on sites like YouTube. Others exist on parallel Spanish-speaking sites. I would simply caveat that you should either review the movies (at least visually) or sit with your child during the first 10 minutes. (When I was trolling through YouTube for "Heidi," I found an "anime" version that looked a bit too violent for my taste.)

It would also be wise to give a short introductory speech or disclaimer to your child to remind him/her that certain phrases or actions were appropriate in times past, but opinions change. This would be particularly beneficial when watching "clean" but "slapstick" comedy shows. Something akin to "Benny Hill"or "Mr. Bean" for the Anglophiles. Parents will differ, but whenever time allows, I prefer to watch movies with my children, to share my insights in real time (a.k.a damage control).

Learning Language through Movies... and Songs too!

Seeing "authentic" movies is but one example of an activity to supplement learning language and finding a way to link your child's study to native students in other countries. I personally have a daydream from time to time, of watching my children at a park or resort overseas making new friends in Spanish, but also picking up the country-specific ties—be it songs, poems, books, or perhaps even an action hero.

If you want more information, Jump! Immersion School envelopes your child with songs, poems and subject matter from the native-speaking teachers' countries of origin. You might hear children practicing tongue-twisters in Spanish at recess or singing "Happy Birthday" as they do in Mexico. It is a beautiful thing... come see!

María Chucena techaba su choza
y un techador que por allí pasaba le dijo:
"María Chucena, ¿techas tu choza
o techas la ajena?"

"Ni techo mi choza ni techo la ajena,
que techo la choza de María Chucena."

Movie Classics We* Grew up Watching in Spanish

Teachers Country Movie or TV show
Specials Colombia
  • El Chavo (Mexico)
  • Chapulin Colorado
  • Abeja Maya
  • Jose Miel (the friend of Abeja Maya, a spin off)
  • Candy
Pre-K4 Mexico
  • El Chavo
  • Chapulin Colorado
  • Candy
  • Capulina (the stage name for actor Gaspar Henaine)
  • Marcelino, Pan y Vino (a Lenten story; an orphan meets God in the attic)
Kinder Colombia
  • Abeja Maya
  • El Viento en los Sauces (The Wind in the Willows)
  • Topoyiyo or Topollillo
Admin Director Peru
  • Candy
  • Heidi
  • Marco or Marcos (friend of Heidi, spin off)
  • La Niña con la Mochilla Azul, a Spanish movie by Pedro Fernandez
  • Topoyiyo or Topollillo
  • The show of Tio Johnny (his signature was drinking a glass of milk at the end, with a cow mooing)
  • The show of Yola Polastri, a great singer
Spanish Programs Director Costa Rica
  • La Ballena Josefina
  • La Casa de la Pradera (Ah--Little House on the Prairie!)
  • Mujercitas (Little Women, what a classic!)
  • Heidi
  • Pequeño Poni (or Pequeño Pony)
  • Gems
  • Abeja Maya
  • Marcelino, Pan y Vino (the Lenten story)

Spain Under Construction--check back shortly!


Click Here!

*We are the teachers and staff at Jump! Immersion School!

Be sure to also check out our list of
movies and TV shows children watch in Mandarin Chinese!

May 08

Using the Local Language While Abroad

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

In the quest to "open the minds" of my elementary school-aged children who continue to study Spanish, I decided to throw my bathing suit to the wind and travel North to Montréal during Easter break. My husband thought I should visit a psychiatrist. My rationale was to show my children the importance of speaking more than one language; that it is useful, no matter where you go. Montréal was within driving distance and we own a cargo box for the car, so I updated my packing lists and off we went! (Many reviews on Trip Advisor spoke highly about "Le Square Phillips" which is an apart-hotel. We all loved it!)

Now, you may be asking me, "Does anyone in your family unit speak French?" My response: "Why, yes. Proficiently... moi!" Husband also speaks a small amount, but kids knew nothing. So we prepared them with the absolute basics:

  • Merci = Thank you
  • Bonjour = Good day or a generic "Hello"
  • S'il vous plait = Please
    *We also reminded them very seriously to stay close, and gave them the hotel business card and our cell phone numbers written down for their pockets/purses.

"Perfect Mom" would have run out to the local library or big box store for French language learning DVDs, but I am not "Perfect Mom."

Québec province is truly dedicated to keeping French alive. However, it respects English. Case in point: museum presentations were given in both languages. Now, during this trip, I was the main communicator and translator. I must confess, my French was rusty. But I wanted to show my children that you always try, and that you must be ready to laugh at yourself whenever learning something new.

Use Every Opportunity to Practice!

After checking in, the moment I walked into the room, I assessed the bath towel scene. We needed one more. Now, occasionally, when I search for a word in French, I consider the Spanish word for any clues, as they are both Romance Languages. If I succeed, I can "slide" into the French word. Back to the snippet about the missing towel. I called the Reception rather confidently, and began to ask for an extra towel. The word eluded me completely; I blanked out. I started to feel the flutterings of anxiety, with the inner monologue: "How could I possibly forget such a simple word like 'towel?'" I hemmed and hawed. The receptionist asked if I wanted to speak in English. (Only in Montréal this would occur! Never in France.)

Instead of caving in, I trudged on in French: "No, no, I want to practice my French. How do you say 'towel' in French? We need an additional one."

She graciously reminded me: "une serviette." I repeated the full sentence in French. Hung up the phone, calmed myself, and smiled.

Of course! In Spanish, a towel is "una toalla." And in Spanish, a napkin is "una servieta." Light bulb moment, words newly engraved in my mind. Note to self:

Do... NOT... give up!

I was not so bold an hour later, when my husband tasked me to order takeout pizza--we had arrived on Easter Sunday and had missed the working hours of the closest supermarket (an "IGA" in the main level of the Complexe Desjardins on the Blvd René Lévesque). The gentleman on the phone was so darn nice that I just rattled off in English what we wanted. I felt embarrassed. Looking back, I made myself anxious because I believed the operator would be in a hurry. Wrong attitude.

As the days passed, I continued trying to speak French. The Montréalais do a fine job of "juggling" both French and English. Any time I hesitated to find a word, they were quick to ask in English: "Do you wish to speak in English?" After the takeout incident, I persisted. We visited museums, took the Métro [subway] and the bus, bought souvenirs, lunch, groceries, and I even visited a pharmacy. Now that was an experience--telling your ailments to a pharmacist! But I did it, and she actually complimented me. She said that very few Americans spoke French so fluidly.

The More You Use It...

Lesson learned: the more I spoke, the more confident I became in French. Why is the United States such a mono-lingual stronghold? My children were tacitly impressed with my "skills."
They made the connection: It takes time to become fluent in another language and the more you use it, the better you speak it.

Jump! Immersion School continues to buck the stereotypes of learning another language (the second, or third?) with preschoolers and elementary-aged students. We are the trendsetters. Children can start as young as 2½ years old and classes are available through 12 years of age, for Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. This is not your stodgy language class of years ago; the children are immersed, with fun activities, in a broad spectrum of subject matter, to get them talking, playing, running, dancing, all when they are ready to take that linguistic risk. Imagine speaking effortlessly, no mental "switching" necessary? How about speaking without an American accent, and sounding "like a native?" Yes and yes!

To conclude my linguistic travel story, you may want to know how the children fared: The younger one took the 3 new words like a fish to water. The older one was in a state of shock on the first 2 days. This was the first trip that she did not speak the local language and she had moments of frustration. I gave her my personal tip to try to "slide into French" and she did her best. Overall, the family enjoyed themselves thoroughly and we have vowed to return in the summertime, with warmer weather and longer days. There are so many parks to explore!

Consider the following: If your family is planning to vacation/move abroad, why not take advantage of Jump! Immersion School and get the kids ready? As our Founder, Jackie Sanin, likes to say, "the more you go, the more you'll know."

Mar 09

Did you know? Highlights Magazine for Children in Spanish!

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

This is not the same magazine you read at the dentist's or doctor's office when you were a kid!

The 60 year old company actually has a bilingual magazine for children, targeted at 2-6 years old. It is called High Five Bilingüe and it is a dual-language magazine.

High Five Bilingüe Magazine cover Bilingual Hidden Pictures® FUN Booklet cover

From their site:

“Each 40-page monthly issue brings a mix of read-aloud and read-along stories, poems, puzzles and activities in Spanish that are repeated in English in the second half of the magazine.”

The upside for non-Spanish speaking parents is a FREE audio download to hear the stories read in Spanish! An annual Subscription starts at about $35 and includes a bilingual Hidden Pictures FUN booklet with each subscription!

The best part? No fuss shopping AND you can even print a "Gift Announcement" from their website to present to your child, grandchild, niece/nephew for an upcoming birthday or special occasion.

Mar 02

Learning Language through Movies

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

It's Friday afternoon, or a weekend day, and what to do with the children? Depending on your parenting philosophy on "screen time," consider a movie in a foreign language.

If your child is on the younger side, you can decide if the goal is to have a more "passive" movie experience, such as playing with toys while having the television on, with either an "original version" of a movie on, or a "dubbed" one. Do you want "Toy Story" in Spanish or Mandarin Chinese?

On the other hand, if your child is older and/or more proficient, then it might be a day to announce, "We are watching Peter Pan in Spanish!" Either something the children have seen (so they can follow along more confidently) or something new. Finding suitable foreign movies for children may seem daunting at times, but the rewards are great: "a-ha moments" when you see your child following along; gaining a real sense of life outside of the U.S., being exposed to different cinematic styles; learning idiosyncratic expressions; continuing on life's language journey. It's fun; it's thought-provoking.

Who is going to help you? YOU!

Look around the Internet. Talk to your librarian. Query your friends and acquaintances if any are language buffs, foreign language speakers or travelers. Any film fanatics out there? Do not be shy asking around; just caveat it with "My child is learning Mandarin Chinese and I am looking for a movie. Can you recommend one?" Aside from your librarian, consider YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV, Roku, etc.

NEXT, if it is a foreign movie, preview for visual content at minimum. THEN, you decide if it is acceptable. Perhaps it is a good idea to have a short talk before the movie starts about how movies are chosen/produced in different countries to cover yourself as All-Knowing Parent.

NYC International Children's Film Festival

If you happen to live in a major cosmopolitan area, a children's foreign film festival is a good option! This is like manna from the sky: serving up to you movies that "should" have children's themes. New York City is having its International Children's Film Festival this year from February 27th – March 22nd. Grab a friend and make it a family play date! At the time of press, it appears the movies are presented in English, however it is an excellent starting point to search for the original versions. For more info see http://www.gkids.com

Sometimes, arguably, you do not have to push the "target language" all the time, but expose your child to other cultures. For example, consider the Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, who has made many films, such as "Spirited Away," etc. For a discussion thread on French movies, see http://babybilingual.blogspot.com. On the right side, there is a "Best of" series of tabs; scroll down and you will find "French Films That Are Not Freaky."

Any advice on Spanish or Mandarin Chinese films for children? I plan on starting my review with the children's film festival!

Jan 27

Learning Language Through Cooking

Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio

One weekend, or during a Snow Day (like today!), how about cooking a dish with your child? Depending on your child's interests, you can borrow or purchase a book specifically geared towards "cooking with children" or you can find a recipe to try and give it a go!

Book: Cocina Sana para Niños Book: Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family!

In our house, on "my" side of the cookbook area, I have "Emeril's There's a Chef in My Family!: Recipes to Get Everybody Cooking" cookbook. Hmmm. I also have a cookbook in Spanish called "Cocina Sana para Niños" of Parragon Books. Both are standard recipes, one in English, one in Spanish. Perhaps you would like to look into "ethnic" cookbooks, for further inspiration.

At Jump Immersion, cooking is another way to practice and round out your child's Spanish or Mandarin. Even if you do not speak the "Target Language" (or "TL") this can be your child's opportunity to school you. It is clear that, more than toys or gadgets, our children want to spend time with us, their parents. Put two or more people together in the kitchen, cast worries or judgments aside, and focus on cooking and on the process or the results--something delicious to delight in.

Cooking with Kids

Do not fret. A one-hour activity such as cooking, in Spanish or Mandarin, is a marvelous way to expand your child's vocabulary (not to mention math skills with fractions or science skills following steps & observing). You will be adding words such as "mix," "add," "combine," "smell," "taste," "savor," etc. This low-key activity is taking place at the kitchen table, the heart of the home. With older children, this can be a neutral ground to listen to them and perhaps even get them talking about their day, their interests, their worries. To this day, I have fond memories of watching my grandmother cook, and later on, helping her with her signature recipes. This added vocabulary helped broaden my Spanish quite a bit.

Once you have made your recipe, ask others how they make it. Or better yet, ask your child to ask a friend/acquaintance that speaks the "TL" how they make it and discuss any differences. Easy conversation starters also include where the person finds their ingredients or special spice mixtures.

Enjoy!, ¡Buen Provecho! and Xiang Shou!

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