Emma is learning her letters in Spanish. I actually am amazed at how quickly she picks them up. She has A-O down pretty well, although she sometimes mixes up J and L.

She associates each letter with the name (or sometimes a word) of someone she knows. 
Books are such a great source to learn new and useful vocabulary! Especially kid books.

We have really hit the Spanish section of our library hard. In fact, I don't check out any English books from there unless Emma happens to slip one into the stack.

Tomorrow I will come back and tell you some of my favorites that we have found.

Emma has consistently started to use the word, "biblioteca." :) Hallelujah for another Spanish word coming out of that girls mouth! 

Today she also said to me, "Mama, por favor, quiero el iPad." I was so excited that she said a whole sentence in Spanish that I let her play on it for a bit.

Speaking of Emma speaking Spanish, we have had a wonderful opportunity laid at our feet. I have mentioned before that we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the church we receive various "callings" that give us the opportunity to serve each other. This little excerpt from the church's website explains it better: 
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints functions in large measure because of the unpaid volunteer ministry of its members. In fact, this lay ministry is one of the Church’s most defining characteristics. In thousands of local congregations or “wards” around the world, members voluntarily participate in “callings” or assignments that provide meaningful opportunities to serve one another. It is common for Church members to spend 5-10 hours a week serving in their callings. Some callings, such as a bishop, women’s Relief Society president, or stake president may require 15-30 hours per week."
Anyways, my husband and I were asked to serve as language missionaries for the local Spanish congregation. Which means that we will be attending the Spanish speaking ward for church each week (3 hours on Sunday) plus whatever activities they have throughout the week. 

This is going to do amazing things for our Spanish! I am so excited. Emma and Charlotte will be able to hear native speakers on a regular basis and my husband and I will be able to improve our Spanish as well. I am thrilled! They have a nursery where children 18 months-2 years get to go and play and learn together. So Emma will be able to hear other little kids speaking Spanish. I am also hoping to set up some play dates to further their interaction. 
It has been ages since I have updated on our progress here...probably because I fell off the bilingual band wagon for a bit. I thought it would be easier speaking Spanish when our new squish was born. 

I was wrong.

I forgot how hard it is to speak Spanish to an infant....to someone who doesn't respond back yet. Although my baby vocab has expanded from when I had Emma, it still is not up to par, and therefore, I struggle speaking Spanish to Charlotte and in turn struggle to continue speaking Spanish with Emma. 

I was re-motivated by a number of things this past week. 

1) People know I have been raising my babies bilingual (or at least attempting it)...so they ask about it. 
2) Lots of people speak at least a little Spanish, so when they find out that Emma knows a bit they try to talk to her in Spanish. (And then I kick myself in the butt for not doing better so she can respond more.) 
3) An awesome reader shared a link to Harry Potter audio books so I can listen to them and hopefully get more Spanish on the brain throughout the day. 
4) The other day Emma heard a cow and said, "Vaca!" (It always makes my heart happy to hear her use Spanish, unprompted.)
5) This morning said to me, "Mamá, I wanna ver Barney." (And of course since she used Spanish in the sentence, I couldn't tell her no. ;))
6) Finding Nemo is one of her two favorite movies...but she pronounces Nemo in Spanish. (I try not to let her have a ton of screen time, but when she does have it, it is always in Spanish.)
7) Without being prompted, when she counts, Emma will usually count in Spanish...though it comes out like this, "Uno, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, DIEZ!" Once in a while she will remember "dos" and "siete". 8 and 9 are not ever in there, yet.

So in light of my renewed motivation to help give my kids a head start in the bilingual department, here are a few goals to help me out:

1. Hang up posters (that I will probably end up printing or making myself) that has Spanish words. On pinterest, I have board dedicated to bilingual and spanish stuff, so I will get some ideas from there. 
2. Memorize at least 1 Spanish kids song or nursery rhyme. (I think this will help when I can't think of what to say to Charlotte... :) Plus Emma is really into singing and having me sing to her.)
3. Listen to something in Spanish everyday for at least 20 minutes. 
4. Start making a list of fall words. Only a month left of summer. If I 

Check out this awesome website! I haven't read it all the way through, yet (New baby is keeping me on my toes and I have sadly neglected my own study of Spanish as well as this blog.) But now that she is a month old and we have a bit of a routine, (ha! as routine as you can get with a toddler and newborn) I am going to start back up doing my own personal study of Spanish as well as making sure to incorporate more direct learning with Emma.

From first glance and a few clicks, it looks useful...Maybe one of you have more time and will get a better look at before I do. If so, let me know if it is as good as it looks at first glance.

Anyways, here it is!

How to Learn Spanish

I admit...I have been a little the past couple of weeks in speaking only Spanish with Emma. I keep wanting to write out all the "excuses" that I might have, but in reality...that's all they are...excuses...and none of them very good.

I loved this post that I read today about raising bilingual kids. It's all about Perseverance. This little question especially hit me over the head:

Am I really feeling bad enough right now not to nurture the long-term dream I have for my children, a dream that can only be realized if I make these efforts on a daily basis?

I feel like there are some days....(okay a lot, since my last blog post was about how hard it is to do this sometimes) that I have to continually tell myself to keep going. To speak Spanish. To keep studying and improving my own Spanish. I have to remind myself that it has now been two years!! TWO YEARS! Since I started this bilingual journey with Emma and if I let up now...if I quit...then those two years will have been for nothing.

So for anyone else out there struggling. Just remember your goal. Keep in the front of your mind what you have already done and what you want to accomplish....and keep going.
It is hard speaking speaking Spanish to Emma. There are some days...sometimes multiple days in a row when I just get so discouraged and I want to stop. I want to be done and not feel the pressure to speak to her in a language that I am still learning myself. On those days, I find myself speaking more English and then trying to compensate by letting her watch a movie in Spanish and spending extra time playing with the Spanish apps on the iPad.

Sure, I know the basics. I can conjugate. I can read. But I mess up. A lot. I find myself saying a sentence and then going back and saying it again because I know I missed a word, conjugation, or mixed up the feminine or masculine.

I'm reading Harry Potter (I've read it a million times in English, so even without knowing the exact translation of a lot of the words, I know what is going on.) But, in order to help me out, I write down words that I don't know or will look them up immediately...The problem is, some words mean different things in different countries or just in the way you use them...and that is when it gets hard being non-native. I am almost afraid to use new vocab...

So, where do I find motivation to keep going when those days come?
Here are some things I have thought of that help me...
-Read books in Spanish to her...I can read. And when I am reading, I can focus on the accent more.
-Watch videos I've taken of Emma saying words in Spanish, or just ask her flat out things that I know she will say back in Spanish
-Go back and read in my journal and on my blogs about the small successes we have had in the past.
-Read other non-native blogs
-Read books about raising children biliingual. The ones that encourage non-native speakers.

What are ways that you motivate yourself to keep going when you get discouraged?

**We had an exciting, "She's really getting it!" moment tonight. I was getting ready to take Emma to bed, so I told her, "Di 'I love you' a papá." "Say 'I love you' to Dad.'" And she said "Amo." :-) (Just in case you don't know, "te amo" is "I love you." It makes me so excited when she does stuff like that.

**Another exciting Spanish moment...I asked her, "¿Dónde está tu chaqueta?" Where is your jacket? She looked around, saw it and then pointed and said, "Ahí está." There it is. Double exciting because she is starting to put two words together, occasionally.
I found a few kids music CDs at the library and I am loving listening to them with Emma. Plus it's helping me learn more songs in Spanish to sing to Emma, so I don't have to revert to English ones.

For other non-native speakers: I have found a good way to learn, or to help you understand better is to listen to music and write down the words or translate it. Kids songs are a good place to start, since they tend to anunciate more and have simpler topics.

Side note: I am thinking of maybe teaching some of the kids (if their mom's are interested) from our playgroup Spanish. Nothing big, just the colors, animals, etc. Partly, again, to help me get Spanish into my head, but also to help show Emma that it's fun to speak Spanish and also to help me get used to speaking Spanish in front of them. Obviously, since they are 1-3 year olds it would be a short 10-15 minutes with lots of music, visuals, and maybe a game.

Anyways, on one of the CD's I borrowed there is a song about farm animals, a song about colors, a song about dancing and different body parts. So I think it would be fun to use it to teach Emma, and maybe her friends. I was thinking of printing out pictures or finding stuffed animals or figurines for each of the different topics to help. When I do it, I will make sure to take some pictures or something and let ya'll know how it goes.
It is no secret. I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I've read all the books who knows how many times. So, I want to try to cast a spell to help me....just kidding. I wish it were that easy.

By reading, what I am really hoping for is to help me start to think in Spanish more often and pick up some new vocabulary while I am at it. I would also like to listen to the book on CD, but they all seem to be pretty pricey and our library doesn't have them in Spanish. If you have any leads as to where I can find at least one of the books for cheap, that would be great!

Because I have read it so many times, I know what's going on even without knowing the exact translation of all of the words, so it is helping me learn new vocabulary. After reading for a good stretch of time, I find myself thinking more in Spanish as well, so it's working! Now I just gotta use those new words!

Something I struggle with, however, is that different words have different meanings depending on what country you are from...so I am always afraid that I might be swearing in one country when really, I am just trying to implement innocent

I have also set a goal to speak to Gavin more in Spanish. With Emma it's a lot of repetiion of the same things, and even though I think she is a brilliant 2 year old, our conversations don't go very deep. So by speaking to Gavin more often in Spanish it will also (hopefully) help me to think more in Spanish and learn or re-learn different conjugations for different words.

And just to be accountable, I feel like I am doing pretty good about speaking to Emma in Spanish at least 80% of the time, usually more. I have done much better while out in public, though I still struggle in more intimate settings, like when a smaill group of friends or family are at our home or we are at someone else's home. I need to work on that.

This week Emma seems to be picking up so much. She repeats everything and says a word for everything. Whether it is her own made up word or the right word. Both Spanish and English.
The other day I said, "Te amo, Emma." -I love you, Emma- and she responded back, "Amo." She has been doing that everytime I say it now. I love it. It absolutely melts my heart. She has been adding an 's' at the end of a lot of words now, for some reason, so sometimes it comes out, "amos." Too cute.

Other things she has learned recently:
-Me: "¿Emma, cuantos años tienes? Emma, how old are you?
-Emma: "¡Dos!" Two...okay, so she won't be two for another month, but close enough, right?

-Me: "Como te llamas?" What's your name?
-Emma: "Emma."

She is also starting to say gracias and por favor a little more clearly, although when I tell her, "di por favor," or "di gracias" she usually will say "please" instead of "por favor" and "thank-you" instead of gracias.

The songs we recorded on the iPad are a hit. She loves watching them and following along with the actions. Hopefully they will help out a bit.