Helping Kids cope with a Big Move

Humans are creatures of habit. Even when we welcome it, change takes more energy than we expect. So perhaps it’s not surprising that children often find it difficult to make transitions between activities, places and objects of attention. Even more difficult is the challenge of transitioning to a new country. A big move affects directly the behavior of our children, especially for kids who have emotional or developmental challenges.

Many children struggle with transitions, which are common triggers for behaviors that range from whining and stalling to upsetting tantrums and meltdowns. However, there are many ways parents and teachers can help kids have an easier time with transitions, but  it may take a little experimentation to find out what clicks with each particular child. Every family is different and every child is unique.

What to do before the Big Move?

When you’re planning your overseas move and there are children involved, the planning is so spectacularly complicated that it’s almost impossible to think of everything. No doubt you have lists as long as both arms, which are a constant work in progress and you’re still worrying about what you might have missed.

Provide a safe place to express their feelings

One of the easiest things to overlook, while you’re rushing around putting plans in place, is that your child has ideas and feelings of his or her own. All too often an overseas move is something that happens to a child, instead of being something that involves a child. However, letting your child have some input will make life much easier in the long run.

The world of a child is unexpectedly complex and the things they worry about are not always the things we might expect. Added to this, their understanding of time, distance and space is very limited, so the concept of moving to a new home, in another part of the world, for a defined period, can be totally alien. By being aware of this, you will be able to help them understand it all a little better. I also suggest you share your own feelings and fear with your child and role model handling emotions in a healthy way.

Helping your child stay connected with friends back home is a great way to promote emotional wellbeing. Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Create opportunities to say goodbye to people, places and activities

In reality, any child under the age of 12 won’t maintain a long-distance friendship for a prolonged period of time but feeling that they are able to do so is vital. Contact their friend’s parents and swap addresses, Skype and social media details, depending on age suitability. Promise your child that you will help them to keep in touch and keep that promise until they lose interest of their own accord. Make sure they know that they can visit their family and friends back home anytime, but allow them to take advantage of the situation and make new friends.

Don’t forget the emotional aspect of the Big Move

Whatever stage of moving abroad with your family you’re in, a big move is particularly emotional and distressing for the children. Younger kids, in particular, may feel confused by the big change. Adults tend to focus on the practicalities of the move; children are more likely to focus on the losses that moving will bring. Each family is different; some children may take the move in stride, while others may be worried about making new friends.

Children do not have the ability to put fears, anxieties or thoughts to one side. Their feelings are their driving force and can change from one minute to the next. That is why it is very important that we make time to answer their questions, talk about the move and observe the child’s behavior as close as possible.

Make time to answer any questions your kids may have about the big move. Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

Give journaling and arts and crafts a chance

Creating art can take your mind off of whatever is stressing you, at least for a few minutes. It’s difficult to keep ruminating on your problems when you’re focused on creating. If your problems stay with you, you can incorporate them into your creations. Once you’re done, you should have a clearer head with which to tackle your problems again. The same thing happens with children. Providing materials and time for them to create a piece of art, paint, or journal their feelings about the big move, can be a wonderful tool to help children regulate their emotions and get excited about their new home.

Browsing through tons of journals and workbooks to give my nephews a tool to document their big move from the States to Luxembourg, I found the amazing Me and My Big Move Workbook by Marloes Huijsmans, Dutch mom in Taipei, and Lonneke van den Elshout, Dutch mom in Seattle.
Me and My Big Move Workbook is a fun and interactive resource full of awesome activities and colorful journal pages to prepare kids (age 5-12) for their big adventure. Me and My Big Move is a workbook designed by experts all around the world to help create a positive mindset and build resilience in every stage of the relocation process; before, during, and long after settling in.

Me and My Big Move Workbook: One of my favorite tools to help children move abroad by Flor García

What do I love about Me and My Big Move?

Me and My Big Move covers every phase of the relocations process, from preparing children before they leave their current home, to exploring their new place and eventually journaling their trips and visits after they have settled in their new place. 

Emotional regulation and curiosity are encouraged by the different drawing, reading, talking and writing activities in this workbook. Children will be able to effectively regulate their emotions, create an open mind-set for new experiences and have fun making new friends.

If you are looking for a tool to help your child better handle transition due to a big move this workbook is a great choice for that!!!

Sticker, post cards and much more!!!!

Psst!!!! Marloes and I have joined our passion for helping children transition any big changes to create a mini workbook designed to promote language learning at home in a fun and engaging way!!!! Check it out!!!

(This is not a paid advertisement. My opinions are based on my personal experience with the product).


Happy abroad and everywhere! HOW TO EMBRACE CHANGE

 Today I have the pleasure to have my dear friend Talu as a guest blogger for the month of August. I met Talu earlier this year before Corona craziness and it was like I was meeting up with a lifetime friend. The connection was instantly there! She is an amazing expat Happiness Coach raising two children in Hamburg, Germany.

Make yourself a cup of tea, sit back and enjoy Talu’s insightful blog entry.

Meet Talu, certified Happiness Coach, wife, mom and expat

Hi, My name is Talu and I’m a certified Happiness Coach, I’m so excited to bring awareness on this wonderful blog to you wonderful people.

I was born and raised in London and within the last 20 years I have lived in 5 other countries, Switzerland, Indonesia, US, China and now Germany second time around. I’m a mother myself of two children, my daughter is 13 and my son is 11. I have always loved to travel and explore new places, I graduated in London with my BA Hons in Tourism Management, followed by my Masters Degree in Air
Transport Management. I started my career off in the Aviation business with my desire to discover and travel more.

During my moves I also worked in other industries; Consulting, Marketing, Real Estate, Teaching English and Relocation. All of my positions have in different ways given me the chance to live my value and passion to connect and coach people.

My coaching vision is to facilitate my clients through reflection & awareness to lead happier lives, where ever they are globally. I believe when we are aligned with purpose all aspects of our lives flow organically.

In a multi-cultural marriage raising multilingual children we focus on embracing each new day with gratitude and adventure. Talu Sehra-Eckhoff

Last month I had a Live with Flor on Instagram and talked through how to find your calm with change…

Living abroad is one of the most enriching and exciting adventures one can have. Giving one the opportunity to have new experiences, new cultures and languages. However, living overseas is not always easy, settling into an unfamiliar environment away from people you love, having to make new friends, and starting everything over – can leave one easily out of balance.

Having spent the last 20 years overseas, facing changes and not being able to plan long term, has no doubt given me way more resilience to confront change in whatever shape or size now, it’s true what they say that CHANGE is the only constant thing!

How to manoeuvre through and find that breeze and still choose to smile

Here are my top tips on how to create a happy life when change arrives!

1. Acceptance
We are creatures of habit and naturally what feels familiar is no doubt safe and comfortable, so the first step is in recognising that when we step out of the norm, there are bound to be differences. The moment we allow ourselves to acknowledge change, comes acceptance of not knowing and we switch on a mindset that is embracing rather than feeling anxious. When we think about it moving abroad isn’t the only change in our lives right, it can come in all forms, a new job, new relationship, new school, new house, transition in our mental or physical health and so on….

The aspect of acceptance is basically coming to terms with your current situation. Take for example If you are lost, even if you have a map of where you want to get to, you can’t get there unless you know where you yourself are, right?

Next time you face a transition start with embracing where you are at with my simple ABC:

A for awareness locate your position
B take a deep breathe
C Choose to embrace instead of being anxious

2. Understand your thoughts
Here’s the thing we have around 80,000 thoughts a day – about 3,500 an hour, of which around 80 % are negative, hard to believe right?

The good news is, if you can recognise a negative thought you can consciously choose to change it. Negative thinking patterns can have a strong and sometimes devastating impact on our relationships, our health, our work, our lives and more so when we face transitions.

The good news is that you can actually train your thoughts to become more positive, heres a simple practice to help you. Observe your thoughts take 10mins a day, noticing any negative pattern and the ones that are bothering you the most. With each negative thought try to reframe the situation, to consciously switch the negative with a positive scenario.

For example, a simple shift from “This is too daunting” to “I’m going to break it down and take the first step” can help us move forward and think positively.

End with scanning at least 3 positive thoughts, to keep the momentum going.

3. Truly focus on being in the present
Essentially living in the now means, focusing completely on the current task at hand, by not worrying about the future or thinking about the past.

How would you respond if I asked you the following?

Can you change the past?
Can you predict the future?

Neither right, so living in the moment is what we have. Our lives consist of a series of present moments, they are forever unfolding before our eyes! We are human BEINGS and not human happened, take note of that BEING, in English this is the present continuous form -ing. 

Here are some practices to help you be more in the moment:
Set daily intentions, when we set long term goals we often miss the opportunity of what is happening right now, as our thoughts drift to the future.

Switch it! Another fun mindful activity I share with my clients is to switch it for e.g. when eating/writing do it with your opposite hand, this surely will bring your focus to the task at hand 🙂

Take a walk in nature, notice at least 5 things around you, i.e. the birds, the flowers, sounds, colours, texture! Bringing your awareness to focus on the joy & flow in this moment.

Make it your intention to be present and should you start to wander try the ABC and bring your awareness back by CHOICE.

4. Choosing positive language
Even the words we use impacts our happiness and how we approach change and stress, positive language can literally change the way you approach life. —positive words like “can,” “love” and “compassion” strengthen areas of the brain’s frontal lobes, and promote cognitive function.

Watch out for my tips on Tuesday to enhance your happiness, I recently wrote a post about a 3 letter word we use, that limits our thinking and opportunities, can you guess it?

Yup it’s BUT, when we replace it with AND we not only allow opportunities to blossom we also start practicing making more mindful positive choices. Positive language can be a tool with a great potential for you and for those around you. Science has already proven it in numerous studies.
Notice the words you choose and how you can choose a positive alternative.

 5. Focus on the things you can control
I’m sure you can confirm that in most situations you will notice the things that we often worry about, are things that are usually out of our control. Giving yourself a re-set phrase/ button can be helpful to remember the things that are in your control. Such as your health, nutrition, exercise, entertainment, immediate environment and doing something you love, i.e. your hobbies or discovering something new that makes you feel ALIVE!

What have you discovered that you are enjoying within the last 6 months?

6. Spread smiles and your gratitude
I know it sounds simple, yet in practice it is challenging to carry our smile and gratitude all the time…
Let’s look at why its important to at least choose to carry it more often:

Smiling actually boosts our happiness, studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. Together these three neurotransmitters make us feel good from head to toe. Not only do these natural chemicals elevate your mood, but they also relax your body and reduce physical pain. Having lived in places where I couldn’t initially communicate, a simple smile would always suffice. A smile is the universal language 🙂

Smiling, laughing, random acts of kindness are all contagious have you noticed? Gratitude is also a happy emotion trigger, so why are we not doing more of this… its about practice, awareness and making it a choice.

A practice I share with my clients is to count their smiles for a day, you will be surprised what difference the results can make. Also a great way to start your day with gratitude is simply to identify three things that you feel blessed for. Often families, including my own, we talk in the
evenings about our day and share what challenges arose and what we are proud of as well as the things we appreciate. When we name them the following morning we allow to embrace a new day with appreciation & calm.

It’s the simple adjustments that can influence our happiness & well being for ourselves and others.

7. Celebrate each day
Celebrate every day, aim to make it count! Of course, you will not enjoy every day of your life, having the tools to reset when things are challenging is what matters and making the choice to have as many good days.

Collect all the beautiful moments and create a scrapbook/photo album or journal for yourself. You can always browse the pages when you feel low and remind yourself of the nice memories. Remember the grass is greener where you water it! Where ever you are remember our planet truly is an incredibly beautiful and magical place to live. There is beauty all around— It’s blissful, pure magic.

When I feel low on energy or simply homesick the first thing I do is get outside and spend time in nature. By the water, at a lake, or canal or the beach, watching the sunset, sitting beneath the moon, or just getting lost in the stars. Knowing that if I was somewhere else I would still look out to our planet and feel the same vibes.

It really puts things into perspective and helps me remember I am part of something so much bigger. Our Earth is here for us, and I’ve developed a deep connection to our beautiful planet, which helps guide me through the challenging changes in my life. I truly feel like a citizen of our globe.

Life is constantly changing, take a moment and reflect how you can create new happier intentions. We are all moving into a new normal and by doing this with sound choices can contribute to our well being and happiness for the long term.

If there’s anything I’ve learned through the experience of moving abroad, is that it gets easier. Embrace the journey & the experiences, you’ll create a life you love.

I hope I have inspired & triggered new ways how you can be happy with your life abroad. Should you need further support to explore how you can apply these practices into your lives, I would love to hear from you…
Thank you for stopping by 🙂

Happiest regards
Happiness Coach
Website https://www.happy-matters.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/happymatterscoaching

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/happymatterscoaching/


Mamá Bilingüe Aprendiendo: Reflexiones de una Mamá Latina en Estados Unidos

Continuamos el mes de julio con otra invitada de honor. Esta vez les presento a Natali Rivero, madre venezolana viviendo en Estados Unidos y criando a tres niños bilingües. Natali, nos abre las puertas de su hogar y comparte con nosotros sus miedos, intereses y herramientas para hacer de la crianza bilingüe una aventura inolvidable para toda la familia.

Mi nombre es Flor Bretón-García y soy la cara detrás de Little Nómadas. ¡Acompáñame!

Hola, me llamo Natali y comparto con ustedes mi historia…

¿Si le hablo a mi hijo en español será suficiente para que lo aprenda? ¿Le enseño a leer en español? ¿Tengo que seguir el mismo ritmo de su escuela? ¿Se retrasará en su escuela si le enseño nuevas cosas en español? ¿Busco una maestra de español? ¿Dónde consigo información? ¿Le pregunto al doctor? Estas fueron algunas de las preguntas que me hice cuando nos mudamos a los Estados Unidos con mi hijo de un año que apenas comenzaba a caminar.

Mi nombre es Natali Rivero, venezolana viendo en Massachusetts desde hace 8 años y soy mamá de tres varones uno de 9 años y gemelos de 5 años. Aprendí a hablar inglés por mi trabajo, solo tenía alguna base de la universidad, pero realmente comencé a hablar inglés a mis 30 casi por obligación. Luego me mudé a USA y entenderán que mi lenguaje técnico no me ayudaba mucho en el día a día para hablar con maestras, doctores e incluso entender a mi propio hijo, pero con el tiempo fue mejorando. Mi esposo es también venezolano con una historia similar, aunque él siempre fue mejor que yo con el inglés. Les cuento esto para que sepan cuál es mi perspectiva y que yo realmente no crecí siendo bilingüe. Así que estaba un poco perdida en este ámbito.

Natali Rivero, madre venezolana de tres chicos bilingües

Lo que sí sabía es que conocía familias donde los padres hablaban perfecto español, pero sus hijos no. Así que asumía que no debía ser tan fácil como a veces parece. Así que busque y busque información en internet, busque cuentas en Instagram, estudios, etc. Luego de ocho años en este camino aquí les dejo las cuatro (4) principales cosas que he aprendido:
(Si deseas leer más consejos para aprender un idioma extranjero puedes revisar aquí)

No existe fórmula mágica

Así es no existe fórmula mágica, la experiencia e historia de cada familia es diferente, incluso cada niño de la familia es diferente, son muchos los factores que intervienen. Lo que sí existe son mamás alrededor del mundo que se las ingenian para criar a sus hijos bilingües y lo mejor es que muchas están dispuestas a ayudar y compartir su experiencia.

Es importante entender que lo que funciona en algunos casos no funciona en otros, pero las experiencias de otros son excelente fuente de inspiración para conseguir ideas que puedan aplicar en tu familia. Yo sigo un montón de mamas bilingües, escucho podcast sobre el tema y me mantengo al día, para así todos los días intentar nuevas formas de enriquecer el español a mis hijos.

Define metas claras de lenguaje

Hay familias que solo quieren que sus hijos sean capaces de comunicarse, y no necesariamente leer o escribir. Hay muchos niveles de bilingüismo, y los niños quizás puedan pasar por diferentes niveles a lo largo de su vida. Lo importante es que definan cuál es la meta y comuniquen claramente a los niños las expectativas y el razonamiento detrás de eso.

En mi casa los niños saben que las actividades en familia y aprender español es prioridad número uno por sobre todas las cosas. Por ejemplo, mi hijo mayor estuvo un tiempo en clases de Guitarra, y ya luego se aburrió y no quiso seguir, y sin ningún problema lo sacamos de Guitarra, pero, las clases de español no se negocian. Nosotros queremos que puedan hablarlo, leer y escribir, que se sientan cómodos utilizando el español en diferentes contextos: laboral o familiar, y en eso seguimos trabajando.

Noah, Thomas y Ethan, hijos de Natali

La Importancia de jugar y leer

El trabajo de los niños es jugar, yo creo que ellos no deberían hacer otra cosa que jugar, y aprender jugando. Ahora bien, no es que ellos jueguen solos o entre sí, también es importante que papá y mamá sean parte del juego, hay que jugar carritos, super héroes rompecabezas, video juegos, juegos de mesa, etc. A ellos les encantan, mis hijos a veces lloran si no jugamos, y realmente para nosotros de forma natural lo hacemos en español. Es una forma de conectar con los niños en lo que a ellos realmente les interesa.

Otra de las cosas que no debe faltar es leer juntos, incluso si los niños ya saben leer, disfrutar de la lectura juntos es la clave. Los libros nos dan la oportunidad de escuchar nuevas palabras que no usamos en el día a día. Yo intento siempre leer en español, pero ellos también tienen sus libros favoritos en inglés, así que a veces toca y está bien.

Lo importante es disfrutarlo, a mí me encantan comenzar por libros super divertidos donde todos se puedan reír, como: “El Libro sin dibujos” de B.J.Novak o “La Oruga Impaciente” de Ross Burach, o “Estamos en un Libro” de Mo Willems. Después que todos disfrutan la lectura, seguir con cualquiera sea el interés de los niños: Dinosaurios, Peces, Princesas, Super Héroes, etc.

Natali jugando con sus hijos en español

Consigue tanta ayuda como puedas

Cuando comencé este trayecto, yo me sentía super poderosa, me decía: mi esposo y yo hablamos perfecto español realmente no necesitamos ayuda, nosotros podemos. Pues no fue tan fácil, los dos trabajamos tiempo completo, y los niños pasan más tiempo en la escuela que con nosotros. Yo en algún momento hablé el tema con la maestra de 2do grado de mi hijo mayor y me dijo que estaba muy pequeño para tomar clases de otro lenguaje, pregunté al doctor y me dijo solo sigue hablando en español.

Con el tiempo aprendí que nadie va a dar la importancia al tema como uno quisiera, y hay que aprovechar tantas oportunidades como puedas para practicar el idioma, clases de español presenciales u online, amigos que hablen español, video conferencias con la familia, viajes tanto como sea posible, cualquier cosa que les ayude a acercarse a la meta son válidas. Mis hijos más chiquitos, por ejemplo, comenzaron con clases de español desde que estaban en Preescolar. En una oportunidad viajé sola con Thomas por solo 4 días a Colombia a visitar a la familia. Y puedo notar la diferencia después de cada experiencia.

Los libros han sido herramienta fundamental para Natali y su familia

Ya tengo respuestas a algunas de mis preguntas iniciales, pero no de todas y a medida que pasa el tiempo surgen algunas nuevas, así como en cualquier tema de la crianza todo va cambiando cuando los niños van creciendo. Hay que entender que esto es un maratón que dura toda la vida, y que cada cosa que hagas te ayudará a acercarte más a la meta, solo hay que tratar de ir mejorando cada día.

En este momento mis tres niños entienden el español perfectamente, el mayor es más consciente del lenguaje y habla español solo cuando tiene, también lo escribe y lee libros sencillos. Los dos más chiquitos aún mezclan los idiomas cuando hablan, Ethan ya lee y escribe palabras sencillas en inglés y español. Noah no tiene mucho interés en leer o escribir en ningún idioma. Y todo eso está bien, yo seguiré ahí para incentivarlos cuando ellos estén listos para más.

Instagram: @natalirivero
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nataliriveroweb
Website: http://www.natalirivero.com


Venezuelan Mom Against Racism

For those who already know me or have seen me on social medial it is clear that I am not white. However, being born with notorious European features in a country like Venezuela gave me the “privilege” of being considered “la catira“, term used to refer to blonde women. The color of my skin, my hair, and my facial features allowed me to have a privilege that I acquired just because my look conformed to the white beauty ideal.

The Ugly Truth: Venezuela’s rarely recognized Racism

Over the last ten years, hardly a day has gone by without news coverage of Venezuela’s political, social, and economical crisis. Most of 3 million Venezuelans had fled the country due to political persecution, poverty, and social unrest. Millions of Venezuelans looking for opportunities to have a better quality of life abroad.

Before Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998, Venezuela attracted little international attention. It was a Caribbean country frequently seen as exceptionally stable by Latin American standards, and was best known for its beauty queens, award winning beaches, and its huge reserves of oil. Little was shown, known or even acknowledged of Venezuela’s long history of racism that defined the life, career, and status of many Venezuelans in our country.

Let’s start with our beauty queens, for example. While a majority of Venezuelans identify themselves as black, indigenous or mestizo (mixed-race), the country’s beauty queens have invariably conformed to white beauty ideals. The organizers of the country’s most important beauty pageant have stated that black women are not pretty because their noses are “too wide” and their lips “too thick”. Afro hair is commonly referred to as pelo malo or “bad hair”.

This belief in the natural superiority of Europeans was also evident in the economically crucial, foreign-owned oil sector. Professionals and middle managers were white Venezuelans, but labourers were recruited from black and mixed-race sectors. By the time oil was nationalized in 1976, Venezuelan middle class habitants had come to identify with and adopt US-style culture and consumer patterns. For these Venezuelans, traveling to the United States and Europe symbolized civilization, while the black and mixed-race masses represented the inferior past of colonial times.

“While a majority of Venezuelans identify themselves as black, indigenous or mestizo (mixed-race), our country’s beauty queens have invariably conformed to white beauty ideals…”

Flor Bretón-García

My family didn’t escape this reality. I was told by many family members that luckily I would marry a white man to “improve” the race and I also learned from a very young age that neighborhoods where people with darker skin color lived were less safe than white neighborhoods, being this the case both in Venezuela and in the United States, country where I spent many summers of my young life.

I was, many times, part of the racist jokes and comments, too. I also thought that beauty conformed to European standards was the real beauty, and I also felt superior because of the social status my light skin color granted me. Racism was part of every day tales, news, political campaigns, and social gatherings. However, we always thought it was okay to be like that… to say all those highly racist comments because los negros venezolanos no se ofendían (Venezuelan blacks didn’t get offended by racist jokes).

Motherhood, living abroad and change

I came to realize how wrong all these openly unrecognized jokes and traditions were, when I moved to the United States in 2002. I learned about the constant struggle of African Americans and Latinos to access the health care system, education and job market due to race issues. All of the sudden I was slapped with the reality of being part of the unprivileged group. Even though I married an American born, we were both Latinos who came to the States to find a better future and who spoke the English language with a strong accent.

No, I don’t feel I was discriminated during that time, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t see the mayor racial gap in educational attainment between the white, brown, and black population in the USA. I was appalled and also decided to raise my three children with the tools and knowledge to be part of the change our world needs. Racism is systemic and it has always been there. It is my constant duty to remind my kids and myself that we need to create a more equitable society for everyone.

What to do as mothers and caregivers

First of all, it is imperative to start the race conversation early in life. In my opinion, we need to get ahead of what our kids will learn in school and start talking about racial differences and racism from toddler years. If your children are older and you haven’t had this conversation with them yet, please do it now!

My husband and I have wanted to ensure that both our cultures are always represented for our children in music, books and social issues. We also added the culture of Germany, country where we currently live. We know our kiddos are still brown who will be treated as such many times in their lives, but we are raising them as a citizens of the world and agents of change.

Second, you need to be brave. There is no one right way to talk to children about race. Mistakes are bound to be made, and kids’ racial thinking does not begin or end with a single conversation. We, as mothers and caregivers, should never stop talking about race, or educating ourselves. Remember, there will be moments when the conversation will turn out to be a disaster, but it is okay. We will be learning with our children to actively acknowledge and reject a systemic issue that many ignore.

Third, ask your kids if they’ve seen racist language in YouTube videos or comments. Help them understand how following or sharing racist accounts helps spread hate. Be brave, again. Embrace yourself and ask you child if they think you have ever made a racist remark or comment. Prepare for their answer. This would be an eye-opening experience for you, too. Now that my children aren’t so “little” anymore, I get called out when I let my biases, consciously or unconsciously, take the best of me.

Fourth, depending on the age of your children, use social media, movies, books and TV shows to help spark discussion about racial violence. Even video games can be an ice-breaker for parents to start a conversation with their children about stereotypes, biases, and racist remarks.

Resources List to Talk about Racism

Moreover, be willing to watch hard stuff with your older kids. You need to expose them to the cruel realities of racism throughout history and through the current day. Carefully select the films and documentaries. I suggest something along the lines of:

  1. The 13th,
  2. McFarland USA
  3. American History X (16 years old and up)
  4. The Butler
  5. Hidden Figures (also good to promote healthy feminism)
  6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (animated for the whole family)
  7. I am Not Your Negro (documentary)
  8. Pocahontas (animated for the whole family)
  9. Schindler’s List
  10. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

For toddlers and preschool age children, books and magazines are the best way into the conversation about racism. Here is a list of my favorite ones:

  1. A Baobab is Big, by Jacqui Taylor
  2. Young Water Protectors, by Aslan and Kelly Tudor
  3. All The Colors We Are, by Katie Kissinger
  4. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison
  5. Let’s Talk About Race, by Julius Lester
  6. The Legend of the Colombian Mermaid, by Janet Balleta
  7. Separate is Never Equal, by Sylvia Mendez
  8. Something Happened in Our Town, by Marietta Collins
  9. Saturday, by Oge Mora (Ages 3-5)
  10. Hair Love, by Matthew A. Cherry (Ages 3-5)

Final thoughts

Wherever you live, whatever your language, please do speak with your kids about racism, systemic racial gap, and the equitable world that we all need to start building now! If you don’t know where to start, take the first step and inform yourself. Reflect on your own biases. Think about the cultural identity aspects of your own upbringing, what remarks made by your parents and grandparents were racist and promoted a discriminating attitude towards minorities and under privileged groups.

Special note for Latino parents: don’t forget to stand against racist jokes told by relatives and friends of the family. We come from countries where classism and racism were ALWAYS present but RARELY acknowledged. Do not laugh at racist jokes and don’t allow yourself to stay quiet in front of racist actions coming from a family member. Your children learn by example. YOUR EXAMPLE. So stop tolerating your great-grandma’s racist comments and speak up.

If you need support, a friendly voice, or Spanish lessons, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m just a click away.


5 Formas Efectivas de Aprender un Idioma Extranjero

Normalmente escribo en inglés. Hoy sentí la necesidad de conectar con mi gente de habla hispana. Quiero compartir un poco mi experiencia con el aprendizaje de dos idiomas extranjeros y las herramientas que sí me han ayudado a alcanzar esa fluidez comunicativa que tanto he anhelado en una lengua que no es la materna.

Desde hace seis años resido en Alemania, y junto a mi esposo y mis tres hijos, vivo una experiencia llena de retos y satisfacciones. Debo confesarles que el mayor obstáculo ha sido el idioma. Aunque ya lo hablo a un nivel funcional, son muchos los detalles y destrezas que tengo que pulir para alcanzar ese nivel de dominio del idioma que tanto deseo.

Es cierto, ya puedo dar charlas an alemán, he superado dos entrevistas de empleo, y hasta tengo un grupo de red social con puras amigas alemanas. No puedo quejarme. Sin embargo, he tenido que verme de cara a la pandemia del COVID-19, para darme cuenta que el camino de aprendizaje es todavía muy largo y engorroso. Hay mucho vocabulario de prensa y noticieros que desconozco, cuando me siento nerviosa me resulta más difícil comprender el contexto y así… detalles que deben ser resueltos.

Reconozco que es un reto que puedo superar con las herramientas que ya he utilizado para vencer dificultades relacionadas con otros idiomas extranjeros. Por ello, quiero con honestidad compartir con ustedes lo que realmente me ha servido a mí para aprender inglés y alemán. ¡Acompáñenme!

Sácate de la cabeza la frase “es que es muy difícil”

Conozco cantidad de gente que repite constantemente esa frase nefasta que de una vez acondiciona el cerebro para enfrentarse al reto de aprender un idioma nuevo con el peso insoportable de la duda auto impuesta. Cuando me repito a mí misma, “ese idioma es un tormento”, “jamás aprenderé a comunicarme así” estoy partiendo de la premisa de que mis logros y mi capacidad de adquirir un conocimiento nuevo no son suficientes para la tarea en cuestión.

Me encanta pensar que las palabras forman historias, esos relatos que nos contamos a nosotros mismos y que definen nuestra forma de actuar y reaccionar. Se dice que no hay palabras inocentes y que no deberíamos ser inocentes al escogerlas. Creo firmemente en que me convierto en el relato que me cuento a mí misma, por eso, siempre trato de narrarme una historia de aventura y triunfo cuando pienso en el aprendizaje de un idioma.

En mis historias aprendiendo un idioma extranjero, yo soy una guerrera vestida con una armadura de hierro que va por el mundo venciendo las batallas contra vocabulario complicado y gramática ingrata.


Estructura tu aprendizaje

Necesito que seamos muy honestos en este punto. Sé que muchos tienen la disciplina para auto-enseñarse y aprender en su propio tiempo las peripecias de una lengua extranjera. Sin embargo, la gran mayoría de los seres humanos requiere de la motivación y estructura que un curso de idiomas formal aporta al proceso de adquisición de un idioma.

Asistir a un curso de idiomas representa un compromiso de dinero, tiempo y fuerza de voluntad que consolida tu actitud para abordar de mejor forma el aprendizaje efectivo de las estructuras gramaticales y comunicativas de un idioma extranjero. Esa disciplina requerida para cumplir con el horario, los deberes y dar la cara por uno mismo son ingredientes principales para hablar otro idioma.

Escoge el curso que más le convenga a tu horario, tu bolsillo y tus necesidades es fundamental. Déjate de excusas y empieza tu aventura inscribiéndote en un programa que te ayude a desarrollar de forma efectiva tus destrezas de lenguaje. En el mercado hay muchísimas opciones que se ajustan a diversos horarios y presupuesto. Recuerda, no tienes que transitar el camino del aprendizaje solo. Un profesor de idiomas es tu mejor aliado.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Déjate de excusas y empieza tu aventura inscribiéndote en un programa que te ayude a desarrollar de forma efectiva tus destrezas de lenguaje


Intégrate en la comunidad local

Sí, a lo mejor les suena a disco rayado y repetido, pero no hay mejor forma de estar motivados a aprender el idioma local que NECESITARLO. La necesidad es tremenda consejera, nos ayuda a abrir los ojos ante la realidad y nos da un empujón para que actuemos.

Cuando te veas en la necesidad de buscar empleo, hablar con los demás en el curso de cocina, ballet y afines, la motivación para aprender el idioma será mayor. Ese sentido imperante de comunicar tus opiniones, de sentir que perteneces a la comunidad es el mejor aliciente para dedicarle tu tiempo, habilidad y recursos económicos a tu proceso de adquisición de la lengua meta. El voluntariado me ha ayudado tremendamente tanto en el aprendizaje del inglés como del alemán.

Ahora bien, es importante reconocer que exponernos a situaciones en las cuales muchas veces no podremos comunicarnos ni entender lo que nos dicen no es fácil. Requiere valentía y tremenda auto-estima. Es por eso que aconsejo cultivar el auto-cuidado y el manejo de emociones paralelamente al proceso de transición.

Alimenta tu Inteligencia Cultural

Es muy fácil sentir vergüenza y hasta discriminación cuando alguien se ríe de nuestra forma de hablar el idioma local o cuando nuestro acento marcado hace de la comunicación un proceso dificultoso. Sin embargo, es necesario que recordemos que en la mayoría de los casos, las miradas y risas no son una demostración de odio o burla, sino una reacción a algo diferente y desconocido.

Cuando elegimos mirar hacia “adentro” y conectar con nuestras propias tradiciones abrimos espacio para aceptar prácticas culturales diferentes. Entendemos que cada persona responde a la diversidad de forma única y basada en la cultura o culturas en las cuales fue criada. Otra forma de nutrir nuestra inteligencia cultural es leer o tomar una clase de competencia intercultural, donde es posible adquirir herramientas útiles para llevar una vida en el extranjero exitosa.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Conecta con tu niño interno

Normalmente mudarnos al extranjero, aprender otro idioma y enfrentar los retos de la comunicación intercultural nos hace sentir como niños pequeños aprendiendo a caminar, balbuceando y tropezándonos por doquier. De alguna forma he sentido que retrocedo.

Nuestra primera reacción es pelear esa sensación de inutilidad. Sentimos que es injusto pasar por la difícil situación de tener que hablar en un idioma que no es el nuestro, en un lugar desconocido rodeados de personas que no nos entienden ni buscan actuar de la forma en la cual nosotros actuaríamos. Recuerdo mis días de berrinches prolongados de mis primeros meses en Estados Unidos y años después en Alemania.

Normalmente mudarnos al extranjero, aprender otro idioma y enfrentar los retos de la comunicación intercultural nos hace sentir como niños pequeños


A pesar de esa necesidad de protegernos, es importante reconocer y validar lo que sentimos para luego actuar conforme a esas emociones. Abraza ese niño interior que busca abrigo y que está asustado. Busca formas de consolarlo. Encuentra herramientas que ayuden a tu niño interior a desarrollar esas destrezas que necesita para enfrentarse al mundo exterior. Practica el idioma, repite ese vocabulario a diario, inhala las estructuras gramaticales hasta que las exhales por los poros.

Para concluir solo me queda desearles una aventura satisfactoria en esta travesía de aprender un idioma extranjero. Les prometo que encontrarán las herramientas efectivas para su propio aprendizaje. Mi historia es solo para inspirar, no para copiar. Tu camino, tus destrezas, tus emociones SON únicas y te pertenecen. Saca motivación de donde sea y déjate de excusas.

¡Anímate a aprender otro idioma ya!

Abrazos, Flor


6 Reasons Why Your Family Needs an Online Language Teacher Now

The number of people using the internet has surged over the past three years, with more than one million new users every day. That’s equivalent to 59% of the global population actively connected to the world wide web. What it is even more impressive is that youth ages 15-24 is the most connected group.

Children and adolescents under 18 account for an estimated one in three internet users around the world. Let’s be honest, that represents 71% of the youth of this planet connected to the internet, accessing information at increasingly younger ages.

As the influence of digital technology has increased, the debate about its impact has grown louder. On one hand, many consider being connected to the internet as a boon to humankind, offering unlimited opportunity for communication and commerce, learning, and free expression. On the other hand, there are many people who think of the internet as a threat to our way
of life, undermining social interaction, political order, and threatening our well-being.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This has become an interesting but essentially complicated debate. Because for better and for worse, digital technology is a fact of our lives. Irreversibly. Always present and undeniable.

The relevance of seeing the glass half full

Digital technology has already changed the world, and as more and more children go online around the world, it is increasingly changing childhood as well. And that’s fine as long as we, parents and educators, are prepared to go along for the ride.

We don’t do anything by denying the reality that we face at home and schools around the world. We need to protect our children from the worst digital technology has to offer while still expanding their access to the best resources and information, so we can tip the balance for the better. Let’s not forget that our voices matter ever more in a digital world. A world we are not only inheriting, but helping to shape.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

How to benefit from the “Light side” of Technology

If leveraged in the right way and made universally accessible, digital technology can be a game changer for children being left behind. Whether because of poverty, race, ethnicity, gender, disability, displacement or geographic isolation, our responsibility to connect them to a world of opportunity and to provide them with the skills they need to succeed in a digital world is more than ever imperative.

As children grow, the capacity of digitalization to shape their life experiences grows with them, offering seemingly limitless opportunities to learn and to socialize, to be counted and to be heard. Actually, I became a advocate for technology accesible to children when my own kiddos were born. We lead a high mobile lifestyle that requires extra effort to stay connected to all those relatives and friends we often leave behind. Technology has been the answer to that challenge. Thanks to the internet, our laptop and mobile phones, our children identify themselves better with their grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins around the world.

Furthermore, when I think of my children and students and the impact of technology in their lives, I cannot help but admire the opportunity that being connected to the internet offers regarding language learning. Harnessing the power of digital technologies needs to be done by parents and educators to improve student language learning outcomes and to help children develop the skills they need to acquire a foreign language or to nurture the mother tongue when living abroad.

The Role of the Online Language Teacher at Home

A while ago I met online with a colleague to compare our lesson plans. She teaches Spanish online just like me. Together we were brainstorming ideas to improve language learning through games and crafts in ages 5 to 8. We also exchanged anecdotes about our students and their families.

All of the sudden it hit me.

I realized that we have become part of those families. That we implicitly shape, with every lesson, the behavior of those children connected to the internet. We are there for them when mom and dad work long hours. Somehow we harness and manage the power of technology in favor of our students and their learning process.

Educators should make time for children to better understand and therefore make better use of technology, to fuel the advantages of online language learning and cultural training.”


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Online courses are increasing in popularity and attendance among students around the world, and foreign language e-learning courses are one of the many classes college students are enrolling in. While you may find this surprising, due to advances in technology and new learning techniques, I think that e-learning provides a great way to ensure that you and your kiddos can become multilingual as well.

6 Reasons Why Your Family Needs an Online Language Teacher Now

Because they run on different platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime among others, your family can access online foreign language lessons at any time during the day. Just schedule a session with your online teacher (paying close attention to your Time Zone) and get ready to improve your language skills in no time.

This means that you can brush up on your Spanish during your lunch break, learn French before your morning jog, or practice German late at night without the constraints of a rigorous schedule. Online courses also offer on-the-go mobile solutions, enabling you and your kids to complete coursework from anywhere, as your individual schedules permit, without having to travel.


One of my students has a little down time when he get’s to work in the morning, so at 7:00 am we connect for an hour and a half for an online business Spanish class. He has the same book as I do, and we practice until his daily meetings begin. I even have students in Hawai, Sidney and Munich. We coordinate the times for the lessons, since they are in different time zones.

I am currently teaching 8 years old twin sisters who live in Michigan. They enjoyed our weekly online lessons so much that they asked their mother to add an extra session per week so we could continue playing Guess Who? in Spanish online!! Sweet, isn’t it? They are being homeschooled, so learning Spanish is both convenient and aligned with their educational goals.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


I am pretty sure you already noticed the many challenges that being a mom and a dad implies. It is even more difficult now that our children are exposed to tons of information that most of the time we are unable to filter.

Hiring an online teacher goes beyond paying a tutor to teach your child a language. You will be getting an online support who will introduce your child to the many verifiable resources in the internet, harness the unlimited power of being connected and will empower your son or daughter with tools to benefit from the Light Side of technology.


Few people pick up new foreign language lessons on the first attempt; thus, lessons that are truly tailored to your family’s needs will help students truly master another language. That is why I find that creating a Spanish curriculum for children around the world is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done. The results? Online lessons that really engage students throughout the learning process, allowing children to learn at their own pace, while providing a comfortable and safe environment, as well as a solid and comprehensive education.


An empathic teacher listens attentively to pupils and does all s/he can to get behind the words they are using and sense their emotional state and needs. This is the same whether it be a tired child, a busy spouse or a easily distracted teenager.

Online Language educators have the chance to meaningfully connect with their students, because both, teacher and learner, must rely in their voices and sense of hearing to experience the learning process. It is similar to removing our masks and postures so we can actually feel what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes.

All these years teaching Spanish and Culture online has given me access to experiences that can only drive my students language skills further as they struggle to find just the right words, the tones and the posture to express the subtleties required. To see them master the Spanish language and feel confident while doing it is my most appreciated reward.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Cultural Diversity

The current language policies indicate that linguistic competence must be accompanied by cultural awareness and so it follows that the foreign language teacher’s mission is to pass on the knowledge of communicating beyond words, through a language of understanding and tolerance, of appreciation for the other’s values, customs and beliefs and an awareness of the different cultures among and around us.

Did I convince you yet of finding an awesome online language trainer? Did you already feel the need to delegate some of your child’s educational needs to a trustworthy teacher who can be easily accesible to you and your kids? Please remember that to take advantage of technology is a must when raising a globally minded family.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com


¿Cómo es tu relación con los idiomas?

¿Has pensado alguna vez cómo te gustaría que fuera?

¿Has probado diferentes formas de hacerlo? o ¿lo has dejado un poco a la improvisación?

Yo he de reconocer que aprender alemán ha sido todo un reto para mí. Un reto que asumo con entereza y entusiasmo directamente proporcionales a la tarea faraónica que representa dominar una lengua tan distinta a la mía. Sin embargo, siempre agradecí que ya traía algo de experiencia en esto del aprendizaje de idiomas extranjeros debido a mi encuentro cercano con el inglés y su gramática hace más de veinte años.

Mi nombre es Flor, soy la cara detrás del proyecto Little Nómadas, madre, enamorada de los idiomas y profesora de español en línea. Photo credits Eduardo García.

Me gusta compartir mi historia porque el aprender estos idiomas me ha permitido estar del otro lado del proceso. Soy profesora de español y haber sido estudiante de una lengua extranjera crea una conexión especial con mis alumnos que de otra forma no podría tener. Siento que entiendo un poco mejor sus miedos, necesidades y la motivación que los impulsa a alcanzar sus metas.

Creo que toda experiencia con los idiomas es merecedora de ser contada…

Por eso en el mes de julio he creado un espacio para que estudiantes, profesores y apasionados del lenguaje nos inspiren con sus historias de lucha y perseverancia. No podemos olvidar que como dijo Carlomagno “saber otro idioma es como poseer una segunda alma.” Así que no te puedes rendir, la motivación está dentro de ti y juntos le daremos una sacudida.

Hoy he querido invitar a Arantza a mi blog para que comparta contigo su experiencia de estudiante de cuatro idiomas: euskera, francés, inglés e italiano. Si eres de los que piensa que aprender un nuevo idioma es una oportunidad no te puedes perder su historia. ¡Te dejo con ella!

Arantza Ariño, nuestra invitada de honor en este mes de los idiomas en Little Nómadas. Photo credits Arantza Ariño

Hoy quiero hablarte del aprendizaje de un idioma extranjero y compartir mi experiencia aprendiendo cuatro idiomas en diferentes etapas de mi vida. ¿Me acompañas? Quiero que sepas, que, si te quedas conmigo hasta el final, vas a ver cuáles son los obstáculos que yo me he encontrado por el camino a la hora de aprender un idioma extranjero, los errores que he repetido una y otra vez pero que con el tiempo he ido solucionando. Y además, te voy a dar algunas herramientas para que puedas avanzar mucho mejor en el aprendizaje de un idioma extranjero.

Para mí el aprendizaje de un idioma extranjero es como subirme en una montaña rusa. Es una aventura llena de altos y de bajos, de momentos tristes y felices, fáciles y difíciles, pero siempre con un final feliz. Con mi historia me gustaría que vieras que no hay nada que no puedas conseguir en esta vida y que solo tú puedes crear tu éxito empezando a construir tu propia casa por los pilares.

Hablar otros idiomas me ha dado la oportunidad de abrir mi mente, de salir de mi zona de confort, de crecer mucho, de adaptarme a nuevas culturas y de ser feliz.

Arantza Ariño

Mis padres siempre han luchado por la educación de sus hijos. Siempre me decían: lo que aprendas es para ti y eso nadie te lo puede quitar. Ahora lo veo como el mejor regalo que he tenido en esta vida. Es algo que intento transmitir hoy a mis hijos. Me encanta aprender y nunca dejaré de hacerlo.

La soñada París, epítome del sueño francés… Photo credits Unsplash

Desde hace más de veinte años vivo en Francia. Vine para estudiar francés y por amor me quedé. Somos una familia bilingüe. Mi marido es francés, yo soy española y tenemos dos hijos bilingües nacidos en Francia. En casa el español y el francés son el pan de cada día. Lucho para que mis hijos puedan poder hablar con mis padres, hermanos y primos que viven en España y no hablan francés. Me parece algo muy bonito.

Soy una persona luchadora y sé que nada en esta vida es un camino de rosas, que nadie ha nacido aprendido y que nadie te regala nada. Hablo perfectamente francés, me siento una francesa más, pero está claro que el francés nunca será mi lengua materna. Hablar otros idiomas me ha dado la oportunidad de abrir mi mente, de salir de mi zona de confort, de crecer mucho, de adaptarme a nuevas culturas y de ser feliz.

He probado un poco de todo: los campamentos de verano para aprender euskera, los intercambios con chicas francesas desde los 16 años, las clases presenciales y en línea de francés, italiano e inglés. He sido estudiante Erasmus en Italia, chica au pair en París, estudiante de turismo en una universidad francesa y ejecutiva en empresas internacionales en Francia. Después de haber aprendido varios idiomas, de estudiar, vivir y trabajar en países diferentes solo puedo sentirme realizada.

Tanto si tu aprendizaje de un idioma extranjero es presencial como si es en línea, espero que estos sencillos consejos que a mí me han ayudado muchísimo te ayuden a disfrutar del proceso tanto como a mí y sobre todo a enamorarte para toda la vida de ese idioma extranjero que tanto quieres aprender. Además, verás como todo te resultará más divertido y fácil.

Aprender es un reto que te trae beneficios de por vida. Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com


1.- CONFÍA EN TI Y QUIÉRETE MUCHO Parece una tontería, pero nunca te repitas una y otra vez que no eres bueno para los idiomas. Todos tenemos nuestra oportunidad y no tenemos que perder la esperanza y la fe en nosotros mismos.

Yo, por ejemplo, tuve una mala experiencia con una familia en la que estuve de au pair al llegar a Francia. Lo pasé verdaderamente mal, pero decidí ver las cosas de forma objetiva gracias al cariño de mis amigos y de mi familia y busqué una nueva familia para poder cumplir mi objetivo que era sacarme los títulos oficiales de francés en la Alianza Francesa de París.

Cuando me dijeron que me había tocado Italia para irme de Erasmus me derrumbé un poco porque nunca había estudiado italiano, pero pude con ello y me apunté a un cursillo intensivo de un mes antes de empezar el curso. Olvídate de que aprender un idioma extranjero es difícil. Ten en cuenta que el lenguaje es algo que necesita ser procesado y no memorizado.

Intenta hablar para practicar: escuchar, entender y responder de forma oral. Aprovecha para pensar en el idioma que estudies. En mi época era difícil tener acceso a todos los recursos que tenemos ahora gracias a las nuevas tecnologías. Me conformaba con ir a la biblioteca y escuchar audios para trabajar la fonética o leer libros. Te aseguro que ganarás esa confianza que te falta. Conseguir lo que deseas, y sobre todo ser feliz con tu aprendizaje. Todo será más fácil y no te angustiarás tanto con realidades que no existen.

Gracias a la tecnología tenemos recursos disponibles en todo momento. Photo Credits Unsplash Yusuf Evil.

2.- CONÓCETE PARA APRENDER MEJOR Y DISFRUTAR DEL APRENDIZAJE Me parece una de las cosas más importantes para aprender. Elige la modalidad de clases que más te convenga: clases presenciales o en línea, individuales o en grupo. Solo tú sabes lo que te conviene y te gusta para motivarte. Yo he probado todas las modalidades.

En mi época de estudiante no teníamos acceso a la tecnología como ahora. Tampoco me podía permitir un profesor particular así que siempre estudié de forma presencial con clases grupales. Ya más mayor continué con el italiano y el inglés en línea y de forma particular y me encantó.

Aprende cuando mejor aprendas. Yo soy más de mañana y de aprender en línea a mi ritmo y cuando puedo o quiero. Aprende con quién quieras. A mí me gusta compaginar las dos cosas.

3.- SAL DE TU ZONA DE CONFORT Sé atrevido y no tengas miedo. Lánzate a hablar sin miedo. La única forma de practicar es hablar. Nadie te va a juzgar. Te sorprenderá ver lo contenta que está la gente cuando le hablas en su idioma.

4.- SÉ TU MISMO No te compares con otras personas. Tú tienes tu propio ritmo de aprendizaje y si te sientes inferior a los demás para poder seguir avanzando terminarás por perder la ilusión. A mí es lo que me pasó con el inglés. En la universidad de turismo vi que mi nivel era mucho más bajo que el del resto de mis compañeros. Me bajé del tren, desconecté y nunca me volví a motivar.

¡No puedes tirarlo todo por la borda! No te avergüences, critiques o juzgues cuando te equivoques. Piensa que de los errores se aprende y mucho. Es mejor que veas tus errores como una oportunidad para conocerte mejor y cambiar de rumbo y que no los veas como un fracaso.

No te agobies por tu acento. Piensa que tu acento es tu encanto. Lo más bonito de todo es que te hace especial y diferente. Después de más de veinte años en Francia sigo con mi acento español y no pasa nada. No me ha impedido trabajar en lo que me gusta y con gente muy interesante. Lo gracioso también es que cuando vuelvo a casa tengo un deje francés. ¡Es increíble!

Tengo un deje francés que llevo conmigo siempre, Arantza Ariño. Photo Credits Unsplash

5.- TÓMATELO COMO UN RETO Debes saber por qué quieres aprender, cuál es tu objetivo para no desmotivarte. De lo contrario te perderás por el camino. No hay nada que no puedas conseguir. Todo el mundo puede hablar un idioma extranjero con disciplina, constancia y perseverancia. Tener objetivos a corto plazo te ayudará a vivir cada etapa con emoción y con ganas de empezar la siguiente.

No olvides que nadie ha nacido aprendido y que nada se consigue de la noche a la mañana. Cuando empecé con el nivel A1 en francés nunca pensé que un día fuese bilingüe en francés. Sé paciente y no te quieras saltar etapas. Para poder leer tendrás que saber escribir y para poder hablar tendrás que escuchar. Como en todo hay que ser paciente.

Trabaja con el nivel que puedas comprender porque de lo contrario te vas a desanimar mucho. Empieza por lo fácil. A mí me ayudó mucho hacer intercambios con chicas de mi edad y cuidar a niños cuando estuve de au pair.

6.- ACEPTATE No quieras hablar como en tu lengua materna. No puedes hacerlo todo perfecto por mucho que te esfuerces. Nadie es bueno en todo. La frustración te va a impedir motivarte para progresar. Tampoco puedes ponerte al nivel de tu idioma porque no podrás comunicar con todo el léxico y las estructuras gramaticales de tu lengua materna.

No pienses en tu lengua materna porque te complicarás la vida y además no podrás traducir todo como quieres. A mí me ayuda parar y reflexionar porque veo las cosas de otra manera. También puedes pedir apoyo a un profesor especializado y continuar trabajando de forma autónoma si te gusta.

7.- TE TIENE QUE GUSTAR Es muy importante que vivas tu aprendizaje como un viaje que te gusta. A mí me encantan los idiomas y lo disfruto.

Para terminar, me gustaría dejarte algunas herramientas que aún me ayudan a continuar aprendiendo:

✓ Autoevalúate y prémiate. Te sentirás bien viendo que progresas y eso hará que aprendas mejor.

✓ Aprende con ejemplos. Cuando descubres algo nuevo puedes intentar hacer una frase y así lo entenderás mejor.

✓ No aprendas de memoria, sin entender porque no funcionará.

✓ Aprovecha las nuevas tecnologías para aprender. Ahora, hay muchísimos recursos para aprender de forma diferente: la televisión, Netflix, las revistas, los periódicos, los libros, las aplicaciones para el móvil…

✓ Aprovecha cualquier evento relacionado con el idioma que estudies para aprender: charlas, exposiciones, obras de teatro, asociaciones, etc.

✓ Conecta con el idioma al máximo: escucha, lee, escribe y habla. Al principio te parecerá difícil, pero verás que poco a poco te acostumbrarás y te ayudará a progresar mucho.

✓ Juega para aprender. Diviértete como un niño para disfrutar del aprendizaje con sopas de letras, crucigramas o juegos de mesa.

✓ Lleva siempre contigo una libreta. Podrás anotar las palabras nuevas en cualquier momento. Puedes organizarte como más te guste. Por ejemplo, con una libreta con un espacio para cada letra o con una libreta normal por campos semánticos. Podrás anotar la traducción en tu idioma o poner una imagen.

✓ Pregunta cuando no entiendas algo. Es importante que no te sientas solo.

✓ Privilegia el método de aprendizaje que más se adapte a ti. Cada uno aprende de una forma diferente. Busca esos trucos, reglas mnemotécnicas e infografías que te ayuden a progresar.

✓ Privilegia la lectura en el idioma que estudies o las películas o series en versión original.

✓ Siéntete como uno más y no como un extranjero y deja tu orgullo de lado. Es importante que lo hagas desde el principio, aunque te cueste.

✓ Solicita apoyo emocional si lo necesitas para progresar. Puedes seguir a grupos en redes sociales o apuntarte a una asociación de personas como tú. Te ayudará a positivizar y aprender.

✓ Utiliza un diccionario monolingüe. De esta manera tendrás que esforzarte para aprender el vocabulario de forma autónoma. Además, al mismo tiempo aprenderás modelos de conjugación y explicaciones gramaticales. Al principio te resultará difícil, por eso te recomiendo compaginar su uso con el de un diccionario bilingüe. Verás que con el tiempo podrás sacarle mucho provecho y rendimiento.

Espero que este post te sirva para sacar algunas ideas y aprender mejor un idioma extranjero. No olvides lo que vales y puedes lograr con el aprendizaje de idioma extranjero.

Post de Blogger Invitado: Arantza Ariño Mendibil

Arantza, mi invitada este mes de julio, colega y profesora de francés de mi hija Verónica. Photo credits Arantza Ariño

Clases de español online para niños y jóvenes

Profesora de español online especializada en niños y jóvenes y preparadora acreditada DELE por el Instituto Cervantes.

Su misión es ayudarte haciendo lo que más le gusta «enseñar español a niños y jóvenes» con clases agradables, lúdicas, flexibles y personalizadas. Ayuda a mamás y papás que quieren que sus hijos aprendan español de forma sencilla y personalizada con clases online divertidas que les permitan mejorar sus capacidades con una metodología diferente. Es una persona alegre, extrovertida, dinámica, libre y paciente. Le encanta aprender y estar al día y nunca dejará de estudiar. Una mujer que dio un cambio radical a su vida profesional para reconectar con sus raíces y volver a ser feliz. Foto de Arantza https://destinoele.com/

5 Traditional Christmas Songs from Venezuela to the World

Many are the traditions that we, Venezuelans, have for Christmas time. Delicious foods, decoration, folktales and religious practices are part of our daily routine during the holidays. But none of them compare to the rich musical culture that Venezuela has and which has been considered cultural heritage of Latin America for many years.

Growing up in Venezuela was such a magical journey for me! Ever since I was a young girl, I started discovering a country with such a musical diversity and roots. Musical diversity that has impacted the lives and culture of many Venezuelans in history. Music has been a protest tool, a bridge to unify social classes, a soothing approach to get little children to fall asleep and so on. Music is part of every Venezuelan’s life.

Please don’t forget that Venezuela is a very religious country and that 88% of the population is Christian

This holiday season I would like to share with you my five favorite Christmas songs that as a child, I heard in my birth country, my beloved Venezuela. These songs have a strong connection to the birth of Baby Jesus and the life of Mary and Joseph. Please don’t forget that Venezuela is a very religious country and that 88% of the population is Christian (according to the latest poll 2011). Therefore many of the lyrics are religiously based.

I am going to start with my favorite!

1. El Niño Criollo

This is without a doubt one of Venezuela’s most precious children’s song for Christmas time. It talks about the life of Jesus as a Venezuelan child, describing the different regions of our country and holiday traditions.

Watch the video with your child. The lyrics are also there for you and your family to practice pronunciation and learn new vocabulary.

El Niño Criollo, Venezuelan Christmas song

El Burrito Sabanero

Another beautiful villancico for children and very popular among Latin American nations. Additional to the embedded video I have written the lyrics to make singing in Spanish an easy and effective tool for language learning at home. Who said that we don’t learn also during the holidays?

Con mi burrito sabanero 
voy camino de Belén, 
con mi burrito sabanero 
voy camino de Belén, 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 

El lucerito mañanero ilumina mi sendero, 
el lucerito mañanero ilumina mi sendero 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 

En mi burrito voy cantando, 
mi burrito va trotando, 
En mi burrito voy cantando 
mi burrito va trotando 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 

tuki tuki tuki tuki, tuki tuki tukitá
da apúrate mi burrito que ya vamos a llegar 

Con mi burrito sabanero 
voy camino de Belén 
con mi burrito sabanero 
voy camino de Belén 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 

El lucerito mañanero ilumina mi sendero, 
el lucerito mañanero ilumina mi sendero 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 

En mi burrito voy cantando, 
mi burrito va trotando, 
En mi cuatrico voy cantando 
mi burrito va trotando 

Si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén 
si me ven, si me ven voy camino de Belén

El Burrito Sabanero

Fuego al Cañón

If you are looking for an upbeat song to celebrate Christmas this is it! Fuego al Cañón has easy to learn lyrics that will help your children practice vocabulary in Spanish in no time.

Fuego al cañón
Fuego al cañón
Para que repeten nuestro parrandon (bis)Niño chiquitito
Niño parandero (bis)
Venga con nosotros
Hasta el mes de enero (bis)Fuego al cañón
Fuego al cañón
Para que repeten nuestro parrandon (bis)Esta casa es grande
Tiene cuatro esquinas (bis)
Y en en medio tiene
Rosas y clavelinas (bis)

Fuego al cañón
Fuego al cañón
Para que repeten nuestro parrandon (bis)

Fuego al Cañón, an upbeat song for everyone in the family!

Al Llegar Aquí

When I was in high school, Christmas season was synonym of traditional bazaars and musical presentations where the students made all the arrangements to provide the perfect holiday ambience. I still remember singing Al Llegar Aquí while my two best friends played the drums and the cuatro.

Al llegar aquí,
Me saco el pañuelo
Para darle a todos feliz año nuevo

Palomita blanca,
Paticas azules
Tú eres la que cantas por dentro´e las nubes

Me subí a tres tapias
Pá cogé un laurel
Pasen buenas noches marido y mujer

La Virgen María,
La flor purpurina,
Madre de Jesús allá en Palestina

Esta es la casa
Que yo les decía
Que al llegar a ella la puerta se abría

¿Qué fue del dichoso? ¿Quién? ¡Maravilloso!
Como San José
Que una vara seca la hizo florecer

Esta parrandita,
De nosotros cuatro
Aquí no se meten ni perro ni gato

Dame los pasteles,
Dámelos calientes
Que pasteles fríos avientan la gente

Al Llegar Aquí, traditional Venezuelan Christmas song

Corre Caballito

One of Venezuela’s oldest Christmas songs, Corre Caballito tells the story of a boy riding his little horse on his way to visit the newborn Jesus. It is a song that’s usually sung at church on Christmas Eve mass.

Corre caballito, vamos a Belén
a ver a María y al Niño también;
al Niño también dicen los pastores:
que ha nacido un niño cubierto de flores.

El ángel Gabriel anunció a María
que el Niño Divino de ella nacería.
De ella nacería dicen los pastores:
que ha nacido un niño cubierto de flores.

Los tres Reyes Magos vienen del Oriente
y le traen al Niño hermosos presentes.
Hermosos presentes dicen los pastores:
que ha nacido un niño cubierto de flores.

San José y la Virgen, la mula y el buey
fueron los que vieron al Niño nacer.
Al Niño nacer dicen los pastores :
que ha nacido un Niño cubierto de flores.

Corre Caballito, an old song with a lot of significance to Venezuelans

What are you waiting for? Start playing these songs around the house now!

I promise you these traditional Venezuelan carols will make your holidays season more fun, cheerful, and full of Latin American rhythm.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Motivating Your Child to Read in The Target Language

Reading helps your child to know sounds, words and language, and develop early literacy skills. It is an exciting way to spark your child’s imagination and stimulates curiosity. Above all these, reading promotes language learning at home when you and your child wish to learn a foreign language.

We started reading at home when my first born was six months old. I would sit down by his crib to read out loud for 15 minutes. These minutes became part of our before nap time routine and allowed me to create a special bond with my baby. I felt so happy to share with my son stories from our heritage and our language. I used to read to him in Spanish. I did the same thing with my other two kids. It was precious.

Time went by and my children showed clear signs of wanting to read on their own. It all started with touching books, trying to grab them the same way they saw me doing it, always making sounds and speaking words… well, many of them were made-up words. Obviously each child developed their reading skill at their own time. And that was fine.

A comfy couch and a well lit room are perfect companions for a young reader. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Even though they liked to read, it depended very much on the material we read. They preferred books with big colorful images, fun faces, furry animals and crazy clouds. That’s when I realized that for me to keep them interested in reading in Spanish, it was necessary to provide them with books and other printed materials with fun, attractive and catchy designs. All of the sudden travel brochures, restaurant menus, comics strips, and church flyers became part of our home library. Anything that will spark that joy in my three kiddos for letter and sounds. And my native language, of course.

Bilingual Books for Young Learners

Dual-language books are a great resource, and many children’s books are published in two languages. If you speak a language other than English at home, reading dual-language books with your child might also help you become more familiar with English.

How to motivate your child to read in Spanish?

There are so many books to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. As a broad rule, young children often enjoy books, songs and stories that have good rhyme, rhythm and repetition. In fact, one of the ways that children learn a second language is through repetition and rhyme.

Arroz con Leche was my favorite rhyme book when I was little. My kids loved it, too. Photo credits Scholastic.

Choose books that are the right length for your child and that match your child’s changing interests. Take advantage of innovation these days and find books and reading systems that provide sounds as a great way to learn to pronounce the words in the target language.

Many studies show that the development of comprehension in the target language texts improved by 50% when readers use innovative reading materials accompanied by sound or writing programs. However, we want to keep things easy and practical. Children don’t favor complicated instructions and steps to follow. They need something fun and attractive to find their mother tongue interesting and worth learning it.

At the moment my go-to book when I’m teaching toddlers and elementary age children is the Little Polyglot Book Animals in Spanish and English. This book is part of the series Little Polyglot Books from Linguacious. These books were designed to foster in children a sense of curiosity and pride for a foreign language.

The Little Polyglot Book Animals in both English and Spanish is an useful tool for parents and educators who may not be speakers of the target language themselves but would like their kids to learn a foreign language. It is also a colorful alternative for families looking to promote the minority language at home when living overseas.

Colorful, fun, and innovative. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Reading, even at a slow pace exposes students to more sentences, grammar, and new vocabulary per minute than the average, short class, TV show, or song. This is why students who read foreign books are able to speak more fluently than students who don’t, and this is even more noticeable when kids take advantage of innovative books that allow them to develop the four language skills needed to master a language.

In conclusion, any way you find to ignite your child’s love for reading and another language is valid. Just remember, keep it fun, flexible, according to your budget, and always oriented to your kids interests.

Happy Reading!

My 3 Favorite Games For Spanish Learning

I started teaching Spanish ten years ago and it has been ever since an exciting journey of sharing my native language and my culture with children and adults around the world.

Everything began when I decided to get a Masters Degree in Linguistics and Foreign Languages. My passion for the Hispanic culture found its way to shine when I learned about the different ways to teach my mother tongue in a fun and effective way.

These are some of the board games I use with teenagers in my Spanish lessons. Photo credits Little Nómadas

Hands-on language learning

Are you looking for effective but fun ways to teach Spanish to your students? Do you wish to support your children in their process to acquire a foreign language? You could never be wrong with games. Both children and adults enjoy the good laugh and healthy competition that playing can provide.

”Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” Fred Donaldson

A great deal of research has concluded that play-based learning is genuinely and positively impactful on student learning and development. Language learning while playing allows students to advance the four language skills needed to achieve fluency and take advantage of the many benefits of speaking another language.

On the one hand, we must address language learning in children. Neuroscience presents us with strong evidence for the profound influence of early experiences. In order to build healthy brain connections from the outset, young children need responsive and rich social interactions with caregivers.

Hands-on experiences provide an effective and fun environment to acquire new vocabulary and understand grammar structures. What better way to meaningfully connect with parents and teachers than playing a game?

On the other hand, let’s talk about language learning in grownups. From Business Insider to a recent MIT study, it has been proved that adults learn from interactive activities such as apps, children’s literature, and conversational groups. However, many adult learners feel inadequate or too stressed to be playful in class, unless we, educators, bring something fun to the lesson. Games are the best way, in my opinion, to relax and break the ice.

My Favorite 3 Language Learning Games

There are many games out there of all shapes and sizes. Here I list my absolute favorite ones. Use this list as a guide to develop your own play and learn toolbox. Remember each learner is unique and we must pay close attention to each student’s interest to find the best game to develop his or her language skills.

1. Veo, Veo. This fantastic game to be played in face-to-face or online lessons is an all time favorite of my students. Veo, Veo makes my online classes more fun and interactive, promotes speaking in the target language (Spanish) and keeps little ones busy and entertained.

Check the link below to get your set of Veo, Veo cards to use in your next Spanish lesson. The link will take you to the Autumn version, however, Enjoy Español offers many versions of this fun game. Additionally to the Veo, Veo game, Enjoy Español has a wide variety of activities that teachers could include in their lesson plan. Homeschooling parents these are effective resources to include in your curriculum of a foreign language. https://enjoyespanol.com/halloween-dia-de-muertos-y-todos-los-santos-en-las-clases-de-ele/

Fun way to develop speaking and writing language skills. Photo credits Enjoy Español

2. Guess What! Flying Tiger’s star game is my go-to tool when I want to review vocabulary learnt the previous lesson. It is a fun and effective way to learn adjectives in Spanish with children, teenagers, and grownups. I bought my Guess What! Cards at Flying Tiger Frankfurt. Check your local store to see if they have them available.

Guess What! Cards are great to learn adjectives in Spanish. Photo credits Fajne Dziecko

3. Linguacious Flashcards. These monolingual (target language only) flashcards are engaging and fun. I have the Around the Home set in Spanish and it has been a great addition to my teacher’s toolbox. They are a colorful way to learn vocabulary in Spanish while having fun with children and adults alike. 

Linguacious flashcards are made of a sturdy but flexible material what I think it is important when working with children, because learning cards and games need to be durable. Do you want to hear something great? The Linguacious Flashcards come with a code that you can use on the Linguacious App to listen to the audio pronunciation of each word.

Linguacious Flashcards are an innovative tool for language learning. Photo Credits Linguacious

Conveniently, Linguacious flashcards and books are available in over 27 languages (and growing!) and they have won over 5 different awards. Check their website to discover games for both the flashcards and the books. 

You can also check out Linguacious on YouTube for extra info and ideas.

Learning a Second Language has never been more fun! Video credits Linguacious

Aren’t you looking forward to learning Spanish with these great tools?

I assure you that your children and students will enjoy this hands-on approach to language learning. Fun, effective, and authentic!

Disclosure: I received complimentary copies of the Linguacious Flashcards for review purposes; however, all opinions are my own. I don’t receive money for click on links or product purchases.

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