June 17, 2006

Reading in two languages

The other day Guido's buddy Elias came over to play. I read them a book. Here's a video of it.

Confusing, heh? You can imagine how confusing it was for me (you can see me slipping and addressing Guido Jack in english at some point).

I realize that at this stage (they are both around 8 months old) it probably doesn't make a big difference for them what language they hear...still, this is just the beginning!

How do you deal with multiple kids, when you're trying to speak one language to one and a different one to the other? Do you translate everything you say or most of it or however much you can handle before your head explodes? ;)

I'm exhausted already. Hopefully I'll get used to it and it'll get easier on my poor little brain.

Posted by patata at 09:04 AM

March 15, 2006

The wheels on the bus go round and round...

So I have decided to sing nursery rhymes to Guido Jack in english (I'm only speak italian to him otherwise).

Two reasons:
-I don't know very many italian nursery rhymes
-The ones that I know all have some sort of religious reference (go figure): it's all about priests, nuns, churches...not for me.

Anyways, I have learned a few american nursery rhymes and I have fun singing them to The Guids.

Our favorite is "the wheels on the bus", in which I hold his hands (or feet) and move them along to mimic the different parts of the bus that I'm singing about: doors open and shut, windows go up and down, horn goes beep beep, etc.

Recently I addded this verse to the song: "Rosa Parks on the bus says "I won't get up", "I won't get up", "I won't get up" (repeat) "and that was really important for the human rights movement", which is hard to fit in the same time it would take to say "all through the town", but it's kind of fun to do as well.

Anyways, I am going to try and incorporate some more educational verses in the songs I sing...got any tips? I'm thinking of adding something pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, pro-stem-cell-research...we'll see what I can come up with.

Posted by patata at 05:58 PM | Comments (1)

November 12, 2005

Book Review: Sign With Your Baby

Our friends and awesome source of parenting inspiration Becca and Ozzie sent us a copy of "Sign With Your Baby: How to Communicate With Infants Before They Can Speak" by Dr. Joseph Garcia.

get it at Amazon

My rating for the book is: good.

Here's what's good about it:

You can buy it by itself or with an instructional video, which I don't have so I can't comment on (but I hear it's good).

Last but definitely not least, I love the book because of the SWEET 'STACHE that the man in the illustrations sports while signing (it turns out that it's Dr.Garcia himself). We're talking full, thick, no compromise, front and center mustache. Wicked. Here's a picture of Dr.Garcia (from his website sign2me.com), but the stylized illustrations in the book somehow make his 'stache even better! :)


I think I will still buy the "Signing Time!" videos at some point, but this is definitely a good starter.

[Ok, I have mustaches on my mind these days because my favourite charity event of 2005 is about to start.]

Posted by patata at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)

November 05, 2005

Bilingualism - Book review and personal update

I have decided to start a new blog category about raising Guido Jack bilingual, in hope our experience will be useful to others.

Let's start with a book review: The Bilingual Family - A Handbook For Parents, second edition.


The book is divided in two parts: the first half is a general discussion of bilingualism and language learning as a whole, the second is comprised of 18 short case studies (one to two pages each) of bilingual families: who they are and where they live, how and why they raised their children bilingual and how it turned out. The second edition has some "15 years later" short interviews with the kids, in which they reflect on their bilingual upbringing.

I would give the book a 3 out of 5 rating overall: it's well written and well researched, but it just didn't do it for me. The first half is extremely academic, but offers very little practical day-to-day tips. Basically the authors spend 80 pages trying to convince you that bilingualism is THE BEST and YOU SHOULD DO IT and REALLY, IT'S FINE and those who think that your baby will speak later or will be confused DON'T KNOW BETTER and did they mention that bilingual babies ARE THE BEST? All through very long descriptions of how the brain works and of how this study showed this and this other study showed that. In other words, it seems like they were fighting a war of ideas with people I don't know and don't care about: if I didn't want to raise my child bilingual, would I have bought this book in the first place?

The second half is a little more useful, but none of the case-studies mapped our situation at all, which was also frustrating. Their examples are very Euro-centric, which is understandable. At the same time I can't help but feeling that raising an italian-english bilingual child in California (only what seems like a million miles away from Italy) will be harder than raising one in France or England (only a 1- to 2-hour, 30-Euro flight away).

Once again, in each case study, the author's not-so-hidden mission to convince you to DO IT transpires, basically saying that whichever way you do it IT WILL WORK IN THE END AND YOUR CHILD WILL LOVE IT.

Now, I agree with all those statements and I understand (I think) how great it will be for Guido Jack, but I don't like being preached to. I was looking for some practical tips, like "what to do when you just can't think of a particular word in Italian" or "will your kid be embarrassed of you in front of his friends since you speak some alien language"? Oh well, now at least I know that IT WILL BE GREAT NO MATTER WHAT, GODDAMIT! ;)

Which brings me to part two of this post, my personal feelings about raising The Guids bilingual. I need this post mostly to clear the thoughts in my head than for anything else, so bare with me.

First of all, at this moment in time I feel a great deal of anxiety about it (GJ is only 3-weeks-old so I think it's OK, I haven't totally screwed this up yet).

Let's see, why the anxiety:

So overall, because of all these mixed feelings, the thing that worries me the most is my ability to really commit to it and give it all the effort necessary to succeed. I can't help but feeling that if I was proud to be Italian, or we lived closer to Italy, or my english wasn't as good, or Italian was this great language for business...things would be easier for me. As it stands, I feel like I need a little more motivation than what I have before I can be religious about always and only speaking italian to my son.

Wow, that really helped. I don't know how I am going to deal with these feelings just yet, but having them written down will be good.

In the meantime, here are some short-term measures I will take:
- go out and buy MYSELF a couple of novels in Italian to read in bed
- go out and buy the baby a bunch of italian children's books

I have Googled around and an Italian bookstore in North Beach (Cavalli Italian Bookstore), I will go check it out this week and stock up.

Also, for Christmas all I want for the Guids is Italian toys (no batteries, no plastic please) and Italian children's books.

One last thing: I would love to hear from other parents are raising or have raised their children bilingual in the US (I can imagine a lot of asian-americans living in the Bay Area). Any tips / words of encouragement will be much appreciated!

Posted by patata at 01:26 PM | Comments (2)

October 04, 2005

Online Baby Signs Dictionary

I was just reading beulah land, one of the many daddy blogs that I now check out daily, and he had links to this site that I had never seen before but was exactly what I was looking for:

Born2Sign online sign dictionary: http://www.signwithme.com/

It includes a ton of signs, each with a little video and a detailed description of the hand motion.

I have now removed this book/DVD combo from my Amazon Wish List! $32.97 and some paper saved! ;)

Now I gotta start memorizing them all (I have time...the baby isn't even here yet! btw, due date is exactly one week from today...c'moooon-BABY!).

Posted by patata at 08:53 AM | Comments (2)

July 29, 2005

Raising a Bilingual Baby - A reading list

Mariah and I are planning on raising Guido Jack bilingual (English and Italian). My step-brother has raised his three children bilingual, and it's amazing...my little nephew L. would correct my mom's english when he was 3 years old. Love it.

As far as I know, the only rule that my brother and his wife followed was that he would always and only speak italian to the children, while she would always and only speak english with them. When talking to each other, the two parents would speak whatever came first, or a mix of the two, which is what Mariah and I speak pretty much (our mixed language leans more towards english, but italian creeps in more and more, or at least I try...). ;)

Anyways, I want to do some research on raising bilingual babies --- for instance, I heard that they start speaking later than single-language toddlers, but when they do, they're fluent in both languages.

I did a quick Google search and the following look interesting, I'm making a list of links here for me to read later. I'll add comments after I read all this stuff...

Bringing up a Bilingual Baby on babyworld.co.uk - pretty good, got me excited about doing this!
http://www.bilingualbabies.org - don't you love the Internet? Everything you would ever be looking for is already there. Except maybe a Yelp! for pediatricians, but we'll talk about that later...
An article on bilingualtherapies.com
The Bilingual Family Web Page


The Chopsticks-Fork Principle: A Memoir and Manual
The Bilingual Family : A Handbook for Parents
What's Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life

I'll add more later. I'm interested in hearing personal stories too!

Posted by patata at 06:26 PM | Comments (2)