Tuesday, May 15, 2007

rrrrrrr... a parent bloggers review

Parent Bloggers Review

I grew up speaking Spanish. In fact, Spanish was my first language because my parents didn’t speak much English when I came along. I learned the little bits of English that they knew from them, and then learned more in school and of course, from television. I went through different stages during my childhood of refusing to speak Spanish or being embarrassed to speak Spanish in front of friends. When I was 10, though, we took a trip for 3 months to Argentina to visit all of our family and friends, and since then, I’ve been enraptured with the language. All of a sudden, I realized what being bilingual meant. Since then, I’ve worked to keep up the language, including studying there in high school, college and law school, each for a semester. I’ve tried to get back to Argentina whenever possible, and Josh even took an immersion trip to Costa Rica 2 years ago in the hopes that he’d be able to speak Spanish fluently in the future.

It appears that Gabriel is also working on being bilingual. At least, he’s been gargling and gurgling so much, that my mother in law asked me the other day if he was practicing rolling his r’s. I doubt that, but I certainly have been working to make sure that he will also grow up bilingual. And trust me, this is harder than it sounds. I have to remind myself constantly to speak to him in Spanish, even when Josh is around. I have also been buying books and music CD’s in Spanish so that when we read and sing together, he will constantly be exposed to the language.

When the Parent Bloggers asked me to review the Boca Beth language program, I was excited. Gabriel is still too young at 4 and a half months to give me much of an indication as to whether he likes the products, but I tried them out myself to see what I thought. The Boca Beth set that we received included a DVD called “I like animals”, music CD, coloring activity book, Boca puppet and maraca. All of these products come in a set that retails for $29.99.

The first thing we tried out was the musical CD, along with the props. I tried mimicking the songs from the CD with the Boca puppet. Gabriel was a fan, and I agreed that Boca was pretty cute, with bright colors and ease of maneuverability. The maraca was also a hit with Gabe, although his rhythm was a bit off. The CD had 15 songs that included phrases in both English and Spanish, often directly translated one after the other. The same song might include one sentence in English, followed by the same sentence in Spanish, or vice versa. The songs were catchy and not too long, and I was able to get through a few of them before Gabriel lost interest (not bad for a 4 month old, I’d say). I didn’t love the CD, though, mainly because I would have preferred a full song in each language, or at least a full section of each song in the different languages. Since almost every sentence was in a different language, I thought it could be a little confusing for a non-native speaker. I worry that it might not be totally clear whether each sentence is a repetition of the previous sentence in the other language, or whether it is just a continuation of the song. I did think the songs were fun for kids, though, and as long as you were clear on how the songs were structured, you’d definitely learn Spanish from the CD.

The DVD won me over, though. Gabe doesn’t watch TV yet, but when he does, I’m sure he’ll love the DVD. I believe that the best way to learn another language is by seeing language in context, live and in action, and that is what the DVD does. The DVD is interesting enough to keep a child’s attention, and included quite a bit of vocabulary and language. The DVD’s description boasted 200 vocabulary words and 85 phrases. Not too shabby for one DVD, that’s for sure. Animals are featured throughout, with their names in both Spanish and English, along with descriptive sentences in each language. I also loved the fact that Gabriel will hear grammar and other words besides just the names of the animals. I may even try to imitate that structure when I teach him other words in Spanish and English in the future.

The coloring book was cute, but definitely too old for a baby. I did show it to my 7 year old nephew and almost 4 year old niece, and they both seemed interested in learning the different Spanish words featured in the book. I was pleased to see that the products will apparently appeal to a broad range of ages. Once Gabriel is old enough to understand a little more, I suspect we’ll be using the whole set of products for quite some time.

My overall feeling about the products is that they will definitely come in handy if you’d like to introduce a foreign language to your child. Obviously, they can’t do it all by themselves, but the DVD and CD could certainly spark an interest in Spanish in your child. All the products appear to be entertaining for children, and I’d definitely recommend it to friends.

If you’re interested in checking out one of the Boca Beth sets, leave a comment on Parent Bloggers for a chance to win a free copy!


Anonymous said...

Hey, this looks cool! My girls are totally into learning Spanish. They understand a bunch and Natalie is starting to speak quite a lot but every little bit helps. :)

I owe you an email. Se te quiere, amiga!

Jess said...

Thanks for the review. I am also from Spanish speaking ancestors, but not fluent. I am teaching my 5 year old daughter Spanish and American Sign Language. Sounds like these DVD are worth owning.

Kristin said...

Now that sounds cool! I love the idea of teaching my future children other languages from a young age, but I'll have to learn some myself first! :)

purple_kangaroo said...

We have one episide of Blue's Clue's in Spanish, and that's been our favorite piece of Spanish media lately. My dad grew up in Mexico, and I wish he'd spoken more Spanish to us as my sisters and I were growing up. I used to be sort of semi-fluent, but I've lost much of it now.

My youngest sister is fairly fluent in American Sign Language, and Baby E picks it up easily, so we've been learning a lot of that.

The family across the street speaks Dutch as well as English, while the family next door to them speaks mostly Romanian, so I'm glad my kids will at least be exposed to various languages and learn words here and there.