Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sesame Street for Parents

Sesame Workshop is a great web site, not only for kids, but also for parents! The parents section has sections called "Sesame Parents", "Fun to Go", and "TV Info". If you remember Sesame Street's Maria, you'll recall that her bilingualism in Spanish and English is featured on the show. Also, she has a column, "Talking Out Loud" on the Sesame Workshop web site where she writes parenting articles.

Her current featured article is "Childhood Echoes: Valuing your past while raising your child for the future." In this article, she challenges us to consider our parenting beliefs, and challenge ourselves to raise our children OUR way, instead of simply raising our children in the same way that we were raised.

But one of my favorite articles of hers is an older one entitled "Talking Out Loud: ¿CÓmo se dice?: Keeping your family's heritage strong." Manzanos lets us see how she struggled a bit to raise her daughter bilingually and biculturally and how the process evolved over the years. I especially enjoyed when she told how she often forgot words in Spanish:
"Other times when, say we were at the beach, I'd see a seagull and I'd say, "Mira la..." and then wrack my brain, trying to remember the Spanish word for seagull. (I'm afraid she'll have many memories of me starting a sentence and then staring off into space...)"
A feeling I'm sure many of us identify with! But she kept trying and finally realized that she was making a lot of progress:
"But I began to realize that she was getting it from all directions: from my self-conscious "Latin" home schooling as well as from all the usual ways. She was getting it from the food we ate, ... ; the music we listened to; a close relationship with her grandmother; and, finally, from seeing Latin culture reflected in the world."

Now we can see the Sesame Street website as a great resource not only for our children, but for us as parents! Finally, if you like the information there, I'd like to suggest their newsletter as well!


Sarah said...

Hi Mary and Dorinda! I really like what you've done with your blog, particularly the interview with the elementary school teachers--I hope to see more like that!

You bring up an important point in this most recent post, that bilingualism often implies biculturalism, that raising kids with more than one language is enriched if you're also sharing elements of more than one culture with them.

It's a bit different for me as I teach my nephew French, though, since I'm a non-native speaker and am still learning about French (not to mention Francophone) culture myself. As he grows up, I'll try to teach him about elements of many countries where French is spoken, rather than focusing on France.

Mary H said...

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for your comment and congratulations on your one-year-old nephew and blog! I, too, hope that we'll have some more interviews here as well.

In my opinion, by teaching a language, we are implicitly (or explicitly) teaching culture as well. For instance, by using words, books, songs, and other materials from another culture, you're naturally exposing the learners to the target culture as well.

By the way, one of my favorite places is Quebec: a beautiful Francophone part of the world!

Sarah said...

I've never been to Quebec, but I've taught some its history in my French classes. I'd love to visit there!