Language Challenge 101: Week Two

by Corey · 13 comments

Welcome to week two of Multilingual Living’s Language Challenge 101!  How did this week go?  Did you stay motivated and find new ways of expanding your language(s)?  Did your own Language Challenge 101 get others motivated to join you?  Keep spreading the word!

Below is our second video diary. It is short this time – just a few minutes.  It is also much better quality than last time.  It took over seven takes to get it.  The neighbor started mowing her lawn at the beginning of one take, my kids started fighting during another, I messed up something or other in a few others.  In any case, I hope you enjoy our final result and I am always appreciative of your feedback!

One thing that has become very clear these last two weeks is that my husband and I need to increase our Spanish language to be able to encourage our children to use it.  Learning Spanish is definitely a family journey but as parents we need to take the role of finding fun ways to incorporate it into our day.  That is hard to do when we aren’t agile in the language!

Spanish Pronunciation and Vocabulary Around the World

One element that I’m a little confused about is whether to follow pronunciation guides from Spain or Latin America (as these seem tobe the main two “camps”) or both!  My husband thinks it is more likely that we will talk with those from Latin and South American, so he is focusing on Latin American Spanish.  I assume he is right but I’d still like to learn more in the coming weeks about the differences between the two pronunciations. Does anyone out there have any feedback to share with me about this?

Here are some highlights from our parent Spanish language learning experiences this week:

  • Destinos
    One of my personal highlights this week was finding the Spanish language learning program Destinos!  It is like learning Spanish while watching a mellow telenovela (or at least what I have seen of them).  Just my kind of language-learning experience.  The best part is that all of the videos are free online as well as corresponding online quizzes.  I highly recommend you check this out if you are a visual learner like me.  The program also comes with written materials which I am thinking about purchasing.
  • Mango Languages
    My husband is still using Mango Languages from the library (free) for his Spanish language learning.  He finds the online learning experience rewarding and has picked up many conversational sentences.  He is pretty sure that he will stick with Mango Languages for now.  He has tried out a few more online programs but hasn’t found anything else which would be worth the money.

    NEXT PAGE — 1 2 3

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan July 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Check out This website has stories in Spanish. They have stories for beginners, intermediate and advanced learners. All stories are read by native speakers. Some are well known stories and others are new. The blog also has free transcripts for many of the stories.


2 Corey July 30, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Thank you for your fabulous suggestion, Susan! I remember talking about that site in Multilingual Living Magazine a while back but as we weren’t learning Spanish back then I totally forgot about it. I checked it out and it is great! Just what my kids (and probably most kids) like: lively colors, cute characters and an appealing speaker. The truth is, I’ll probably spend the most time there. Hah! I’m a sucker for all the kids’ Spanish learning materials. I can’t help it! I’m becoming an addict! 🙂 Thank you for leaving this comment!


3 Maria July 23, 2010 at 11:23 pm

For more interesting videos you might try finding a dvd of a short video they know in English in playing the Spanish language option. That way the story is one they already know but they hear it in Spanish.


4 Corey July 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Such a great idea, Maria! We need to do this more, for sure. In fact, most of the DVDs that we have at home have Spanish as an option. I think we’ll probably put it in Spanish with English subtitles – at least at the beginning so that I’ll have some idea what is going on. The kids really get into some DVDs and will watch it in any language just to see what happens. I love it!

I also really want to find some good telenovelas on Univision for ME. I know that I’d get addicted and would desperately want to learn Spanish to understand it. Talk about NEED!

Thanks for this reminder! I’m hitting the library again soon and will see what we can find.


5 Christian July 26, 2010 at 4:11 am

Hi there. Relatively new to the website and possibly going to ask a question that has already been answered……
Pertaining to the lego skit – can your boys read? For a first week’s worth of practice, they were saying fairly complex sentences in the skit. Were you helping them on the side and they were repeating what you said?
I need you secret!


6 Corey July 30, 2010 at 10:10 pm

So glad you asked, Christian! Yes, the boys can read and were reading their lines from a piece of paper next to the lego set. They understood what they were saying because we picked out the dialog together but no, they didn’t come up with the Spanish on their own and didn’t memorize it. I guess they could have memorized it if they had had more time. But we are usually not very organized and spend Thursdays coming up with the skit, building the lego set, filming it and then uploading it to YouTube.

I wish I could say that I had a special secret! Other than what I write up in our weekly Language Challenge 101 posts, we aren’t doing anything in particular. They do speak Spanish randomly throughout the day with one another. And in the Week Three skit they helped their sister (age 5) say one short sentence (she can’t read yet). So sweet.

Thank you for your comment! Please share any tips that you have! I am all ears – 100%!


7 Adriana Ross July 27, 2010 at 5:07 am

Your website is so inspiring and fun! On the subject of books, I’d like to add that I visited a public library in Los Angeles recently and as you can imagine they had a HUGE section of children’s books in Spanish. But as you know, not all of the books are created (or translated) equal. As a native speaker I have hand picked some titles that I found to be excellent and have listed them on my website:
The very best ones (I think) are the ones that are written in native Spanish because they have a lovely rhyme and rhythm that is often not achievable with translated materials (“Ramon y el Jamon”). The only downside is that these don’t have the English words so if you are not a native speaker you may have to work up to this level.
There are also some very good ones that have both languages (i.e. “Me Gusta Cuando”). With my five year old we take turns where I read the Spanish sentence and he reads the corresponding English one. We are working up to the point where he reads the Spanish and I read the English.
And finally, there are some books out there which “mix” the languages ( incorporate both in one sentence). I generally don’t like these with the exception of one that I found which elegantly delivered a lovely message about a little boy was special because he was bilingual (“Tito el Bombero”).
I am very passionate about this topic and hope you find my comments useful!


8 Corey July 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Thank you so much for this comment, Adriana!! I am definitely going to go through your list of recommendations and get my hands on everything that I can. As I say in our Week Three post, we are enjoying finding books only in Spanish and taking the time to translate them until we can understand them. This together with general language learning. So your recommendations for books like “Ramon y el Jambon” is fabulous! And if they are just too tough right now, we’ll get them down the road.

We love the dual language ones. I feel lucky that we have so many Spanish-English ones at home from reviews I did for Multilingual Living Magazine. It is great to not have to start from scratch. We are also extremely lucky that our library is so packed with Spanish-English books.

The “Tito el Bombero” recommendation is great! I will see if we can find that one for sure. Books about kids who are themselves bilingual is always a plus, indeed!

Thank you, thank you!!


9 Alice July 28, 2010 at 12:04 am

The videos are a hoot! My kids love it! Isabella remembers your kids well and she says, “hi!”. She was very impressed by them speaking Spanish (also by Marie sticking those pens together). She now wants to do a similar Lego skit … in Spanish…AND video taped! So your strategy’s certainly infectious! 😀

I totally agree that most DVDs that are out there seem to be for younger kids, or toddlers, with too basic Spanish. We are looking for DVDs for kids that is a little more advanced!!!! Anyone have ideas, suggestions? (not meaning regular movies, though, but something along the lines of “Speekee”, or Spanish for kids).


10 Corey July 30, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Hello Alice! I can totally imagine Isabella watching the skits and wanting to do her own. She is so dang industrious! I can’t wait until you guys do one and share it with all of us. If you don’t have a place to post it, let me know and you can post it under the Multilingual Living YouTube page ( I should let others know that too! It would be fun to have a bunch of multilingual videos there for everyone to share.

As for the DVDs, we are finding items for young kids and then a jump up to items fully in Spanish (intended for native speakers). That middle area is tough. We are thinking of having the kids watch the Destinos videos with us and then do some lessons together afterward! That as well as books in Spanish. Have you checked out Mommy Maestra’s site: She is starting homeschooling in Spanish and has some great ideas. Also check out Karen’s site: There are more, of course, but I have been finding some great Spanish-learning resources there.

Let me know what you find along the way!


11 Ana Lomba July 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Kudos to you, Corey! How fantastic what you are doing!

I used to teach Destinos in Princeton University 🙂 The courses were divided so that one grad student taught the telenovelas 3 days a week and another grammar 2 days a week (or something like that). They always gave me the grammar section, grrr! BTW, my teaching partner one year was Pedro Pérez del Sólar, the illustrator of Play and Learn Spanish (he taught the telenovela, of course). As you can see, we continued working together even after Princeton 🙂


12 Karen July 30, 2010 at 10:38 am

Thank you so much for mentioning my blog! 🙂 I’ve been super-busy at work this past week, so I’m just now getting around to reading your updates.


13 Corey July 30, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Hi Karen! It is my pleasure to mention it! It has been so helpful and inspiring for me as we take this Spanish-language journey. I just wish I had more time to hang out there. You have such a wealth of resources. Course, we do still have many days of Spanish learning so I’m sure I’ll have checked out a bunch before we are done.

Always feel free to point me to specific items if you think of them! I am always appreciative of that!


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: