Tag Archives: familia

Read Me a Rhyme in Spanish and English

I found Rose Zertuche Treviño’s Read Me a Rhyme in Spanish and English/Léame una rima en español e inglés mixed in with a stack of books at the library recently. Immediately curious, I flipped the book open and landed on a song called “Hola, Bebé.”

(Sung to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Hola, bebé. Hola, bebé
¿Cómo estás? ¿Cómo estás?
Muy bien, gracias.
Muy bien, gracias.
¿Y usted? ¿Y usted?

Not exactly pure lyrical gold or anything, but I got that darn song stick in my head right quick. So I decided to cart the book home and have a look through it.

In my Spanish class last year I had a middle-aged woman for a classmate who had adopted a baby girl from Guatemala and wanted to learn Spanish so she could teach her daughter the language as well. I had assumed at first glance that this book was aimed at a reader like her—one of the countless folks in the US who has a child adopted from Latin America or has a child with a Latino partner…or who just wants to teach their kid Spanish. But once I sat down with it, I quickly found out that this book is intended for librarians putting together reading programs for children from Spanish-speaking households. Neat!

Each chapter is set up as a program for a specific age group: babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children. The programs have songs, activities, games, and lots of recommendations for further reading. But for this particular reader, I was mostly interested in trying to mine the book for vocabulary. Unfortunately, there was nothing too interesting or new for me in the end, but my inner dork enjoyed singing the book’s songs nonetheless.

I don’t know if the book has much value for your average Spanish student, but if you’re thinking of going into library science or working with young children in a bilingual environment, I think it would certainly come in handy. As well, the folks I had originally thought were the intended audience would do well to seek this book out. It would be a really easy way to pick up some Spanish while having fun with your kid.

Matador : a film by Pedro Almodóvar

Someone had the brilliant idea of playing Pedro Almodóvar’s newest film Broken Embraces in San Luis only at 1 in the afternoon on weekdays. Because Almodóvar is an unknown director??? He’s only won an Oscar, two Baftas, and a zillion festival awards in his career. The film stars Penélope Cruz for goodness’ sake. Anyway, how many people can make a 1PM screening on a weekday? Not me, unfortunately. I’m just going to have to wait for it to come out on DVD. In protest, I watched his 80s film Matador the other day and currently have a slew of his films in my Netflix queue. (I bet you wonder how that’s a protest. Trust me…it is.) To further pour salt in my Almodóvar wound, I could only find a version of Matador‘s trailer with Dutch (I think?) subtitles. But you’ll get the idea.

There are a few Almodóvar films that I’m meh about; Matador is not one of them. It’s also not the film with James Bond, if that’s what you were wondering. The movie centers around several characters: a guilt-filled bullfighting student (played by an incredibly young looking Antonio Banderas), the student’s overly religious mother, a hobbled retired bullfighter, a lawyer, a model, and the model’s downright weird mother. Sheesh! At least one of them is a murderer. Why and how I’ll leave to you. Typical for Almodóvar, the film is deep with color and humor. It’s also a bit Hitchcock-esque, if I’m allowed to say that. Watch it.

It’s a colorful world : DK’s Spanish English Visual Dictionary

I think picture dictionaries are fantastic. Too often students are forced into memorizing textbook lists of vocab without any accompanying illustrations. I find that going over long vocabulary lists rarely ends with all those words sticking in my brain. In fact, it seems more suited to building translation skills than fluency. When you see an object and put a word with it, that’s making a real language connection. See a round orange fruit, think naranja—something very different from seeing the word “orange” on a page and thinking, “the Spanish word for orange is ‘naranja.'” So I’m all for picture dictionaries helping to bridge that gap. And they’re particularly useful for learning words that you don’t know in your first language, because you get to learn that word, too. No longer will you go around language lost saying, “put the whizzy thing in dumdum stuff.”

With that said, I’m particularly taken with DK’s Spanish English Bilingual Dictionary (ISBN: 9780756612986), which I happily purchased earlier this week and have been obsessing over ever since. First, the book is comprehensive but not overwhelming. I have a German picture dictionary, for instance, that goes as far as to label every component of computer circuitry, a diesel engine, livestock facilities, the atom, etc. Fun stuff for sure (really?), but not likely to come up in someone’s life unless it relates to her profession. On the other hand, the parts of a toilet (which are labeled in this DK dictionary) could be very useful if the loo overflows in your Spanish vacation rental. And who wouldn’t be excited to learn the key terms of ice hockey in Spanish! Because it’s a popular sport in Central America???

(Sorry for the skewed images. I was in a hurry at the scanner.)

(Oh, and I love that two people sitting with their backs to one another is the universal symbol for divorce.)

Topics covered include health, environment, transport, eating out, appearance, and beyond. Each section is illustrated with clear and colorful photographs (older picture dictionaries often use drawings), and when necessary, both a peninsular and Mexican Spanish term is given. You don’t want any slip ups in Oaxaca, do you? Best of all, the pretty little thing is compact—about six inches long and wide–and carries a nifty price tag of $14.95. I’m in love!

StoryCorps : Historias

Every Friday morning while I make breakfast StoryCorps is playing in the background. StoryCorps is an oral history project that documents a conversation between two people about something important in their lives: coming to America, raising children, traveling across the country, a particular summer, whatever. Typically I start by barely listening to the current week’s program, and then by the end the toast is burning and I’ve poured orange juice into the cereal instead of milk. Today’s feature was about a woman named Lucille Mascarenas telling her son about her tough relationship with his grandmother Candelaria, a Spanish-speaking farmer from New Mexico. Because of this episode, I found out that StoryCorps has a special collection of Latino/Hispanic stories in the archives called (por supesto) “Historias: Cuenta tu historia.” I guess I needed another time suck in my life. Thanks, St. Louis Public Radio.

Victor Mascarenas and his mother, Lucille.

Sol y viento Lección 3 : More Help with la Familia

So you’ve got your madres and padres down, but you want to go further. Me too. Here’s some expansive Spanish vocabulary about the family that I dug up over the last couple of days.


los abuelos : grandparents :: el abuelo : grandfather :: la abuela : grandmother

los bisabuelos : great-grandparents :: el bisabuelo/la bisabuela : great-grandfather/mother

los tatarabuelos : great-great-grandparents :: el/la tatarabuelo/a : great-great-grandfather/mother

el tataraduedo/la tataradueda : distant relative


los padres : parents :: el padre : father :: la madre : mother

el marido/el esposo : husband :: la mujer/la esposa : wife

el padrastro : stepfather :: la madrastra : stepmother

los suegros : in-laws :: el suegro : father-in-law :: la suegra : mother-in-law

el tío : uncle :: la tía : aunt :: el tío abuelo : great-uncle :: la tía abuela : great-aunt


los hermanos : siblings :: el hermano : brother :: la hermana : sister

el hermanastro : stepbrother :: la hermanastra : stepsister

el medio hermano : half brother :: la media hermana : half sister

el cuñado : brother-in-law :: la cuñada : sister-in-law


los hijos : children :: el hijo : son :: la hija : daughter

el hijastro : stepson :: la hijastra : stepdaughter

el yerno : son-in-law :: la nuera : daughter-in-law

el nieto : grandson :: la nieta : granddaughter

el/la bisnieto/a : great-grandson/daughter :: el/la tataranieto/a : great-great-grandson/daughter


los primos : cousins :: el primo : (male) cousin :: la prima : (female) cousin

el primo carnal/la prima carnal : first cousin

el primo segundo/la prima segunda : second cousin

el sobrin0 : nephew :: la sobrina :: niece


el gemelo/la gemela : twin :: el/la pariente : relative :: los parientes : relatives

el novio/la novia : boyfriend/girlfriend :: el/la prometido/a : fiancé/fiancée

el conocido/la conocida : acquaintance

el padrino : godfather :: la madrina : godmother

el ahijado : godson :: la ahijada : goddaughter


soltero/a : single :: el padre soltero : single father

único/a : only :: la hija única : only child/only daughter

político/a : by marriage :: el hijo político : son-in-law

casado/a : married :: separado/a : separated

divorciado : divorced :: viudo/a : widowed


*My first blog on the subject after the jump.