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Category Archives: LANGUAGE

The endless challenges of raising multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… As part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

I’ve already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 8; 6 and 3 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate. Soon, our family will be transitioning from our current Spanish-speaking setting, to a Brazilian Portuguese scenario… how would my kids [re]adapt? What would be the social, emotional, psychological impacts this imminent move may bring? Only time will tell us…

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here before.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

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16 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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‘Saudade’, the untranslatable word for missing something or someone…

saudade

Hoje, eu sinto Saudade. I believe it’s related to our constant nomadic mode, moving every so often… I miss a place and a time that may not exist anymore… But please, don’t get me wrong! It’s not a ‘sad feeling’ – I live the happiest life I could’ve asked for: the dearest husband, my loving kids, pursuing our dreams…

We’re on the ‘home stretch’ right now: less than 3 months to depart post… again… pack-out… again… Today I realized I’m a bit tired of this, but I also know that, with a little time to adjust [again!], it’ll all be fine, at last. But right now, I’m feeling saudade… and we haven’t even left yet! What a crazy feeling,  crazy lifestyle… and right now I’m asking myself: ‘why did we decide to do this?’ And I know there are no answers for this rhetorical question – once you join or decide to move along with this Foreign Service life, you’ve signed off on all the perks, advantages and challenges that come along with it – and we did sign it… and we’ve read thru the fine print… and we’ve discussed the pros and cons… But, although we’re extremely satisfied with our life choices, today… I feel Saudade… Saudade of a stable lifestyle… saudade of a time we didn’t have to move, change, adapt and adjust… Saudade of not having to tell our children they’ll have to leave their school friends behind, and should be excited for making new ones… at the new school… speaking a new language…

Oh well, thanks to my dear Portuguese language, I’m able to express my current feelings using one single word – and not bother trying to clearly translate it – “Saudade” – my March 11, 2014 pure self!

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s one of my favorite words in Portuguese – ‘saudade‘. It’s an expression with a lot of emotion and deep sense of compassion. There’s no comparison to this word in English; and definitely, doesn’t carry the same degree of emotion involved… Few other languages have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

Olavo Bilac

Olavo Bilac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Considering I went deep into my thoughts, I went out looking for ‘ closer definitions’ of this unique feeling, which according to my father’s quote of Olavo Bilac, ‘represents the presence of the ones who are absent..‘. I simply love this quote, since I was a child. Back then, and still living in Brazil, I couldn’t really perceive the true meaning of his words – ‘how can somebody/something be present, and yet, absent?‘How could I miss something I’d never experienced before?’

Saudade

Saudade (Photo credit: Fábio Pinheiro)

Today, as a grown woman, I understand my dad’s words, and they’ve become a part of who I am, and how I carry myself through life. I need to feel ‘Saudade‘, it’s a requirement to keep living, we all need to be linked to our past, and we need to long for people, moments, places and emotions that were part of our development as humans. Saudade makes us more humane, more grounded, more prompt to learn through our emotions…

Saudade

Saudade (Photo credit: A Sheep in Man’s Clothing)

So now, going into the ‘formal definitions': the Urban Dictionary describes the word as used to “explain the feeling of missing something or someone. It is used to tell about something that you used to have (and liked) but don’t have anymore”.

(Portuguese: “yearning“), Saudade was a characteristic of the earliest Portuguese folk poetry and has been cultivated by sophisticated writers of later generations. 

Missing Naples

Photo credit: Wikipedia

“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” (In Portugal, by AFG Bell, 1912).

Chega de Saudade (album)

Chega de Saudade (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Portuguese word ‘saudademeans, broadly, to miss someone or something. But the English miss doesn’t begin to convey the intensity of the Portuguese word. It can cover the sentiments understood in words such as “longing” and “yearning,” as well as “homesickness” and “nostalgia”; in fact, it is all of those, and many more. Although saudade first appeared in Portugal somewhere around the 15th century, there is something about it that is particularly suited to Portugal’s New World child, Brazil, where I come from. Everything there, including feelings, is intense. We [Brazilians] never say “I love you” casually.

In Brazil, when you say it, it means a lot.

And, then, you feel saudade:o

 
 

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A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… 

There’s also a very interesting/challenging/poking article from CNN, bringing out the discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

According to Corey Heller [the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine], “Home languages almost always take a severe blow the moment our children walk through the schoolhouse doors. 

All of a sudden, our children are surrounded by peers, teachers, administrators (even the janitor and bus driver) all day long who speak nothing but the community language.  Our children quickly learn that this “school language” is essential for functioning in society and thus begins the home language–school/community language dichotomy (to the distress of many a dedicated parent). However, not all families experience this abrupt change once their children are school age. What is their secret?” 

Well, the answer presented by the Multilingual Living author is that parents “choose to educate their children at home and avoid the whole transition all together”.

Personally, we’re trying to get the best of the two worlds: our 2 elementary children attend an international school in Bolivia, where most of the classes are in English, with the optional Spanish as a ‘bonus’ class. The playground language is Spanish. Homework is done in English. I try my best to only speak to the children in Portuguese, and my husband does the same, regarding Spanish. I guess, we’re doing the ‘part-time homeschooling’!

Back to the ‘inspirational article’, “For most families, homeschooling is not about recreating the classroom at home. It is about creating something absolutely brand new and unique; about fostering an environment which is conducive to learning, regardless of material, location or method…” I agree with the author, and just wish I/we could replicate that in our own household! :) And why I say that? Because it’s hard, despite the endless efforts from the parents,

bilingual homeschoolers use an array of resources for learning different subjects. What is most important are the results that come from learning a subject, e.g. being able to read and comprehend what is read, compute mathematical equations on varying levels, write a well-researched and well-argued essay, be familiar with world geography and history, and put the scientific method into practice – all of which progresses and matures as our children develop their knowledge and skills…”

And as the author wraps it up, we’re left with a great advice:

How to Homeschool in more than one Language:
“Each family will need to come up with their own bilingual homeschooling plan based on their languages and subjects which they plan to cover.  Family members must also decide who will be teaching which subjects in which language and when. Planning is probably the hardest part so families need to make sure they find as many resources as they can – general books on homeschooling as well as books in the target language which can be used for specific subjects”.

That said, we’ll keep on trying to assist our children with homework, school projects, reading/writing responses, using not only English. Math problems could be described and explained using my Portuguese. The joy of seeing my son resolving a problem/understanding a text excerpt and writing down the answers in English, carries a totally especial feeling for me. It shows the innate capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to develop a very personal way of thinking, of expressing himself

Leaving you all with nice words of support, from Corey Heller: “The decision to homeschool bilingually can be a frightening one but with enough preparation, support and motivation you can make it a successful one for you and your family.”

If you liked this piece, please take a moment and go visit Multilingual Living website. It’s a very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality. From our “tentative trilingual home“, to yours…♥

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More?

Benefits of Multilingualism

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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Muito Obrigada!

thank you cloud

Muito obrigada! A habilidade de poder escrever, entender e comunicar em várias línguas tem sido uma vantagem sem preço para toda a minha família. E para tanto, sou muito grata. Obrigada pela possibilidade de compartilhar um blog cuja principal língua é o Inglês, e no entanto, ainda ser capaz de manter o Português da minha origem brasileira, com meu marido e filhos.

Obrigada pela possibilidade de usar no trabalho, uma terceira língua aprendida, o Espanhol.

Languages have become part of my life. I need communication tools in more ways than one, and for all they ways I’ve been [mis]using languages, I’m very thankful. Muchísimas gracias por la posibilidad de comunicarme con otros en un país tan distinto del mio  – Bolivia. Gracias! Thank you! Obrigada!

In response to the Daily Prompt 'Thank You'
 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in ART, LANGUAGE

 

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Pros y contras del uso del Spanglish | Pros and cons of Spanglish use

Originally posted on La Güera Pecosa:

spanglish_lab

–- This post was originally written in Spanish.  Scroll down in this post for the English translation! –-

Spanglish es la combinación del inglés y español.  Se escucha más con inmigrantes hispanos quienes tienen mucho tiempo viviendo en EUA; también se escucha con sus hijos y nietos.

He creado unas listas cortitas de los pros y contras del uso regular del Spanglish, basados en lo que he leido y visto.

PROS:

  1. Con Spanglish, básicamente tomamos las mejores palabras de cada idioma y las entrelazamos.  |  Ya que hay menos transiciones y traducciones torpes con el Spanglish, el flujo de las frases es más suave.
  2. Algunas palabras y frases simplemente suenan mejor, o son más facilmente comunicadas en un idioma más que en el otro.  |  Por eso, Spanglish puede ser más apropiado que estrictamente inglés o español para la conversación.
  3. En hogares y comunidades hispanos ubicados en…

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2 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2013 in LANGUAGE, Português

 

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Raising Multilingual Kids Blogging Carnival: Hidden Opportunities

Originally posted on The Head of the Heard:

Welcome to the July edition of The Raising Multilingual Children’s Blogging Carnival.  This month’s theme was Hidden Opportunities where I asked people to submit blogs based on the unexpected occurrences of bringing up multilingual children.

Opportunities for the Kids

Spanish Playground opens up this month’s carnival with some encouraging news for anyone still struggling to teach two or more languages: she has been there and done that and now has three grown kids.  In her post Teaching my Children Spanish – A Few Observations Now that they Are Older she identifies the advantages they now have, some of which she never ever dreamed of when she started out on the road to bilingual education.

Came to Find – Vim Encontrar is nowadays a grown up bilingual English and Portuguese speaker.  She writes about the day that changed her life and all of the opportunities she has now…

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3 Comments

Posted by on July 31, 2013 in children, expat, LANGUAGE, TCKs

 

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When you end up talking another language with your kids…

3rdCultureChildren:

Great reading about raising multilingual children!
Our community keeps on growing!

Originally posted on expatsincebirth:

When you are multilingual and start having kids, you have to choose which language you’ll talk to your children. Linguists always recommend to talk your “mothertongue” to you children. But which is the mothertongue if you are perfectly bilingual? In my case: should I talk Italian or German to my kids?

When our son was born, we lived in Italy and as Italian is one of my mother tongues, it was very natural for me to talk Italian to him from the beginning. Our home languages were Italian (me and my son), Swissgerman (my husband and my son) and German (my husband and me) and we were convinced that he would pick up German automatically too.

When we moved to the Netherlands our son was 2.5 years old and he went to a dutch daycare twice a week since almost immediately. After two months he started to talk less and…

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Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 7.5; 5.5 and 2.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here earlier.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

 
10 Comments

Posted by on July 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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It’s a Text, Text, Text, Text World!

Image Credit: http://tumblr.com

Image Credit: http://tumblr.com

Today, trying to answer the intriguing question proposed by the Daily Prompt:

How do you communicate differently online than in person, if at all? How do you communicate emotion and intent in a purely written medium?

 

Humm… how differently do I communicate online when compared to communicating in person?

I guess I’m part of a minority group when it comes to texting [or messaging, whichever new word has come up to describe the attempt to quickly deliver your thoughts within the cyber-world!]. I’m sure many over here have heard [or read] about the ‘new language’, a new way of expression, the so-called ‘Weblish’, defined as the shorthand form of English that is used in text messaging, chat rooms, twitter posts and other forms of microblogging. So, how much do I [personally] rely on this particular language form, which has gained the unconditional support as the ‘urban grammar’ used as a slang for online conversations? Not much, I’d say. [Is it a bad thing??]

I love interacting with people, you know, the real kind of interaction, the one you need to vocalize the words in order to establish a conversation? Yeap, that kind. I’m a blogger, and being so, I’m completely open to using any and all social media tools that become available.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not against networking, the social media tools [when well used!], and I tend to blog the way I write. I write the way I believe it’s possible to give my thoughts a voice. I’m a chatty cat, if allowed! ♥

Back to the social networking ‘channels’, I not only admin and maintain a photo/travel journal blog, but also, a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page. Shocked?? By now, many are probably wondering: is this hypocritical woman gonna make any point with all this ‘nice talk’?

Again, I’ve got no intention to put down all the research years that have brought the internet [and all its related content, mechanisms and pathways] to where we are, right now. And I’m grateful to all the advances in technology that make possible for me to skype with family around the world, send and share images/videos of my growing children, offer and receive support from other expats through blogging/microblogging.

But, I have to say, I’m a bit nostalgic. I remember the days I’d correspond with people using letter mail. I remember the great feeling of receiving a birthday card from a family member, getting an expected phone call from a good friend [remember when we didn’t have caller ID?], or a paper note from that special boy at school, with handmade drawings… :o

These events have a dear place in my memory, and it saddens me to think they may be gone by the time my children would be ready for those experiences. I feel that now, things are moving a bit too fast, and unfortunately, we, as a society, tend not to allow ourselves to spend a little more time interacting with each other…

I’m a believer. I believe in TEXT. The real kind, the one where words [not signs, not smiley faces, not words without letters] are used to express our true thoughts, feelings and emotions I’m believer, what can I say? And since I’m a bit older than many here [pushing 42, right now…:o], I’ve survived without the internet, but now, it’s a critical part of my life; I feel like I can have my saying…. I’m old-school, and if I need to text, I’ll do so, with no regrets. But if the message gets a bit longer than I have the patience to type, I just write: “Need to touch base. Will write you an e-mail”… and all my problems are, magically, solved! :o

texting... Humm???

Image Credit: http://facebook.com

What about you, are you like me, or completely different? In any event, thank you all for sharing! TEXT-TEXT TEXT/ [pingbacked to other bloggers, sharing their takes on the theme!]

 
8 Comments

Posted by on May 6, 2013 in LANGUAGE, post a day

 

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Weekly Writing Challenge: “Yo Falo Portuñol [and Spanglish!]“

In green, the areas where "Portunol"  is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from wikipedia.com

In green, the areas where “Portunol” is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from http://wikipedia.com

Oh, well, this one should be interesting!

The inspiration for this week’s writing challenge is ‘a manner of speaking’.

Recently, I just shared my very personal point of view on why do I write‘, really meaning ‘why do I blog‘ – and the answers are quite simple: I write, blog, share, because it’s the easiest, fastest, simplest way to reach out to other [bloggers], get feedback [from within the traveling, expat community], vent out [my difficulties, challenges] and exchange [experiences, lessons learned and why not, 'things that one should not do while trying to raise kids around the world!'] :o

I also try to blog in different languages – although my posts tend to be mostly in English, my mother tongue is Continental Portuguese [born and raised in the beautiful & multicultural country of Brazil!], and to top it all off, we’re living and working in Bolivia, whose national language is Spanish. That said, my work days are spent in 2 languages that aren’t really, ‘mine’… Despite the obvious exhaustion at the end of the day, I’m surviving…

At work: I talk to people in English and in ‘Portuñol’. My staff is kind enough to ‘pretend’ they’re fully understanding what I’m struggling to tell them! Conversations with local nationals are often established in ‘Spanglish’ and in Portuñol.

At home: it’s a mix. Met my husband several years back, while still in Brazil, and the two of us would have long conversations in Portuguese. Years went by, and now we created a mixed language that tends to gravitate towards the ‘one who’s the most tired': if it’s me, than, we talk in Portuguese. If it’s him, the conversation will move toward English. But we’re not done, there are the 3 kids, adding to this lingual melting pot: the older ones, due to the international school, show some preference to English, while the toddler showcases her abilities in Spanish Paceño [typical of La Paz], with a few words in Aymara [indigenous dialect], here and there… :o

Somehow, all of us, who are continuously swinging between two or more languages, find our way to adjust, to adapt to new scenarios, and keep on moving. We keep on talking [and boy, I'm a chatty cat, if allowed to be!] – communication is one of the most powerful tools our society’s got, and when well used, it’s not only a diplomatic tool, but it also enhances our chances to improve social relationships at home, at the work level, and emotionally. ♥

" Amanhana, yo hablo!"
” Amanhana, yo hablo!”

“Amanhãna eu hablo. Si queden tranquilis!”

[this is a classic example of Portuñol - very likely, the intention was to say: 'I'll talk about it tomorrow, stay calm".]  Photo credit here.

For the Spanish-speaking readers here, this sentence probably sounds like a joke… and guess what, was produced by one of Brazil’s former President, while addressing the Mercosul community!]. Jokes aside, I’m proud to have a mixed background, and even more proud to have the ability to share that with my growing children. I speak Spanglish. I speak Portuñol. Yo hablo whatever mix between these three languages is required to have the conversation going… The goal is to communicate. Hopefully, I’m on the right track… and if not, I’ll graciously find my way out: ‘yo no comprendo…’ :oI’ve got no idea what you’re talking about...’ And, if I’m lucky enough, I won’t find myself lost in translation through life! ♥

In order to wrap it all up, a poem, written in the “most pure Portunol“, by a Brazilian GauchoMario Quintana:

Don Ramón se tomo um pifón:
bebia demasiado, don Ramón!

Y al volver cambaleante a su casa,
avistó em el camino:
um árbol
y um toro…

Pero como veia duplo, don Ramón
vio um árbol que era
y um árbol que no era,
um toro que era
y um toro que no era.
Y don Ramón se subió al árbol que no era:
Y lo atropelo el toro que era.
Triste fim de don Ramón!

 

 
22 Comments

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in humor, LANGUAGE

 

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23 months of blogging, with over 120,000 visits… Thank you!

120,000 hitsMarch 2011 marked my very first blogpost: shared impressions from the world’s largest street carnival. It was obviously in Brazil, the country that lives and breathes popular festivities, and our assignment with the foreign service from 2010 to 2012.

From that point on, blogposts began to come out quite often, increasing the number of subscribers, comments, Facebook Page fans [over 230], Twitter followers [over 350], and blog followers [now at 983]. Being picked to be Freshly Pressed a couple of times by the WordPress editors was definitely a good burst on the social part of it, coupled with the recent popular vote for best Expat Blog about our current home, Bolivia; and the mention of being one of the best parental/family blogs for families wondering about life with kids in the foreign service, according to Gaddling, the world’s top travel blog. Many thanks! 

Screen shot 2013-02-27 at 8.40.18 AM

Today, another milestone was reached, having me surprised and pleased, finding out that our ‘family travel & photoblog‘ displayed over 120,000 visits.

Being passionate about your life experiences, sharing images and impressions, reporting what one sees happening around, somehow, pays back. At least, in the blogsphere… I’m inspired by the several bloggers who take part at the writing prompts, Weekly Photo Challenges, FrizzText and Jake Austria, probably being my very first inspiration (thank you both!); as well as, all the beautiful ideas shared by Ailsa, from ‘Where’s my Backpack?‘, with her travel theme challenges, and The Island Traveler, a parent, like many of us, who decided to share some beauty from their regular lives with the world…

Thank you all out there, parents, expats, bloggers, friends, for reading, commenting, following, and for offering a great deal of inspiration… blogging is fun! :o
What is your NEXT MILESTONE? Your Blog Milestone? Share here, if you care! Thanks!♥
 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in expat, LANGUAGE

 

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“To have a second language is to possess a second soul” (Charlemagne)

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… Recently, CNN brought out an interesting/challenging/poking discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’m sharing below.

A very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality.  From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours

Good reading!

Benefits of Multilingualism

By Michał B. Paradowski
Institute of Applied Linguistics,
 University of Warsaw

The advantages that multilinguals exhibit over monolinguals are not restricted to linguistic knowledge only, but extend outside the area of language. The substantial long-lived cognitive, social, personal, academic, and professional benefits of enrichment bilingual contexts have been well documented. Children and older persons learning foreign languages have been demonstrated to:

  • have a keener awareness and sharper perception of language. Foreign language learning “enhances children’s understanding of how language itself works and their ability to manipulate language in the service of thinking and problem solving”; 
  • be more capable of separating meaning from form;
  • learn more rapidly in their native language (L1), regardless of race, gender, or academic level;
  • be more efficient communicators in the L1;
  • be consistently better able to deal with distractions, which may help offset age-related declines in mental dexterity;
  • develop a markedly better language proficiency in, sensitivity to, and understanding of their mother tongue;
  • develop a greater vocabulary size over age, including that in their L1;
  • have a better ear for listening and sharper memories;
  • be better language learners in institutionalized learning contexts because of more developed language-learning capacities owing to the more complex linguistic knowledge and higher language awareness;
  • have increased ability to apply more reading strategies effectively due to their greater experience in language learning and reading in two—or more—different languages;
  • develop not only better verbal, but also spatial abilities;
  • parcel up and categorize meanings in different ways;
  • display generally greater cognitive flexibility, better problem solving and higher-order thinking skills;
  • a person who speaks multiple languages has a stereoscopic vision of the world from two or more perspectives, enabling them to be more flexible in their thinking, learn reading more easily. Multilinguals, therefore, are not restricted to a single world-view, but also have a better understanding that other outlooks are possible. Indeed, this has always been seen as one of the main educational advantages of language teaching”; 
  • multilinguals can expand their personal horizons and—being simultaneously insiders and outsiders—see their own culture from a new perspective not available to monoglots, enabling the comparison, contrast, and understanding of cultural concepts;
  • be better problem-solvers gaining multiple perspectives on issues at hand;
  • have improved critical thinking abilities;
  • better understand and appreciate people of other countries, thereby lessening racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, as the learning of a new language usually brings with it a revelation of a new culture;
  • learn further languages more quickly and efficiently than their hitherto monolingual peers;
  • to say nothing of the social and employment advantages of being bilingual {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains}– offering the student the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to interact with, and increasing job opportunities in many careers {The Value In Being Bilingual or Multilingual}.
 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 17, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…

“Are you curious?” We are! :o

**UPDATE: Follow-up post discussing thoughts on Diversity & Raising Children as Expats

I often talk about the challenges of parenting, especially considering the difficulties placed by language and culture, one of the many issues associated with moving to a different country, every couple of years. That said, I took a look back at the posts published in 2012, mainly on parenting & language, and found one that generated a very instructive feedback; working as a sort of a ‘discussion forum‘, that I plan on exploring/expanding at length, some time this year… [Another one of my New Year's Resolutions... Like everyone else, I know there'll be a great deal of 'procrastination' before I'll be able to cross tasks off my 2013 to-do list!]

Oh, well, at least, I’m taking the time to revisit thoughts/facts/articles… it’s the first step for the beginning of a good research! :o

The post that got me thinking was one related to a simple question: “What type of multilingual parent are you?”, pointed out by the Mumsnet Bloggers Network for 2012; that had been initiated by a clever quote about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children:

“…raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“.

Last year’s blogpost provoked a very positive reaction, expressed through the number of visitors, and especially, throughout the comments, coming from parents, consultants, educators, expats like ourselves, or simply, other parents who echo our opinions about how challenging, adventurous and/or never-ending this experience should be.

Learning should never stop, and teaching our kids through example is the best way to keep ourselves current! At least, that’s the hope! :o

Here are some of the comments, and based on their [shared] experiences, it could be YOUR TURN to answer – what type of multilingual parent are you? Or, even better, what type of [multilingual] parent you hope to become?

But first, let me thank all the visitors/readers who shared a comment, or who sent me a message [with your opinion/suggestion] regarding this topic. It makes the blogging experience much richer, more productive, and way more enjoyable! My deepest appreciation to all of you! ♥

VisitorMy husband is a German TCK growing up in Taiwan, and thinks in English most of the time. He is fluent in German and can read fairly well – though he is more comfortable in English. We are living in a Chinese environment and have been since we’ve been married. We had high hopes of me speaking English and him speaking German, but that didn’t work out. I’d say mainly because he didn’t think in German when the oldest was born – he rarely spoke German to anyone. So, remembering to speak it at home was difficult. He did better speaking Chinese to them.  On top of this, his family all speaks English fluently, so there was no pressure on us in that regard as well.
 I do have a question, though that I’m wondering. Will you continue to educate your children in all three languages through middle school and high school or focus more on one language? I’m just really curious about this. You seem to be really doing a great job with them right now so that they master both written and spoken of the three. Great post to ponder on… 

           
Visitor  
In our house we speak English, Spanish and Dutch and the boys seem to know all three languages equally. My five year old is a dynamo with languages. He can switch, translate and think in all three. My two year old understands all three but is not as talkative as my five year old was. We lived in Mozambique with the older one until the age of three and he was able to speak 4 languages when we lived there. It is curious to see how the different children take to the languages differently. I thought for sure my two year old would be the same since we haven’t done anything really different, but I noticed he is taking longer to use his words, although you can see he understands all three. I call Dutch the secret language in my house, because only the boys (not me) speak it. So basically this is how it works: School = English, Language we speak as a family = English, Mommy = Spanglish to the boys (more spanish), Daddy = Dutch to the boys, Empleada/Nanny = always Spanish. The boys will also take Dutch lessons once or twice a week. It is definitely challenging, but so worth it. We don’t really think about it… just the way we live our life.
                        
      
Visitor Enjoyed your post! All the more so since /multilingual-multicultural life – as mentioned by Sakti above – is part and parcel of life in India! I think it is an advantage more than a challenge, an opportunity to broaden horizons!


 
Visitor I am probably not looking at it from a parents’ perspective.  My challenge is to make sure some of our less spoken languages – that includes my mother tongue, that my grandkids can not speak! – do not become extinct!
 

      
VisitorVery interesting. I am from India and we have a different challenge as India has more than 2 dozens of official languages. I studied a different language (Odia) than my mother tongue (Bengali) and now staying in a state, which speak another language (Gujarati). Everybody in India speaks English and Hindi. So my kids (both below 6 years) now have almost learnt to speak and understand all the above languages. Yes it is a challenge.


 

VisitorThanks for the mention of our upcoming session on Emotional Resiliency in Foreign Service Kids that will be held next week (*). Even though you won’t get to see it live, AFSA will upload the video to their website for worldwide viewing. 
I wish I could comment on what kind of bilingual parent I am…. but mine would be more of what I failure I was! When my daughter was 2, we left Portugal, where we had spoken Portuguese in the home when our housekeeper was around. The housekeeper only spoke to my daughter in Portuguese from infancy, so our daughter understood Portuguese as well as English. When we left Portugal, I tried to continue the Portuguese with her, only – at the age of only 2! – she wouldn’t answer me in Portuguese and finally admonished me to “stop speaking like Dolores!” I finally gave up on it.
 

           (*) Please refer to original post for the full text, and more details on the 2012 AFSA initiative.

 
Visitor I’m inspired to speak spanish at home more now. My kids’ dad all speak Spanish and I beg them to speak Spanish to the kids but they haven’t. My mom was raised bilingual, I was until they couldn’t accurately diagnose my infant-aged hearing issues because they couldn’t tell if I didn’t hear them or didn’t understand them so they told my mom to stop speaking Hungarian to me and she did. But she still wishes she’d have kept up with it. Other countries are so great with this and the US doesn’t do enough!
 

           
VisitorThis is so interesting! We also got “moderate parent”. I try to speak spanish to them most of the time but sometimes forget. I also read to them in french and english is the main language in the household. I’m taking them to a spanish speaking playgroup in hopes Evan will be motivated by seeing other little kids speak spanish! Great post!




 

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11 days to Christmas: It’s Friday! The Hormone Guide…

Friday is here… holidays are just around the corner… Husband’s gone on a work trip. This mom is left home with 3 little ones and a pet hamster [come on, what you mean 'you won't be able to clean his house today? how is it any different from all the other days?'] Oh, well, gotta find something to cheer me up, and sure enough, rescued an old post, especially prepared for Fridays like today.

Read and learn – great tip for this holiday season, where, we, women, tend to eat shop talk indulge a little bit too much! :o

It’s coming from another woman, to all other women, and probably, all men with a good sense of humor…

Source: another fellow blogger, with great sense of humor! :o

 
13 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2012 in ART, humor, LANGUAGE

 

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Twenty months of blogging, and the 100,000 hits milestone is reached. Thank you!

Credit: Google Images

http://sassandbalderdash.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/one-lovely-blog1.jpg?w=227&h=270&h=270 March 2011 marked my very first blogpost: shared impressions from the world’s largest street carnival. It was obviously in Brazil, the country that lives and breathes popular festivities, and our assignment with the foreign service from 2010 to 2012. From that point on, blogposts began to come out quite often, increasing the number of subscribers, comments and blog followers. 

Today, a great milestone was reached, having me surprised and pleased, finding out that our ‘family travel & photoblog‘ displayed over 100,000 visits.

Being passionate about your life experiences, sharing images and impressions, reporting what one sees happening around, somehow, pays back. At least, in the blogsphere… I’m inspired by the several bloggers who take part at the WordPress writing prompts, Weekly Photo Challenges, FrizzText and Jake Austria, probably being my very first inspiration (thank you both!); as well as, all the beautiful ideas shared by Ailsa, from ‘Where’s my Backpack?‘, with her travel theme challenges, and The Island Traveler, a parent, like many of us, who decided to share some beauty from their regular lives with the world… It’s great to have wonderful people out there, to look up to! I’m very grateful for all the support, and couldn’t have found a better time to show my gratitude [Thanksgiving just around the corner!]

Thank you all out there, parents, expats, bloggers, friends, for reading, commenting, following, and for offering a great deal of inspiration… Now, moving on to the next 100K visits… blogging is fun! :o

Now, now is it, for you all? What is your NEXT MILESTONE? Your Blog Milestone? Share here, if you care! Thanks!♥

 
20 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2012 in expat, foreign service, LANGUAGE

 

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Updated: Thoughts on ‘what type of multilingual parent are you?’…

“Are you curious?”  We are!

Blog Hop: I’ve talked before about our family’s cultural settings – husband and wife coming from different (but not exclusive) cultures/languages, raising our 3 TCKs, all now 7 years of age, and under; as well as presented thoughts on the Creative Flow of a TCK. This past April, AFSA hosted a panel discussion on emotional resilience in third-culture kids (TCKs) with a particular focus on the Foreign Service experience, during the first week of April. Experts on the issue of TCKs are expected to discuss the issue, taking questions from the audience – too bad we´re a bit far from DC, but we´re looking forward to reading about the discussion. The main question under discussion will be why some kids adapt very well to life in the Foreign Service while others struggle [check the AFSA website for more information].

Phonics & Math: let’s get the family together to help!

From my/our end, we are trying to do our part of the challenging task that is raising worldy third-culture children. And we´re doing it through language. It’s already known that speaking several languages fluently increases job opportunities, makes international travel easier, and enables you to communicate with a lot more people a lot more easily. There are various theories on how to best raise multilingual kids. “One parent, one language” (OPOL for short) is popular, and to some extent that is what we’re doing in our family.

One thing we’ve learned about raising TCKs: reading is a magic tool!

We’ve found out we’re “moderate” multilingual parents… At least, that’s how we tested, according to the Multilingual Living Quiz. Which is the best “group of multilingual parents”? Hard to say, they’re all different, and unique in their own way. There’s no magic formula when it comes to raising children in a multicultural setting. I’m always talking about our multilingual household, the challenges of trying to keep up with Spanish, Portuguese and English, while assisting our 1st grader on his (now!) English homework assignments, as well as with his homeschooling English/Spanish tasks! [Note: our son had started first grade in Brazil, last February, attending a Brazilian Montessori School, and had English classes three times a week. We moved to our current post, La Paz, Bolivia, in August, so, he could begin the American School year, as a first grader...] And our oldest child is just one of the examples: there two more on the line – his younger sisters (now aged 4,5 and almost 2) are a lively part of this multilingual/multicultural environment….

Looking for “help” from flashcards, when it comes to linking the sounds to the words!

Challenging, but exciting. And we’re very satisfied with the outcome: our oldest children are capable of communicating with both sets of grandparents, watching bilingual TV, having play dates both in English and Portuguese, and, offer very positive feedback to their dad when talked to/read to in Spanish. :o Recently, I stumbled upon a great quote, about the experience of raising bi/multilingual children: “raising multilingual children is an adventure you share together – one that is a lot of fun, but for which you will need quite a lot of patience. Sometimes, linguistic development will not progress in the way you hoped. That is fine, and everything will eventually work itself out. Sharing my language with my children has been about sharing my heritage more than anything else. It might be difficult at times, but it is a gift that will last a lifetime“. Couldn’t agree more! :o 

Remembering bed time stories: from mom, in Portuguese… From dad, in English!

Helping our oldest children with their homework in Portuguese, having them practice English phonics with their native-speaker father, seeing the children have routine conversations with their dad in Spanish and English; and reading bed time stories in … who knows what!

We’ve been very fortunate regarding the kids school back in Brazil (they get both Portuguese and English), and we were thankful for the opportunity to use the educational allowance for homeschooling our 1st grader when it came to supplement his English language.

All in all, it’s working, and we’re pleased with the current results. Based on the explanation for each “group of multilingual parenting styles”, the Moderate Parent has found the golden middle way of bilingual parenting. Well-informed about bilingual issues yet know that ultimately they have to make your own rules and decisions that suit your family the best. Have a healthy dose of commitment towards your bilingual endeavour, a reasonable amount of self-confidence in what you are doing, and have no problem in bending the rules when necessary and when it’s in your family’s best interest. the “moderate parents” have chosen a model, are committed to it, and don’t give up easily when troubles arise. Acquainted with worries and problems but can ride through rough times by getting the right support from certain experts, their online group and other bilingual parents.

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

After all that, now it’s your turn to answer: “What type of multilingual parent do you think you are?” Take the quiz and find out! Here are examples of the questions:

“When you are on the playground with your child, you…”

“When your child speaks to you in the “wrong” language, you…”

“When it comes to literature on bilingualism, you…”

“Your reaction to the word “OPOL” is…”

“Your aim is for your child is…”

And there are many more questions/concerns/curiosities… Take your time to check it out!

So, how do you think you did?

Click Here to calculate your score and find out the results! We had a lot of fun (and learned a lot!) doing this little exercise! :o thanks for coming along!

 

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How sweet! The Super Sweet Blogging Award!

I simply love cupcakes – even shared before a personal recipe for “Margarita Cupcakes“, with and without alcohol, for little ones… :o
Although I love baking them, especially for my kids’ birthday parties, this year, I’ll take a break – beginning this October, I’ll be BUYING ALL SWEET TREATS for my ones special’ special day… And why? Just because I’m realizing that, between the sweetness of all the planning, and the crude execution, assembling, decorating, there’s  pretty STRESSED PERSON – somebody who ends up changing from a sweet mom into a CRANKY, TIRED, bossy, baker…
And from this point on, I’ve decided: I want the ‘sweet, kind mommy’ back into my kitchen! My kids deserve better than a stormy mother running around the kitchen, before breakfast time! And their dad deserves a caring partner, instead of a screaming wife, telling him to get the decorations ready, while she’s finishing up with the toppings! :o
That said, I’m retiring from my “home-baking goods mommy business” – at least, until one of my girls, now aged 4 and almost 2, are able to jump in and help mom in the kitchen. Until then, dear ‘commercial bakers out there’, I’m all yours! :o
Coincidently, right after I had this ‘realization’, I found out my blog had been nominated for a SUPER SWEET BLOG AWARD! 
Maybe, it’s the sign I was looking for: I can still write, share experiences and images, discuss with other parents about the challenges of raising TCKs all over the map, and enjoy celebrating my kids special days… with ZERO STRESS! Loved it!
So, here is the award, its rules and next steps: Enjoy! ♥

Thanks to Catherine, from Mezzaphonically Speaking for being super sweet and nominating me for the Super Sweet Blogging Award!  I appreciate this special honor and opportunity!

Rules for this award include:
– Thank the super sweet blogger who made the nomination.
– Nominate a baker’s dozen of other bloggers:

They are bloggers talking about life, food, kids, adventures… All in all, a ‘treat’ to read! Go check them out – they’re some of the examples of readings that keep me going!

And answer five questions:

  • Cookie or cake? Cookie
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla
  • What is your favorite sweet treat? Brazilian Dark Chocolate (the tiny ones with caramel!)
  • When do you crave sweet things the most? Night
  • If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be? Cupcake! 

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18 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2012 in expat, FOOD, LANGUAGE

 

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Music to Help Children Learn a New Language

…10 minutes at a time

by CONTRIBUTOR on MAY 14, 2012 (from MultiLingual Living)

Music to Help Bilingual Children Learn a New Language: 10 Minutes at a Time

By Franck & Cristina
Photo credit: sanbeiji

Music plays an important role in learning a second language. Similar areas of the brain are activated when listening to or playing music and speaking or processing language. Language and music are both associated with emotions, the combination makes it a powerful way to learn a second language.

Why is music so helpful to learn a second language?

  • Songs are fun
    We know that children, especially small children, really like music. They relate to it as entertainment and find learning vocabulary through songs amusing. Songs associated with hand and arm gestures are even more powerful in engaging children.
  • Songs increase retention
    Most of us are able to remember several children’s songs we learned as kids. Music helps us retain words and expressions much more effectively. The rhythm of the music helps with memorization, as do the repetitive patterns within the song.
  • Songs place vocabulary in context
    A song is also a little story. Children learn new words and expressions in the context of a story within the song. This will more easily captivate the attention of kids learning a new language. Words make sense faster when you learn them in the context of the lyrics in the song than when you learn them by themselves.

Below are 7 tips to help children learn another language with music, 10 minutes at a time:

  • Tip #1: Sing while nursing/giving the bottle
    With both Elena and Pablo, before they turned 1, I used to give the last bottle of the day around 11pm. I made it a habit to sing every time, both to relax them, get them to sleep, and have them hear French songs.
  • Tip #2: Finish the bedtime story with a song
    For about a year, I used to sing the same songs to Pablo in French at bedtime (“Un crocodile”, “Dans la maison un grand cerf”, “Dans la foret lointaine”). He was under two years old and he knew the lyrics by heart.
  • Tip #3: Play tag with a song
    We like “Aline”, a French hit from the 60s that has very clear lyrics. We would play “tag” with it: during the refrain, the kids had to leave “base” and I would chase them in the living room. The kids would ask to play the game almost every evening (and they knew the lyrics really well!).
  • Tip #4: Role play with a song
    There is a great Spanish song Cristina used frequently with the kids: “Hola Don Pepito, hola Don Jose”. It is a short dialogue between 2 characters, with simple lyrics. The music is engaging and made both Elena and Pablo want to sing with Cristina back-and-forth. Cristina and the kids would take turns and role playing one of the 2 characters.
  • Tip #5: Dance and learn
    YouTube has great videos of songs where you can dance. Elena and Pablo learned the alphabet in French with Chantal Goya’s “L’Alphabet en chantant”. It is a fun song where you have to mimic the letters with your hands and arms. They learned the alphabet in French much faster than me trying to teach them.
  • Tip #6: Sing together in the car
    Make a routine out of a specific car ride: going to school, coming back from school, going to the park, getting groceries, etc. You can listen to your favorite songs in the target language during one of the car rides as well. This is why Elena and Pablo know the lyrics of “Les Champs Elysees” from Joe Dassin by heart.
  • Tip #7: Family karaoke
    We learn Chinese as a family. We LOVE “Tian mi mi” of Teresa Teng. We found a YouTube video with “Tian mi mi” lyrics on the bottom of the screen. Everyone in the family can sing the song now. Singing it in our Chinese neighborhood restaurant even got us free desserts.

What other ways do you use music to teach your kids a second language? Please share them with us!

[Test originally published in Multilingual Living Magazine]

 

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Ren Taiko: Japanese drums in Recife

 

Getting ready for this year’s Japanese Fair in Recife: (text in Portuguese)

Tendo como tema os tradicionais tambores japoneses, conhecidos como Taiko, no próximo dia 27 de novembro, o Recife Antigo irá sediar a 15ª edição da Feira Japonesa do Recife.

Aberta ao público e com atrações culturais que envolvem desde apresentações de corais e danças típicas a perfomances de cosplays e karaokê, o último domingo de novembro dará um gosto mais oriental à capital do frevo. Então, marque na sua agenda e aproveite a feira para conhecer um pouco mais da cultura nipônica.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 10, 2011 in ART, JAPAN, LANGUAGE, photography

 

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