About tacodelenguas

We are an English/Mexican family living in Bristol, UK. We speak Spanish at home (ML@H).

La cumpleañera at 2!

lighted candles on cupcakes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

E will be two in a couple of weeks and she’s in a period of language explosion! Spanish is definitely her strongest spoken language at the moment but she does understand a lot of English too. I couldn’t begin to count her words but I am sure there’s over 100.

She uses lots of everyday words like household items, greetings, clothes, toys, numbed, parts of the body, food, animals, feelings, vehicles, colours, people’s names. She’s also using phrases such as vamos, siéntate, muevate, dame, ayudame. She’ll put words into short phrases too such as: calecetines quitar, triste gato, papa llegó, camisa papa, turno mamá, paleta rica, mas pasta, vaso leche, gaviota robó pan, tengo paleta, gatos pelos, camisa loros donde esta? She’s also beginning to use verbs correctly of the most common being caei, and cayó. In fact, she’s using new words every day now in Spanish.

In English she says: today, I do it, ready go, let’s go, what’s this, this, that and a few animals like cat and pig. What I’ve noticed recently is if I’m reading and I stop before the end of the phrase, she’s able to complete it.

She’s also starting to sing along to songs in Spanish and French including Los Pollitos Dicen, Fait Dodo and Sur le Pont d’Avignon.  She loves books and we read everyday in all three languages. I’d love to hear about your 2 year olds too! Do share your stories.


On the hunt for second hand books



At 50p per children’s book –  you can’t really go wrong at Bookbarn International! It is an immense warehouse full of second hand books, there’s a large children’s sections with toys and a cafe.  The selection of books for children in other languages is small but worth checking out.  They don’t have a catalogue so you don’t know what you’ll find til you get there!  So far I’ve only found French books but I will keep hoping some Spanish ones appear too!

I’ve also used eBay and Gumtree to look for deals on Spanish children’s books in the UK. Do you know of any other places? I’d love to hear about them!

DIY bilingual picture books

We have lots of picture books in English. Paperback picture books are relatively cheap in the UK and you can easily find deals and offers as well second hand books.

I’ve been trying extra hard to expand our collection of Spanish books since reading How to Maximise your Child’s Bilingual Ability.

I’ve bought a few Spanish book bundles on eBay and Gumtree and from a local Spanish speaking mum I know. And I’ve visited Bookbarn International on several occasions (unfortunately I’ve yet to find any Spanish books but it’s been great for French!).

Although it’s quick and easy to order books online from Amazon.es. Books in Spain are considerably more expensive than here, with each picture book costing 12-15 euros. For example for the price of one Julia Donaldson book in Spanish I can get a set of 10 in English!

My daughter is nearly 2 and loves books. She can concentrate well and enjoys stories with quite a lot of text. She’s particularly into Julia Donaldson at the moment. We have most of her books in English. To buy all the Spanish versions it would quickly add up to over £100! Similarly I’d love to get all the Mr Men & Little Miss books in Spanish too. In the UK you can buy discounted box sets of the whole collection. However I’ve contacted the publishers and they don’t offer box sets at all in Spanish. I’ve not yet decided whether to buy the set in English or slowly collect the Spanish ones individually.

My latest plan to bring more Spanish reading into our lives is to create bilingual books myself for free!

I do this by searching online for the translated text of books we already own and copying then into our English versions. YouTube is a great resource people often film themselves reading children’s stories. I’ve also found some pdf documents to download on Scribd. It’s digital service I’m trialing for free for 30 days.

Once I’ve found the Spanish text, I’m trying out different techniques depending on the book. Sometimes there’s space to write the Spanish text alongside the original words. For other books with more text I’ve just printed out the words and stuck the Spanish over the original text using masking tape. If you don’t want to write directly onto the book you can use masking tape or stickers.

Another advantage of making your existing books into bilingual versions is the space you save! I’m constantly trying to find new places for all our books! It’s also a change to read the stories in another language – as you know toddlers just love to have the same story over and over again!

Here’s a list of my DIY bilingual books so far :

  • What the ladybird heard
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • The Gruffalo
  • The day the crayons quit
  • Can’t you sleep, little bear
  • We’re going on a bear hunt
  • Dear Zoo

What are your favourite picture books? I’d love to discover more!

Reading progress

Just a quick post to update on our progress with reading in Spanish.

We’re working our way through these bilingual mini books from Scolastic, aiming for one per day. We usually only read the Spanish text but he wanted to do both for the video. I am now keeping them in the kitchen so we can read in the morning too. As you can see from the video, he’s made a lot of progress from just a couple of months ago. I am hoping once we’ve read all the mini books he’ll be reading for level 2 of Cati y Tomi.

So far my attempts to introduce other Spanish homework have not been very successful. He hasn’t wanted to complete any of the workbooks so I’ve decided to focus on daily reading for now instead.

Resources for Spanish homework (age 5)


I have recently introduced regular Spanish homework for S (5.5 years old) to complement the 1-2-1 lessons he’s been having once a week since he started primary school in September.  He can now read and write simple sentences in Spanish and my aim is to ensure his literacy skills continue to develop through 10 – 15 minutes of daily practise.

Our current homework routine takes places daily after bath time and prioritises his school reading books (two per week).  On top of that he reads a short amount of Spanish text to me daily.  We are currently working our way through two sets of bilingual mini books.

As well as reading, I have been collecting a range of workbooks and activity books for him to choose from.  I am starting by suggesting we complete one page of his choice per day – and I will report back later on our progress.

Here are the current resources we have (see photo above):

I’d love any other ideas. What resources do you use for your ml homework?

Establishing a minority language homework routine


I’ve recently finished reading Maximize your Child’s Bilingual Ability by Adam Beck.  One of the main ideas behind his thinking is the importance of regular daily exposure to the minority language. If your aim is to raise children who are not just bilingual but also biliterate, then this also means daily reading and writing practice. And if minority language or bilingual schooling is not available – this means establishing an effective homework routine.

This advice particularly stood out to me S is now at school almost full-time in the ML (English). We have had permission this year to collect him early once a week for a 1-2-1 Spanish class focused on literacy,  and we are hoping the school will allow us to continue this arrangement. However. is education is, and will always be, overwhelmingly in English.

Since starting school over six months ago S has started to use more English at home especially when recounting his school day. He will mix languages, mainly starting in Spanish but adding in words or phrases in English. However he’s still strong in the minority language and thankfully starting school hasn’t made him want to stop speaking Spanish at home.

Aware of all ML exposure he’s getting at school, I’ve been thinking about increasing the amount time we spend on Spanish reading and writing and not just relying on his weekly lesson.

S is now in his final term of his first year at school and we’ve settled into a good routine for his school reading homework.  This is how our daily after school routine looks (at least this is what we aim for) :

  • 4.20pm – PLAY –  Free play, inside or outside
  • 5pm – VIDEO – The children watch videos in Spanish while I cook dinner.
  • 5.30pm – DINNER – We chat about the school day and sometimes I read to them in Spanish while they’re eating.
  • 6pm – BATH.
  • 6.30pm – HOMEWORK
  • 7pm – PLAY – Free play with Daddy.
  • 7.40pm – BEDTIME  – Bedtime stories and to sleep

As S is in Reception is only school homework is reading. He gets two books per weeks which take about 15 minutes over two to four days to complete.  We’ve recently incorporated daily Spanish reading books (ie he reads to us) into our homework session. Now S is able to read short sentences in Spanish he is also reading a short mini book or a couple of pages of a longer book as part of this routine.

My aim now is to slowly add in some Spanish workbooks and other literacy activities on top of the reading book, still keeping within 30 minutes for the whole homework session (both English and Spanish).

My next post will discuss some of the resources I am planning on using for this homework session.  I’d love to hear any suggestions? What are you using for this age group?

Creating a text-rich (minority language) home environment

I was recently recommended a book by Adam Beck called Maximize your Child’s Bilingual Ability. Although when I was pregnant with S and in the early baby days I read quite a few books about bilingualism, it’s actually been a long time since I’ve picked up a book on this topic. The reviews suggested it was full of practical tips, activities and suggestions for bilingual families – perfect. That’s just the type of book I could do with.

I’ve just looked back and found a blog post from May 2013 where I complain about the books I found being largely theoretical and their focus on the benefits of bilingualism rather than being the ‘how to’ guide I was looking for. Since then I’ve also read Bilingual is Better which focuses on the Latino community in the US.

I haven’t read whole of Adam’s book yet but one of the ideas that really struck me was about captive reading – providing lots of small opportunities for reading by exposing your children to a home environment rich in ml text. I noticed when we were in Spain earlier this year how S was automatically drawn to all the text surrounding us in the street on shop fronts, adverts and signposts. He also learnt to spell his full name quite soon after we stuck wooden letters on his door. I had also been thinking about buying some Spanish wall-charts too – although we may end up making some ourselves.

As S is starting to read in Spanish I though this was an excellent idea and we’ve already started experimenting. I’ve stuck up whiteboard stickers around the house and also found a white pen for writing on glass. I’ve been writing lots of different messages for my son – using short rhymes and jokes to write as well as leaving personal messages like ‘don’t forget to brush your teeth’ in the bathroom mirror. S has even started wanting to write me messages himself so it’s become a stimulus for both reading and writing in the ml.