My name is Emma Butterfield Corbet.
I am the mother of four beautiful little souls. I am a wife. I am a teacher in my home. I am a photographer. I am also a native English-speaker who deeply values multilingualism and has a great appreciation for the cultures of our world.
As a homeschooling mother, I am constantly researching all things related to education. The benefits of bilingualism, and multilingualism, cannot be ignored. They are proven and vast. There are many encouraging scientific studies demonstrating the varied ways in which the ability to speak in more than one language affects our brain, our intelligence, and our ability to see and understand the world.
Growing up in California, my Spanish language journey began in seventh grade at my public middle school. We worked out of a textbook; completing worksheets and practicing scripted conversations with our classmates. I continued Spanish into eighth and ninth grade, and also took a semester in college. Yet, I ended up in the classic "I can understand much more than I can speak" scenario. I couldn't have a meaningful conversation in Spanish, let alone think in the language. All I had was some vocabulary and highly scripted conversational skills up my sleeve. Longingly I had wished that Spanish had been easier for me to learn and it felt like I had somehow failed. I know it wasn't for a lack of effort, though, so what had gone so terribly wrong in my education?
The truth of the matter is that many of the ways the Spanish language is taught in the United States are failing and don’t lead to true proficiency. I, myself, had experienced this. Desperately I wanted to find a better way for my children to learn. Naturally I turned to Google. My search began, “how to teach your children Spanish” and then, “how to teach your children Spanish when you only speak English.” I read every list, blog, and program description I could find. Nothing I found matched my hopes. Everything seemed to be video or app-based and, in some cases, way too expensive. The more I read and learned about how people acquire language, the science behind acquisition, and the processes involved in our brains, the more discouraged I became. What I discovered, and the conclusion I reached, was: the best way to teach Spanish to my children is the exact same way that I am teaching them English, by immersing them in it.
When people talk about successfully raising bilingual children they talk about moving their family to a country that speaks the target language or using the OPOL method (one parent one language, where each parent strictly speaks in only one language with their children). Others enroll their children in some form of immersion school. All of these are wonderful ways to learn a language, but what if none of them are available or realistic for my family? Is it hopeless? Is it even possible to introduce another language into our home? Am I left only with app and video-based learning options? Do I have to compromise my beliefs about screen-use with my children because it is their only hope of learning another language? How can I possibly provide immersive Spanish language learning at home when I am so limited in communicating and expressing myself?
Beautiful Mundo was born because I think there are others out there just like me. I believe that no matter how unfavorable the circumstances we may be in for raising bilingual children, it can be done. By creating what I was so desperately searching for, my hope is to make it easier for the next family overwhelmed at the thought of teaching their little ones Spanish. I believe by teaching our children, we can teach ourselves.
At the heart of this curriculum is the hope that it will inspire happiness in our homes and create opportunities to share special moments with our children. That incorporating another language into our daily lives will be a fun and shared adventure, rather than a struggle or a source of frustration.