I had the pleasure of talking with Sue Young, a wonderful musician who creates bilingual children's music. Here are the answers to some of my questions.
In what parts of Latin America have you lived?
I lived in Quito for a year, actually it was my junior year of college. Then I traveled around South America to some other countries when I had breaks in my schooling.
What do you love most about the Latin American culture?
I loved the warmth and friendliness of the people that I met there. They made me feel so welcome. Friendship is so highly valued in that culture and I found I really enjoyed that.
What do you love most about the Latin American music?
I am a musician and have been my whole life. I come from a musical family. We moved to New Mexico when I was starting high school. The Hispanic culture has a big influence in New Mexico, so I started getting interested in it there. For example, we would sing some songs in Spanish at church and things like that.
How did you learn Spanish?
I started studying Spanish in Junior High and just continued in college. Of course, when I got to spend a year in South America, that’s when I really learned to speak Spanish.
Why did you decide to create Bilingual music for children?
It kind of grew organically out of teaching. When I moved to Austin in 1985, I started teaching first music to young children and then some of the parents of the students asked me to teach their kids Spanish. So I started teaching Spanish. The way that kids learn best is through play, through songs and games and rhymes. It was just a very natural way for me to teach kids through music. I had fallen in love with Latin American music when I was in Latin America. There is so much wonderful Latin American music.
What advice would you give parents who are teaching their children Spanish?
First of all, make it fun. Make it a game. One idea that I had, one thing that I do when I am teaching, when I try to teach a conversational type thing in Spanish, is I use puppets. You can tell the kids that this puppet and every puppet has a name (Diego el gallo, Rosa la rana). [Like] this is Guillermo and he is from Mexico and he can only speak in Spanish and he only can understand Spanish. If you want to talk to him, you have to talk to him in Spanish. Then you come up with some scenario where there is a conversation and you can model the conversation with the puppet. You say something and the puppet says something back and then the kid gets to talk to the puppet.
Do you ever give performances to groups?
I do performances for storytelling and music…for kids and families. Sometimes it’s in Austin, but more often I travel around Texas in schools and libraries mainly. Usually I end up telling the stories in English since most of my audience is primarily Spanish speaking, but I always throw in some Spanish and the songs that I do for the Latin American show will mostly be in Spanish or they will be bilingual.
Please click here to enter a giveaway with her CD which includes traditional Latin American legends and songs.
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