Being an ex-Spanish teacher and openly bilingual parent, I often get asked either one of two questions: “I don’t speak Spanish, but I want my kids to. What do I do?” or “My spouse speaks Spanish to the kids, but I don’t know how to reinforce it when he/she isn’t around. What do I do?” One night at dinner, a friend mentioned that she was using the MamaLingua app to answer those questions. As I investigated it, not only did I find that the app is FANTASTIC (it includes Spanish and English audio of important phrases used while raising kids, sorted by activity categories) but also found out the the creator lives right here in Denver! I reached out Aileen Passariello-McAleer, and was lucky that she took time to sit down with me to chat about her application Mama Lingua, but also was willing to give away THREE FREE DOWNLOADS to Pura Vida Moms readers! Here’s what we talked about in our interview – giveaway details below! Don’t miss our BilingualWe episode where Aileen talks to us about bilingual kids and screen time!
- Tell us a little bit about your background as it relates to bilingualism and multiculturalism.
I was born in Miami and my parents are Venezuelan- they immigrated to this country before I was born. Spanish was spoken at home, but everything else happened in English: school , my conversations with friends, etc. The only time I used Spanish was with family or at a Cuban restaurant – Miami wasn’t was it is today. I took Spanish at school for one hour a day, and back then the second language education was mostly about grammar and conjugations.
- What does bilingualism look like at your house, and why?
So I only speak in Spanish to my kids since the day they were born, and when they respond in English, I say what they should have said in Spanish and they repeat it. That’s where it is today. It wasn’t like that before. Simon (her oldest son) spoke Spanish up until he went to school. My husband does not speak Spanish, but he does understand it. When I continue to speak Spanish with my kids around him, he gets the gist of it. He responds in English and I just continue speaking to the kids in Spanish.
- How was MamaLingua born?
When Simon was small I wanted to create an environment that was Spanish speaking, but when I went to the park, everyone spoke English. So I posted free Spanish lessons out of my home on MeetUp. And 15 moms signed up. So the night before, I had to come up with a lesson plan, and the lesson plan was about playing with your child. I figured everyone was going to be in my playroom and playing with their child. So I created a dialogue, since most of these mosm had babies 0-2 there wasn’t much conversation happening. It was one-way conversations mom to child, so I created a Word doc of just phrases and vocabulary words on things that you would say when you are playing with your child. So I started hosting these weekly free Spanish lessons and one of my students, maybe a couple months in, approached me and said, “I think your stuff is really good, and I think that we should post online- are you interested? I said, “Yes, I was just waiting for the right person to come along.” So Christia Hoffman is a voice actress, an editor, and she has done web design. And so together we designed and created the content for this app that were were envisioning, and then we found an app developer… and here were are today.
- Who is MamaLingua for, and what are your hopes for its users?
MamaLingua was created to give moms a starting point to introduce a second language into their household. There is nothing out there today that provides you with an entry level conversation with your child in a second language that you do not already know. Rosetta Stone and DuoLingo are only for the general public, there is nothing that is specific to a mom’s life with a young child. A mom’s life with a young child is very repetitive, and it creates a great medium for learning a language. We wanted to create something that gives mothers a chance to learn Spanish in a more attainable and relevant way by providing them with daily conversations and words that are relevant to their child in their daily routine. Now, MamaLingua is becoming a community of moms who can connect and find people who are on the same journey… so they can do it together. Half the battle is finding peers who are on the same mission.
You can find Aileen and the MamaLingua community by using the hashtags on social media #mamalingua and #mymamalingua. Don’t forget to download the app here!
And you can enter our giveaway for a FREE DOWNLOAD of MamaLingua (three total prizes will be awarded!) by using the Rafflecopter link below – giveaway closes June 20th at midnight! Good luck!