Palabra Amiga, by Alma Flor Ada y Isabel Campoy

This month’s book of the month feature is Palabra Amiga written by Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Capoy. Palabra Amiga, written entirely in Spanish, is a tool for mastering the orthography of the Spanish language. The book offers: the opportunity to learn to differentiate the proper use of words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation, and among words that have multiple meanings; information about the development of the Spanish language; the origin of Spanish last names; a collection of valuable sayings from recognized Spanish authors.

Spanish is a language used in twenty-one countries in the world; while there are variations in local expressions, regional sayings, and phonemical pronunciations, the language is understood in basic conversation, academia, and in writing by all 400 million native speakers.

Spanish is a syllabic language and the pronunciation of is represented quite accurately in the written form. There are a few instances, however, in which certain consonants represent more than one sound, which when learning Spanish, must be mastered. Another important aspect is the appropriate use of accents.

The goal of Palabra Amiga is to help readers understand these linguistical aspects of Spanish in a deeper sense, preparing them for the application of the lexical differences.

The title itself emphasizes the significance of the language to express and refine one’s thinking. The language, palabra, can be our valuable friend, amiga, when we master it, and can utilize it to express our dreams and purposes. To do so correctly, contributes to its power.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the authors of Palabra Amiga…

Authors Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy share a common passion for bilingual education. Growing up in bilingual atmosphere, they had the unique opportunity to realize and understand at an early age the great advantages that represent being bilingual. Specifically, Campoy recalls her father insisting that languages would be an important piece of her life, leading her to become trilingual.

Ada and Campoy both believe that the journey to biliteracy and bilingualism starts at home with children, more specifically with the parents and books. Adults who surround a child during the first ten years of life have great influence in the development of their intellectual capabilities. The language children hear, the type of interactions they have with their surroundings, the number of experiences they are exposed to are all cornerstones in the foundation of their lives. Parents that have a language at home different from that at school, have the great opportunity to teach their children a tool that will be a great advantage in their adult life. Children do not need to substitute languages; rather, they need to add them.

Likewise, books do not substitute live experiences, but they are a great compliment. When children are read in the language they hear at home, when they look at illustrations that are invitations to new landscapes, cities, monuments, or people, or when they are presented with positive experiences, feelings or actions, the children will grow richer, more capable, more alert and open to learning.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the authors of Palabra Amiga…

When Ada and Campoy realized that teachers in the Dual Language community were looking for guidance, they decided to include a series of practice for each chapter in the book. Learners – using either the printed workbook or online version – will find everything they need to master the contents of each section.

Very few countries today are monolingual; it is common to hear multiple languages being used among families, in the streets, and throughout markets. In Latin America specifically, most countries have remained multilingual, with over 70 languages spoken in Colombia, over 50 in México, around 60 in Perú and over 30 in Guatemala and Bolivia. In many of those countries, children are also learning English.

To Ada and Campoy, languages are the seeds to create better worlds. They open bridges between cultures, and act as ambassadors of peace, collaboration, friendship and process.

The four skills basic for the learning of any language listening, speaking, reading and writing. While Palabra Amiga’s main focus is facilitating proper development of writing, it will also contribute to the success in all areas. This book will clarify the proper use of the language and the rules that support it.

Continue to the next page to learn more about the authors of Palabra Amiga…

Biliteracy is very important to Ada and Campoy, and a goal which they hope all students strive to reach.

The Seal of Biliteracy, specifically, rewards the effort that requires becoming biliterate and supports the well-known value of being bilingual. It is an added value for a student entering college and it is a plus to succeed in a modern world.

Thousands of students in the US have already graduated with a seal of biliteracy. Their mastering of a second language is complemented by an immersion in that culture and the result is no other than a better understanding of the world. While 27 states have already approved the seal, ten others are in the early stages of implementation and one state is under consideration.

According to the authors, MORE will always be MORE; more knowledge, more and broader horizons, more skills to be better prepared for an international future. The Seal of Biliteracy provide precisely that MORE long-term benefits for student’s lives.

Ada, Campoy, and their new book Palabras Amigas hope to help Spanish speakers – both native and learning – master the unique orthography of the Spanish language, while appreciating the overall importance of biliteracy.

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