A mother with children in the Spanish dual language immersion program in Santa Clarita, Marie Urquidi, created workbooks to help parents teach Tagalog and Spanish to their bilingual children.
Urquidi was like many parents struggling to help their children with distance learning during the pandemic. Although she took several years of high school Spanish, she struggled to help her children with their Spanish work.
After looking through Amazon to find a potential workbook to aid her in Spanish with her children, she discovered there wasn’t a workbook that suited her needs.
“My kid needs to hear Spanish and needs to converse, so I felt guilty and really lost,” Urquidi said about trying to help her children with their Spanish immersion homework.
Urquidi wanted a book that guided her with word conjugation and vocabulary, making it practical for parents to work with their children, so she decided to design her own books.
“I wanted something that would make it easy for parents that only speak English and can actually do something with their child in Spanish or Tagalog, make it be memorable and about being together,” Urquidi said.
The first step was to reach out to the Small Business Development Center, which helped Urquidi set up a business plan and learn a marketing strategy with a business adviser.
“It’s just a wonderful way for people that are like me, who are first-time entrepreneurs and learn how to start a business,” Urquidi said.
The next step for Urquidi was finding a Spanish editor who could best translate phrases that apply to the regional Spanish used in California. So often, Spanish and Tagalog have regional variations that use different terms or words.
To create the Tagalog workbook, Urquidi worked with her father and other translators giving feedback to make sure the phrases were conversational and not just poetically formal.
Knowing a second language helps you with your career, but also knowledge of a heritage language allows for confidence in a student’s identity, according to Urquidi.
According to the California Department of Education, by 2040, three out of four students will be proficient in one or more second languages, earning them a State Seal of Biliteracy.
Additionally, CDE states bilingual students demonstrate higher abstract thought and reasoning levels, increased intellectual flexibility and raised earning capacity.
“I wasn’t as confident as a kid and I do feel like looking back, like if I did know Tagalog, I would have felt more connected to my culture and have been more confident in my identity,” Urquidi said.
The response by other parents about the Spanish language workbook has been positive for Urquidi, who said friends and older generational members have an opportunity to get closer to their grandchildren by a bond with a shared language interest.
The books allow grandparents to do a three-minute activity with their grandkids and learn simple phrases they may have forgotten, according to Urquidi.
“These books have definitely enabled them [grandparents] to do something very simple, very short and with their grandkids.”
Beth Jensen, a parent of two children in Highlands Elementary School’s dual language immersion program, said the book is “the perfect complement to my own studies and a fantastic way to involve my youngest child in the process as well.”
Urquidi thanks her family, Highlands Principal Susan Bender, and the SBDC for their encouragement, feedback and support to make a two-year book project a reality to help parents and children connect through language.
“There’s a lot of us that are multicultural and we’re all becoming so Americanized that I’m hoping we’re all trying to connect a bit more to our heritage and hopefully there’s something we could pass on to the next generation,” Urquidi said.
“Speaking Together In Spanish” and “Speaking Together in Tagalog” are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Walmart and Target, with future releases in 2022.