Language Learning

123Andres Makes Learning Spanish Fun!

123 Andres-bilingual music for kidsKeyla Sanders

If you’re raising bilingual kids, you have probably heard of 123Andres. Andres is an award-winning musician and educator who teaches kids about Hispanic culture and music through his songs. Andres knows his stuff! He can play several music instruments, and he has a doctorate in music!

Andres inspires kids to learn Spanish, and also to get moving. I’m thrilled that I got a chance to chat with Andres to ask him more about his background and how he got into this wonderful world of bilingual education.

Learn more about 123Andres and then scroll to the end and enter to win a family pack to Andres’ concert in Flushing on October 15th! 

 123Andres makes language learning fun!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? How long have you been 123 Andres? 

I am originally from Bogotá, Colombia and grew up in a family that instilled their love for music in me. My parents aren’t professional musicians but my dad loves playing the guitar and my mom is always singing. They signed my brother and me up for music classes when we were very young.
 
I’ve been studying different types of music ever since then, but I found my calling to do children’s music 8 years ago and feel it’s a privilege to bring my message to kids and families around the US. 
 

How did you start in this journey of music and bilingual education? 

After doing children’s music with another artist’s band, I decided I wanted to develop my own band to bring children the stories and sounds that were connected to my culture and language.
 
Now parents and educators encourage me and make me feel I did the right thing committing to promoting bilingualism and cultural understanding through music. 
 

Where do you get your inspiration from? for the music? and other content? 

We have certain themes that we want to explore in each album or concert. The first album had a strong social and even political message. It was inspired by my experience as an immigrant in this country.
 
The second one was inspired by my visits to classrooms where I taught curriculum topics through songs. New inspirations are bringing new adventures!

 

Where do you perform more frequently? Schools? Organizations?

It seems like school assemblies and libraries are the most popular shows we do. It such a great privilege to go into a school and reach so many young minds! 
 
We are lucky to get to a lot of classrooms and homes via YouTube. Sometimes I arrive to a show and children say things like “You were on my iPad!” or “You look like the guy on the TV!” because they’ve seen me on YouTube before. It’s very cute!

What advice would you give to parents trying to raise bilingual kids? 

Consistency is important, and not getting discouraged.
 
Also, traveling with the children to places where the non-English language is spoken truly changes their lives and perspectives. Once they realize they have friends and cool cousins who only speak the other language, they will feel a stronger connection with it. 

 What tricks help you get and keep kids engaged in the music?

In a live show we use a lot of repetition, but we also switch up the pace and the energy. We give kids the opportunity to interact in every song, whether it’s small finger movements such as through ASL, or full body movements.
 
We also bring lots of different instruments to each concert. You will see me play the guitar and the saxophone, and probably also the clarinet and other percussion instruments. Another important part is being flexible.
 
We do start out with a “set list” of songs we think we will sing, but when we see the audience – younger, older or mixed age? bilingual or new to Spanish? – we are ready to switch it up on the fly.
 
Finally, our concerts aren’t just music – there is usually a storyline so after each song, we return the audience to the storyline to see what will happen next. 

 

Where do you see the future of bilingual education going? 

I am optimistic. Each day there seems to be a much greater interest in raising bilingual children, whether that’s school districts starting or expanding immersion or bilingual programs, new bilingual preschools, or families who make the choice to be bilingual.
 
This will be a different generation who sees the world through the lens of different points of view. That’s one great thing bilingualism gives you! 
 

 Given the political climate, how do you remain hopeful?

As I mentioned, in our show we usually have a storyline, and, as you could expect, the story involves some conflict or a problem to solve.
 
We involve the children in helping us find solutions, and we always hear children say during the show “You need to share!” or “You need to say Gracias!” and cheer when we solve problems together.
 
We know that in real life sometimes it can be hard to solve problems but every day we see that kids do know the right way to treat others and be friends. This keeps us hopeful. 

Enter to win a Family pack (4 tickets, 2 adults, 2 kids) to see 123Andres at Flushing on October 15th at 2:15pm! 

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Diana Limongi
welcome! I'm a Latina working mom from Astoria, NY, mom to a trilingual four-year old. I blog about motherhood, Latino issues, women's issues, work/life balance, food, parenting and raising my multilingual and multicultural son!

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