As most of you know, we’re trying to raise our boys to be English/Spanish bilingual. This is not an easy task for anyone, but even more challenging for me for a number of reasons.
#1. I’m not a native Spanish speaker and I still make mistakes.
#2. My husband, Carlos, only recently got “on board” with speaking Spanish to the kids. (He still isn’t consistent.)
#3. I wasn’t confident enough in my Spanish to speak it much to the boys when they were babies, so many lost opportunities there.
#4. We are not able to send the boys to a dual immersion school and we can’t afford to visit El Salvador often enough.
#5. We do not live in a community with a large Spanish-speaking population, nor are we surrounded by Spanish-speaking family.
Even with the odds stacked against us, I’ve been determined to raise the boys bilingual and I try to speak in Spanish to them as much as possible. Now, at ages 13 and 10, they comprehend spoken Spanish almost fluently, they speak conversationally, (though not on grade level with fluent speakers), and they can both read and write at a basic level.
I think this is a pretty common result of raising children bilingually — that they excel at comprehending spoken Spanish but aren’t quite fluent in other areas. I haven’t given up on them being 100% fluent, but that’s where we’re at right now.
While we were at the National Aquarium in Baltimore last weekend, the boys learned all kinds of ocean vocabulary. (Although we had to Google the word for “jellyfish” [medusa] – since neither Carlos or I could remember it.)
At one point while I was taking video of the sharks, my 10 year old son started peppering me with questions about when family would be getting together for his birthday. (His birthday had already passed and we had already celebrated, but he wanted another party.)
I later realized that my “ruined” video of the sharks, (because of all the talking), was actually something interesting. On the video you can hear how many of the conversations in our household go — with me stubbornly speaking Spanish even as my children respond in English. (Notice at the end how he mixes in Spanish without even realizing it!)
I just wanted to share this video to encourage other parents raising bilingual children who may feel frustrated or discouraged. Keep stubbornly speaking Spanish, (or whatever other language it is you’re teaching your kids.)
Vale la pena. It’s worth it.