Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raising Bilingual Kids - Rejecting my language and the beggining of trouble

I am not sure why my kids rejected the Spanish language to start with (I have my theories), but it all started when my boy was about 3. He was an early talker, so on our way to his pre-school, we used to play a game. I will point to a thing on the road like a tree and I will say "Arbol" and he will say "Arbol". It was all great. He was finally learning some words in Spanish, until one day I pointed to the tree again and said "Arbol" and he replied "Tree" and the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Arbol"

Son: "Tree"

Me: "Arbol"

Son: "Tree"

Me: That is not the right word, we are playing the Spanish game you need to say "Arbol"

Son (with a very matter-of-fact tone of voice): Mami, you speak Spanish, my grandma speaks Spanish, my auntie speaks Spanish, I am American and I speak American!!!

I knew I was in trouble right there and then. I needed him to know that we were not the only 3 people in the world who spoke Spanish and that Americans like him could also speak it too!

I put a mental plan into action. From then on we were to:
  • Only speak Spanish when we were alone (very difficult to do for me)
  • Always put Spanish radio in the car (very easy and it reconnected me with the music I love)
  • Enroll the kids in a Spanish school (choosing the right one was a challenge, but finally I found Language Stars)
  • Read more Spanish books to the kids
  • Change our Spanish Vocabulary car game to a "Veo, Veo" game (I spy)
I have been doing this for about 3 years now, and even though I keep breaking rule #1 and still speak more English than what I should, I have seen some results. They understand almost every command, and although they still reply in English, lately I have started to hear more and more unprompted Spanish sentences coming from them. I also see a big difference when they are with my mother who speaks very little English - when they are with her they speak: your guess is right!!! Spanish!!! Broken, grammatically incorrect, but Spanish nonetheless! I call that success.

Do you have any other tips I should follow?

Disclosure: I will receive discounted tuition from Language Stars as compensation for this post. However all facts and opinions expressed in this post are true and my own. Language Stars have not asked me to write about anything in particular, only my true and honest opinion about my experience with their program.  This post have not been edited by a third person.

6 comments:

teachertam said...

It's so good to read about the experience of other parents at Language Stars! 2 of my children are in the Mandarin classes and I'm blogging about them:
http://teachertamseducationaladventures.blogspot.com
We also watch Mandarin videos, both educational and for fun.

Dariela said...

La verdad que bueno que has hecho el esfuerzo porque vale la pena y los hijos lo agradecerán mucho cuando crezcan! No conozco a Language Stars, ya me meto a averiguar!

Helena said...

Carelys, I understand what you say. My son has been in speech therapy for about a year now, and the therapies are in English. His nanny is from Pakistan and speaks to him in Urdu and English. He started to speak more English than anything else and I made the mistake of replying in English. We are now trying to get more Spanish in there but sometimes it just seems easier to speak in English. He is now going to Pre-K, his teachers are Cuban and we are getting a bit of more Spanish from him. Suerte y gracias por las sugerencias!

Shirley Yissele. said...

Me encanto tu post y creo que todas las Latinas que vivimos en USA pasamos por eso! El unico tips que te puedo dar, y creo que varias me daran la razon, es hablarles todo el tiempo en Español o el idioma que "queremos que aprendan" porque si les hablamos en Ingles van a hablar solo ingles, como experiencia personal yo en un año aprendí la lección y era lo peor que mi pequeña hablara solo ingles porque yo llevo clases de ingles y practicaba con ella, pero empece a pensar mas en mi pequeña y en su futuro y hasta las explicaciones se las doy en español porque es lo mejor que sepan dos idiomas y desde ahi solo le hablo a mi pequeña en español y a sus cinco años habla muy bien el Español y el ingles. Consejo hasta de un conejo! 'HABLEN ESPAÑOL CON SUS HIJOS TODO EL TIEMPO" Gracias por tu post me hciste recordar todo lo que tuve que hacer para que mi peke hable y conjugue en español! Muchas Gracias!

Namaste!
http://mamiholisticaygenial.blogspot.com/

Janett-Cocinando/MisManualidades said...

Hola!! entiendo perfectamente lo que dices! soy venezolana de padres, portugueses casada con un mexicano! jajajaja explicar de culturas es mas que un lio! aunque yo considero que es importante que ellos sean fluidos en ingles principalmente, ya que esa sera su lenguaje principal, tambien trato de que mi hijo hable espanol, aunque solo lo haga cuando le de su gana jajaja.

Party Artist said...

Thank you all!It is nice to know I am not the only one with the issue. I keep thinking that one day my kids will wake up and speak out and get it!! I am sure it will happen.

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