Hello everyone! My name is Yutzil B. and I live in South Dakota. I recently attended a conference all about multilingual learners as I work with English learner programs in our state. While at this conference a colleague informed me of this website and said I should check it out because it was for parents who were raising bilingual children. Spanish is my first language and I want to make sure my 10-month-old baby grows up as a bilingual child. My husband only speaks English. I have been struggling with ensuring that I am only speaking Spanish to my baby. I tend to speak more English to him than Spanish while at home. I am curious what are some tips you have for me! Thank you for your time. I look forward to learning from all of you.
10 month old baby. Spanish is my first language. I speak both English and Spanish, my husband speaks only English.
My first and number 1 piece of advice is to definitely stop using the ML (English) with your baby. Otherwise, as he grows, he'll realise you speak the ML and will not feel the "need" to use the ml (Spanish) with you. "Need" is one of the 2 pillars to core education (check out Adam Beck 's fantastic book for all the details) along with the second pillar that is "exposure". We made this very mistake and paid dearly for it. To some extent, I still feel like we are playing catch up with my eldest's (7) ml level compared with her little sister (3) who seems more comfortable in our 2 mls. Your baby will hear you use the ML with your husband and outdoors, but stick to addressing him in ml when addressing her directly. It will condition him to using the ml with you. As they grow, some kids might try to use the ML with their ml parent. It will be up to you to choose the approach to take if this situation arises. Personally I just ignore (my eldest), rephrase in ml (for my youngest) or ask to be addressed in ml.
Other pieces of advice (and there are a lot!! lol ): 2. Read up a lot on the topic - blogs, this forum, books, the more informed the better and it also provides you with inspiration, ideas and support (the bilingual journey is full of bumps, and support will help you overcome these and not throw the towel). 3. NEVER give up. Your kid will occasionally resist. Just keep going. Remember, you are the parent, they are too young to take the right decisions for their greater good. Perseverance pays off and I bear witness of it: we struggled, considered giving up and we are eventually getting there. 4. Always be proactive - bilingualism does not happen naturally when you live in a monolingual country. 5. Bathe your child in your ml. Bathe your home in your ml if you can. If it bothers your husband, then do it as soon as he walks out the door. 6. Make the ml part of your lifestyle. 7. Do not be embarrassed by your ml, use it in public otherwise your child will feel it and might start rejecting using your ml (I talk out of experience there). 8. Read, read, read! - Reading is the corner stone of bilingual education. It provides the vocabulary and syntax to your child. 9. Arrange meet-ups with with little ml peers - children learn best through playing with their peers. 10. Travel back to your ml country as much as you can and, if you can, leave your child there a while with the grandparents. This will be full immersion and it works wonders for ml acquisition. 11. Do not listen to others - There are a lot of myths around bilingualism. People (doctors, educators, relatives, complete strangers, colleagues...) will tell you you confuse your baby and you should stop speaking two languages to him. This is a myth. Read up on them to quiet these well-meaning people and you stick to your guns.
Yutzil, welcome! (Could you please take a moment to complete the information in your Profile--I added some of the details I found in your post--but we don't know where you're originally from and that information will help the community understand your situation even more clearly. Thanks!)
Amy has offered some extremely helpful advice and I strongly second all her suggestions. I think you'll find a lot of useful information right here at this forum, at my blog, and in my book that can help strengthen your efforts and fortify your drive to succeed.
For now, let me offer my best bilingual wishes and please keep us posted as you move forward on your bilingual journey. One of the very best ways to do this is by starting and sustaining your own thread at the Track Your Progress board.
Adam Beck is the author of the popular nonfiction books "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability" and "I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!" (illustrated by Pavel Goldaev) as well as the award-winning humorous novel "How I Lost My Ear" (illustrated by Simon Farrow).
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