(Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)
Friends, it’s great to be back again in 2016 for another edition of “Family Fridays” here on the blog. This is a continuing series in which I interview different multilingual families from all over the world. I love this series because each family interviewed has something unique and encouraging to share with readers; it’s been a reminder that there are so many ways to approach bilingual parenting.
To kick off the first “Family Fridays” interview of the year, I’d like to introduce you to Diana Limongi from the blog LadydeelLG. She’s a self-described Latina New Yorker with Ecuadorian roots married to a Frenchman. They live with their young son, Enzo, in the Big Apple, and she’s here today to share her family’s journey in bilingual parenting.
Be encouraged, friends.
Give a brief snapshot of your family’s language dynamics and your family’s language policy (what language(s) do you speak, who speaks what with whom?).
At home, we speak Spanish, English and French. My husband only speaks French to our son, Enzo. I speak only in Spanish to him. (except when I’m really upset, then I speak in English, usually something like “stop it”). Between my husband and I we speak a combination of the three languages. We have been trying to speak more French around Enzo, since he only gets it from my husband.
What prompted your decision to raise your children bi-/multi-lingually?
We wanted our son to be able to communicate with his grandparents and extended family in both France and Ecuador. Both my husband and I have benefitted from being multilingual (we both speak the three languages) so we’ve seen the advantages of being multilingual in the world: for work, travel and for being open to learning about new cultures. We wanted to provide our son that opportunity from birth, and since we could do it from early on, why not?
What positive growth or results have you witnessed in your children/family because of their multilingualism?
It’s been amazing to see his progress! The most startling thing is to watch him code-switch; and, it’s amazing to hear him correct the adults when they mispronounce [words]. Watching him when we travel to South America or France and hearing him communicate and talk like a local is awesome.
What challenges have you faced or are you facing with language rearing and learning? How do you handle them?
We must remember to be disciplined in speaking to him, and now we are gearing up to starting to learn how to read in other languages, which I’m concerned about – not sure how we will approach that.
Can you talk about the cultural aspect of bi-/multilingual parenting as it relates to your family?
At home I try to incorporate culture as much as possible, with food and traditions, for example. For us the cultural part goes hand-in-hand with the language.
How do you involve your family, community, school and/or world at large in this bi-/multilingual adventure?
Our family is on board and does a great job of speaking to Enzo in the target languages. Our families also send us materials we can use, like books or DVDs in the target languages. We have a great daycare where the teachers speak Spanish and they have initiated after-school classes for the kids. Sometimes we also have story time in Spanish at the local park. We also use Facebook to share any happenings in Spanish in our area (like playgroups, museum outings, etc). On my blog I’ve compiled a directory of Spanish classes for kids.
What advice or encouragement can you share with other families raising their children bi-/multi-lingually?
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You have to keep at it; it requires dedication! But it’s important to keep your eye on the prize! And, remember to make it fun!
Freebie! Anything else come to your mind about the issue of bilingual/multilingual parenting?
It’s important to make it fun. For my son, we use a lot of the things that are familiar to him in English (like cartoons he knows and loves in English, and books) I think it helps that they are familiar so he will watch and enjoy them in English. I have some lists of those books on my blog: 10 Classic Books You can Read to your Kids in Spanish and Dr. Seuss in Spanish.
¡Muchas gracias to Diana for sharing her family’s adventures in multilingual parenting! Be sure to check out her blog, and be sure to meet the other multilingual families who’ve been spotlighted here on Españolita…¡sobre la marcha! Just click on the link “multilingual families” on the right.