From “agenda” to “relationship”: an update to my bilingual parenting journey

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(Photo courtesy of Futureatlas.com, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last year I wrote about my then two-year old daughter’s language development in Spanish. My husband, D., a native of Spain, and I are raising our two children bilingually: our family’s language policy is Spanish at home/among us four and English with everyone else.

With the arrival of my daughter E. three years ago, I began my bilingual parenting journey with what some might call a “hard core” approach: use only Spanish with my children, all the time. Never English. No translating. Promote, promote, promote the minority language.

As a trained linguist, I can cite all of the research supporting bilingualism. I recognize the advantages of a family language policy that supports the minority language.

And, while I’ll be the first to raise my hand with an emphatic YES! to the benefits of being bilingual, I have to admit that my initial approach to raising bilingual children rested on nothing less than fear and control.

Constantly running through my mind were thoughts like, One day she’ll realize that English is the majority language and hate Spanish!, or, She’ll probably refuse to speak the minority language to me when she’s older, or, What if she never becomes fluent in Spanish?, or, I will never use one word of English in front of her so that she is never tempted to speak it with me.

Fear and control.

I bought book after book for E. in Spanish, I devoured all the parent “how-to” books on raising bilingual children, I joined Facebook groups, I made sure to FaceTime daily with our relatives in Spain. I even started a blog on bilingual parenting!

Fast forward three years later to today. Continue reading

¡Hola! {Book Review + Author Interview}

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Happy Friday, amig@s! The weekend is here, and for me that means more time to READ! If you’re like me, always looking for a good book to read (both for yourself and for your children), then you’ll love today’s post.

Author and former language teacher, Judy Martialay, sent me a copy of her children’s book ¡Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish a few weeks ago, and the minute I got my hands on it, I knew I wanted to share it with you all.

Designed to introduce children between the ages of six and 11 to the Spanish language and Hispanic culture, this book would make a great addition to your home library. Here’s what I love about it:

  1. Child-focused and friendly – Although it’s meant to teach children basic Spanish words, phrases, and cultural knowledge, it’s written in a way that you, the parent, could simply give it to your child to read on her own. There are colorful illustrations, craft ideas, and a fun story of cultural exploration and adventure (meet Pete the Pilot and Panchito!).
  2. Designed for the non-native speaker of Spanish – I can already think of several non-native Spanish-speaking family friends of mine who I’d love to pass this book on to, families that are eager to expose their children to introductory Spanish. I would feel totally comfortable giving this book to these parents (who don’t speak the language themselves) because it presents the language in a natural and non-threatening way. For example, the story about Pete the Pilot and Panchito is written in 90% English with one or two Spanish words sprinkled throughout each paragraph.
  3. Culturally sensitive – It’s clear that Judy took her time to research México, the culture highlighted in the book. There is a section entitled Rincón Cultural, in which she explains in clear, child-friendly language the type of Spanish used, typical food, customs, and celebrations.

And, of course, behind every book is an author. Judy graciously agreed to tell us a bit about her professional background, experience raising bilingual children, and why she believes every child should learn a second language.

Read on, amig@s, and be encouraged!

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Raising trilingual children {Family Fridays – an update}

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(Photo via Carissa Rogers, Flickr CC)

¡Feliz viernes, amig@s! We’re back with another edition of Family Fridays here on the blog, a series in which I highlight a different multilingual family from around the globe.

I’m so happy to have back again my dear friend J.K., whose family was the first to be interviewed for this series over a year ago. Originally from Korea, she and her American husband are raising their two (soon to be three!) children in three languages while living as expats in China. You can catch her first interview here.

Today, she gives us an update on her family’s language policy, shares challenges she and her husband have experienced in their six years raising trilingual children, and provides encouragement for families in a similar situation.

Be encouraged, friends!

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City Life: why we love living in an apartment

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Amig@s, I’ve got great news to share: I’m four months pregnant!

What does that bit of good news have to do with a blog post about life in an apartment?

Well, pregnancy gets you thinking about all kinds of life questions, including housing.

Most friends and neighbors in my life circle (mid-30s, married with children, settled in their careers) share something in common: they live in a house with a yard and basement.

D. and I are the odd ones out. We (still) live in an apartment. In fact, D. has lived in an apartment most of his life, and I since 1998.

And, we love it!

Since we announced that we’re expecting our second child, we’re often asked if we’ll stay in our apartment or look for a bigger house. D. and I think about that question a lot and for now, we’ve decided to stay put and make our 1,000 square-foot apartment work for our growing family.

Here’s why we love apartment life:

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“Keep your eye on the prize!” {Family Fridays}

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(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.

FAMILY WHALE WATCHING Continue reading

#ReadYourWorld! (My book review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day)

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This month I’ve had the privilege to participate as a book reviewer in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Since I’m the mother of a bilingual toddler, I requested books to review that would be appropriate both for that age and linguistic level. So, the folks over at  Lil’ Libros kindly sent me two fantastic books to check out: Counting with Frida and Lotería: First Words by Patty Rodríguez and Ariana Stein. Lotería introduces young children to basic “first word” vocabulary, while Frida helps them learn their numbers 1-10.

Let me share with you why I think both of these books would make excellent additions to your home library if you’re raising your little ones in both English and Spanish. Continue reading

E.’s Language Development at Two Years

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Part of raising a bilingual child is fielding questions of curiosity (which is totally fine) like, “So is your daughter bilingual?” or “How’s her English?” or “What language does she understand?” Although I’m still working on my elevator speech-style answer of 10 seconds or less, and although this post is not meant to be a defense of our choice to parent only in the minority language, Spanish, I did want to write a more personal, or narrative, style post to give you a snapshot of her current language(s) use. Continue reading