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

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

Promoting bilingualism in my local community: story time

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(Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, catnip studio)

Thank you friends for patiently wait as I took a short break from blogging since November. I needed a break so much I didn’t even announce the break. Now I’m back, and it feels good.

In my last post I did mention that I would write a follow-up on ways I’ve changed how I perceive and relate to my daughter, based on reading María Montessori’s book The Secret of Childhood. I’m half way through that post, so stay tuned.

In the meantime…

Very few people in our neighborhood speak Spanish, our family’s home language, and E.’s current dominant language.

While most friends, family, and neighbors in our community generally express support for our choice to raise E. bilingual, few actually speak the language with and around her. I appreciate the positive reception to our family’s lifestyle, but for a while now I’ve wanted to do more.

How can I go beyond enumerating the benefits of bilingualism with friends at parties to actively promoting it – and even encouraging others to join in on the fun? I’ve thought.

And, then it came to me. Story time at our neighborhood library. In Spanish! Continue reading

More books! {Selecting Montessori-inspired toddler books in Spanish}

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(Photo via Flickr CC)

Our little family of three recently came back from a month-long trip to España, my husband’s home country. Friends in the States often ask us, “what are you allowed to bring back?” or comment, “I bet you did a lot of great shopping!”

On past trips, D. and I have brought home wine, vermouth, and other alcoholic drinks that are much cheaper in Spain than in the States; we’ve also saved room for chuches (Spanish gummy candy that I’m addicted to), and sometimes vacuum-sealed cheese. This time, however, being E.’s first trip there, I held off on the candy and cheese (oh, don’t worry, we saved room for el vino!), and instead made room for books in Spanish for E. Continue reading

Final Thoughts from our Trip to España

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We made it back to the other side of “El Charco” just a few days ago. It’s taking us a bit longer to break free from the jet lag and adjust to the six-hour time difference (i.e., days starting at 4am).

Despite the cansancio and despite D.’s and my sadness at no longer having total access to jamón serrano, we’re still running high on fond memories of our month-long trip to Spain.

There’s so much to say, so many thoughts, that I thought I’d just put them all down together, potpourri style, in one blog post. Continue reading

“We hope we aren’t confusing her.” {Letter from a reader – part 2}

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(Photo courtesy of urbanworkbench, Flickr CC)

The first day of September?! Where did summer go??

I refuse to welcome Autumn, even though today marks the first day back to school for children in our city. Speaking of school, a reader wrote me a letter a few days ago, asking advice about a situation related to a change in her daughter’s language development due to starting a new school. Below you’ll find her letter and my advice.

Be encouraged, friends. Continue reading

Do I ever want to give up on bilingual parenting? {MKB 2015 Vlogging Chain}

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(Photo via Flickr CC, Steve Corey)

¡Hola, amig@s!

I’m super excited to share with you all my first VLOGGING experience: I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the 2015 Vlogging Telephone Chain with other fabulous multilingual/multicultural bloggers through Multicultural Kid Blogs.

Today, I’ll be answering a question from Michelle at Mothertongues. Her questions for me are, “Have you ever wanted to give up on multilingualism? If so, how did you get past that?”

Thanks for watching, friends!

Here’s my question for Anna at Russian Step-by-Step for Children: What advice would you give to expectant or brand new parents who are considering raising their children in more than one language? Be sure to check out her video!

MKB Vlogging Telephone: Raising Multilingual Kids

A Life with Subtitles on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Creative World of Varya
European Mama
Kid World Citizen
All Done Monkey
the piri-piri lexicon
La Cité des Vents
MotherTongues
Españolita…¡sobre la marcha!
Russian Step by Step
Multilingual Parenting
Bilingual Avenue
Tales from the Waygook Mama
Finding Dutchland

Are you a parent raising your child in more than one language? Have you ever wanted to give up on multilingualism? How have you faced your frustrations? I’d love to hear from you!