Being bilingual means having the ability to use two languages especially with equal fluency. I am bilingual. I am Mexican. I am American. I am both. And I am proud of that. However, my children are not as bilingual as I would like them to be and my husband does not speak my language any better than they do. This, I take blame for. I should have spoken more Spanish in the home. I should have found more Spanish speaking families to play with. I should have searched for Spanish speaking groups to learn from. I should have, but I did not. Not then anyways. I am trying to fix that. My babies are still small, so I have the opportunity to do so. I have found groups to play with in Spanish, story times to go to and we sing songs and play games in the house in Spanish now. The only thing I have not done and can’t see myself doing is switching to speaking solely in Spanish to my little ones NOW. Not after I have spoken to them in English all this time. I do not want them to feel as if they are being punished in any way or slow down their own learning because mama won’t talk to them the same way anymore. I want them to feel comfortable learning. I want them to feel proud of knowing more than one word for everything. I want them to be able to eventually start having conversations with the family I love so dearly in Mexico anytime they want and every time we are with them. I want them to have fun with it.
There are bilingual parents out there that speak with their children in one language at home and have them learn the dominant language solely at school. There are parents that do twice the work by teaching them both since the beginning and make sure they know both languages equally. There are parents that are fortunate enough to have schools that either immerse their children in their language of choice or have wonderful classes and activities to participate in and have the kids learn in a more social setting. And then there are parents like me, unsure of how to start because we are not comfortable enough teaching. Or there are not many affordable programs nearby to take part of. Or maybe we just do not want to isolate the people we love in our families that do not speak the language we are trying to teach. So we keep the first language as the dominant language in order to all be able to communicate, love and learn together and put our language on hold while we figure it out. Wherever you fall in these or even if you have your own reasons for being or looking into being bilingual, I hope we can share and grow together here. I look forward to your comments and suggestions, your ideas on how to teach, your fun games, your fun songs, your different approaches to learning. I look forward to starting a friendship with you to help our little ones see that we are not that different. There are many bilingual families just like ours out there trying to hold on to part of what makes us who we are: the love for two worlds and two languages.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on how you are helping your children become bilingual. Hope to hear from you soon.