Hola! My name is Cara and I have an 11 month old (almost one year old!) son. I lived in Argentina and Spain for about 2 1/2 years in my 20s - it was amazing! Because of that experience, I speak Spanish pretty fluently (I definitely make mistakes and struggle with vocabulary at times though).
I really want my son to be bilingual (or multilingual!) but I'm not sure how to go about it. I try to speak Spanish with him during the day as a stay at home mom. My husband doesn't speak Spanish, nor does the rest of our family. So when he comes home, works from home, or when family/friends are around, we speak English. Is there a model out there that would accommodate our family's needs? I don't want to confuse my little guy, but I also don't want to deprive him of an opportunity to learn a language as baby. Also, because Spanish is my 2nd language, I make mistakes! Does anyone see that as a deal breaker?
I'm so excited to become a part of this community and learn from you all! Thanks so much for listening!
Cara, welcome! As a non-native parent of the minority language, you might be interested in the book Family Language Learning by Christine Jernigan. (See my review at Bilingual Monkeys.)
As for your situation, it's important to keep in mind that the two "core conditions" for fostering active language ability are exposure and need: the child must receive a sufficient amount of exposure to the target language and feel a genuine need to use it. In your case, because his exposure is limited to you--and yet you also must use English--I think you'll raise the odds of success in proportion to the degree you're able to emphasize Spanish in his presence while "de-emphasizing" your use of English.
But even if his initial ability in Spanish isn't as active as his ability in English (once he begins to speak), the more exposure you can provide through these early formative years, the better positioned you'll be to eventually activate his more passive ability in the years to come. (Any present weaknesses in your own Spanish ability are really a lesser concern, and your ability will naturally grow stronger as your journey continues.)
If you haven't already come across this resource page for new parents at my blog, it could offer more food for thought about exposure, need, and many other issues.
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
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Raquel: I love it, Mayken! What a sweet lady. I would have listened in and not asked, hehe. Did you use it to show your daughter how useful the ml can be?
Dec 21, 2017 20:35:38 GMT 9
Mayken: Raquel, my daughter loved it - both the coincidence, and that this lady was learning our language!
Dec 24, 2017 22:25:47 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Happy New Year to you all! Let's make 2018 a really good year!
Dec 31, 2017 7:04:50 GMT 9
Joanna: Packing to go home from Canada...luggage scale reading 23 kg of minority language books!
Dec 31, 2017 23:48:06 GMT 9
Amy: Happy new year to all! . May 2018 bring you every success in your bilingual endeavours!
Jan 1, 2018 23:08:58 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy new year to everyone! I shared a little New Year's Eve story in the Snack Bar.
Jan 5, 2018 5:08:21 GMT 9
Mayken: 7yo wrote her Christmas letter in the ml and sent it to Santa's address in our ml country. This week she received his reply - and was somewhat offended that he replied in the ML
Jan 5, 2018 21:47:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's very cute, Mayken!
Jan 6, 2018 7:57:09 GMT 9
Amy: Oh no Mayken!! I'd also feel very gutted in her shoes! Hope he made up for it by spoiling her on Xmas!
Jan 7, 2018 1:12:53 GMT 9
Mayken: He totally did, Amy! Especially her most important wish - the second illustrated Harry Potter (in ml, of course).
Jan 9, 2018 0:06:05 GMT 9
Raquel: Happy 2018!! How come Santa replied in the wrong language? That's weird.
Jan 9, 2018 19:26:41 GMT 9
Mayken: Raquel, he gets letters from all over the world at that German address, and I guess the reply is in the language that matches the country fo the child's return address. Next time she'll use my mom's address (if she still wants to write to Santa then).
Jan 10, 2018 0:38:19 GMT 9
Raquel: Mayken, I just was surprised that, reading a letter in a certain language, they would reply in a different one. But if it's an standarized letter, then it makes total sense.
Jan 10, 2018 21:42:23 GMT 9
Mayken: It is. Our local ML Santa, to whom my daughter wrote the year before (in ml) replied in ML too but started the letter with her name. But then he's serving a town of 37,000 people only.
Jan 10, 2018 23:18:32 GMT 9
Raquel: Makes sense, Mayken. Thanks for explaining.
Jan 11, 2018 22:31:51 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter called me out twice this week for using the wrong language with her. The second time it was only one work (number of a métro line).
Jan 12, 2018 0:16:39 GMT 9