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 popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Mayken: I'm wearing my language police hat today - when I realized the movie my daughter was watching on the phone was in ML I told her to stop. I later asked her dad to remove all ML content from the phone. Screentime is ml only!
Mar 27, 2018 23:00:03 GMT 9
Amy: Right you are Mayken!
Mar 28, 2018 1:43:20 GMT 9
Marisa: Way to go, Mayken! That's the (bilingual) spirit
Mar 29, 2018 0:55:54 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Will check out your podcast interview on my next run!
Mar 30, 2018 23:24:37 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter brought home her ml report card (she gets a separate one from the regular report card at her bilingual school), and it's straight A's! (Better than her marks in ML on the main report card.) I'm so proud!!!
Mar 31, 2018 6:10:44 GMT 9
Amy: Gratuliere (Congratulations) Mayken!!
Mar 31, 2018 16:54:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Thank you, Amy! As a reward, we allowed her to purchase a big item from her Christmas money--a Playmobil house, with which she now plays in ml!
Apr 4, 2018 3:37:31 GMT 9
Amy: Reward all the way round . Bilingual education can be a virtuous circle
Apr 4, 2018 5:26:18 GMT 9
Nellie: What great news, Mayken!
Apr 5, 2018 4:36:26 GMT 9
Raquel: I totally missed this. Congratulations, Mayken!! You have reason to be proud
Apr 10, 2018 20:08:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks everyone! Today my daughter helped a classmate finish her ml homework just before school - all in ml. (My daughter had finished hers the day before at home.)
Apr 11, 2018 3:58:56 GMT 9
Raquel: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Adam. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending you a big hug from Madrid.
Apr 12, 2018 18:16:38 GMT 9
Marie: I am sorry to hear about your mother Adam. Thinking of you and your family.
Apr 13, 2018 4:25:21 GMT 9
Jana: What a beautiful tribute you wrote to your mother. Sending condolences from the SF Bay Area!
Apr 14, 2018 5:34:03 GMT 9
Kristin T.: I enjoyed reading your post about your mother. Those were some amazing photos to cherish forever. I am sorry for your loss. I know it's ever the more painful having been an expat so long. Take care & be kind to yourself.
Apr 16, 2018 2:24:35 GMT 9
Nellie: I'm so sorry to read about your mother Adam. She sounds like an incredible woman. Your friends across the world are thinking of you and your family!
Apr 17, 2018 0:50:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Thank you, everyone, for your warm expressions of sympathy on the loss of my mother. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me at this challenging time.
Apr 17, 2018 7:44:14 GMT 9