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.
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Wojtek: Adam, will you be watching in a few hours the football match between our national teams?
Jun 28, 2018 20:27:10 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy birthday to two bilingual monkeys: Adam Beck's daughter Lulu (14) and mine (8).🎂
Jun 29, 2018 23:10:16 GMT 9
Amy: Happy birthday to your 2 bilingual monkeys Mayken and Adam Beck !
Jun 30, 2018 5:15:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, that's true, but in our case, the U.S. didn't make it to the World Cup this time! Japan has gone through, but they'll probably get knocked out very soon...
Jun 30, 2018 7:22:16 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, Poland won! I was disappointed, though, to see Japan hold the ball at the end of the game because they only wanted to go through to the next round. I understand why they did that but I wish they had played harder...
Jun 30, 2018 7:24:42 GMT 9
Wojtek: Well, it suited both teams to slow down the ball. However, it was really unexpected and peculiar
Jul 1, 2018 1:16:27 GMT 9
Mayken: On the train from Cologne to my hometown, I saw a boy about 9/10 and his older sister. She was fluent in German but spoke French with a slight accent, he spoke only French. They were visiting their grandparents. I was intrigued but didn't ask.
Jul 1, 2018 22:06:55 GMT 9
Wojtek: Does anyone know an online English speech language therapist? I thought that it could be a good idea to get my girl evaluated in her ml...
Jul 6, 2018 4:02:38 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! My 8-year-old daughter passed her ml swim test today! After swimming & diving, the pool attendant asked her to recite the swimming/safety rules (our recent captive reading), and she knew them all!
Jul 6, 2018 21:28:23 GMT 9
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Jul 7, 2018 11:28:32 GMT 9
Agnese: First words. What to expect? My son is 10 months old. He's still babbling, but I've noticed some different sounds depending on the situation. I wonder if he'll start saying his first words in the next weeks (or months, who knows?). What should I expect?
Jul 11, 2018 0:30:24 GMT 9
Amy: Don't expect anything Agnese. Just let it happen, and then what he says will hit you like a train. It's an amazing moment. Just live it and don't overthink it. Whatever he says, in whatever language it is, it is a magical moment.
Jul 11, 2018 5:11:14 GMT 9
Agnese: I've recently found a further (annoying) challenge: when I speak ml (Italian) to my child (10m) in front of ML acquaintances, they are making jokes about what I said (mostly accent, similar unrelated words...). What do you think is the best way to act?
Jul 15, 2018 13:04:11 GMT 9
Amy: Agnese, it is simply because they never had the opportunity to be acquainted so closely to that language. Just smile and keep going. Over time (even if this may seem long), the comments will fade. Don't show your son you are embarrassed by your ml.
Jul 16, 2018 3:56:41 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Agnese, I strongly second Amy's advice! Stay strong and continue speaking Italian!
Jul 18, 2018 6:22:37 GMT 9
Adam Beck: And Agnese, keep in mind that, above all, the highest priority is your bilingual aim, not the other passing concerns that are part of this experience (for us all). Don't let these distract you from the greater goal.
Jul 18, 2018 6:24:49 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you! After this setback I feel stronger than ever! The same day of the incident I ordered plenty of books in the ml on Amazon and I'm reading every day new research on bilingualism and bilingual education. I'm ready to defend my goal! Thanks
Jul 19, 2018 18:37:58 GMT 9