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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Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Victor's flashcards look amazing! I hope I'll win the giveaway - if not, I'll purchase a set for Christmas for sure. Thanks Adam for sharing these gems with us!
Sept 26, 2018 23:32:30 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, I second Mayken's enthusiasm and gratitude for your posting about Victor's flashcards, they look amazing, thank you so much for the post! I already bought one set
Sept 30, 2018 10:25:51 GMT 9