Milestones and Regrets On Teaching My Son a Second Language
At 4 yrs. old my son has reached numerous milestones in learning to be bilingual. He’s constantly asking how do you say this or that in Spanish, he’s conjugating sentences, he asks to watch his favorite cartoons in Spanish, he sings songs in Spanish, he has also asked for me to translate into Spanish his favorite bedtime stories that are in English, and he can pick up on the language when he hears it in places other than home. Way before these milestones, he had professed that he knew Spanish! Ah, but in my hearts of hearts, I knew we had a long way to go!
Although, there is still more work to be done on making him completely bilingual I am truly happy and proud of his accomplishments to this date. Especially when he’s so receptive to learning Spanish. I see his interest, and desire to learn!
However, not everything has been “peaches and creme”; and I’ve faced many challenges. Reminiscing on my pregnancy…on my hopes, wishes, desires, plans and dreams for our unborn child, was one deeply rooted in my heart, but I failed to put into action early on. My one regret, not talking to my child only, and exclusively in Spanish since the day he was born.
Living away from my homeland Puerto Rico, away from family and away from anyone who spoke Spanish has been no easy feat! My husband, and in-laws only speak English, my child’s daycare providers only speak English, and here I was talking to our child only in English! There were times that I would say a word or two in Spanish, and quickly found myself talking to him in English once again.
How dare I not talk to my son in Spanish?! I heard those words from my side of the family many times! I felt ashamed, defeated and a total failure. I read articles on how the “time frame for children to learn a second language was from birth to 5 yrs. old.” I felt time was slipping through my fingers, and my child was not learning a second language. I went into panic mode, and came up with an action plan!
Teaching Him A Second Language
I went full force into making sure my son would start learning Spanish, and it all started with our journey into a Spanish immersion language class. This has made all of the difference in the world because my child is learning another language with children his same age. He proudly boasts to his friends, “I’m in a Spanish immersion class, and I know Spanish!” I have reinforced his Spanish immersion classes with Spanish home lessons, using books, crafts, and videos. To make it even more fun I had a bilingual playdate for him and his friends. The best part of it all, is that I myself am speaking to him more, and more in Spanish!
He is on way to becoming bilingual, slowly but surely I am confidant he will get there. I will definitely enjoy, savor and take in every single word in Spanish that comes out of his little mouth!
My favorite ones thus far, and they are music to my ears:
|“Mommy, I love you with all my heart!” and “Mommy, give me a big hug!”|
My advice to parents who are struggling to teach your children a second or even a third language, don’t give up! You’re the only one that can help your child be bilingual or multilingual. Having the ability to speak more than one language is in itself a huge blessing!
¡Hasta la próxima!
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