Tag: Raising a bilingual child

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!

I would love to hear your thoughts! Please comment, like, share or pin! 

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Our Journey into Spanish Immersion Classes


Our Journey into Spanish Immersion Classes

Photo credit: Clip art on Office online
As a bilingual mother trying to raise a bilingual child in an English monolingual environment has been challenging. However, my hopes and dreams of raising a bilingual child have been rekindled by both the opportunity to enroll him in Spanish Immersion class, and my son’s continued interest in the Spanish language, and as he claimed some time ago, “Mommy I know Spanish!” 🙂
Three and a half weeks ago, I came across a language learning center The Language Buzz that promotes language immersion, and cultural experience. So I quickly jumped on it!  I was so excited for my son! This will be an opportunity for him to learn with other children his same age.   The language center offers a Spanish immersion class for preschoolers on Saturdays. This works for us, although not close to home; it’s close enough to make a “teenie weenie” sacrifice of driving 47 miles so my son can learn Spanish with other children.

This is a big step towards helping my son to be bilingual, therefore we had to do a little prepping before his first Spanish lesson.  Little one and I had a talk.  I told him  how important it was for him to learn “some more” Spanish. (Remember when he told me that he knew Spanish? You can read about it here.)

I also told him we were going to be making some changes at home:

  1. He will be going to a new class to learn Spanish, and that he will  meet a new teacher and friends. He was a bit hesitant as he’s a shy little boy. 
  2. That Mommy will be consciously speaking to him more in Spanish. I admit this has been my biggest flaw, and something that I myself have to work on. 
  3. We will practice at home everything learned during his Spanish lessons. 
  4. He’s allowed to watch one cartoon in English, and another one in Spanish. 
  5. We’re going to have bilingual and/or Spanish bed time stories.We may also have a craft session along with it during the weekend. 
  6. We will be alternating listening to Boca Beth’s Bilingual CD in the car with his other CD’s.  He’s hooked on Yo Gabba Gabba’s & Fresh Beat Band’s CD. 
  7. We’re going to sit together and watch Little Pim’s bilingual DVD’s.  

Update (It’s been 3 weeks since his 1st Spanish lesson):

  1. I have found myself talking to him more in Spanish, and he’s been receptive. However, there have been days that he says to me that he doesn’t want to practice  Spanish anymore. (See #2 above).  I have respected his wishes because I don’t want him to think that Spanish is forced on him. I want him to enjoy learning Spanish, and have fun! 
  2. We’ve been lucky enough to find a Spanish channel on cable that has Saturday morning cartoons dubbed in Spanish.  Such as Go Diego Go, Dora The Explorer, Backyardigans and Zigby.  He actually started laughing when he first heard Dora in Spanish, and said they sounded “funny!” I’ve also looked into his favorite DVD’s and found some have the Spanish feature! For instance, we were watching the movie Chicken Little on DVD in Spanish. His 1st reaction: “Chicken Little is in Spanish, how cool is that!” Then he gives me this look & says, “Did you do that?” 🙂 
  3. He has some favorite books in English that I read often to him, and he has actually asked me to read them in Spanish! I translated as I read the book and pointed out to the pictures. He has been able to assimilate some of the vocabulary in the book since he knows the story in English already. He then repeats the words in Spanish. 
  4. We haven’t been very successful with the Little Pim Spanish DVD’s he seems to lose interest after 15 minutes. They are 30 minutes long. I’m thinking of using the DVD set in a more interactive way through at-home Spanish lessons
  5. He has been teaching Spanish words such as, “agua” and “manzana” to  his English speaking Grandparents! He has also verbalized his first sentence in Spanish, “Tenga cuidado.”   
Enrolling him in the Spanish immersion class is boosting his confidence by leaps and bounds! His Spanish instructor is using music, games, story time and short videos during her session. Like my dear sister, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher commented on a  Facebook picture of mine about his Spanish Immersion class: “The teacher uses essential tools that engages students and it’s also challenging their creativity and significantly enhancing their knowledge and understanding.”  I couldn’t have said it any better!  
I am beyond happy, and so much more confident that my baby will become bilingual!

Have you had any experience with language immersion classes or school? How about at-home lessons, or tutors?

Would love to hear your thoughts, and comments. So please, share, like or pin!

¡Hasta luego!

This post has been shared at World Wide Culture Swapper.

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“Mommy I know Spanish!”


I must admit that listening to my child say, “Mommy I know Spanish” is music to my ears, though far from reality I know he still has a long way to go.   This past week I was on the phone rambling in Spanish with my sister from Puerto Rico, and my son asks, “Mommy is that Abuela or Titi?” (Abuela – Grandma/Titi – Auntie). I responds, “It’s Titi.” He remains quite for a while, and interrupts me.
This is our conversation, while Titi was listening and patiently waiting for him to finish.

Him: “Mommy, Mommy, excuse me!”
Me: “Yes, lindo.”
Him: “Mommy, my friends (he said their names) at school don’t know Spanish.”
Me: “Is that so?”
Him: “Yes, Mommy. I was trying to teach them and they weren’t listening to me.”
Me: “So what were you teaching them?”
Him: “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho…”
Me: (I laughed) “So you were teaching them the numbers in Spanish?”
Him: “Yes, Mommy. I know Spanish like you, and they don’t!”
Me: “Don’t worry baby, they will soon learn. Now let me finish talking to Titi.”
Him: “OK, Mommy.”

My sister was cracking up at the other end of the line, since she had heard our conversation. Of course, I had a sense of pride and excitement listening to my child talk that way about the “Spanish” language.
It gives me hope that one day, he will be bilingual. I need not to be in despair, and worry so much about him learning Spanish. He’s showing interest, and is receptive to me speaking to him in Spanish. He often asks, “Mommy what does that mean?”, and I find myself translating for him. Then out of the blue, he’s repeating what I am saying.
For instance, there’s this children’s song: “Sana, sana colita de rana.” It’s a children’s song that my Mom would sing to us all the time when we got hurt. She sang the song as she rubbed or “healed” the bruised or hurt part of our body; and of course, we instantly felt better. This is a song that I often sing to my son, and that he sings to me when I complain about my back pain as he gently rubs my back! Sweet isn’t he?

♫♫♫Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.♫♫♫
♫♫♫Heal, heal,little tail of the frog, if you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.♫♫♫

So, with counting numbers, or singing children’s song in Spanish my son is getting closer to one day being bilingual; and I will be enjoying every step of the way! You can read more about our challenges here.

Image source

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My Challenges Raising A Bilingual Child


For many years before I got married, and had a child of my own I always stressed to my cousin and sister living in the US the importance of speaking to their children in Spanish! I literally badgered them every time I talked to them, about what an advantage it is to know two languages, that Spanish was part of their identity; and that they will learn English regardless; and speaking to them in Spanish was a priority. Both of them agreed on one thing, that it was hard! (Little did I know!)

Fast forward to 2012, and here I am married to a Black man, living in the US, with a 4 yr. old mixed child; whom I’m literally struggling to teach Spanish to. I remembered when I was pregnant with my baby, and I told my husband numerous times that our child was going to speak two languages, know and learn to love his two cultures.

In the most profound and deepest corner of my heart, I feel that I have failed miserably to teach my son how to speak in Spanish. I am the only one who speaks Spanish at home, and all of my Spanish speaking family members live far away. It’s just my husband, and my in-laws. So I have found myself speaking to our child in English most of the time instead of my native language: Spanish. Now, I understand my cousin and sister, and how challenging it has been to speak in Spanish in a predominant English speaking environment.

So in a conscientious effort to teach my son Spanish, I bought the book: 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner, M.D. with Susan L. Hayes. I must say this book has given me some hope.

I’ve decided to start using the “Language Boundaries” method. The author suggest that I speak to my child in a specific situation, such as: time of day (mealtime, weekends), location, or depending on an activity. I have opted to use this method right before bedtime. It’s the time of the day, that my son is more receptive, and is winding down from the day’s activities. I speak to him in Spanish, and read bedtime stories in Spanish as well. We say our prayers in Spanish, and it brings such joy to my heart to hear my little one saying, “Angel de la guarda, mi dulce compañía…” (Guardian Angel prayer) in Spanish.

Although, our son speaks English. He understands basic words, knows his numbers and colors in Spanish; and before bedtime, he goes to his “Papi” gives him a kiss, and a hug, and says, “Buenas noches Papi.”

I know it’s going to be a long road ahead for us, but my hopes have rekindled in raising a bilingual child, especially when I hear our son say something in Spanish. ♫♫♫ It’s music to my ears!♫♫♫


Do you have any suggestions, ideas or challenges that you have raising a bilingual child? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.

I’m an avid reader and follower of Bicultural Mom, and every Monday she has a series of topics related to multicultural families. This Monday’s Multicultural Blog Hop is about Bilingualism/Bilingual Parenting.

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