I love Vanessa’s escuelita for a lot of reasons including the fact that I was able to reserve a space for her three times a week next school year. Considering I’ll be back to infinite days of diaper-changing and breastfeeding, this will be a life-saver, if you know what I mean…
But the biggest reason I love her preschool is that they are in constant communication with parents. Recently, I had the chance to attend a mini parent/teacher conference. First, I thought, what can they possibly tell me about my 33 month old child? But then I reconsidered remembering my initial fears about whether or not she would thrive surrounded by English-only for five hours once a week, when all she had been exposed to since birth was Spanish.
Just so you all understand, our situation is a bit different than many of our SpanglishBaby’s readers. As I’ve said in the past, although we use the mL@H method, we don’t really do it in a conscious effort to teach our daughter Spanish, but because this is truly how our family’s dynamic was even before she was born. Both my husband and I were born and raised in Latin America. And, even though we both speak English fluently, we don’t really use it unless it’s absolutely necessary. The same goes for the rest of my family who happens to live close-by and whom we see on a pretty regular basis. So, Vanessa’s exposure to English before attending preschool was pretty limited.
I still remember picking her up after her first few times there and being told by her teachers that she seemed to understand everything, but that they barely knew what her voice sounded like because she was so quiet. ¿Callada? ¿Vanessa? But at home she won’t shut up! Oh-oh, I thought, was this preschool thing going to be detrimental to her language development? Would it confuse her so that she’d stop speaking? How would she communicate her needs?
Well, I’m happy to report that my fears were squashed. Although it’s only been three months since I enrolled her in preschool, she’s definitely communicating much more, according to her teacher, and nothing could make me happier. Although I was aware that Vane was saying a lot more things in English -because I’ve obviously heard her – it was still nice to hear about her progress from her teacher’s point of view – someone who sees her in a completely different setting than I ever will.
Because I am so proud of her and what she has accomplished, I thought I’d share with you a sample of the things she’s been saying at home since attending preschool.
Some of these are just random words that she’ll say in English instead of Spanish for no apparent reason..
- firetruck (honestly, I don’t even think she knows this word in Spanish)
A lot of these are phrases I guess she hears over and over again either from her teachers or from the other kids…
- I got it!
- What are you doing?
- I’m not tired (she says this often to her teachers to avoid taking a nap!)
- I’m all done
- Where are you?
- That’s good
Vanessa has full-fledged conversations with me in Spanish. Her vocabulary and her ability to construct complex sentences – for her age – are truly incredible. And, even though she is nowhere near this level in English, I am amazed when I hear her say stuff like the above because YO no le enseñé! I don’t speak English to her or when she’s around, so she didn’t pick them up from me – or her father, for that matter. It just goes to show, how amazing our kids’ little brains truly are.
So, what’s the bottom line? Si se puede, is what I say. We just need to continue doing what we are doing and feel confident that they’ll turn out to be bilingual in the end, right?
Glad to hear you are feeling better. We have several friends in your language situation and I can tell you a few years down the road (our oldest kiddos are a few years ahead) you will be worried about the Spanish, and the English will have somehow quietly crept into being stronger…Seems like if you are living in the US Spanish is the language you have to really work to keep alive, no matter what your language method is. Anyway, glad to hear the great news and keep up the good work. How fun for you and her!
Maria, thanks for your comment. I know exactly what you’re talking about because we hear from so many of our readers that their children don’t want to talk back to them in Spanish… so I’m kind of dreading that time. I’m hoping the fact that both my husband and I speak Spanish – as well as our nearby extended family – will help us out.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, we’re raising Vanessa the same way we raised my 18-year-old stepson, who might not be completely bi-literate, but is bilingual and has no problem talking to both his father and I in Spanish
I guess we’ll just keep at it…
How exciting! How can I continue hearing about how Vanessa is doing?
Although we don’t do it all the time, both Ana and I try to write about our daughters’ bilingual journey. I know you’ve written to us in the past about your worries regarding not exposing your daughter to English, but as you can see – not only from this entry, but from Maria’s comment above – there is no need to worry. Your daughter will be fine, just like mine was and eventually, your real problem will be maintaining her Spanish…
By the way, in terms of other successful cases, I suggest you read Barbara Zurer Pearson’s book, Raising a Bilingual Child, as she spent many years studying different families, their methods and the outcome.
Thanks and please keep your questions coming!
My daughter has been attending preschool two days a week since last September and she has done quite well. I, too, love our preschool because they also have parent/teacher conferences which are insightful. But I really love it because they are completely supportive of bilingual families. They often tell me how great it is that my daughter is learning two languages. They tell me that they ask her to tell them words in Spanish so they can learn. They did have trouble understanding her in the beginning because she didn’t know as much English vocab as Spanish, but it wasn’t a problem. Her vocabulary is much bigger in both languages now that she is 3.5. It’s amazing to me how well she speaks in both languages! My two year old is also doing extremely well in both languages. It is such an exciting adventure watching these little persons grow!!