Bilingual is Better

Photo by Paul Schultz

A few days ago I went to the parent-teacher conference at my daughter’s preschool. I can’t believe she’s nearing the end of her first full year in preschool. Besides the fact that I was told a few things I already knew and expected—Vanessa knows what she wants and she’ll try everything until she succeeds—other things were a bit of a surprise for me.

I should start by saying that we use the mL@H method, so the only English she’s exposed to is while she’s in school three times a week. At first, I was a bit concerned she wouldn’t be able to communicate—and I know this is something lots of parents using the same method worry about all the time—but I should have given her more credit. Not only has she been able to make herself understood with her teachers, but also with her peers, as I was told she’s one of the classroom leaders. That was surprising!

I mean, I know it makes sense with the kind of personality she has, but since I haven’t really heard her have full conversations in English, I didn’t really expect her language skills to be strong enough to lead! I’m sharing this not only because I’m obviously proud, but also because I know a lot of parents using the mL@H worry about the lack of exposure their children get to English, or any other majority language, with this method. Although any parent knows that every single child is different, the reality is that in our case, being immersed in preschool a few days a week has been enough for my daughter to learn enough English to not only survive, but to thrive.

In the name of full disclosure; however, I was also told by Vanessa’s teacher that she doesn’t know/recognize all the letters of the alphabet in English (as she does in Spanish). Because her lead teacher knows some Spanish, she’s able to tell that my daughter does a lot of mixing.  I’d be lying if I didn’t worry about this even if it was only for a second. The thought did cross my mind that maybe I needed to help her by teaching her the alphabet in English, but her teacher reassured me there was no need. And, then I went back to knowing that everything would be alright and that we should stick to speaking to her in Spanish only.

First of all, she’s too young for any of this anyway. I know she still has plenty of time to learn it all. More importantly though, she is learning two languages so it is to be expected that some things will take her a bit longer to learn than her peers. I’m not worried…really. In fact, the only thing I am worried about is what will happen when she goes through the stage in which she’ll refuse to speak Spanish, which I know is almost inevitable.

On a lighter note, Vanessa’s teacher told me it has been a real treat not only for her, but for the rest of the children to have Vanessa in the classroom. She said because of Vanessa, the rest of the kiddies have been exposed to Spanish as she likes to count in her first language as well as recite the months of the year. I was also told that Vanessa is proud of who she is and that she loves the fact that she can speak two languages. Nothing could make me happier!

Do you worry about your children’s exposure to the majority language? Why? Why not? Are you doing something about it?

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