Sneaky Spanish Lessons

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Editor´s note:  The following is a guest post and vlog by Carrie Ferguson Weir.


My girl’s first words were in Spanish. And, I was so proud. Here I was in Tennessee, with no Spanish-speaking relatives nearby and my little baby was hablando español.

And then she turned 3 y “I don’t speak Spanish!’’ became her battle cry. (This, despite attending a Spanish immersion pre-school.)

Maria is nearly 7 now and she understands everything I say in Spanish, her accent is pretty darned good, and when she speaks Spanish of her own free will, I melt and get all puffed-up proud.

Because she’s cabezona, I cannot force the issue. I want her to want to speak Spanish, not see it as another way to bump heads with me. So, I have to be sneaky about it. I buy bilingual books, and Spanish workbooks; we play a lot of music in Spanish; I ask her to explain Spanish words to her non-fluent father; and I invent games.

When I am really desperate to get some practice in, I adopt an embarrassing cubanaza persona and make her laugh by pretending to misunderstand her English words or shouting “perrooooo-h cal-iennnnn-tehhhh!’’ in my best Sábado Gigante voice when she eats a hot dog. When she’s laughing and having fun, she’s more apt to roll with the Mother Tongue.

During our Gulf Coast vacation (no tar balls!) in June, it was her idea to shout Spanish words while we played in the ocean. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean about how creative we’ve got to get around here to practice el español. I’m extra joyful that it was her idea.

And then, tell me, do you have to sneak the Spanish in? If so, how?

I need new ideas.

She may be on to me.

Carrie Ferguson Weir is a freelance writer and editor who blogs about living la vida Latina at Bilingual in the Boonies and Tiki Tiki Blog.

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