Bilingual is Better

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about what will happen next year when Vanessa goes to kindergarten because there are basically no options when it comes to dual language education in Denver. Well, that’s not totally true, but the options that do exist are really not feasible for our family.

Let’s see, there’s the private school she went to for the French immersion camp this summer. While I’d love for her to go there, unfortunately, it’s out of our league – keeping in mind we have two children. Then there’s the new charter school, Denver Language School, that just opened up this year and which I wrote about here. Again, this would be an amazing option. But at close to 20 miles away, and with both my husband and I working full time jobs which are only so flexible, I’m not sure we can commit to taking her there on a daily basis. Not to mention that we need to go through a lottery in order to get in which means this option is not even a given. Oh, yeah, then there’s also the fact that they have plans to eventually move even further away from our home.

When Ana and I started SpanglishBaby in February 2009, I didn’t really give too much though to what would happen once Vanessa was old enough to start school. While I would’ve love for her to attend a dual language preschool, I’ve been able to live with the fact that this was not an option in our neighborhood and I’ve actually grown very fond of our choice. In fact, I’ll always remember it as the place where my daughter became bilingual since the English she now knows she mainly learned there. (We use the mL@H method so English is rarely spoken in our home). But now, less than a year away from kinder, I find myself losing sleep over what will happen to my daughter’s Spanish if she doesn’t attend a bilingual school.

Looking back, I can’t believe I actually once thought that I could take care of her education in Spanish by myself. In fact, I even debated whether it would really be beneficial for her to attend a bilingual school in the English/Spanish combination, as opposed to taking advantage of the possibility of adding a third language. Luckily, all of you helped me see how if I wanted her to be not only bilingual, but also biliterate, we needed to go the dual language immersion route.

While I don’t have the tools (experience, patience, materials) necessary to make this happen at home, at the suggestion of another mom, I’ve decided that our best option—at least for now—is to hire a Spanish private tutor to move forward in the goal of making my daughter biliterate. The obvious benefit of private tutoring is that it can be custom designed to meet your child’s specif needs taking into consideration his pace and level.

How to find a Spanish private tutor

Through my preliminary research, I’ve already found a few options in my area by doing a simple Google search. Here’s what I’ve found:

TutorFind — You can search by language, state, city and even sex.

Spanish Blackbelt — They offer one-on-one Spanish classes for children 6 years and older in several states

Spanish is Fun — Their goal is to teach your children to converse, write and read in Spanish

BridgeDenver — They can come to you or you can go to them

While the last two are local options, I included them because the reality is that, for the most part, all language schools offer private tutoring and many of them start them young.

Another option, is to seek a bilingual elementary school teacher or a Spanish teacher who may no longer be doing it full-time, but might be interested in doing some private tutoring. I know a couple and you probably do to, if you really think about it. If not, ask around.

Finally, while private tutoring can get expensive, you can always get together with another mom and share the expense. I have several friends from our bilingual playgroup whose children are around my daughter’s age and live in the same neighborhood, so I know this would be a perfect option for them too—another one of the perks of belonging to a playgroup!

What alternative to bilingual education can you suggest to make sure your children grow up bilingual and biliterate?

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