Bilingual is Better
Language, Culture and Familia Immersion El salvador

Camila y sus primos en El Salvador ©SpanglishBaby, Ltd

It´s been a little over a year since the last time we came to El Salvador. That time Camila celebrated her third birthday with her familia Salvadoreña. She also spent three weeks completely immersed in a Spanish-only preschool during the weekdays. Her Spanish was flowing beautifully since it was the language she heard the most since she was born.

Aside from strengthening her Spanish skills and connecting a need to it, the bonds she made with her cousins, abuelita and tías during that trip are invaluable.

It´s that bond the same one I´ve been using as an Ace under my sleeve whenever she starts speaking too much English at home, especially now that she´s been attending an all-English Montessori preschool every day for the last five months. So, my go-to phrase when when I get too many English dialogue from her–or plain out lovely defiance–is, “Si no hablas español, no vas a poder jugar con tu prima y abuelita.”

That usually does the trick. I see it in her eyes. She gets it.

Part of my arsenal of making sure Camila is completely bilingual, bicultural and biliterate is spending as much time as possible immersed with family in both Mexico and El Salvador. This year it was our turn to head out to El Salvador and I decided we would come for three weeks so Camila would get the whole experience and her Spanish skills would continue to flourish and grow stronger.

Little did I know the surprise would be on me regarding how much Spanish she would feel the need to speak in order to integrate. My solid Ace was quickly toppled when I realized she was speaking to her cousin in English–her language of play–and her prima, the same one I had been insisting wouldn´t understand if spoken in English to, was responding to her in English as well!

The Prima, who is almost three years older than Camila, is already in first grade at the local American School and is super proud of how much English she can finally speak. She’s thrilled that Camila speaks to her in English and she can respond and is getting to practice. Plus, she’s a huge fan of iCarly, Drake and Josh, Mario Bros and tons of older kids shows–all on cable and in English–she’s totally exposing my four year old to.

They are having such a blast and connecting so well, that there’s no way I would interfere with that….no matter what language they choose to speak together.

At least there’s still the Abuelita and rest of the family who I’ve strictly reprimanded anytime they respond to her in English with a warning they are not helping my not-so-strong Ace if they debunk the myth that she can’t communicate with them in English!

We´re on day two of our trip. I´m sure that by the third week our Spanish and culture immersion mission will be complete and successful.

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