Reading in English and Translating to Spanish... at 5 years old

Something truly amazing happened yesterday! As I’ve mentioned before, Vanessa has been learning to read in school and I’m quite impressed by how well she’s doing and how quickly she’s perfecting her skills. Not to mention the truly incredible thing she’s doing by transferring those reading skills into Spanish all by herself.

Vanessa likes to read to her little brother, but last night, he chose a book in English and asked her to read it. She knows perfectly well that Santiago doesn’t speak English (which has been a great tool in making sure we continue to only speak Spanish at home, especially in light of the fact that English permeates the majority of her waking hours at school) so at first she said she couldn’t because it was in English. But he kept on insisting. And, out of nowhere and without even asking me, she started reading the short little book in English and translating it to Spanish for her 2-year-old brother!

At first, she would read one word and translate it into Spanish and then read another word and so on. But then, I explained to her that it was probably better to read the whole sentence and translate it in its entirety — not really knowing what to expect. I mean, the sentences were super short, but still, she’s 5 and she just started to learn how to read. I must admit, I wasn’t sure she’d be able to do it. To my surprise, she did and not once did she get something wrong! The power of my bilingual child’s brain at work! ¡Increíble!

Reading in English and translating into spanish

Even though the majority of our books are in Spanish, we still have a few in English. Vanessa has seen me do the translating thing countless times and in the past used to ask me if a book was in Spanish or English. Now that she can read, she’s figuring it all out by herself. I’m just amazed at her capacity to do the translating so effortlessly and not make a big deal about it. I mean, her brother wanted her to read him that book and she figured out a way to do it!

I’m so incredibly proud of her that I just had to come here and share her accomplishment it with you!

In what kind of amazing ways have your bilingual children surprised you? 

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