Bilingual is Better

bilingual kids

 Being raised by generations of Spanish speaking women has established a solid foundation of kitchen know-how. And while I would not consider myself a fluent Spanish speaker, I can talk my way around a Latino cocina just fine. Spending much of my childhood centered on good food and loving family has ensured that I could always speak the language of la comida, la cocina y el amor de mi familia.

Since embarking into her toddler years, my sweet two year old has become a bundle of communication. As her mother, it has been exhilarating to watch Alina’s personality mature. But, as I have mentioned before, I worry that her Spanish exposure is not keeping up with her incredible development. That I, as the sole Spanish speaker in her life, am not keeping up.

In order to create more active, conversational dialogue opportunities in which to practice her Spanish, I decided to bring Alina’s lesson into the one room of the house that I felt most capable: the kitchen. I find it assuming that, while communicating efficiently in the worlds of politics or economics would be comedic adventures, my ability to engage in fluent levels of culinary conversation comes like second nature. And this type of conversational exposure is what Alina needs in order to excel in her fluency.

While chopping green and red peppers, Alina and I talked about colors. We inspected two cebollas, wondering why one was blanca while the other was roja. Each layer of our recipe was discussed in detail; every ingredient labeled its proper name. We discussed that tomato sauce was red because it comes from tomatoes. We counted each morsel of mushroom {she can count to ten in Spanish all by herself!} over and over again. I cautioned her to never touch un cuchillo without Mommy’s help. We snuck pedazos de queso too, because that’s what happens in a kitchen full of food and love. And at the end of our culinary experience, Alina and I had spent a solid hour engaging in highly fluent Spanish!

It may not be the most pivotal conversation she will ever have in her life, but by bringing Alina into an area of life in which I feel confident of my fluency levels, I was able to give her the best of me. And that felt amazing. Cooking with my Spanglish Baby has proven to be an invaluable bonding experience; one that has reaffirmed my motives in raising a bilingual and bicultural child. While although speaking Spanish is very important to me, the importance of creating memories of old into ones of new should not to be forgotten either. La cocina, la famila y amor are values I wish Alina is instilled with and becomes fluent in, regardless of which language she uses.

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