I love having a child who’s a perfect example of how well the Minority Language at Home method (or mL@H) really works. If you’ve been following SpanglishBaby for a while, you know that, at this point, my daughter Vanessa, who’s almost 6-years-old, is fully bilingual and biliterate. Although the days of me worrying that Vanessa wouldn’t get enough exposure to English because we’ve only spoken to her in Spanish since the day she was born are long gone, the funny thing is that I’ve barely ever heard her speak English… until this weekend.
I mean, I’ve obviously heard her read and say a few words and phrases in English here and there because, even though some people find it hard to believe, we really ONLY speak Spanish at home. Therefore, I’ve never really been around her as she goes about her life in English. But this weekend, we had a long-time friend come visit us from Miami with her 4 1/2-year-old son whom Vanessa met when he was a baby. Although they didn’t really know each other, they became inseparable little friends almost instantly.
While Vanessa’s little friend understood everything that was said to him in Spanish, he only spoke English and so Vanessa knew to switch languages instantly. Since they were staying with us, I got to see and hear Vanessa interact in English more than I ever had. It’s not like I had any doubts about her abilities, but I have to say I was pretty amazed by how truly fully bilingual my daughter is. I know that might sound kind of weird, but I’d never had an opportunity to hear communicate in English for such extended periods of time. I felt like I was eavesdropping, but for a good cause!
In any event, I only wanted to share this with you because I know that using the mL@H method can be kind of disconcerting — especially at the beginning. I know I’m not the only mom who worried about the amount of exposure to the majority language our children get at the very beginning, particularly if they’re mostly staying at home. In other words, for Vanessa’s first two years of life she really mostly heard Spanish pretty much all day long since I was home with her so her exposure to English was minimal. And yet, both her languages are now flawless and, while I’m obviously biased, she seems to speak both like a native.
Do you have any of your own stories that prove the mL@H method really works? Please share with us.