Creating a Bilingual Community

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January is almost done, completely ushering in 2013. I love this time of year because it serves as a natural point of review and reflection. Sure, you can make goals and resolutions anytime of year. In fact, I encourage anyone to mediate on what is most important in their life, setting actionable steps to achieve those goals. But, January is just that time of year that gives everyone a chance. No excuses necessary.

My identity continues to change and grow, especially as a parent of an ever-evolving toddler who has officially embarked on her path of individualism. Alina turned 3 years old this month and I am so pleased with her development. She really is such a cool kid. But, as a parent aspiring for bilingual success, I have definitely failed her. While her vocabulary and articulation in English rivals that of children much older, her abilities in Spanish are those of a one year old. While she can readily identify numbers and common place household items in Spanish, she virtually has no communicative skills.

I know this has a lot to do with my own bilingualism as my abilities vary greatly depending on my surroundings. Knowing that my language skills vastly improve when I am in an environment of bilingualism, my bilingual New Year’s resolution for 2013 is to create an environment in which both me and my children’s Spanish language skills can improve. Here are some strategies I plan to implement in our lives to achieve success in this coming year:

Spend more time with my Spanish speaking friends — being that my Latino family lives in another state, weeks can go by without us ever having dialogue in Spanish. That just isn’t acceptable. To combat that in a natural way, I plan to reach out to a close friend here in Vegas whose family are native speakers. We all have busy lives, but since she loves my kids, my friend is excited to spend more time with us in pursuit of this goal.

Hire Help — We are a one income household, so this will be a challenge, but I am committed to hiring a tutor, nanny or anyone else willing to come into our home and engage with us in Spanish in an academic, curriculum format. Resources are sparse in my community, so I will have to get creative.

Enroll in Lango Las Vegas — the one resource I have found in my community happens to be an engaging, child focused langue immersion program. And they are starting toddler aged classes just a few miles from my home in the coming months! Again, this will be a financial investment, but one I prefer making over other extracurricular activities.

It won’t be easy creating a Spanish speaking community for me, since family is not local and friendships are not yet created. But, with these three focuses in place, I hope to improve my toddler’s ability to engage and communicate in Spanish.

How do you create a bilingual community?

{Image courtesy of Vanessa Bell}

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