Bilingual is Better

I rarely make resolutions for the New Year. I tend to make them year round as I see fit, that way there is a better chance I will actually achieve them. And as far as New Year’s Eve, I was lucky to be awake anywhere near midnight as I’m so tired and just ready to have my second baby (due very, very soon!) But recently the SpanglishBaby team asked us what our resolutions were as they pertained to our kid’s bilingualism and it really got me pondering my goals.

Last week, as I was driving my son to his preschool he suddenly asked “Mami, la guaguita (baby in Chilean Spanish) habla español?” (Does the baby speak Spanish?)

Me: “Sí, ella va a hablar español como tú”. (Yes, she will speak Spanish like you.)

My son: “¡Ay, qué bueno! Porque yo le quiero enseñar inglés también y ¡todos podemos hablar juntos!” (Good! Because I want to teach her English too and then we can all talk together!)

I have always known I was going to speak Spanish to my children, however I had never thought about it from the point of view of my four year old son and his need to have “language comfort” once it is no longer just the three of us. I could feel his concern about including his new sister in our language setup and I could hear the relief in his voice when I told him that he will in fact be able to communicate with her as I do with him.

My resolution for this year is to continue to nurture the Spanish language in our home and watch another little person grow into a smart, capable bilingual individual. However, part of that language nurturing includes (and here’s where the real challenge comes in) FINALLY getting my husband to loosen up and speak more Spanish! He understands and speaks it very well, but he just won’t put his language skills to practice.

I suppose it is part of his personality, the perfectionist in him that wants to wake up one morning and speak it flawlessly. However, I feel now is the right time — we’ve been married eight years and I want to make a stress-free immersion environment with our kids to get him to a comfortable speaking level with us.

He has admitted that by hearing me speak to our son, he has improved his own vocabulary and has better use of his tenses. I hope with two children now, we can all encourage papi to join us and truly make this a bilingual home, even if in small increments.

Baby steps, right?

Have you integrated your non-bilingual spouse/partner in speaking your language? Or does keeping two (or more) languages separate work for you?

Here’s to a wonderful 2013!

{Photo by M H Ryle}

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