You may remember I recently made the decision to send my 3 1/2-year-old-son to preschool full-time. Up until January, Santiago had only gone to his all-English preschool three times a week starting last fall. The rest of the time — and prior to him going to preschool — he had been staying home with a Spanish-speaking nanny. Needless to say, Spanish is his first language… but things are starting to change.
When I reluctantly made the choice to send him to preschool five times a week, I knew being exposed to so much English would probably affect his use of Spanish. So I’m not surprised it’s happening, but I am kind of shocked it’s happening so quickly.
Santiago has only been going to preschool full time for six weeks now, and English is definitely invading our home. I guess I’m intrigued with this trend because it didn’t happen with Vanessa who only started going to school full-time when she entered kindergarten. In other words, she wasn’t as immersed in English as her brother is until much later. I’ve been so amused by this that I’ve actually kept a running list of words and phrases he’s been saying lately. Check it out:
- Nos vemos next time
- ¿Me puedes dar a little bit tiny?
- Mira cuantos people hay aquí
- Quiero ver las pictures
- ¿Ese fue un funny one?
- ¡Lo hice all by myself!
I find some of these so funny that I really haven’t made a big deal out of them. I usually just repeat what he said using only Spanish. My husband, on the other hand, is not too happy that he’s miking both languages (worried that this is the way he’ll always talk) and always tells him, “Así no se dice en español…” Santiago usually responds by repeating himself in Spanish. This proves he does know the words in Spanish, but for some reason, the English version comes up first. I image it has to do with everything he hears back at school.
One thing I will start doing is explaining to my son that while what he is saying is correct, he’s saying it in English but that there’s an equivalent in Spanish. I’m also going to start reading to him a lot more — something I’m guilty of neglecting when compared to his sister.
I will say, however, that Santiago has once again proven to me that those of us raising bilingual kids using the mL@H method have nothing to worry about when it comes to their ability to learn the majority language quickly once they’re exposed to it more often. My son’s vocabulary in English has grown exponentially in the last six weeks… demonstrating the amazing power of immersion!