Baby's first bilingual words by Vanessa -

My second child is approaching his first birthday, and with this milestone comes the excitement of new words spoken and understood. Also, as it relates to our bilingual ambitions, this age is my favorite because success is defined in a measure that is achievable for our monolingual household. It’s cheating, I know, but at almost one year old, my hijo is completely bilingual! Actually, just today, he said “más” and used the sign for more. I was ecstatic! I continued to ask him, “¿quieres más plátano?” and he continued to use sign language to reinforce his baby talk, which clearly was the word más.

My child understands Spanish! He speaks Spanish! That feeling of success never gets old. As a parent who strives for moderately achievable, highly ambitious language goals, hearing my kids speak Spanish is more than a simple pleasure.

I remember that exhilaration when my oldest was his age. The excitement of hearing her speak simple words in Spanish has since been overcome with the challenge to immerse her in environments where dialogue is conducted in Spanish — not just simple words or directives from Mom. I want her to engage in Spanish; to hear words combined into a sentence and for her to understand. I’m not even asking for her to respond in Spanish, but I very much expect her to comprehend. At the very least, to understand the love of her great grandmother as I did when I was in young – in Spanish.

As Sebastian grows, I’m sure we will continue this uphill battle of language immersion and comprehension. As his communication improves, and he becomes conscious of the world around, I know that the challenges will also grow. But, for now, I am enjoying this milestone of bilingual success.

We always want more; to understand more, comprehend more, and engage more. I am constantly asking myself if I am doing enough to celebrate the culture of my heritage and language with my children. But, for today, Sebastian’s más is enough for me.

{Photo courtesy of Vanessa Bell}

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