SpanglishMami — Meet Nikki

Posted by:  |  Category: Bicultural Vida, Daily Blog


One of the greatest perks of being a blogger is all of the connections and new people you meet that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Since starting here at SpanglishBaby my network of other like-minded bilingual parents has grown and we have all been able to connect on different levels yet at the core is desire to raise our children speaking a second language.

A few months ago I received an email from a fellow Latina mamá who had been reading my posts on SpanglishBaby and just so happened to live 10 minutes away! So I wanted to introduce you to Nikki Scully, half-American, half-Costa Rican mom and SpanglishBaby reader or SpanglishMami as I named her. Here we talked about her background, what she wants for her kids and the fondest memories of her bilingual upbringing!

MJO: Tell readers about your background and what makes you a Spanglish Mami?

NS: I am the proud daughter of a Costa Rican mother and a father from Ohio. My father took his love of Spanish language and Latin culture and joined the Peace Corps in 1970. His adventures took him to Costa Rica, where he fell in love with a young tica. And the rest is history.

MJO: Why is it important for you kids to be bilingual?

NS: Mainly, I realize  what a gift my parents gave me. Although I didn’t appreciate it as a child, I truly feel like knowing Spanish opened a world for me, setting me apart in ability to communicate with so many more people and appreciate another culture and its values, music, food and more. Being bilingual and bicultural is a source of great pride, which I’d love to pass along to my children.

MJO: Do you have any concerns about bilingualism?

NS: My biggest concern is: “What will this look like in a few years?” My kids are very young (2 years old and one month!), so I am just at the beginning. Their learning Spanish now is easy in that they spend their days with me, but in the back of my mind I fear that all my efforts will be shot once they go to preschool. I feel like I always seek out parents with children that are a bit older to see what their journey has looked like up to that point (and what our future might look like). Often, it’s reassuring to see that speaking Spanish to their children has really worked!

Also, although my Spanish is good it’s still my second language, so often I could explain/describe something to my son much better in English. I worry that this causes me to talk much less to him overall than I would if we spoke English. I have to make a conscious effort to talk, talk, talk, and many times look up how to say something! It’s really a learning experience for me, too.

MJO: How have others (family, strangers, etc). reacted to your decision to raise them bilingual?

NS: I am still learning to be comfortable speaking to my children in public in Spanish. However, when other parents hear me speaking Spanish to my son, the reaction is almost always positive. Parents usually say that it’s really cool and that they wished they could do the same with their kids.

MJO: My husband is learning Spanish and we have some great “lost in translation” moments. Tell us about your funniest bilingual moment.

NS: My husband is very supportive of my efforts, and he speaks some Spanish and English to the kids. His Spanish skills are getting better as we go, but he can get … creative. Sometimes he thinks he remembers a word, but he’s just off a little bit. For example, he said “conchillo” once when he meant “conejo.” Or “hornatuga” when he tried to say “zanahoria.” I think it’s hilarious that his made-up Spanish words sound like they could be legit.

MJO: What is your favorite bilingual books, toys, movies, etc.?

As someone who loves to sing, I find my most powerful tool to encourage bilingualism is music! I try to expose Jack to all kinds of music in Spanish, whether geared toward kids or not. It takes a little more searching to find good children’s music in Spanish — and I love artists I found on SpanglishBaby, particularly Sara from Music with Sara and Nathalia’s From Here to There CD. I sing the songs over and over, particularly in the car!

MJO:  Tell us about your favorite “Spanish speaking” childhood memory?

NS: I am blessed that my siblings and I grew up taking trips to Costa Rica to visit our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Many of these trips were at Christmas time, when my fondest memories are of evening nochebuena Mass followed by a big meal and waiting for el niño to stop by with gifts! There was always so much excitement surrounding that evening, and it was a treat to stay up late.

Beyond that, my warmest memories include music. I come from a family of guitar players and singers, and to this day family get-togethers always mean lots of hearty singing and dancing! Never a dull moment.

A little more about Nikki: I have a bachelor’s in Spanish and secondary education, and a master’s in Spanish. I taught high school Spanish for nine years before deciding to make the home my classroom! I have aspirations of ramping up my blog — I’m working on it! Connect with Nikki at Fantastic Imaging.

Are you a SpanglishMami? Get in touch and tell me your story!


{Photo courtesy of María José Ovalle}

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