Translanguaging: A Very Normal Multilingual Phenomena!

Some parents stop speaking to their children in their second language when the child seems “confused” because they use both languages simultaneously. The fact of the matter is that this is the way languages evolve when they come into contact. In fact, I have been meaning to record my 3-year-old’s colorful use of two languages.

Just the other day she said, “Rafa (her older cousin), do you want to comer?” Another example is when she was asking me to buy her a ball and she said, “Mami, necesito ese (pointing to coins on counter) money para comprar una pelota.” Adults do it, too! The other day my very bilingual husband created a new word spontaneously when speaking to our daughter (Hija in Spanish):

Hija: ¡Voy a saltar! (from a table to the couch)!

Me: Sabrina, por favor no saltes, le puedes dar un owie a tu hermanita y a ti misma.

Hija: Quiero saltar, mami. ¡Voy a saltar!

Me: No, mi amor. No saltes ahí.

Hubby: Sabrina, por favor no jompes.

Me [laughing]

Hubby: Aaah, what am I saying? I know that word. Por favor no saltes, mi’jita.

Hija: Voy a saltar.

Translanguaging is the use of multiple languages simultaneously to communicate. That is to say, translanguaging is a form of flexible bilingualism. In our home we speak nearly 100% of the time in Spanish to our daughter, although we use Spanish and English all the time between my husband and I. Bilingual exchanges are a very natural occurrence in our home state of Texas. In fact, the closer you get to the Mexico/U.S border the more prevalent the use of Spanish & English becomes in communicating with others.

My intent in sharing the way we communicate in our home is to provide readers a glimpse of what raising a bilingual child is like in an environment where languages aren’t strictly separated. It does not fall under the One parent, One Language (OPOL) method, nor does it fall under the Minority Language @ Home (ML@H) method. I am not quite sure our method has a name…. yet!

As I continue to help my daughter develop her bilingualism (and eventually trilingualism), I intend on proposing a name to the method we are using in raising her with multiple languages. I whole-heartedly believe that we don’t need to keep the use of Spanish and English because in the real world, languages, just like people, will meet and influence the very fabric of our existence.

Please share your thoughts! Especially if you think of a name to this “language contact” method I am using to raise my daughter with multiple languages. As I write this, I realize that maybe that’s the name I have been looking for: Language Contact Method (LCM).

{Image by  amslerPIX}

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