As I continue to navigate the waters of ‘Dual Immersion,’ I learn more about what happens with students in this type of program as they get older. And as many may suspect, it becomes a ‘battle’ between having them keep up with both languages at a somehow equal (close) pace. However, I do not mean battle in a terrible way, just that children will try to constantly shift to the language they feel more comfortable with and here in the United States it will most likely be English. But as my sister would tell me (she is the mom of a now fully fluent/bilingual teenager)…“You have to push them, and push them hard.”
Talking to teachers in both the lower grades (K-3) and middle school, it is somewhere in fourth grade that English takes off, and the other language (in this case Spanish) becomes the ‘second choice.’ For many children reading and writing in English is just ‘easier,’ or so they claim. So, as a teacher I am trying to figure this out: How do I help my students keep alive the love for the target language?
Modeling and honestly showing them my love, appreciation, and joy for being bilingual.
Therefore, at school this is what I and many,many other teachers do. From observing my sister, I know it took perseverance and TONS of patience. But what else? Is there another ingredient?
If you have younger children, you are probably pondering on the same question and wondering why I am not offering a ‘perfect’ solution (I just do not know the answer). Yet, if you are the parent of an older child who became bilingual thanks to your persistence and value for the other language my question to you is: What did you do that worked?
We are all in this together. Whether students or our own children, we just want what’s the best for them. So again, what was your secret to ensure children carry with them to adulthood the love for the other language?
I would love to hear from you in the comments below.