3 Tips to Avoid Giving Up on Spanish

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3 Tips to Avoid Giving Up on Spanish!

I was with my children in a store last month looking at Halloween costumes.  As usual, our conversation was completely in Spanish. I noticed a mother observing our interactions, and when I smiled at her, she shared her own bilingual adventures with me. Having been born and raised in Mexico, she initially only spoke Spanish to her son. Unfortunately, when he started school, he rebelled against Spanish and refused to speak it. Sadly, this mother gave up and switched to using English with him. Her son won the language battle, but lost out on the chance to be bilingual.

What amazed me about this situation is that she is a native Spanish speaker, and has decided to use English with her children. Spanish is my second language. I didn’t even start to study Spanish until I was 17 years old, and yet, my children speak fluent Spanish. It has been a major effort, but the road to bilingualism has been one of my most rewarding parenting experiences.

Don’t give up on Spanish! There will be problems. Address the issues so that you will have better strategies for dealing with the challenges. These are some of the common issues I have had to address:

  1. Spanish is not my first language. Even my husband, who grew up speaking German at home, feels that English is still his first language. Speaking to my children in Spanish was initially very difficult, but with time, speaking Spanish became more natural. Now that six years have passed, it would feel strange to speak to my sons in English. I feel comfortable using Spanish with them, and it is our special language. Keep using Spanish! No matter how tempting it is to switch to English, stick with it! It will get easier with time.
  2. I lack vocabulary in Spanish. Now that my boys are getting older, some of our discussions are a bit more challenging. They have recently become interested in outer space and trying to explain gravity to them proved difficult. I watched some educational videos from Khan Academy in Spanish and learned, not only the scientific concepts to explain to my son, but the vocabulary in Spanish that I was lacking. We are learning together!
  3. Your child refuses to respond to you in Spanish. Keep using Spanish and never give up! That was the advice my mother-in-law gave me. She continued to speak to my husband and his brother in German, including when they would only respond in English. Eventually they realized the benefits to being bilingual and started to use German, even taking courses to further their literacy skills. Don’t give up! The bilingual rebellion stage will not last forever.

You can do it! I have been successful so far. It has been a challenge, but the boys and I have learned together. Stick with it! Don’t give up! If I can raise bilingual children, you can too! It may seem difficult and challenging, but the rewards for you and your children will be worth the effort.

{Photo by CarbonNYC}

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