Here's Proof That It's Never Too Late to Raise Bilingual Children

As a multicultural and biracial familia, I was pretty clear about wanting to raise a bilingual child. Ah yes! It would be simple! I would speak to our child in Spanish and my husband would speak to him in English. Sound familiar? Yes, we were going to use the OPOL (One Parent One Language) method. However, things are not always as easy as they seem, right? You see, I had the desire but not a plan. I fell into the comfort of just speaking to our baby in English from the day he was born. After all, everyone spoke in English too!

During our son’s 4-year-old annual check-up, his pediatrician excitedly asked, “Is he bilingual?” Those three words weighed heavily on me. Other than counting his numbers and the basic colors that he learned from Dora in Spanish, no, he wasn’t bilingual. That’s when reality hit me! I started to panic! Literally to panic! I felt that the precious years for my baby to learn another language from birth to 5 was quickly slipping through my fingers. What was I going to do? Was it too late?

I started to strategize and make a plan. I started slowly by using the Language Boundary method from the book 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner. In this method, you use the target language during a specific situation, such as, time of day, location, or depending on an activity. I used this method during our bedtime story–speaking and reading to him in Spanish and then translating into English.

Then I had the opportunity to enroll him in a weekly preschool Spanish language immersion program. He was learning Spanish with other monolingual children his same age. He was excited and eager to learn Spanish. This is when I went into full Spanish-speaking mode with my child. At home, I started using the OPOL method. We read books, sang songs and played games, all in Spanish. I created opportunities for our child to speak Spanish, such as volunteering at his preschool summer camp a Spanish-language program and he was my little assistant. We also had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Puerto Rico during the summer immersed in a 100% Spanish environment.

Today I reflect on this past year and our journey into bilingualism. Looking back my only regret was not having started his language learning sooner. Nevertheless, speaking from my own personal experience, I can tell you that it’s never too late to start your child’s language learning.

My now 5-year-old speaks and understands Spanish very well. His language learning is still a work in progress, but if someone asks, “Is he bilingual?” I can happily respond, “Yes, he is!”

FrancesFrances is a part-time blogger, mommy and wife of a beautiful multicultural familia. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a certification in Human Resources. She blogs about heritage, culture, bilingualism, multicultural children’s books, and discovering the world through her son’s eyes. You can follow her at Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes.

{Photo by Que ma en}

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