Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bilingual Households

One of the readers asked a great question. Are we going to be raising our kids in Spanish? We would love to! One of the advantages of adopting older children is that the children will already have a foundation of Spanish. Our hope is for our children to be able to build upon their Spanish and not lose it.

Coincidentally, a few days ago I found out that I won, via the Spanglish Baby website, a copy of the book 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner. I am looking forward to receiving it, as we have been putting a lot of thought into how to raise children bilingually. That blog has a lot of useful information and links regarding this topic.

We have already starting collecting a few children's books that are versions either written in Spanish or are bilingual. We saw many wonderful children's books in Mexico that we resisted the temptation of buying when we were there in May. But now that we know where the bookstores are located with the large selections of children's books, we'll certainly be buying more when we return. It will be easier to chose which books to buy when we know their ages and interests.

Children learn new languages quite easily. P moved to the United States as an adult without knowing any English, and now he is completely bilingual. Our bigger concern is for our children to be able to build their Spanish vocabulary and grammar. Since half of our family speaks only English, and the other half of our family speaks only Spanish, our goal is for our household to remain bilingual.

We are looking at different options for how we can nurture bilingualism in our household as well as researching schools. We are seriously considering implementing, at the very least, the One Parent One Language method for raising children bilingually. P would only speak in Spanish to the children, even if we are around people who don't speak Spanish. When addressing the group, he would speak in the group's language, but when speaking directly to the children, it would be in Spanish always.

We will both be speaking Spanish with them when we meet them. I'm not fluent, but I have been working on my Spanish for years. I hope that speaking Spanish to them will come naturally to me, even though Spanish is not my first language. I think it will help us all bond as a family if we all speak the same language at first. I hope to continue speaking as much Spanish as possible with them even after they become fluent in English. Speaking Spanish at home would benefit all of us in building and maintaining our Spanish fluency.

I know that even with the best of intentions, it can be a very difficult endeavor. We've seen it with friends who have had challenges raising their kids to speak Spanish in the United States. But we think it is well worth trying!

2 comments:

Deb said...

I come form a linguistic background. the best way to foster bilingualism in your household is for you to speak English only to the children and your husband to speak only Spanish to them. You can choose to speak either language with each other- but consistency in which parent speaks which language is the key. depending on your and your husband's comfort level, it might be hard at first when speaking to the children in the prescene of the other parent, but it becomes easier.

Check the linguistic or language acquistion sections of the bookstores and there should be books to help you.

Love and hugs,
Deb

spanglishbaby said...

Congratulations on your blogs and the wonderful world you´re opening up to your children.
Thanks so much for recommending our site, SpanglishBaby.
You´ve already got a great selection of bilingual books!