My little man, Santi is growing and learning so many things right now. It still amazes me to see how fast he picks up on things and how he changes so much from one day to the other. Parenting really is the biggest adventure of them all. I mostly wanted to share with you all how our journey so far has been a little different than the average american family. We are a bilingual family and are trying to raise our son to also be bilingual. It has been a very interesting journey so far…
Since the moment, Chris and I found out we were expecting, we decided we wanted our child to be fluent in both English and Spanish, our first language. It has always been a priority for us to instill a sense of culture in our child, and this to us begins with language. My husband is from Mexico and I am from Peru, even though we are both latino, we are still very different. We grew up differently, in very different cultures, but the one thing that unites us and remains the same is our native tongue. We knew that raising our son in the U.S would be a bit difficult because we wanted him to have the perfect american childhood and upbringing, but at the same time we didn’t want him to miss out on traditions from our own cultures. Somehow, we had to make all three cultures part of our family dynamic and our lifestyle.
Now that Santi is here and he is growing up, we are still aiming to achieve that goal but it has definitely proven to be much tougher than we thought. At home, we try to only speak in Spanish when he is around and this has worked pretty well, minus the occasional slip up of Spanglish of course, but we are working on it. We have slip ups because, my husband and I having grown up in the U.S, we are much more comfortable speaking in English. It takes an extra effort on our part to be on Spanish mode all the time. I also worry sometimes about the consequences of trying to teach him two languages at the same time. The Multilingual Children’s Association has been an invaluable resource for me. If you are considering teaching your child a second language, you should definitely check out http://www.multilingualchildren.org/getting_started/pro_con.html. It helped to answer many questions we had about our child having two first languages. Here are a few of the pros and cons that most caught my attention:
-Multilingualism has been proven to help your child develop superior reading and writing skills.
-When older, your child will get much more career prospects if he knows a second language.
-He or she will also feel more at ease in different environments.
– Multilingual children also tend to have over all better analytical, social, and academic skills than their monolingual peers.
-Bilingual children tend to speak later but there is no scientific evidence to back up that claim. But parents do say they notice a 3-6 month lapse.
– Kids who speak both languages tend to mix up words, but this is temporary and disappears around age 4.
-This requires a big commitment from the parents, which is what we are struggling with now, because you must provide enough language exposure as well as consistency for the child.
All in all it has been quite a journey thus far an and I am sure it will be even more so as he grows. Our goal is for Santi to not feel discriminated for only speaking Spanish but also not to forget his roots. We want to integrate both languages into his everyday routine so that it is second nature to him and us as well. My Spanish could use some brushing up of course.
Have any of you thought of teaching your child a second language? Have you succeeded?Do you have any advice for a new mom?