I am raising my children bilingual — English and Spanish is how we live our lives. However, like anything else, it takes practice and persistence not only for them, but for me as well.
I have many Hispanic mom friends who want to do speak more Spanish with their children, but say that they don’t live in an area where Spanish is spoken or they have significant others who are not native speakers so English isn’t the dominant language.
I lived in the UK for six years, where I went months without speaking or even hearing Spanish. I even found myself struggling to come up with words when I would talk to my mother on the phone. However, when I went on maternity leave (an entire year) my Spanish instantly improved — why? I was with mostly Chilean mom friends on a daily basis and it was like magic. The words came back, accent got stronger and vocabulary was richer. Not that I “lost” my Spanish, but you know what they say, if you don’t practice it, you lose it.
With children it’s best to make them feel at ease with another language — I don’t force my 4 year old, but try to make him as comfortable as possible in Spanish. So far it has worked out, but next year he goes to kindergarden and his language preference may change — however the relationship he and I have is entirely based in español. We have never spoken in English together.
Here are 5 ways I keep the language fresh and up to date for our family and exercise our bilingual brains (husband included!)
5 Ways to Exercise Your Bilingual Brain
Make a video or record your voice!
Read out loud!
Sing, sing, sing!
Write it out!
Speak the language, everyday!