It has been ages since I have updated on our progress here...probably because I fell off the bilingual band wagon for a bit. I thought it would be easier speaking Spanish when our new squish was born.
I was wrong.
I forgot how hard it is to speak Spanish to an infant....to someone who doesn't respond back yet. Although my baby vocab has expanded from when I had Emma, it still is not up to par, and therefore, I struggle speaking Spanish to Charlotte and in turn struggle to continue speaking Spanish with Emma.
I was re-motivated by a number of things this past week.
1) People know I have been raising my babies bilingual (or at least attempting it)...so they ask about it.
2) Lots of people speak at least a little Spanish, so when they find out that Emma knows a bit they try to talk to her in Spanish. (And then I kick myself in the butt for not doing better so she can respond more.)
3) An awesome reader shared a link to Harry Potter audio books so I can listen to them and hopefully get more Spanish on the brain throughout the day.
4) The other day Emma heard a cow and said, "Vaca!" (It always makes my heart happy to hear her use Spanish, unprompted.)
5) This morning said to me, "Mamá, I wanna ver Barney." (And of course since she used Spanish in the sentence, I couldn't tell her no. ;))
6) Finding Nemo is one of her two favorite movies...but she pronounces Nemo in Spanish. (I try not to let her have a ton of screen time, but when she does have it, it is always in Spanish.)
7) Without being prompted, when she counts, Emma will usually count in Spanish...though it comes out like this, "Uno, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, DIEZ!" Once in a while she will remember "dos" and "siete". 8 and 9 are not ever in there, yet.
So in light of my renewed motivation to help give my kids a head start in the bilingual department, here are a few goals to help me out:
1. Hang up posters (that I will probably end up printing or making myself) that has Spanish words. On pinterest, I have board dedicated to bilingual and spanish stuff, so I will get some ideas from there.
2. Memorize at least 1 Spanish kids song or nursery rhyme. (I think this will help when I can't think of what to say to Charlotte... :) Plus Emma is really into singing and having me sing to her.)
3. Listen to something in Spanish everyday for at least 20 minutes.
4. Start making a list of fall words. Only a month left of summer. If I
I admit...I have been a little the past couple of weeks in speaking only Spanish with Emma. I keep wanting to write out all the "excuses" that I might have, but in reality...that's all they are...excuses...and none of them very good.
I loved this post that I read today about raising bilingual kids. It's all about Perseverance. This little question especially hit me over the head:
Am I really feeling bad enough right now not to nurture the long-term dream I have for my children, a dream that can only be realized if I make these efforts on a daily basis?
I feel like there are some days....(okay a lot, since my last blog post was about how hard it is to do this sometimes) that I have to continually tell myself to keep going. To speak Spanish. To keep studying and improving my own Spanish. I have to remind myself that it has now been two years!! TWO YEARS! Since I started this bilingual journey with Emma and if I let up now...if I quit...then those two years will have been for nothing.
So for anyone else out there struggling. Just remember your goal. Keep in the front of your mind what you have already done and what you want to accomplish....and keep going.
It is hard speaking speaking Spanish to Emma. There are some days...sometimes multiple days in a row when I just get so discouraged and I want to stop. I want to be done and not feel the pressure to speak to her in a language that I am still learning myself. On those days, I find myself speaking more English and then trying to compensate by letting her watch a movie in Spanish and spending extra time playing with the Spanish apps on the iPad.
Sure, I know the basics. I can conjugate. I can read. But I mess up. A lot. I find myself saying a sentence and then going back and saying it again because I know I missed a word, conjugation, or mixed up the feminine or masculine.
I'm reading Harry Potter (I've read it a million times in English, so even without knowing the exact translation of a lot of the words, I know what is going on.) But, in order to help me out, I write down words that I don't know or will look them up immediately...The problem is, some words mean different things in different countries or just in the way you use them...and that is when it gets hard being non-native. I am almost afraid to use new vocab...
So, where do I find motivation to keep going when those days come?
Here are some things I have thought of that help me...
-Read books in Spanish to her...I can read. And when I am reading, I can focus on the accent more.
-Watch videos I've taken of Emma saying words in Spanish, or just ask her flat out things that I know she will say back in Spanish
-Go back and read in my journal and on my blogs about the small successes we have had in the past.
-Read other non-native blogs
-Read books about raising children biliingual. The ones that encourage non-native speakers.
What are ways that you motivate yourself to keep going when you get discouraged?
**We had an exciting, "She's really getting it!" moment tonight. I was getting ready to take Emma to bed, so I told her, "Di 'I love you' a papá." "Say 'I love you' to Dad.'" And she said "Amo." :-) (Just in case you don't know, "te amo" is "I love you." It makes me so excited when she does stuff like that.
**Another exciting Spanish moment...I asked her, "¿Dónde está tu chaqueta?" Where is your jacket? She looked around, saw it and then pointed and said, "Ahí está." There it is. Double exciting because she is starting to put two words together, occasionally.
I found a few kids music CDs at the library and I am loving listening to them with Emma. Plus it's helping me learn more songs in Spanish to sing to Emma, so I don't have to revert to English ones.
For other non-native speakers: I have found a good way to learn, or to help you understand better is to listen to music and write down the words or translate it. Kids songs are a good place to start, since they tend to anunciate more and have simpler topics.
Side note: I am thinking of maybe teaching some of the kids (if their mom's are interested) from our playgroup Spanish. Nothing big, just the colors, animals, etc. Partly, again, to help me get Spanish into my head, but also to help show Emma that it's fun to speak Spanish and also to help me get used to speaking Spanish in front of them. Obviously, since they are 1-3 year olds it would be a short 10-15 minutes with lots of music, visuals, and maybe a game.
Anyways, on one of the CD's I borrowed there is a song about farm animals, a song about colors, a song about dancing and different body parts. So I think it would be fun to use it to teach Emma, and maybe her friends. I was thinking of printing out pictures or finding stuffed animals or figurines for each of the different topics to help. When I do it, I will make sure to take some pictures or something and let ya'll know how it goes.
This week Emma seems to be picking up so much. She repeats everything and says a word for everything. Whether it is her own made up word or the right word. Both Spanish and English.
The other day I said, "Te amo, Emma." -I love you, Emma- and she responded back, "Amo." She has been doing that everytime I say it now. I love it. It absolutely melts my heart. She has been adding an 's' at the end of a lot of words now, for some reason, so sometimes it comes out, "amos." Too cute.
Other things she has learned recently:
-Me: "¿Emma, cuantos años tienes? Emma, how old are you?
-Emma: "¡Dos!" Two...okay, so she won't be two for another month, but close enough, right?
-Me: "Como te llamas?" What's your name?
She is also starting to say gracias and por favor a little more clearly, although when I tell her, "di por favor," or "di gracias" she usually will say "please" instead of "por favor" and "thank-you" instead of gracias.
The songs we recorded on the iPad are a hit. She loves watching them and following along with the actions. Hopefully they will help out a bit.
Over the last few days Spanish and raising Emma bilingual has really been on my mind. Which is good, because it's helping me focus on speaking Spanish to Emma.
As I have been thinking and reading other's experiences I decided I need to put a greater effort into helping her learn. Because I am a non-native Spanish speaker and because I haven't been consistent, it still doesn't feel "natural" most of the time to speak Spanish to her and I really have to put in a huge effort to consistently do it throughout the day.
So, today, I got on the internet and started looking up Spanish games, songs, and activities that I could use throughout the day. I have linked almost everything I have found here. So you can go check those out and see if there is something that catches your eye.
Anyways, I think I am going to try to do more of a structured schedule for us throughout the day to incorporate specific activites geared towards learning Spanish. I hope this will help keep me in the Spanish mindset throughout the day as well as help Emma pick up on it more.
It is not easy raising a child in a non-native language. (Alright, it's not easy raising a child period.) In fact some days it is downright difficult and seems impossible. Many times I have wanted to quit altogether. Some days I have even only spoken a few words in Spanish to Emma.
But it's worth it.
I have been far from perfect in speaking Spanish consistently with Emma. Yet, she is still learning it. When she responds to something I say in Spanish, like vamos a comer and she heads for the kitchen, or dale el libro and she gives her dad the book, the excitement I feel is awesome. Then, when she uses a new word correctly, the joy is inexplicable. It helps motivate me to keep going.
Emma will be 2 next month. As I look back at our non-native bilingual journey over the past two years, I find things that I wish I would have done differently and some that I feel I did well. Instead of dwelling on the past, I will use this learning experience to make new goals for now. Today.
1. I will speak Spanish 80% of the time. I won't say 100% of the time, because for me, at this time, I know it won't happen. I need to work up to that. So for the next two weeks the goal is just 80%.
The first six months I did really good...probably speaking to her 80% of the time in Spanish. Then I did less and less until she turned 1 when I got back on the ball and started speaking Spanish to her almost full-time. I did okay until the holidays and then i almost quit speaking Spanish to her completely. I think part of the reason is I am self-conscious about speaking Spanish in front of others, and with the holidays, we were around family A LOT. So, the habit broke and it has been challenging to restart.
2. I will speak Spanish to Emma even when there are other people around.
I am pretty self-conscious about my ability to speak Spanish. I know I am far from perfect. Spanish is a pretty common language, so I always fear judgment from others that know the language. I also am afraid of others not understanding and feeling bad or left out or like we are talking about them. I know. I need to get over both of these. Easier said than done.
3. I will study Spanish and/or something about raising bilingual children for at least a half hour every day.
I didn't always do this, but I am currently doing almost everyday. Studying spanish will help with goal number 2, I think, and reading other bilingual blogs and about teaching kids another language will help motivate me on those hard days when I am feeling inadequate.
For now, that is enough. I think if I can really focus on those goals from today til our new little squish is born, than I will be in the habit and full swing of speaking Spanish with the littles...and hopefully Emma will be used to it full-time again, too.