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.
Emma loves playing on the iPad. I have downloaded a bunch of Spanish kids apps, so I don't feel too bad about letting her play on it.
One of her favorite things to do, though, is look at pictures and videos that I have taken. So, taking an idea that I have seen on a couple of bilingual blogs, I decided to video us singing some Spanish songs.
This was fun, and was done in just a few minutes. Nothing fancy. The first one I did with just me, but I found that she likes seeing herself more, so I put her on my lap and we did the rest of them together. I think I might print some pictures for the songs that don't have hand movements so she can have a visual of what we are singing about.
This won't replace me singing to her one on one, but when I am trying to get things done, this will just be another helpful Spanish resource to keep her entertained.
On Friday's our local library does Spanish Story Time. The time falls right between two English story times, so there are usually a few English speakers that go as well.
They sing songs, read a book, and do a puppet show or two. It's fun and Emma actually sits through it and pays attention. I need to get up the courage and talk with some of the latina mamas there and see if we can do a playdate, I think that would help my Spanish a lot, as well as Emma's.
Today, Emma actually sat through the whole thing. She usually will sit for the puppet show, but gets bored when the lady reads a book. I wish there was some way to get into her head to see how much she is understanding during it.
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.