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.
It is no secret. I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I've read all the books who knows how many times. So, I want to try to cast a spell to help me....just kidding. I wish it were that easy.
By reading, what I am really hoping for is to help me start to think in Spanish more often and pick up some new vocabulary while I am at it. I would also like to listen to the book on CD, but they all seem to be pretty pricey and our library doesn't have them in Spanish. If you have any leads as to where I can find at least one of the books for cheap, that would be great!
Because I have read it so many times, I know what's going on even without knowing the exact translation of all of the words, so it is helping me learn new vocabulary. After reading for a good stretch of time, I find myself thinking more in Spanish as well, so it's working! Now I just gotta use those new words!
Something I struggle with, however, is that different words have different meanings depending on what country you are from...so I am always afraid that I might be swearing in one country when really, I am just trying to implement innocent
I have also set a goal to speak to Gavin more in Spanish. With Emma it's a lot of repetiion of the same things, and even though I think she is a brilliant 2 year old, our conversations don't go very deep. So by speaking to Gavin more often in Spanish it will also (hopefully) help me to think more in Spanish and learn or re-learn different conjugations for different words.
And just to be accountable, I feel like I am doing pretty good about speaking to Emma in Spanish at least 80% of the time, usually more. I have done much better while out in public, though I still struggle in more intimate settings, like when a smaill group of friends or family are at our home or we are at someone else's home. I need to work on that.