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 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.
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.