I recently read an article about “7 easy tips for teaching your child spanish” (by MAMIVERSE) which I found quite inspiring and motivate me to write my personal story that may help other mommy’s as they raise their kids learning two languages.
I still remember a lady from church, originally from Peru like me, telling me don’t teach your son Spanish until he is three years old. Inside myself I thought: I’m not doing that!
One day when Tyler was around two years old. I saw him playing and repeating the letters from a little English laptop and I got upset about it (inside Myseld I thought-Oh NO! He will learn English instead of Spanish). I was determined he had to learn Spanish and his dad will have to be the one teaching him English. We are a couple and things are done 50/50, right? So I immediately did my research, found and ordered a little laptop that will teach him letters and play in Spanish. Now I laugh about that because it was not just a little laptop that would help my son to learn Spanish. It was the many other lessons that will come as he was growing up bilingual.
Preschool started and he would be exposed to spend 4 hours of the day in English; he seemed fine when I picked him up. Although the teacher told me he wasn’t communicating and “USING HIS WORDS”; Tyler seemed frustrated while trying to play with other kids or while trying to borrow something from a kid, he would grab them on the arm instead of “USING HIS WORDS”. As the days passed, by the teachers kept telling me Tyler is such a sweetheart but he still not using his words.
I listened to them everyday, but for me as a parent it was clear that I wanted him to be bilingual. I asked other parents I have seen with bilingual kids and those kids even speak with the parents accent whether it be Peruvian or Argentinian, etc… These parents also suggested me to immerse my son in both languages. They also said don’t be afraid he will be fine. The sooner the better.
But in preschool they kept telling me he didn’t seem to improve and now they wanted him to be screened by Fairfax County through their Child Find Program. I will explain to you what that is. The teachers were thinking that my son had potential education needs. When I found out about this, I literally cried. My nanny saw my eyes tearing and she kept telling me: everything will be fine, don’t worry. I picked up Tyler and drove crying back home. We scheduled Tyler’s appointment with a bilingual counselor (spanish/english); he was tested and the results came back. He was perfectly FINE. Though his teacher still wasn’t convinced. I was literally pissed and upset but I couldn’t say anything.
I knew Tyler was fine (and trust me we have our 6th sense that only mom’s have); I also knew Tyler needed sometime. He was learning two languages at such an early age. Come on! Can’t we be patient with a child not even three-years old! I felt Tyler ‘s frustration, especially when he would say no school mommy, PLEASEEEE.
Enjoying and outdoor play time
I tried to empower him, talking to him a lot, explaining him our background, hug him many times (kisses I can’t tell you how many…LOL) and kept telling him everything is gonna be fine. You are learning two languages and you will be a brilliant and smart kid, you have to be patient. I felt he was under estimated; too. Just as I have felt at some point in my life (but that is another story). He would look at me like: mommy YOU are crazy.
I have always tried to explain to him everything. And just as I learned about what mother tongue is the kids 1st language, the language they are exposed at 1st. But I also needed to help him with the school issues of the so-called “USE YOUR WORDS” so we started our English lessons and every night we would work for an hour on his English. That helped him to speak with confidence and Tyler does what mommy says…LOL (now that he is little, right?) so in our English lessons we would repeat continuously for example: good morning Miss Laura, he would say it really soft and it was hard to hear it. We would repeat it and repeat it many times, so next morning he would come into his classroom and say good moning Ms Laura to what the teacher said looking at me: I didn’t hear him and I looked at her with a smile. (trust me I like all his teachers) but I swear to God I just had to control the Latin mom inside of me that was about to lose it. I knew he was saying it.
Next English lesson was learned to say: juice please and so on. This was fall of 2012. By march we had our 2nd parents conference and Ms. Laura FINALLY said it: Tyler has come along so well! He is USING HIS WORDS, he still has a lot to learn but he is definitely improving. I still wanted to scream : I KNEW IT B123$;:&@. But I was just thankful that Tyler would be accepted and will start socializing in his American culture.
Let me share with you what we have done to help raising a bilingual Spanish-English kid
- Travel to your home country and sign up your kid to school. We travel to Peru every year and Tyler goes to school for a month while visiting Peru.
Tyler on his last trip to Peru Jun/Jul 2013
■ When you are abroad, spends a lot of time with family and friends speaking Spanish.
Tyler riding horses with his cousin
- Work with hispanic speaking nannies. They have been great at teaching lots of Spanish songs and educative games in Spanish.
Alicia & Pilar are sisters. They are part of our family. Pilar help us in America and Alicia in Peru:)
■ Find play dates with Hispanic kids and with parents that agree that while they play they speak Spanish.
Playing with his buddy Takeshi
- Read a Spanish book once a day perhaps at bedtime
- We pray together in Spanish and in English
But number one rule is speak to mommy in Spanish:)
I truly hope this helps and gives you ideas and strength to continue raising a bilingual kid. Don’t give up!
The MamiVerse about the 7 tips raising a bilingual kid article truly inspired me to write this blog post. I have so many other things to share with you, like the day your kid comes to you telling you or screaming at you,” I AM TIRED OF SPEAKING SPANISH! I DON’T WANT TO SPEAK SPANISH!” and so many other stories that I can tell you in pursuit of raising a bilingual kid, but I think that it is enough for now;)
For those mommy’s who love oldies hispanic songs. Tyler’s sings for you Luna Lunera;) Click here