ENGLISH IS OUR MINORITY LANGUAGE
Since my daughter was born 3 years old, we have traveled extensively throughout Spanish speaking countries. We ultimately settled in México. She has only spent a handful of days in the United States, even though she is a U.S. citizen. Despite that fact, she speaks and understands English as good as any other American preschooler.
So, how did I manage to give her enough English exposure to keep her on track with her American-born counterparts? It´s much simplier than you think. She has never had an English class before and I´ve never actively taught her as a teacher myself. We don´t own flashcards or do Duolingo or any other language learning programs. I just spoke to her in English since the day she was born.
IT GETS WORSE, AND THEN BETTER!
Then, when she began to attend a Spanish language school – I did notice her begin to favor Spanish and I panicked. After all – I want her to share my native language and as a language teacher myself – I should have this together, right? Well, easier said than done! Bilingual parenting takes planning, effort and work! But now as a preschooler, we have found our stride and what works for us. Watch the video below for one of my favorite routines.
INCLUDE THE LANGUAGE IN YOUR DAY
MEANINGFUL INTERACTION BEATS QUANTITY
The key to creating the best retention for bilingual parenting is to make the task meaningful and real. That means you should actually write out the grocery list in the target language and use it when you go to the supermarket. Quick, 5-minute interactions in the language, like our morning and evening routines, will do more for retention than hours of traditional language classes (or years of Duolingo!).
WHAT IF I AM NOT BILINGUAL?
But what if you don´t speak the language yourself? There is nothing wrong with finding help in the form of language classes, conversational clubs, short-term immersion programs and many more options. A lot of parents will even opt for non-English speaking nannies and babysitters, which is extremely effective. But it´s worth it to pick up a bit of the language for around the house to help reinforce and motivate your child. Start with everyday actions, food that you often eat, commands, hygiene routines, and family vocabulary. With less than 100 words, you can make a huge difference in your child´s progress and success.
If you want to find more Spanish-language ideas that you can include in your daily routine, follow me on Pinterest.