Raising bilingual kids is no walk in the park. I am totally bilingual in English and Spanish and also want my kids to be completely fluent in both idiomas or languages. When they were younger it was easier, but it gets harder and harder the older they get. Why? Because now they have a clear preference for the language they speak at school and with their friends: English.
What’s a Latina mom to do? Well, I insist on speaking Spanish at home. Even if they speak to me in English, I will repeat their question in Spanish if I realize they forgot the words or simply ask them, me lo puedes decir en español (can you say it in Spanish)? Trust me, it gets tiring and some days you don’t want to even deal with the hassle of having them complain. It also requires an extra effort on your side, but it is worth it. Even if you first instinct is to reply in inglés (English), don’t do it. Consistency is key for bilingual success.
Studies consistently show the advantages of being bilingual and in my family, it’s simply non-negotiable. My parents live in Chile and my husband’s family is Peruvian so we want our children to understand their heritage, be able to communicate with cousins and uncles that live far away and simply embrace multiculturalism. Now that my kids are older I always make sure to tell them how great it is to be able to speak more languages in an increasingly interconnected world.
Keep it fun and mix it up
I also try to keep it fun, especially with music. To enhance your children’s vocabulary you can go over the lyrics of your family’s favorite songs. Search for them on the Internet, print them out and explain the meaning of words your kids don’t understand.
Short stories, magazines and books are also great. If your child is into sports, search on Google for online articles about his or her favorite sport. Remember to always mix things up, especially for tweens.
Take a look at my tips in this video I made.
In the end I am convinced the hard work will pay off. ¿No es cierto?
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