Our journey in being a bilingual family continues. Though our milestones are small, we celebrate every step of progress our children make. My children aren’t 100 percent bilingual some would even say not even close to even being called bilingual. I am, however, very confident they will be soon.
I was recently asked if there were any signs that showed my children wanted to be bilingual. I never put any thought into it. I mean, our children were always exposed, but this year they did show more interest than ever before.
It really wasn’t an option for them to choose to learn to be bilingual, because this was something my husband and I discussed about the way we’d parent from the start. However, I did in fact notice a few things they had been doing that led me to believe that they are more than willing to be bilingual.
Here are a few signs your child wants to be bilingual:
- Asking for words to be translated — On vacation, they kept asking grandpa to translate words in Spanish, for example: “How do you say ice cream in Spanish?”
- Counting in Spanish My son learned to count to 12 in Spanish. He did this all on his own. I was shocked and he has now gotten up to 15 by practicing every so often.
- Speaking Spanglish My daughter is known for saying “Hey I need to go to el baño.”
- Calling you mama — My children have been calling me mama for as long as I can remember. I never knew they’d call me that; I always assumed it would be mom. It does vary, but most days it’s mama.
- Wanting books read in Spanish, or bilingual books — My children love bilingual books, so we do English and Spanish most nights for story time.
- Asking to visit family in other countries, like Mexico — Since they learned that Tijuana, Mexico, was another country, they ask to visit constantly .They usually say “I want to visit uncle in Mexico.”
- Wanting ethic foods like Mexican food tacos or agua fresca — My children love my cooking. I didn’t realize how much until I started sharing where foods came from or how I loved eating certain dishes as a kid, and they really responded.
- Distinguishing the language when spoken — We had a visitor speaking Spanish to me this week. Though my daughter was already in bed, she asked, “who is speaking Spanish?” and “Are grandma and grandpa visiting?” It was amazing to hear that she distinguished the languages.
- Knowing when the correct language is to be spoken with certain individuals — When visiting my parents, the kids knew grandpa spoke Spanish, so they spoke to him in Spanish, and that grandma spoke English, so English it was with her. It was interesting to see them try to go back and forth in conversations, much like I do with my parents.
- Asking to do things in Spanish They like to ask for certain things in Spanish, whether its telling me they are thirsty or need to go to the restroom, I enjoy it and praise their efforts!
Do you recognize any of these signs with your children?
Read more of Ruby’s writing at Growing Up Blackxican