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For parents of bilingual kids..

I am half Colombian and I want my kids to speak both English and Spanish. Some people say I have to speak only in Spanish in frond of the kids and hubby has to speak to them only in English. Some others say we only have to speak Spanish at home and they'll learn English when they go to school. With my first daughter we tried to do the first but hubby and I talked in English to one another. Now my daughter is 5 and can understand everything in Spanish but she refuses to speak. I speak to her in Spanish and she replies in English. What do I do with the new baby? I would really love for her to learn to speak Spanish as a first language.

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pipermomofash

Asked by pipermomofash at 5:36 PM on May. 29, 2010 in General Parenting

Level 15 (1,915 Credits)
Answers (13)
  • considering that this is America and English is the language here, I would not do Spanish as a first language.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:50 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • my husband is Mexican and i m white. my kids understand both languages very well. anon 5:50 yes this is American however there are many languages in America. my son can say things in Spanish as can my daughter. i think its important to know other languages in this day and age because its good for jobs and meeting new people. to the original poster i think that ur kids will speak Spanish when they want to. my son says I love you in Spanish, holla, adios, thank you and tio y tia. he is 3 so im sure ur daughter will do it soon too.
    knagsmom

    Answer by knagsmom at 7:26 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • I am from Denmark, and I spoke danish to my kids as much as I could, but like you said; with my DH being American we spoke english to eachother and he spoke english to the kids (also in public I would sometimes switch to english - so others would know what I was saying)
    So my kids understand a lot of danish, but speak VERY little :(

    It is VERY beneficial to the brain development to know more language's, so Keep speaking spanish to them.

    I understand your fustration w/ them not wanting to use it - I sometimes have, what I call "danish day", where we only speak danish - if they want something, they have to ask me in danish. (If they do not know/remember the words, they ask me in english and I translate, and then they repeat it) That way they retain more of it.

    But I am afraid, only families where both parents speak the second language, will be succesful in the kids being fluent in it...that is just my oppinion, though.
    Nynne

    Answer by Nynne at 8:42 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • I'm not bilingual at all and neither is my hubby, but we have our kids enrolled in a french immersion school and they are quite fluent in french. My oldest is in grade 6 and my middle son is in grade 2, and both speak french fairly well, especially considering we don't speak it at home. I do agree that making them speak the second language is important - having a "spanish day" like a previous poster said, or having them enrolled in some spanish language programs where they will get to practice speaking it will help a lot. But even the fact that they can understand it is great, keep speaking it to them, it can only help them.
    canadianmom1974

    Answer by canadianmom1974 at 9:07 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • thanks everybody, Spanish Day sounds like a great idea. How often do you do that?
    pipermomofash

    Answer by pipermomofash at 9:23 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • as someone that has grown up in household of spanish and english speaking parents. just keeping speaking spanish. i understand everything myself but have a very hard time speaking it. my cousin's who were raised in miami speak both very well. my parents speak to me in spanish but never made me respond in spanish. i think that part is very important. its important to know more then one language and its easier for the younger children to learn it for long term. i hope my daughter understands both. its hard because i speak mostly english but i try to say easy words for her to say. we shall see. good luck
    lambdarose

    Answer by lambdarose at 9:29 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • I would speak Spanish as a family in the home. English will be no problem whatsoever... they will get it before you know it and you'll be amazed. English is the dominant language here, and if there's any English in the home from the beginning, it will be all English before you know it. My children are not bilingual (yet) but I am and I'm a language professor... most of my friends and colleagues are faced with these issues so I've seen just about every scenario you can think of. The ONLY one that seems to work for the long haul is using Spanish in the home, and everyone should be committed.
    Anonymous

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:35 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • Thank you Anon at :35 we'll try that. I just didn't know if it would be ok for the kids to go to school without speaking Enlgish as a first language.
    pipermomofash

    Answer by pipermomofash at 9:47 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • I depends on our schedule, how often we do the Danish day. Mostly it's on f.ex. teacher work days or other days where there is no school, so they have the whole day.

    We do it at the most twice a month - but you can do it more often....whatever works for your family, and the more often the better the kids get :)
    Nynne

    Answer by Nynne at 10:06 PM on May. 29, 2010

  • P.s. This summer I plan on making one (or maybe two)day(s) a week Danish Day, and maybe they'll be able to dazzle mormor (my mom) when she comes in september :)

    Good Luck, mamma :)
    Nynne

    Answer by Nynne at 10:11 PM on May. 29, 2010

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