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Teaching your Children to be Bilingual

I have two kids a nine year old boy and a 2 year old daughter. They both have been exposed to Spanish on a regular basis but I haven't really made a consistent effort in teaching them. I am Puerto Rican and am fluent in both English and Spanish my husband only speaks English. He is Puerto Ricna as well so he does understand it. I feel bad when I say t hings to my son in SPanish and he looks at me like I'm crazy(he does understand some of it) and my daughter will say what thus I revert back to English! Any suggestions? I really want them to learn. We live in Miami and its crucial for them to know it as adults here. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! Im not really into the whole tape viewing curriculum on this!


Asked by Erica0821 at 7:31 PM on Jun. 8, 2010 in General Parenting

Level 1 (3 Credits)
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Answers (6)
  • I only speak English but I am a teacher and have taught many children who came into my class speaking no English. My Spanish speaking students normally picked up the English fast because I spoke only English to them and I pointed out things in English. I labeled things and I stayed consistent with things.

    My suggestion would to be to speak Spanish as much as possible in the house. Point out things to them in Spanish. It may be harder to catch on for the 9 yr old but the 2 yr old will grasp it well. They are both fluent English speakers and Im sure their friends speak English too, so I wouldnt worry about them not using English. Speak only Spanish to them and eventually they will pick it up.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:53 PM on Jun. 8, 2010

  • When I took french in school my teacher did this:
    Light a small skinny candle. When the candle is lit, you must all speak spanish only. If some one slips up and speaks english, blow the candle out at least for a couple hours before you want to try again. Once the candle gets melted to a certain point (you can just mark it with a sharpie) everybody gets something special...(for us it was a class party.)
    At your kids age, I would say that the conversation doesnt have to make complete sense as long as they are speaking spanish. Or just try to illustrate with your hands instead of explaining in english.

    Answer by jenellemarie at 7:36 PM on Jun. 8, 2010

  • WOW! That is an awesome idea!! Sounds like it would keep them motivated! Thanks!

    Answer by Erica0821 at 7:39 PM on Jun. 8, 2010

  • If you had made this their first language it would have been a lot easier, they never forget, this is what I did with mine. I think your best bet is just to talk to them in spanish all the time and translate in English so they get the meaning, but talking the language is the best way to learn. Your two year old will be easier than your 9 year old, but kids learn languages rather quickly.

    Answer by older at 7:39 PM on Jun. 8, 2010

  • I agree that you should keep trying in Spanish first, and translate as needed. Really, in the course of a day how many different things do we say to our kids: "are you ready to go", "did you brush your teeth"....they'll have the basics down quickly.

    My brother is married to a woman from Ecuador, their older son is bilingual, but the younger sister completely refuses to speak Spanish and will only speak to the family in English. They are all in Ecuador right now, I can't wait to hear how they did!

    And my bf's brother is married to a Chinese woman. Her twins speak Chinese mainly (the grandparents babysit), but they do follow commands in English...they don't actually speak much other than "no", lol....

    Answer by kjrn79 at 8:41 PM on Jun. 8, 2010

  • Continue to speak
    Spanish and repeat in english if they don't understand. My DD is 2 and half yo I always speak in Italian with her and her father speak english, she understands both the languages, she's a little behind with her language, but she prefers speaks in English (with some italian word in the middle) because that's the language that sourround her.

    Answer by shining8250 at 9:55 PM on Jun. 8, 2010