We just returned from a short family vacation to Florida. The main purpose of the trip was for our kids to visit their great-grandparents and other family members that they don’t get to see very often. The girls had a blast! They were showered with lots of hugs and kisses…and just a few presents 😉
One unique thing about these visits is that our girls also get a lot of exposure to Spanish. My husband’s mother’s family is originally from Peru, and they all speak Spanish fluently. It is very important for us that our girls grow up bilingual because it is part of who they are. My oldest daugher is 2 years old, and she impressed the family by counting from 1-10 in Spanish all by herself.
I will admit that we do not speak as much Spanish at home as we should. I am in the process of learning, but it is difficult for me. I really wish that I would have taken those Spanish classes in high school a little more seriously! When we are in a Mexican restaurant or with other people who speak Spanish, my husband will fall right into using Spanish, but he forgets to use it at home.
Since learning other languages is much easier when children are little, we are doing several things at home to help. Here are some examples:
- I have purchased some children’s books in Spanish. For example, we have Goodnight Moon (by Margaret Wise-Brown) and Buenas Noches, Luna. These books help “cue” my husband to read in Spanish, and it helps me practice reading in Spanish with text that I already know. I’ve also found some videos on YouTube of people reading some classic children’s books like this in Spanish.
- We watch the Spanish versions of Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! You can find these on Spanish TV stations like Telemundo and Univision or on YouTube. To help me out, I put on the subtittles so that I can try to figure out what’s happening and talk about the episode with my daughter.
- I practice the little bit of Spanish that I do know with my daughters. I know the numbers, some colors, and some other basic vocabulary. One tip I heard from a bilingual teacher was to pick one item in the home and only call it by the Spanish word. For example, everyone in the home would say “la leche” for “milk.” You could add a new work each week.
- Look for Spanish camps, daycares, classes, etc. in your neighborhood. For example, our daughter will attend a Spanish pre-school in the fall 2 days a week. This will certainly keep me motivated to learn more Spanish because I will want to keep up with her (as best I can). My husband thinks he will be more likely to practice with her since she’ll have a bigger Spanish vocabulary.
These are just a few things that we are trying. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Muchas gracias!