Bilingual parenting

I was just writing a post for my other blog, which I write in Spanish. What a workout. I actually feel mentally exhausted. While I speak Spanish everyday I don’t write it outside of informal texts and emails. Writing a blog is good practice. I don’t struggle to write it per se but sometimes I get stuck on a word or phrase and I need to look it up to make sure I am making sense. 

This flexing of my written Spanish muscle is a good thing especially considering that I am in the process of raising Diego to speak Spanish. I am not going to tell anybody how to raise their children, rather I am going to share my reasons for choosing to give Diego what I consider to be the best of both worlds. Firstly I think that speaking more than one language is of great benefit in a world that has become more global. We are not insulated, the internet and social media have connected us in ways that continue to evolve and amaze. 

More importantly, to me at least, we have family that do not speak English and I would like for Diego to be fully able to interact with them instead of nod and acknowledge without being able to express himself. There are many more reasons including if you can, why not?

I suspect that there are people who might disagree with my endeavor. I’ve had people scoff and dismiss me as an idealist attempting something foolish. To me it is foolish not to try to do something because it is difficult, or because other people don’t think it’s important. Language is extremely important. Communication is the basis of human interaction. We all communicate all the time. 

We have had to make some changes in our home in order to foster an environment that will promote Spanish as the primary language.  The plan is to speak to Diego exclusively in Spanish and allow English to wash over him and seep in from the outside in. It sounds simple enough except that it’s not. Luis and I don’t speak to each other in Spanish! It is something that we are changing and it’s difficult to break that habit but we are working on everyday. 

During the day I often have Nick Jr. or the Disney Channel on in the background for an hour or so. Diego doesn’t pay much attention to the television but he is listening and becoming familiar with the flow, diction and order of the English language. In my research I have found that learning two languages simultaneously doesn’t confuse or harm children. They might learn a little slower than their single language peers but it’s not a hindrance to language development. 

I cannot foresee how this will all play out. I do not know if Diego will reject Spanish and prefer English. I believe his attitude will be partially formed depending on what we nurture at home. I do not want him to be ashamed of his Hispanic/Latino roots. I want him to embrace them, celebrate them and if the time calls for it defend them. 

In time I hope that he is able to read in Spanish so that he too can read and possibly enjoy the literary gems that we have. La Charca by Manuel Zeno Gandia, Cronica de una muerte anunciada by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and La Resaca by Enrique Laguerre are works I hope he is able to read in their original Spanish form. 

I had the privilege of growing up with both languages and as such I have enjoyed the benefits and perks of a library of music and books twice as large. I’m flying blind but I will let instinct and common sense be my guide. Diego, too. Because it’s all about him and I will listen.