I took the required 2 years of high school foreign languarge, heck I even took a year of college Spanish. When I worked in the hospital as a pediatric nurse I used it daily and while I couldn’t hold a conversation, I could do a patient assessment with basic vocabulary and sentences. In the years since I have stopped using it altogether and it has left my mind, probably to make room for things like preschool schedules and grocery store lists. The Mister has been diligently teaching himself for years. I’m truly in awe of what he has learned and how he seeks out daily opportunities to use it. We started Baby Sign Language when JDub was pretty little and continue to grow our knowledge base as well as practice daily. Our community has a large deaf population and I love that we all know some signs to be able to better communicate with our neightbors around town. We also live in Texas which as you guessed it has a large Spanish speaking population. We would love for our children to grow up knowing Spanish as well as English, essentially we are raising a bilingual child when we aren’t.
I’ve heard both sides of the argument about raising bilingal children. I heard that it’s confusing to them and can be overhelming, resulting in poor verbal and reading skills in both languages. I have seen some of this first hand. I’ve also heard that this is the most ideal time to teach a child multiple languages. A few weeks ago I have the opportunity to hear a local Speech-Language Pathologist of Tandem Speech Therapy speak to a group of moms about speach related issues and this topic came up. She addressed it by saying that young children’s minds are very plyable and this is the key time to introduce another language, with the caviate that you will most likely see a mixing of languages and even a conjunctions of words meaning the same thing.
There are few tools that we are using to help this journey and so far we are very pleased with the results. JDub now has a small vocabulary of Spanish words and uses them on his own and with prompting. We hope to continue to grow his vocabulary and eventually have proper conversational structure to it. Every week during our library trip I look for books that are in English but introduce 10-15 Spanish words through out the story. Here are a few of my favorites…
I also have an app of my phone that was developed by a mom local to the Austin area that wanted to help other moms teach their children Spanish. You can find the Mama Lingua for IOS in the Apple App Store.
Another favorite when we are enjoying screen time is Oh! Noah on PBS kids. Your little ones will join Noah on grand adventures and learn a variety of useful Spanish words and terms.