Reflecting on our bilingual journey


Happy New Year!

How time flies, my eldest is now 7 and in his third year of primary school and my 3 year old is has been attending three days at preschool since September. As they grow up, and become secure in their bilingual abilities and identities, at this point. it all seems easy and natural.

Reflecting on the start of our bilingual journey, I remember all the many questions and worries I had. We were working towards bilingualism but we didn’t actually know if it was going to work.  I was constantly searching for people with similar issues and situations and trying to make sure we exposed the children to as much Spanish as possible.

Today, I would say that we are now confident in our bilingualism as a family. Despite attending majority language school full time for over 2 years, S is still fluent in spoken Spanish and is developing his Spanish reading and writing skills alongside English.

After taking strongly to Spanish as a toddler, E is now forming full sentences in English and becoming more confident to talk in English with friends and family.

The children, at this stage, still speak to each other in Spanish and Spanish is firmly the home language. This year the children’s Mexican grandparents will be visiting us at Easter for 3 weeks. They are super excited and it will be lovely for them to spend some real time together, outside of Skype.

If I had to summarise the key aspects of our bilingual method today it would be:

  • Speaking only Spanish at home and and as family.
  • Hiring Spanish-speaking babysitters and finding Spanish-speaking lodgers.
  • Lots of Spanish books to read aloud together.
  • Spanish language cartoons 30 mins per day (none in English).
  • Exposure to Latin American and Spanish culture through cultural activities and celebrations.
  • Building up a network of Spanish-speaking families and friends.
  • Immersion in Spanish monolingual environment annually through annual visits to a Spanish speaking country or Mexican family visiting us here.
  • Providing opportunities to play with Spanish speaking monolingual children.
  • Weekly Spanish reading and writing lessons for my son, and five nights a week, reading aloud Spanish to a parent.

Wow, that sounds like a lot. But it is actually very natural and easy for us now.

How do you find your bilingual journey evolving? I’d love to hear your thoughts and read about your experiences.

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