You don’t know this, but my husband is Panamanian. His mom came to America shortly before he was born. He was taught English and Spanish at the same time, and grew up speaking both equally. We knew even before we had a child that we would be a bilingual household, and that our children would get equal exposure to both cultures.
Here’s the problem: I know maybe 15 words in Spanish. It’s not that I haven’t tried to pick it up, because I have. It’s just so hard! I can point out a few objects, but I feel like I’m never going to get the conversation aspect of it. I’m afraid that my son will be held back because of my lack in the language….I mean, how can a baby learn something their main (as in stays at home with all day) parent can’t teach them? I know when he is with Grandma or his cousins they speak it to him, and my husband does sometimes too, but is that enough? Can a child really learn a language he only hears a third or less of the time? I’ve been looking into different home language programs and classes but they are all super expensive! Sorry but I just can’t imagine shelling out $400 for Rosetta Stone.
Little J has a number of books in Spanish (Corduroy, Goodnight Moon, etc..) that my husband reads to him every night. Another way we are trying to incorporate both languages are with toys. Leapfrog is a great source of bilingual toys, with our favorite being the Color Play Drum. For children a bit older there is also the Little Pim series. Little J is at the age where words are just starting to make sense to him, and now is a crucial point in his language development. I’m hoping we can make the most of it.
Here are some fun facts:
Between 2005 and 2009, 19% of households in American regularly spoke a language other than English and 16% of households in America were Hispanic. (Credit: U.S. Census Bureau)
Currently, 21% of school aged children speak a language other than English at home. (asha.org)
The best window of time to teach a second language is betweet 6 months and 4 years (Wikihow)
Some advantages of being bilingual include better listening skills, ability to process information faster, and being able to learn new words easier. (asha.org)