I don’t want to be hasty and I specially don’t want to jinx anything, but I have just started doing some research into something that will be a very important subject matter if/when we have a baby. I want to bring up my child as a bilingual child, fluently speaking both Spanish and English.
I need to research the best ways to achieve this, and the very little that I’ve read is quite encouraging: it is possible to teach a child two, three and even four languages since a very early age. This is great news. The only bad news is that the parent is required to speak this language to the child at all times so not to confuse them.
I know I am going to find this a bit difficult. I am very comfortable in my current environment, where I hardly ever have to speak in Spanish. This means I sometimes forget some of my mother-tongue vocabulary or I even mix both English and Spanish grammars. This is not helped by the fact that Jon’s Spanish is quite limited and speaking Spanish at home does not exist.
A few important pointers that I’ve managed to learn so far:
- Use two languages from the start. Many children grow up learning two languages at the same time.
- Use only one language at home. Your child can learn the second language when he or she starts school. (This point is actually contradicted by some other sources, which claim that each parent can use their own mother tongue at all times with the child)
- Give your child many opportunities to hear and practice using both languages in everyday situations.
Studies have shown that the best method to teach your child both languages is for each parent to speak their native language with the child. This shouldn’t be a problem, as I can’t see Jon speaking much Spanish to the baby! The question is… do we teach the baby to say “papá” or “daddy“? 🙂
To be continued…