¡Hola! Our second blog post brings you the one parent one language model. Carolina’s childhood friend, Melissa, has graciously answered our questions. Her family is also from Colombia and we grew up in similar homes where a connection to Spanish and our traditions was emphasized by our parents. She now has two adorable children and she tells us how they are going about raising a bilingual, well in her case trilingual, familia. Enjoy!
Q & A
Where were you born?
A - Rhode Island, USA.
What language(s) were spoken at home; school?
A - Spanish and English.
What language(s) do/did you speak as a parent?
A - Spanish when alone with them or with people who understand Spanish, English as a family with their Father and French if I'm around other French speaking people. My main language I speak to my children is Spanish.
Besides language, what other cultural experiences are your children exposed to growing up?
A - They were born and raised, until present, in Monaco, a French speaking country. We now have moved to Miami, FL. Monaco is very multicultural my son’s best friends were native German speaking and the other was native Russian speaking, both English as a second language. My children are very lucky to be able to travel and have experienced many countries and cultures. They have been able to visit The Middle East, Dubai, South America, Colombia and Brazil, Spain, England, Italy, France, and Switzerland. My son loves food from all over the world and my daughter, a bit more picky, I have her try everything.
Was the decision to raise bilingually easy? Was it a mutual agreement?
A - It was very important for me that my children speak the language I was raised with. I might have not appreciated it when I was younger, but when I grew up I realized how important, special and privileged it was to speak another language. This is why when I moved to Monaco it was important for me to learn French. It was a mutual agreement. My husband, who only speaks English, saw how amazing it was for me, and now for my children, to interact with so many cultures.
Advice for parents who want to raise a bilingual family.
My advice would be to never give up. I used to feel so silly speaking to a newborn baby a language that no one around me spoke or understood, especially a newborn who couldn’t even interact. Both my children's first words were in Spanish and they learned to count in Spanish. Now they are trilingual! It's always a challenge. We're now in an English-speaking country, around all English-speaking friends so of course they prefer English. I'm the only one in my household who speaks Spanish so I have to make sure I don't get lazy or let them answer me in English.
Comments, questions, suggestions – let us know! We’d love to hear from you. Are you raising a bilingual familia? What are some of the things that you are doing to foster bilingualism?