I was at an English mother’s group, speaking in Spanish to my then 2-month old son when another mother approached me saying, “I’m Argentine American and I would love to raise my child bilingually, but I’m not fluent.” When I queried further, turns out she’s not a strong reader or writer, but she speaks it every day because her parents live nearby and prefer Spanish. I pointed out that at this age (her child was also an infant), speaking to her child, even if it wasn’t grammatically perfect all the time, was still valuable because her daughter could then develop an ear for the sounds and phonetics of the Spanish language. She could worry about reading and writing later.
This widespread concern about fluency probably prevents many parents from thinking they are capable of raising bilingual children, even if they have studied Spanish or at least grown up around that language for many years. Related to the fluency barrier, is the belief that only native speakers of the language (i.e., persons who have been raised with this other language from birth) ought to teach your child the language. Most parents I have met have more than enough vocabulary to be able to speak at the simple level required by the children, and many who have done so remark that reading to their children has been an enormous reinforcement and vocabulary builder for their own language skills.
Of course if other native speakers of Spanish let you know that your Spanish is not strong, then it is important to supplement your child’s exposure to the language through other mediums as well.& ...
Read More »