correcting or letting go bilingual question - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 12-04-2010, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
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So my son is just starting to say a few words.

I'm attempting to raise him biligualy, but we mostly speak English because DP doesn't speak Spanish.

So far the words he is a working on are in English.

When I speak to him I try do so in Spanish and I find myself saying things like "si es tu ball", "apple que rico" when

he says ball or apple etc.


Should I be saying the word in Spanish instead, or encouraging the fact that he is saying a word by repeating it even though the

rest of my sentence is in Spanish (as I have been doing so far). I don't want to frustrate or confuse him, and I'm super excited that he is starting to talk. I also would prefer not to switch to English because he has limited exposure to Spanish as it is.

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#2 of 7 Old 12-04-2010, 12:14 PM
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My kiddos are bilingual English-Spanish. We try not mixed up English and Spanish in the same sentence.

We speaks Spanish at home, I'm trying to encourage Spanish at lot, because the very limited exposure to Spanish speakers. Anyway English is their native and more fluent language.

 I try to correct myself and no talk in Spanglish, it's very hard, but I have to make an effort to provide more vocabulary. I started to see the improvement in the fluency in Spanish in my 5 yo DD.

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#3 of 7 Old 12-06-2010, 01:03 PM
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We've got multiple languages around the house.  I'm pretty rigid about speaking only English to the kids unless I'm a situation that is socially awkward.  Then I change to the language that works for everybody.  My youngest (2) still mixes a lot and I just babble back to her with the sentence correctly phrased in English.  For example, she says something like "El aigua es cold" and I repeat "Yep, the water's cold, huh?" or she says "I'm a bruixa scary!" and I answer "you're a really scary witch!".  I feel like it's more like giving information than correcting.  It doesn't seem to confuse them and my son (4) speaks English (our minority language) quite well.  Interestingly, he tends to mix English and Catalan with his dad who hasn't ever followed through on repeating back in Catalan, our majority language.  When my son is out in public, he's figured out that "catanglais" doesn't work and has streamlined into Catalan only, asking for help with words when necessary.  They both understand Spanish, which they hear daily, but so far don't actually speak it, probably because most of their spoken conversation is with people who understand Catalan and English.


As for your partner, if he's supportive of your child learning Spanish, he needs to support you speaking it.  You will be surprised how much he learns!  My best friend here can now follow lots of my conversation with my kids even though she speaks NO English... she's just spent a lot of time listening to us!  And my partner's English totally rocks now, just from our visits to the US, family coming here, movies in English, reading aloud to the kids, etc.

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#4 of 7 Old 12-07-2010, 11:31 AM
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We are bilingual French-English.  I speak to my kids exclusively in English.  I do not mix.  My son is only 19 months old and is just starting to talk and he is mixing a lot but I would never dream of sticking French words in my sentences.  How is he going to learn the English word if I do that?  Just stick to your language and your child will figure it out.  

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#5 of 7 Old 12-09-2010, 08:03 PM
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#6 of 7 Old 12-10-2010, 05:58 AM
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My kids would do this. I would answer, always in English "Oh, is that a...?" Often, it was their way of "asking" what a word was when they didn't know it in English. 


I try to speak English and only English with them. My husband does not speak English and there is very little spoken where we live. 


If you mix, you'll really regret it later, not because of your son but YOU. It's a lot easier to stick to one language and not get them mixed up in your head as you're talking to your child(ren). Right now, it's simple but it gets more complex fast. You need to create your relationship in Spanish if you want this to work. Soon, you glance at each other and you automatically switch into Spanish. Later on, speaking English will feed stilted and awkward. I can't say anything in French to my kids. We couldn't take each other seriously. I've lived in France since 1996 and spoke it before I moved here. 


Do not switch to English in front of people who don't speak Spanish. Be polite by keeping exchanges limited to "cuing in" those around you as to what is going on (ex. "He always..." which sound more natural than translating). Switching to the community language can also sound patronizing. You also want your partner to listen to you and pick some up if possible. Trust me, my dh follows our whole conversations now. If HE can do it, anyone can! 


His English might be better than his Spanish but so what. This will in no way harm his Spanish or keep him from speaking it. My kids actually speak three languages on three different levels. They never mix them or get them confused. Each language has its place in their world. 


Don't scold or force but when he says the English, praise him and quickly interject the Spanish word. Soon, he'll be expecting you to supply the Spanish words as he learns those in English. 


Keep to good habits now and you'll be really glad when they greet family members with ease and are able to form meaningful relationships with people in your language too. It's really rewarding and interesting. The adventure is just starting. Stick to the map but still keep it fun and worthwhile.  Lots to look forward to. Keep up the good work! 

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#7 of 7 Old 12-10-2010, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your responses.

I've been speaking a lot more Spanish since I stopped the Spanglish, and he is really picking up on it.

He even started saying a couple things that sound more like Spanish words!

It has been great to get your support.

My husband feels it's important, but not being bilingual himself is unsure of how to encourage me, and until now

It has been a bit daunting.

Eclipsepearl I was going to ask about switching around other people. Growing up I heard so many people

comment that it is so rude when people speak a different language when they can speak the common language.

I don't feel this way, but was feeling at odds about it. Today I spoke to him in Spanish while at a baby group, and it felt great.


Now I'm realizing that I need more practice myself.

there have been a few times when I can't remember a word I need.

I'm going to switch to Spanish in my own life as much as possible.

If anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears.

Maybe I should start a new thread.

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