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#1 of 4 Old 05-17-2008, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
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what do you do when your child prefers one language? We started out speaking mostly Spanish to our dc (although we speak mostly English to each other), and they are fluent in both. However, about a year ago, dd began to prefer English, and started answering in English more, requesting English language tracks, etc. We still use mostly Spanish with ds, but often we wind up using English wdd without even thinking of it--simply responding to her in the same language she is using.

I'm guessing that I probably know the answer already--just be more consistent in using Spanish. Does anyone else struggle with remembering to use another language, though?

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#2 of 4 Old 05-17-2008, 07:55 PM
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I think that when you are choosing to use a language that is not the language spoken in your surroundings, you really need to be firm about keeping up with the language. Especially once the kids start getting older and have more friends who speak English, perhaps even go to English preschool or daycare or school, etc.

My son is only 3, so we haven't hit a period where he refuses to speak the language but he definitely speaks more English (probably about 60%/40%, so not much more English though). I try to counteract this by ONLY speaking Spanish all the time, even in front of English-speaking families or other situations where I think many parents fall into the habit of using English. Also, when he responds to me in English, I'll often repeat back to him what he said in Spanish. So, he says, "look, a truck!" and I say "mira, un camión!" and follow up on it with a question in Spanish.

Knowing some other bilingual families with kids much older than my son, I can see that it is SO important to insist on that second language, especially as the kids get older. My Latina friends whose parents refused to speak English at home are all fluent in Spanish while the families where the parents allowed the kids to respond in English have kids who can understand Spanish but not speak it.

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#3 of 4 Old 05-17-2008, 09:03 PM
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I think making clear that it is important to you, is, important. But like anything else, I don't insist on it, and I want to respect their wishes and preferences.

We do also repeat back to them in Spanish what they say in English,and things like that. I just don't want to "make them" do it because I'm afraid they'll end up resenting it/us.

I figure they will begin to have a preference for Spanish when they need it: if/when they are living or working in a place where Spanish is used. Until then, we will do what we can, and having receptive language skills is a good goal. It won't take long for them to build up fluency if they already have that good foundation.

I think it will really be key to find situations for them where they are around only Spanish speakers. So far, I haven't been able to do that. If they are with other bilingual speakers, and they all prefer English (which seems natural), there's not much I can do about that. Just like I would prefer my husband continue to speak only Spanish to me, but more and more he's getting used to English. I use gentle reminders and requests but, he's going to use what he feels more comfortable using.
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#4 of 4 Old 05-24-2008, 01:13 AM
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My oldest rejected Spanish at 3. Now at age 6, she does not, but I am soooooooo lax about speaking it to her. I don't with my middle child, either anymore-- just the youngest.

I wish I would have continued when she was 3 but I got tired of the yelling. I just need to start again-- just do it! Since your DP speaks it, too, you might consider using only Spanish at home. Not forcing your kids to speak it, but you might want to always, always use it with your children and spouse. By using it with each other (adults), your children will see the status it has. If you use English with each other, Spanish will slide down to a lowly position.

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