Bilingual mom learning
In this post I want to tell you some fundamental things that I have learned from my short experience as a bilingual mom, it is the first of many that I want to do, to help with my experience to others.
My husband and I are Venezuelans. We learn English by working and we only speak Spanish at home. The truth is that it is not natural for us to speak English between us. But believe me when I tell you that it is not enough for the children. My kids have been in a daycare all day since very young, so they are exposed to a lot of English.
Thomas was learning to talk when we moved to USA and when he came here he did not want to say even "Agua". So he was in speech therapy for a few months until he released his tongue, phrases in English and Spanish. As he grew older and I longed to hear it, we leave him speak and responding in either language. An "I love you" from him sounded beautiful to me. But then he speak about his experiences in English and that's the language that comes naturally to him. Of course he understands Spanish and everything I say, but he has difficulty speaking it.
After these almost 5 years in the USA and once settle down, these crucial years of the twins when they are learning to speak will not catch me unprepared. The first 3 years of the life of the babies are fundamental for the development of the language, I am convinced of that. I think I'm getting it, these days Noah saw a picture of an apple and said "Apple", then Ethan said as correcting it "Manzana" :).
Another important thing is to understand that you learn a language when you read, write and speak. The same happens with children, they need to do all three things to really learn the language and be more aware of the sound and pronunciation of words. So little by little I am working the reading in Spanish with Thomas, without much pressure because he is also learning to read in English.
Although English is the main language and he speak it without an accent, when began the official school he is also needing help with English. There is a program in the public schools of USA called "ESL" that helps the children with this. At first I found it hard to believe that my son needed help with English. The truth is, the fact of speaking Spanish at home provide our kids with less vocabulary in english than any other child who is not exposed to some other language. For example, until recently Thomas didn't know how to say butter in English, and doing his homework he didn't know words like: pot or sob.
If you really want your children to be bilingual, or rather grow up being bilingual you have to make it a priority for the family and do not assume that because children are sponges they will speak it and that's it. Effort, discipline and constancy are required. Again, there is no magic formula or a special guide for bilingual families that I know of, but there are many bilingual families who have succeeded. I recommend that you follow more experienced moms than I do in this, my favorites on Instagram are: @crecer_bilingue (blog: crecerbilingue.com) and @littlenomadas (blog: littlenomadas.com).