Our English-Spanish bilingual journey began a little over 6 years ago (in 2002) when our first daughter was born. Neither my husband nor I speak Spanish fluently or come from Spanish-speaking families, but we agreed that raising her up to speak an additional language would be a good thing.
We stocked our home with as many bilingual books, programs, software, dvd’s, and cd’s as we could afford. We researched the various approaches families use to maintain 2 languages in the home. And then we just used the language with her. With my limited Spanish knowledge from junior high school and college, I was able to teach her common Spanish vocabulary words. Over the years, though, my husband and I sort of got stuck because we don’t speak Spanish fluently and we didn’t know how to go beyond a word here, a word there. And as our family grew (twin daughters and then a son), keeping up with teaching the children Spanish became a real challenge.
Still, I refused to let go of my dream to raise my children to be bilingual and become bilingual myself. Ever since I was a kid I was always fascinated by how someone could communicate in 2 (or more) languages. “How do they do that?” I’d wonder. “How do they switch from one language to the other?” “I want to do that too.” I resolved.
I was so determined to learn Spanish that I did extremely well in my Spanish classes in junior high school. I even won the silver Spanish award at graduation. But I was disappointed that after all of that work, the Spanish wasn’t rolling off my tongue like I thought it would. To make matters worse, I was not allowed to take Spanish in high school because I had already passed the Spanish Regents. By the time I took up Spanish again in college, I did well enough to pass on tests and writing assignments, but speaking Spanish and understanding spoken Spanish was not happening so well. My husband, by the way, took French in high school, so the Spanish he knows, he learned from me.
Nevertheless, we had to come up with a way to not only expose our children to Spanish but get them actively engaged and enthusiastic in learning to speak Spanish. We needed a plan, some type of organization that would help us stay on track and motivated for the long term. We wanted our Spanish vocabulary to grow as well as our practical, everyday use of the Spanish language. We needed an arsenal of creative ideas on how to learn and have fun with Spanish. We needed fresh ways to use and rotate all of the Spanish products we’ve bought and grew tired of over the years.
Hence the reason why we put together this website and our Discovering Spanish with Childrenebook. We’ve written the lesson plans, did them with our children, and every day I beam with delight each time I hear my children use Spanish with each other at play.
It is our hope that you too are encouraged by our story to go ahead and teach your child Spanish.