Raising a bilingual child

Source: themotherhood.com

Growing up, the walls of my apartment building swayed to salsa music pouring out from its windows. The air smelled of empanadas and arroz con habichuelas. And when I dreamed, it was in Spanish that I navigated my way through castles and foreign tunnels. A bit of this is what I want to give Chexie: wonderful access to a different culture.

As a second generation New York born Puerto Rican I grew up speaking Spanish at home and English at school. A format that worked for me (and I imagine many others) and will surely work to raise baby. The only problem is this. With my husband only speaking English, it’s going to be up to me to speak Spanish to the baby and that makes me a bit nervous. I don’t want it to learn the wretched bits I have in my head. These days my insecurity leaves me not speaking Spanish at all and quite rusty. I haven’t lived exclusively in a Spanish-speaking environment since I was eighteen-years-old. That was a long time ago.

I went to university in Virginia, where the Hispanic population on campus was about 2%. I fell out of speaking Spanish soon enough. And when you’re out of practice out of any skill you develop a sense of insecurity. When I call home I always reply in English when I’ve been spoken to in Spanish. I should be brave, speak Spanish, and accept help if and when corrected. But unfortunately I hate being corrected. I hate my mistakes being pointed out at me. Funny enough, when it comes to sewing I am more accepting. But that’s another story.

So I am thinking it’s time to finally start brushing up and be better prepared and focused when it’s time to start baby talk. I’ve been procrastinating re-familiarizing myself with the language for years.  It’s amazing that it takes a baby to make you want to grow and develop yourself to become a better parent and give it a better future.

I think I am going to start watching telenovelas. What better way to learn than from a good old-fashion soap opera?

Here are some useful links I found on raising a bilingual baby:

Ask Dr. Sears: Raising a Bilingual Child
Raising Bilingual Kids
Bringing Up a Bilingual Baby

Reading Time

As soon as I read that Chexie* was old enough to¬† hear my voice I started to read some books I bought for the occasion. Before going to sleep I read it aloud to my husband and the baby. It’s such a sweet, calming moment. I can only hope when I meet Chexie that s/he will recognize my voice. Am I asking too much? No matter. I am loving these little moments with just husband, baby and me.

Chexie’s first books so far are Goodnight Moon. Written by a fellow Hollins College (currently Hollins University) alumna so it had to be added to the library without question.

Goodnight Moon

Guess How Much I Love You (which makes me cry every time)

And The Gruffalo’s Child

We are planning on getting some bilingual books, in Spanish and English. It’ll definitely help me practice my Spanish and my husband (maybe?) learn a bit for himself. We’ve decided he’ll be reading those aloud as a learning exercise :).

*Our nickname for the baby