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My husband and I live in the US and were both raised in monolingual households. We have both studied Italian and French, and while we can manage vacations in Europe, we aren’t close to fluent in these languages. Over the last 4 years I have been studying Spanish, and even had the opportunity to live in Central America for 5 months. We have 2 children (2.5yrs and 1.5yrs) who were born in C.A. and who we are trying to raise bilingual Spanish-English. My Spanish is strong enough to be “toddler-fluent”/conversational….I’m working to improve my “adult” grammar. We have a Spanish-speaking nanny who is with the children about 45 hours a week. I consider our language system to be a modified version of OPOL, as our children really have 3 major role models in their life….dad speaks only English and the nanny speaks only Spanish. Mom speaks mostly Spanish when alone with the kids, but speaks either English/Spanish depending on who else is present. Our 2.5 year old son is a late talker. We are being advised by many around us to drop the Spanish, until he catches up. However, his real problem is articulation…he has problems moving his tongue and lips to form sounds….so his delay is not related to bilingualism. His inability to be understood when he talks seems to have made him weary of saying anything at all. However, in the last 2 weeks, we are gaining ground again….in BOTH languages. Any thoughts or suggestions on how to addresses the comments we are receiving from family and “professionals”(often in front of our children) about stopping our attempts to raise them with both languages. I am concerned about my sons self-esteem about his delays, but also want both children to take great pride in their knowledge of 2 languages. Thanks, Pat
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You already know the answer to your own question 😉
Still, some words of encouragement. Yes, you are absolutely right, just keep doing what you are — be patient and you’ll prove the whole lot wrong! Also, feel free to refer them to this website, and if they feel qualified to argue their opinions after that, by all means let them. You may enjoy this shot article, in particular point 10. http://www.multilingualchildren.org/getting_started/myths.html BTW, at 3.5 years my daughter is having the exact same issue, she simply can’t ‘spit it out’ but her dexterity in forming the words are slowly improving and she’ll be just fine. Cheers, and keep up the great work, /Christina Founder of MCA
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I have a two year old to whom I speak only Spanish (as a non-native speaker) . She had a speech delay that didn’t improve until we sought speech therapy at 17 months. Like you described with your child, mine wasn’t able to produce even the simplest sounds (vowels) and Bs and Ps. I was told by both her therapist and everyone around me that I should drop Spanish until she caught up in English. I was very determined not to drop the Spanish (and boy, did I stress about it too!) since I thought that would be more confusing AND harder to switch back to OPOL later, once she learned that she used to be allowed to speak English with me.
This site has been SO helpful to me on this topic, because I received a lot of encouragement to keep going and I really feel that it has paid off. (Thanks to those who responded.) My daughter still isn’t as advanced as her peers (with overachieving parents – aren’t we all over-achievers if we’re trying to teach multiple languages?), but she has now caught up to the normal range for her age. Although she can speak both languages now, she will often pick certain words in one language over another that are easier to say or that she just prefers the sound of. I’m more consistent than my husband and tell her, ‘No entiendo.’ or ‘Dime en espanol.’ (can’t do accents on my laptop) and she knows to switch to Spanish. I have assumed that she is just being lazy, but I think being disciplined about making them speak the right language with the right person is SO important! All in all, I encourage you to continue and maybe seek assistance from a speech therapist. We did six months of intervention and now my daughter’s speech intelligibility is very age appropriate. I am very happy with the results! Now if I could just get her to roll those Rs. At what age will that happen?
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Don’t get discouraged. Raising bilingual children is a tough task sometimes, but if you stick to it your kids will forever thank you. And taking the help from a speech therapists is surely the right way to go.
If you want to read some more on my experiences and suggestions, please look at my page – I raise two children in Spanish and German. Raising bilingual children was created to share these experience: http://www.raising-bilingual-children.com. O informate en mi página en espanol sobre educación bilingüe ;=) Hope this is interesting for you. Saludos rosariotl