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First let me say how happy I am to find this forum.  I am an American of Mexican decent.  My parents spoke Spanish only at home (basics in English before I started school) with me and kept up the language training so I am fully bilingual in Spanish and English.  I was advanced in school so the “catching-up” only took a few months of kindergarten and my Spanish skills were fostered with reading and writing as well as frequent trips to Mexico.  I speak with no “foreign” accent in either language so I am often asked if I am a native Spanish speaker when speaking in Spanish.


I am now married and have a 20 month old little girl.  My husband is also an American of Mexican decent BUT his Spanish is conversational and his pronunciation is sometimes a bit off.  His comprehension is about 40% so I find myself speaking to him mostly in English.  I speak to my daughter in both languages and she had words in both.  She understands perfectly in both languages but doesn’t seem to be using as many words as we’d expect by now.  She has about 28 words (about 30% of these are in Spanish) and about 10 animal sounds.  Her primary caregiver is my husband who speaks to her mostly in English but repeats the names of things in Spanish when he knows or remembers. 


We do interact with my parents frequently (we might see them 3 days a week) and my mother watches her one whole day (8 hrs or more) during which time she is exposed mostly to Spanish. 


So I have no idea what you’d call our language system.  Is it too disorganized to be effective in raising a bilingual child?  My husband supports raising her bilingual but I don’t know what we should be doing to help her.  I want her to be as fluent as me in Spanish but our system is so different from the system I was raised in. I don’t really worry about her English because I know that once she starts school she will be inundated and will not have a hard time “catching-up” if needed but since we don’t speak only Spanish at home and since I speak both English and Spanish to her I wonder if is she is getting enough Spanish?


I would speak Spanish only to my husband but many times I have to say things in English because he might not really understand what I’m saying or asking in Spanish.  As for speaking Spanish only to our daughter… I kind of feel like I am excluding him when I do so… so I try to say something in Spanish and then repeat it in English.   


Any thoughts?  Recommendations?  Suggestions? 


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Hi Lilliana,
If your husband is conversational, I would just go with Spanish as the house language. You could try it for a month or two and see if your husband shows increased Spanish skills. If so, you could continue in Spanish and his Spanish can grow with your daughter’s. 

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