Yo Prometo: Renewing Commitment to Bilingualism

“You okay, babe?” she asked me, looking over with concern.

Was this a hippie on the street? Oh no. It was my two-year old, checking in on me after a sneeze.

After all my worries that she’d never speak, the words are tumbling out non-stop these days. “I want to go in the car.” “What’s this, Mama?” “Ella do it!” (Ah… two year olds…)

What’s incredible to me is that after two years home with her Papa, she is leaning so heavily towards English. I mean, her Spanish is not non-existent. She counts in a jumbled mixture of “two, three, ocho!” and even has her preschool teachers reminding her to take home her chumpi.

Still, the limited Spanish she’s speaking is a little discouraging, actually. And since I like to dramatize things, I’ve already decided there’s no hope for this second baby since Billy won’t be a stay-at-home dad this go ‘round!

I recognize that a few big family changes have played into this new development. First, Billy got a job. (Yay!) And at his new place of employment, he works primarily with English speakers. (This news is not entirely surprising.)

An unexpected consequence of this transition, however, is the challenge he has experienced trying to switch back into Spanish at home. Of course, he also wants to talk to me when he returns from work, and well… I don’t really speak Spanish.

With him working again, my daughter has been attending an English preschool. Though she does attend Spanish class twice a week (How cool is that?), her consumption of English has dramatically increased.

So we’re recommitting.

Billy announced the other night that the kids speaking Spanish is very important to him, so a renewed commitment seems in order. As I’m watching our bilingual journey unfold… I’m thinking this process of “vow renewal” will be a natural part of our rhythm.

It takes more work to incorporate Spanish. Sometimes it’s just easier for our home life to stay all in English. But we know we will regret that move one day. So we keep trying to be intentional. We’re talking to a Spanish-speaking friend about watching the kids after Baby Q #2 arrives, and Billy is making the extra effort to switching back when he’s home.

I’m so glad we’ve chosen this path for our family, but I recognize it hasn’t been as “simple” as I originally expected. (I mean, really, I think I can say that about raising a child in general.)

Where have you had to recommit in your parenting decisions?

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  1. I think we will have to recommit many times. Since my husband and I communicate mainly in Spanish, I already find myself speaking to Micah in Spanish by default (but we are supposed to be doing the OPOL method).

    Buena suerte with Ella, I am sure she is soaking in more Spanish than you think, even if she isn't producing it as often. :)

    1. I completely agree with you. I think it's all stored in her little brain because she can listen and respond to Spanish instructions no problem. One day it will all come pouring out, and then you'll see a post "I Don't Understand What My Child Is Saying!" :)

  2. I was sharing about Uganda with a first grade classroom last year. A few of the kids told me their parents were from Africa. When I asked which country, they had no idea. My heart broke. It makes me so sad to see kids that don't speak their families first language or know about their heritage. I really think it is so great that you guys are committed to bringing her up in both cultures and languages. I know it can't be easy, but I think in the end it will be so worth it. Good luck! P. S. she is adorable!!

    1. Hi Amanda! Thanks for your comment and the encouragement! :) We are definitely trying and we'll see how it all goes...


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