The Ups and Downs of Raising Bilingual Kids

Someone recently commented on this post from January about goals for raising bilingual kids. Remember January? That magical time of year when we think we can do anything?

And now it's July, and I'm like, "Oh, are we still raising bilingual kids?"

In just over two weeks, my oldest will start kindergarten. Everyone is hyped. (Except Isaac because he already senses he is being left behind, and he promises me, "I can be 5!" I had to tell him it doesn't work like that.)

At her new school, she will take an hour a day of Mandarin Chinese. One hour a day! For the next nine years.

On the one hand, Billy and I are totally amazed and psyched at this unique, global education. On the other, we bemoan the eventuality that her Mandarin is going to bypass her Spanish. Suddenly, there's a twinge of failure in the air.

Do you ever feel like that in raising bilingual kids? Or parenting in general? Like this has not unfolded the way I expected. 

But then yesterday, I overheard Gabriella carry on an entire back and forth conversation with Billy in Spanish. It was simple and short. But it was coherent, and she was making the effort. And then I felt suddenly proud. It's never too late to learn a language, and apparently five is too early to throw in the towel.  

Probably every 6-8 months I write some version of this same post. Realizing for the gazillionth time how hard it is to cultivate the minority language in our kids' lives. Celebrating wildly the glimmers of hope and language success. And acknowledging once again that this is the long game - like most aspects of parenting - and we must recommit, refocus, and journey on. 

So last week when my daughter asked if she could watch her cartoons in English, I was like nope. Because we're revisiting our New Year's hopes and dreams, and if there's one we can definitely do it's watch TV in Spanish! 

In an effort to make watching Spanish TV even easier, I've put together a list of 101 Spanish Shows on Netflix. It includes cartoons, sitcoms, drams, and movies for all ages. You can get your copy of the list here.


Big cheers to all those raising bilingual kids or becoming multilingual themselves. It's a long game, but we can do it!

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