I feel like I would be doing my children a great disservice if I didn't try to raise them to be bilingual. There are two main reasons I want my children to grow up speaking both English and Spanish.
First, it's important to me because of my culture. I feel proud to be part of such a neat culture and would love my children to enjoy it as much as I did growing up.
Second, I believe that being bilingual will help my children throughout their lives. When I was in school, I felt that speaking, reading, and writing Spanish (a Latin-based language) gave me an advantage, especially when it came to vocabulary and science.
All that being said, raising children to be bilingual is challenging. You have to be consistent. Using sign language and reading bilingual books have been key for me.
I have found that using sign language as a bridge between English and Spanish is very helpful. My husband's first language is English, so he will speak the English word that corresponds to the sign he's using. Meanwhile, when I use the sign, I say the Spanish word. For example, the first word my kids learned was milk/leche. So, my husband would say "milk" while he opened and closed his right hand (it looks like you are trying to milk a cow), and I would say "leche" while using the same sign.
With my firstborn, I worried that this would be confusing. With my fourth child, I realize now how smart babies are and how quickly they learn. And, I have noticed that my husband's Spanish is getting better as well!
There are lots of great bilingual books out there. In my area, Burlington Coat Factory always has a nice selection.
I have found that reading basic word books—ones that go over the names of colors or animals, for example—is a great way to learn a language. Typically, I read the books to my kids in Spanish and figure they will pick up the English words from my husband, their friends, or even the TV.
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