Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've had a long-standing goal of my children learning Spanish. Unfortunately in the 17 (holy cow, it's really been that long?!?) years since we left Chile, my own Spanish skills have kinda gone down the tubes. I remember the day several months ago when I realized that my proficiency in French was fairly close to that of my Spanish. That made me feel really good about my French, and pretty crappy about my Spanish. But I also knew that time and practice would go a long way towards renewing my fluency in Spanish, and I just had to buckle down and get to it to reap the rewards. Too bad I'm terrible at practicing languages on my own.

I think it is so cool when dual-language couples are able to have one parent speak to their children in one language exclusively. We met several families in Europe where the parents were from different countries, and thus mom would use one language, dad another, and when everyone was together they'd speak a 3rd language (often English). My Spanish is nowhere near good enough for me to speak to D exclusively in it, it would limit our vocal interactions way too much and I believe so deeply in giving babies and children exposure to a rich and varied vocabulary. But I figured I could pick a certain time of day on most days, and make that "Spanish time." And last week I realized that, at 9.5 months old already, I had really better get started.

Thus, D and I have begun Spanish mornings. The goal is to speak in Spanish with him from when he wakes in the morning through breakfast time, a good 1-2 hours, on most days. During that time I can concentrate on reading Spanish-language books, and pointing out objects around the house and giving the Spanish names, etc (things I probably should be doing in English, too....). Some days have gone great. Others, I'll be serving up his cheerios before I suddenly remember that I was supposed to have been speaking Spanish all morning. I'm hoping that at this stage even some exposure will be enough, or at least better than none. I've also had this idea for a while of finding a Spanish-language play group to join, which shouldn't be too difficult in this area, but I haven't exactly done anything towards that goal yet.

As I write, Zach is repeating Spanish phrases using a Spanish language program. He's always been better at this than I am, he'll actually sit down and read in French or Spanish and use programs, books, etc. I have the desire, but not the self-discipline to follow up on it. At this point, I think my morning sessions with D, and occasionally spending some time looking up words that I've forgotten, may be all I have the time and energy to devote.


  1. Si, pero, mira, en unos días van a estar en Austin, y entre la tía, la abuelita y el abuelito, le vamos a hablar harto a Donovan en castellano. Y, si quieres, lo llamo yo por teléfono para que me oiga hablar. O dile a la otra tía que le hable en castellano, también.

  2. I think this is so important, and want my dad to speak in Spanish as much as possible to Finn. My nephew is in kindergarten and goes to a Spanish immersion school and spends half his day in English and half in English and in 2.5 months already speaks in amazingly. Teach them young!

  3. he holidays I'm going to start Rosetta Stone for Spanish, and start reading Spanish kids books to Ryan. I don't know very much at all, but I think it is super important as well. I'm trying to get your mom to do immersion with her when R visits, but there's a lot going on at the house. Maybe JC can start it out. R likes to play with him.

  4. andale, pues! (okay, I have no clue if they say this in chile. It betrays my Mexican-ness!) I've been debating this, too. My Spanish is still really fluent, and my accent is good (Patrick's is atrocious!) - but something in me still hesitates. The "but it's not my mother tongue" doubt. Part of me thinks - well, my children will learn when we spend a summer in Mexico with friends, for Patrick's research, etc. But good for you!

  5. Good for you. IMO, any exposure to multiple languages is good. It can get confusing for them, but it all works out in the end. We do French/English at home consistently, and lately her babysitter has been teaching her more Spanish. I've tried to get the sitter to speak only in Spanish, but she does the Tex-Mex thing. I figure any little bit helps. I bet you can find a Spanish Immersion school near you, and definitely find a Spanish speaking playgroup! I wish we could find a French playgroup here - A needs way more French exposure.



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