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.