One of my New Year's Resolutions is to be more consistent in speaking Spanish to my son. After all, we are a multilingual, multicultural family. I grew up bilingual in English and Spanish and can understand some French because I studied it as my foreign language in school and I worked in a French company that paid for private lessons. (I've tried my hand at German because my husband is Austrian, but I'm no good at it. In fact, I'm VERY quiet when we're in Austria. I smile, listen, and nod my head a lot. Which come to think of it, might be one of the reasons my husband likes going there so much.) He's fluent in five languages - sometimes I forget which ones, so there is no way I can test his skills. But I believe him.
You would think that raising a child that speaks two/three languages would be easy for a couple like us. It is not, and it is highly frustrating. We continue to work on it, because we both intellectually understand the advantages of speaking more than one language. You know what they are too. But I will list a few here anyways:
1. Going to school almost anywhere you want.
2. Awesome career opportunities. Would you rather get the job that sends you to Paris, Buenos Aires and Rome or stay chained to your desk all year?
3. The ability to see life from different perspectives. Think about it. Syntax, or the way we put words together, defines the way you think. The way you think defines the way you live. I know that I think and act differently in "Spanish" and in "English" and I personally think that it is a good thing to have that choice.
4. Traveling fearlessly - because you can tell where the public toilets are. Being in a strange country is hard enough without having to depend on the kindness of total strangers.
5. Making friends easily, at home and abroad.
6. Fitting in almost anywhere - or nowhere at all, if you don't want to.
7. Knowing when waiters are talking trash about you behind your back. (Seriously, if you only speak one language I highly recommend you run out and get yourself some Berlitz tapes - most waitstaff probably hate you and talk bad about you, right in front of you. Not to make you paranoid or anything.)
In addition, like all parents we want our kids to have the best things we had as children - and if you speak more than one language you get to celebrate more holidays and play more games. I have fond memories of discovering the English language as a child, and I know that our children will be grateful if we can at least pass on some of our skills to them.
So why has it been so hard to teach my toddler Spanish? It's only Spanish! Let's face it, it's everywhere: there's "Diego and Dora" and "Handy Manny" and all these books and tapes PLUS the fact that it's my mother tongue, and I have to tell you - it's still hard. There are many reasons for that, but I will save those for another post. Suffice it to say that people that want to teach their children other languages need all the help they can get. So I did some online research and was excited to find so much information out there for people like me. People who need help.
Here are some links. I will add more sites as I find them. Let me know in the comments if you have any sites I should add to this list.
ARTICLES & INSPIRATION
Multilingual Living Magazine (Click to get a free issue of their magazine. This month's issue is packed with 114 pages so it's a good one to get you started. This magazine is entirely run by volunteers, and I have decided to volunteer my time as well.)
LiteracyCenter.Net - Play and Learn (This site is completely free and has simple letter/color/number recognition games in English, Spanish, German, and French.)
Simple Spanish For Complete Beginners (children'scourse by the BBC)
Spanish Steps (another BBC course, for older kids and adults)