Juan of Words

Raising a Bilingual Kid: Getting Your Kids to Buy Into español

He tries.  He really does.  We all do.  It’s become an entire family effort to maintain Edgar’s bilingual skills.  Even more so to ensure he is fluent in Spanish.  Inevitably,    as much as we try to avoid it, we always end up talking to him in English instead of Spanish.  It’s not that we don’t feel comfortable speaking in only español, pero cómo que the words come out easier in English.

raising a bilingual kid
It's hard work becoming bilingual. ¿Apoco no?

When he was younger, I think we were better at it.  He was a lot more tolerant of our “speak Spanish!” commands anyway.  Nowadays, nos sigue la corriente… but he has also made it perfectly clear English is the language he feels more comfortable in.

“Why do we have to speak in Spanish if we all speak English too?!”, he once asked us.  To which all we could reply was ¡en español! as we tried our best not to crack up at his pretty smart aleck complaint.

The kid had a point.  Why were we insisting on his speaking Spanish?  Why were we hung up on the idea of making him completely bilingual?  My parents never put that much outward effort in teaching us Spanish.  We spoke it because it was the only language they spoke at home.  We learned it because if we wanted to communicate with our family in Mexico, and most of the adults in our hometown of Edinburg, Texas in the Valley, we had to do it en español.  For us it was a matter of necessity.  Is it the same for Edgar and his generation?

¿Hablas español?

Maybe not.  Perhaps he doesn’t have to speak Spanish to speak to us, or even his grandparents for that matter now.  Maybe we don’t visit our family in Mexico nearly enough these days.  Maybe he’s right.  Perhaps it’s not 100 percent essential that he learn correct Spanish.  Regardless, we’re not going to stop trying!

Ironically, as of late he’s the one blurting out Spanish words and phrases as often as he can to us.  It’s much more natural this way… or is that organic?

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