Passionate About Pittsburgh
and the Moms Who Live Here

Raising Bilingual Children When Only One Parent Is A Native Speaker

 

I am currently raising two bilingual children in Pittsburgh, and it is important to me that they embrace, understand, and are fluent in the Spanish language. I was born in the beautiful island of the Dominican Republic (Caribbean) and my husband is Italian/German, so our daughters are really getting the best of both worlds. I love that they are exposed to different cultures and languages! I grew up in NJ where the Latin culture is abundant, that was my favorite thing about living there. Pittsburgh is really starting to embrace the Latino community with new restaurants, Latino owned businesses and events happening all over the city, so I am thrilled to be part of it! Plus, in today’s world it is more important than ever to teach our children about embracing people that are different than we are, and to embrace new cultures. 

 

 

My native language is Spanish but my husband’s is not. This adds it’s own sets of challenges when trying to teach my daughters my native language. The easiest way to teach them is to constantly speak to them in Spanish. My husband speaks English so I naturally just speak with him in English, making it harder to continue my conversations with my daughters in Spanish. I have to maintain discipline in switching constantly between the two. They do enjoy it though, and it’s actually helping my husband to learn the language as well!

Reading to my daughters in Spanish is also another great way to learn the language. My mom would always have me read books, newspapers, and magazines in Spanish in order for me not to forget my first language. As I was learning English as a second language, it was crucial to her that I never forget my Spanish! I am so thankful she was that strict with it, as speaking different languages is a great skill to have! I like to find my daughter’s favorite books in English and also buy them in Spanish, she absolutely loves this. 

 

 

Singing nursery rhymes that my mom sang to me as a baby is another one of my favorite ways to teach them the language. Here is my favorite one to sing to my little girls as they are falling asleep:

“Esa niña linda que nació de noche, quiere que la lleven a pasear en coche. Esa muchachita, que nació de día, quiere que la lleven, adonde su tía. “

This translates to:

“That pretty little girl who was born during the night, wants to go for a ride in her stroller. That pretty little girl who was born during the day, wants to be taken to her aunt’s house”

Being bilingual is a great asset to have; it is said that children who speak multiple languages have some advantages such as learning about other cultures, more job opportunities, and academic advantages as well. Those are all great reasons to to learn a new language and why I am making it a priority in my household. If you have any tips and tricks on teaching children a second language please feel free to comment and share!

Adios!

 

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4 Responses to Raising Bilingual Children When Only One Parent Is A Native Speaker

  1. Aubrey Barchiesi March 31, 2017 at 9:30 am #

    I have a daughter turning 2 this summer and a newborn. I would love to have them exposed to other languages, but my Spanish is intermediate at best. What would be your recommendation to expose them while young? Is there a tutoring network available or any 1 on 1 language programs available in Pittsburgh? I’m located 20 miles South of the city.

    • Anny Bezilla
      Anny Bezilla April 3, 2017 at 7:33 am #

      Hi Aubrey, thanks so much for reading my post! I understand it can be frustrating not being a native speaker. Starting that early, exposing them to cartoons or children’s TV shows (Dora) in Spanish is a big hit in our household. There are also apps you can look up that can help them learn the language. “Learn Spanish for Kids” is a great one. It teaches them Spanish vocabulary through fun game play. Also, since you seem to have basic understanding of the Spanish language, flash cards are a fun way to teach them new words! You can easily google any tutoring or private classes available in your area. The earlier you expose them, the easier it is to for them to learn.

      Feel free to reach out to me if you would like for me to help you search!

  2. Sol Resendiz April 3, 2017 at 6:55 pm #

    Loved this article! I am raising to bilingual babies as well. I am from Mexico and my husband is American and speaks no spanish. I like to repeat myself when speaking to my childrent in english and then in spanish. That’s how we have learned our letters,numbers and colors. My kids do watch tv sometimes and I love that netflix has the option to switch the language of a show to spanish. So when they are watching some movies or a show if they have the option to watch spanish I alsways do that and it actually helps them 🙂 .

    • Anny Bezilla
      Anny Bezilla April 4, 2017 at 7:23 am #

      Hi Sol,

      Thank you! Me encanta tu nombre :). We have Netflix as well and love that feature! I agree that it really helps. I stand by to answer questions about what they are saying etc. It is not easy, but we can do it :). I would love to get kids together with native speaking moms so that they can hear us converse and join in!