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!