Bilingual Parenting: Journey Toward Spanish Fluency

Bilingual Parenting: Journey Toward Spanish Fluency cultural identity bilingual parenting  spanish Mi vida language

Image Credit: Flickr / gwen

Bilingual Parenting: Journey Toward Spanish Fluency

Well, it’s been a while since I blogged about my journey towards being bilingual.  A while back, I wrote a post about losing my Spanish and how the criticism from family and friends about whether I should be speaking Spanish left me feeling like an outsider.  I have to admit, I’m still uncomfortable in Spanish conversations and since I’ve been avoiding full-on Spanish, you know what that means…I’m still not really gaining it back yet.  I’ve been talking with my husband a lot lately about re-learning Spanish and getting back out there to feel comfy holding a full conversation again.  We’ve been practicing Tracy’s Spanish Summer a bit each day and I’ve noticed an audible difference in my daughter’s speech.  Her pronunciation is gaining and so is her interest.  She’ll often ask me outright if we can watch a “Spanish” movie or read her “Spanish” books.  I love that she is gaining more interest and teaching her more Spanish has been a big focus for me lately, but it’s also got me thinking.  I can’t keep teaching her with my limited knowledge…I need to be fluent!

So, what is one to do?  I’ve thought about taking classes at our local multicultural center, I’ve thought about going back to college and taking up my Spanish courses again, I’ve even thought about online learning and at home courses.  What I’m most concerned about though, is if I do take up Spanish and there’s not a formal structure, I’m afraid I won’t make it a priority.  When a mom gets busy and has a lot on her plate, we all know that some things tend to get pushed to the side.  I’m beginning to think the only two ways to do it right now, are either a strict lesson plan or a trip abroad.  My husband, who grew up in a home where speaking Spanish was forbidden, is eager to go abroad and find the fluency that he’s been seeking all his life, not to mention absorbing his roots and heritage.  For me, this seems an impossible dream in some ways.  I’ve never been out of the country and I’ve never flown on a plane, so it’s seems extravagant and distant to me…but a nice dream, nonetheless.  We think often about short trips, maybe expat-ing it, but we haven’t made the leap yet.  Hopefully soon.  Until then, I’ll be doing some research online about Spanish learning resources and I thought it would be great if you could also share your favorites!

What website are the best for learning Spanish online?  If you’ve ever visited Mexico or traveled abroad, how do you start planning your trips?  Also, what do you think?  How long of a trip is required to build fluency abroad?  Should we be expat-ing it?  I’d love to hear you insights!

Enter your email address to get more great stuff from BiculturalMom.com.

Comments

  1. LauraS says

    If your husband has family in Mexico that you could stay with or near, I would start there in terms of living abroad.  Naturally that would be a great way to go but there are of course a lot of factors to consider.  When I lived there, I became fluent in 8 months.   I mostly used music (Luis Miguel for example enunciates really well) and soap operas to gain fluency and I know a lot of people here recommend “Destinos’ although I have not used it personally.  And then there’s Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha.  Again . . . neither have I used personally but a lot of people seem to recommend.  

  2. LauraS says

    If your husband has family in Mexico that you could stay with or near, I would start there in terms of living abroad.  Naturally that would be a great way to go but there are of course a lot of factors to consider.  When I lived there, I became fluent in 8 months.   I mostly used music (Luis Miguel for example enunciates really well) and soap operas to gain fluency and I know a lot of people here recommend “Destinos’ although I have not used it personally.  And then there’s Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha.  Again . . . neither have I used personally but a lot of people seem to recommend.  

  3. LauraS says

    If your husband has family in Mexico that you could stay with or near, I would start there in terms of living abroad.  Naturally that would be a great way to go but there are of course a lot of factors to consider.  When I lived there, I became fluent in 8 months.   I mostly used music (Luis Miguel for example enunciates really well) and soap operas to gain fluency and I know a lot of people here recommend "Destinos' although I have not used it personally.  And then there's Rosetta Stone and LiveMocha.  Again . . . neither have I used personally but a lot of people seem to recommend.  

  4. BiculturalMama says

    I went on a 2 week trip to China (many years ago) and a lot of my Chinese came back to me. I've lost so much of it, too! Trips are also a great way to experience the heritage hands on.

  5. says

    Chantilly, I love that you're thinking about gaining fluency in Spanish. Immersion would probably be the best, for any length of time. In the absence of full-immersion, reading books, magazines, blogs in Spanish, workshops through local adult education centers, watching the Spanish news and seeking out opportunities to converse are the best ways to get there. Proper grammar and verb tenses have always killed me. I think we all know what we need to do, but like you said, finding the time to make it a priority is the challenge. Spanish Friday and Miercoles Mudo have been my saving grace. I'm anxious to hear what you discover. ;D

  6. Holly Garza says

    girl find a good novela and get stuck annoyingly so to it! I remember when I was ten and we had just went to mexico that Summer I started watch "Carrusel". At the time of arriving in Moneterrey the ONLY Spanish I knew was "me llamo Holly Garza y tengo 4 años"!!!!

    Needless to say being in a all Spanish only environment helped tremendously. I started school the next Fall completely in Spanish! I wish I still the absorption of a child! things are so much easier to learn when you are young

  7. LDNolasco says

    When we plan our trips to the Dominican Republic, my husband packs his suitcase 6 months ahead of time! We are going for the first time at Christmas (we had visited twice before in July) and we reserved the plane tickets in May! I am fortunate that Ramon's family is predominantly Spanish-speaking, but he on the other hand is having trouble learning English at 50+ years old.

    I would say that if you travel abroad and live among family and friends, you will learn a great deal in a short time. I found that talking on the phone is a big help. My husband's aunt told me that when I used to have conversations with her 5 years ago, I spoke broken ("machucado") Spanish but now it is nearly impeccable. She is very critical, so this is a compliment. A friend has weekly phone conversations with me, but I advised her to take a class for the formal structure, as you mentioned.

    I used to speak fluent Arabic because my first husband was from the Middle East, but I experienced a mental block and am no longer capable of speaking it well. As soon as the divorce was final, he stopped addressing me in Arabic at all, and when we were going through the separation, he used it only as "fighting words."  But I do have good memories of visitng his family and answering the house phone. This was just before cell phones and the internet. My former sister-in-law used to let me order at the restaurant so I could practice. I simply do those same things now in Spanish.

  8. says

    Good for you for making an effort to gain fluency, even when everything else you have going on as a mom! I'll be interested to hear how this goes and what you find works for you! I agree that if you can be with family when you travel that is best. Connecting with heritage and culture through family is important on so many levels. Besides that, knowing someone from the area can make your life so much easier when you're abroad, especially if you're not used to traveling outside the country. They will know all those practical things about getting around, plus it will be a much more fun trip! Taking a short trip has its benefits, but if you just go to a popular tourist destination, chances are you will still be speaking mostly English. Still, if you don't have family or friends you can stay with, it can be a good way to get your feet wet with traveling without becoming overwhelmed. Best of luck!

  9. says

    I love Destinos, in fact, I like you am trying to gain fluency in Spanish as my kids just aren’t hearing it enough with the long hours my husband works. We are currently expats but in South East Asia, how I would love the opportunity to do this in a Spanish speaking country and on the topic, just because you haven’t left the country before, doesn’t preclude you from doing it now! Life is short and living abroad is such a rich and wonderful experience – despite the inevitable challenges. You are so lucky that both you and your husband want to improve your Spanish as that makes the journey that much easier!

    And I am totally with you on formalizing the time. I know that whenever I try to just do it myself, it always falls by the wayside. Perhaps make an online commitment with friends on FB and commit to blogging daily about your spanish time…

    In any event, am loving all the resources people have posted especially well-enunciating singers! Good luck and I look forward to reading more about your journey.
    Coco

  10. Anonymous says

    i think busuu.com was the best free language learning sight i've seen… but some of the words arent the same in mexico as the spanish they teach you… i think the spanish they teach you is more european so a few words are kind of different… but for the most part i think most of it was the same… but the library near were i was living had a program on the computer called mango but you have to pay for it to have it at home… but i really enjoyed that one cuz it was latin america and if you have a microfone on your computer you can pernounce it back to the computer … if i had the extra money right now i'd totally go to the mangolanguages.com and use that one… i think it was easier on me to learn….

Trackbacks

  1. [...] We all have our ideals about how it will be to raise our children to be bilingual, but then we are faced with the reality of our daily lives and often struggle to maintain our vision.  Frances of Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes talks about how her earlier ideas about raising a bilingual child have clashed with the reality of being the sole Spanish speaker in her son’s day-to-day world, and Chantilly of Bicultural Mom discusses her struggles to become fluent in Spanish in order to teach her daughter. [...]

Leave a comment...