Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Non-Native Speakers: Teaching Children Spanish (or a Language Not Your Own)

This interesting article doesn't totally reflect our family's situation because we're still learning to speak the foreign language, but it's still a good read.

Raising Your Child in a Language Not Your Own?

Many parents speak a foreign language well but are non-native speakers. Yet, they wish to raise their children with that language. Is it realistic, or even practical, to attempt to raise a multilingual child in a language that is not your mother tongue? Tim from London, shares his concerns:

'My partner is bilingual French-English, whilst I am an English native speaker. My French is really quite good, but we speak English to each other. We are now expecting a baby whom we would like to bring up bilingually. My partner is committed to speaking French to him, but what do I do?

What I like about both of us speaking French to him is that it helps to cement the minority language; on the other hand, I know I would make mistakes, and, at times, be at a loss for the right word. I also -- and perhaps more importantly -- imagine that I would feel rather unnatural communicating with my son in what is not my native tongue.'

Why would you speak to baby in a language not your own? My answer would be -- why not? Maybe it is the only option you have for raising a bilingual child, you may simply like the language, or as in Tim's case, you'd like to reinforce the second language. All of these are completely understandable and valid reasons; (Read more)

excerpt from the Multilingual Children's Association


tati said...

I liked reading the article. I agree with how your vocabulary can increase with your child. I am learning a lot with Spanish children's books! I had the same feelings as she did that speaking Spanish would seem unnatural. I am feeling more comfortable with speaking Spanish, but I do still speak English with my children 4 days of the week. I find that I need this, because honestly speaking in Spanish is not as natural and relaxing for me as speaking in English.

Jessica said...

Yes, Spanish children's books and shows really help me to learn the language. More so than watching telenovelas (at least for right now.)

Thanks for stopping by.