I think my first language was spanglish. Keyword: Think I was exposed to English during trips to the grocery store, on the radio and everywhere else I happened to be - I mean as a baby you don't have much say in where you go, right?
But, my father was a minister with a Hispanic congregation and I learned to sing and read in Spanish through that experience. My grandparents were predominately Spanish speakers and they took care of me quite often.
I was a Spanglish child.
As I grew older, my confidence in my Spanish diminished a bit and I lost some of my language. But, as soon as I realized what was happening, I started clinging to my grandparents' native language a bit more.
Now, my husband's background with Spanish is a bit different. He is the son of a beautiful white mama and immigrant Bolivian father. He spent time in Bolivia as a child and that's where he learned his Spanish. His aunts who now live in the United States are still fluent in Spanish and we try to practice as much Spanish as possible with them. One of his aunts is even a Spanish teacher, so that's a plus with where I'm going with this. . .
So, he is a predominately English-speaker, but can easily transition into Spanish.
We both still struggle with correctly structuring our Spanish sentences and we even disagree on certain word meanings. Do you know how many times I've heard him say something and thought "That is NOT how you say that." But, we agree that we want to do everything possible to introduce Spanish as our baby's first language.
So what am I doing to prep for Baby Arinez?
- I've found the most adorable baby books that will help with keywords in Spanish.
- I occasionally - well, more than occasionally - sift through posts on the Spanish Mama blog.
- I primarily listen to Spanish music and break out in rush hour dance parties in my car.
- I practice translating in my head conversations that I hear from those around me.
- Y'know, just turning the Spanish on and off.
Now, there are a few challenges to this all:
- We naturally speak English more so than Spanish.
- We live in an area where it will be a challenge to completely engulf Baby A in Spanish. But, Charleston, you make it so worth it.
So, why do I feel we need to do this? One simple quote: One of the benefits of being bi-cultural is simply the awareness that how you live is not the only way. -Ann Campanella.
It's going to be a challenge, y'all. Pero sí vale la pena.