The challenge of raising kids bilingual

Yesterday I read the following post on Babyccino Kids. I find this a very interesting subject, mostly because I have the ambition that my kids at least will understand Spanish.

I came to Sweden from Chile as a 10-year-old, and I guess I quickly assimilated. Within a couple of years I was totally fluent in Swedish. I was also big enough to have a good base in my mother tongue. Unfortunately, practice makes perfect. And except for with my parents, I hardly speak Spanish anymore, which is a shame. This means I’m a bit too rusty in the language to feel comfortable speaking it as my number one language. I do try though, specially when I visit my parents. Then we all speak more Spanish, and luckily a new word or two is usually picked up. I guess I just fall for the challenge of continue to speak in Spanish, even when I get answered back in Swedish. Obviously he understands. I just go for the easy option, I guess.

Anyway, I do try. I have some books in Spanish that we sometimes read. But, as most of you know, you are not the one to decide what to read after a certain age. And with quite a library of children’s books at home (I love to buy new ones!), the Spanish ones aren’t always the first choice, even if the books by Eric Carle are very popular. I imagine those being liked in any language.

Need to get more, but it’s hard not being up to date on what’s “good”. It’s also quite expensive shipping in books from other countries. I find the selection at El Corte Inglés webshop very good though – almost too good. Hard to know what to get! From there I got for example a couple of Teo books, which are quite good as they have nice detailed pictures with lots to talk about. Otherwise I’ve translated a few Swedish books as we read them, but as we now are reading longer books with more complicated stories and more complicated words the UN approach is no longer for me.

In addition to just speaking the language, I try to often acknowledge the fact that me and my family originally are from another country so they know where half their roots are. Luca can find both Chile and Sweden on a map, and he enjoys “our” food. A lot of the culture bit is part of who I am, and who my family is, even if it sometimes might not even be consciously. So that bit I’m sure they will get. I guess that’s a large part. I just want them to be aware of my (our) origins and be as proud of being half Chilean as of being half Swedish.

In the meantime I guess the key word is persist. The more I speak with them, the more they will get the language and perhaps eventually speak it back to me. If not, at least it will be there stored somewhere in their brain until they choose to bring it out and develop it further.


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