Our son’s first word other than “mommy” and “dada” was “aqua.” He shouted “aqua” and pointed at the ocean when we took a trip to the coast. He shouted “aqua” and pointed to his cup as to say “give me more water.” He shouted “aqua” and pointed to the fish tank at his pediatrician’s office. “Aqua” was the word of the month until he started acquiring other words among them “up,” “mas”, the Spanish word for “more,” and of course his most over used word ever, “no.”
Spanish was my first language. Unlike my son who is learning English and Spanish at once, I didn’t start learning English until I entered kindergarten. Soon English became my dominate language although Spanish was all I heard at home. When my son was born, I knew I wanted him be bilingual. One of the challenges was that my Spanish is rusty. I acquired the poor habit of answering my parents in English when they speak to me in Spanish. Another challenge is that my husband knows only limited Spanish learned mostly from watching soccer matches on Univision. He could teach our son to say “corner kick” but not too much else.
That has left it up to me to speak Spanish as often as I can and as best I can so that our son can be fluent in both languages. Luckily, my parents live not too far away and they speak Spanish to him whenever they are around. I am also lucky that one of my cousins turned us on to the Puerto Rican children’s show “Atención Atención.” Our little guy is crazy in love with this show. He asks us to put it on the TV everyday when we get home. We stream concerts and clips through YouTube. The songs are energetic and super catchy. I find myself singing them long after the television has been turned off.
Still, I do not always feel I am doing enough to help him grow up bilingual. At the moment he speaks Spanglish. That’s probably because my vocabulary isn’t as sharp as it used it be and I speak Spanglish. I plan to order a few books in Spanish since reading is an excellent way to grow your vocabulary. When it is time for preschool, I have started researching dual language programs in the Triangle. If we can get him into one, his Spanish will be better than mine by the time he enters kindergarten.