At just 19 months Buggy can already understand and speak Spanish, some Portuguese and some Chinese words - thanks to Nickelodeon's Ni-Hao Kai-Lan, which is the only cartoon she watches. She also signs which is how she generally communicates. At her age she does not have a lot of words in her vocabulary but she does understand everything you say to her either in English or Spanish and she will respond by shaking her head yes or no or by showing you what she wants. Buggy is very vocal but most of it is toddler talk. She speaks her own language.
As a Latina growing up in a bilingual home, it is important for me to teach my daughter my native language, after all, she is half Latina. My parents came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico when they were in their 20's. They wanted more for us and raising their children bilingual was important to them but learning the English language was at the top of their list. My sisters and I did not attend any bilingual classes in school because we were to focus on learning English and getting a great education. I remember my parents speaking Spanish to us and we always responded in English unless they didn't understand what we were trying to say then we would speak Spanglish - half English half Spanish. They worked just as hard to learn English as well. Aside from family and the Puerto Rican community they also had many many American friends who would help them if needed. One of the ways daddy learned English was from watching TV.
But as much as my Mami wanted us to learn English and the American way, she always made sure that we kept up with our Spanish. I remember as a young girl writing a letter in Spanish to my Abuelita (Grandmother) in Puerto Rico and having Mami look it over before I mailed it. Mami made sure that aside from speaking Spanish we were able to read it and write it as well. Unfortunately my parents are no longer around but I continue to practice my Spanish with my relatives here and in Puerto Rico. I am thankful that my Mami made sure that we kept up with our Spanish. I hope that as Buggy gets older she will continue to speak Spanish and if and when she has children, it will be something she teaches them as well. It is unfortunate that my older sister does not teach her two boys Spanish. Mainly because she is married to an idiot and he doesn't want them learning Spanish - what a shame. My younger sister speaks both English and Spanish to her boys and surrounds themselves with friends and family that speaks both languages.
My husband is Portuguese and although he doesn't speak it to Buggy his parents do and that's because they refuse to learn English even though they have been in this country for over 40 years. They know enough to get by but not truly enough -anyway, that's a topic for another blog.
The benefits of teaching your child multiple languages - incredible! So tell me, are you teaching your child/children your native language?