Monday, January 22, 2007

Babysitters? Will it make or break the bilingual link?

I have been really concerned lately about my daughter and how she mixes the languages. She spends so much time with the sitter and I'm afraid that she's going to loose her Spanish. While I speak primarily Spanish with her, she doesn't always speak only Spanish with me. After a week where she has to be with the sitter 3-4 days, I have to consistently speak Spanish to her or she would revert to English with me. Last night I put on a video that was in Spanish. I was hoping that it would help. Will the English speaking babysitter break the bilingual link? Any suggestions? Dorinda


Mary H said...

Dorinda, It is wonderful that your daughter can have meaningful relationships in both languages. Having positive experiences in both languages is an important part of growing up bilingual, I believe.

In my situation, I'm looking for a childcare solution to *make* the bilingual link! We speak mostly English at home, so our daughter needs more interaction in Japanese.

When deciding how to bring up your child bilingually, it is important to consider the language of the individual(s) who spend the most time with the child.

Dennis said...

Hi, Mary.

This is a wonderful blog and one that's focused on a very important and meaningful topic.

My adult ESL students have often expressed their frustration with learning English and with reluctance by their children to speak their parent' first language(s). I always encourage them to do whatever they can to help their students become bilingual and bicultural.

One frustration that my own students often encounter is the fact that their children often understand the parents' first language perfectly well but usually respond in English. I tell them that this is normal and encourage them to be sure that their kids have both English- and X-speaking friends. In addition, I tell them that their children may not like the other language right now, but add that later in their lives, they will thank their parents for the wonderful gift of being bilingual and bicultural.

Best wishes on this blog as it grows!

Dennis in Phoenix

Gladys Baya said...

I'n not an expert in this area, but my readings suggest that Dorinda's child will eventually learn to discriminate between English and Spanish, and will naturally use one or the other depending on her interlocutors, provided this is the way in which they communicate with her NATURALLY. As she grows into the teen years,however, she might reject bilingualism, only to grow back into it as she enters adulthood...
I'll see if I can find some of the sources I've read about this and sum them up for you... Remind me in April'07, if you haven't heard from me by then!
(excellent blog, ladies, congrats!)

Mary H said...

Hi Gladys and Dennis,
We're not experts either, but we *are* eager to share our experiences with our children and their language development!

As both of you mentioned, at times one language may be preferred over the other. I'm looking forward to following Dorinda's daughter's language development through the years.

Dorinda said...

Gladys and Dennis!, Thanks for your comments. I so want Nicole and Patrick to be bilingual. I was robbed of it as a child. In my area of the United States, people speak a type of Low German called Pennsylvania Dutch. I always wanted to learn it, but our relatives were reluctant to teach us because of WWII. They said we would be ostrasized if we spoke it. I learned a few phrases, but only a few which my mom used with us. It was really a shame. So now I am nervous...hahahaha You both have been very encouraging. I am excited and I must try to relax. I would recommend these things to my parents if they were trying to maintain bilingualism in their homes, but somehow it feels different to me as THE MOM hahaha trying to do it. I feel pressure as a language professional...Is my experiment going to work? hahaha oh well...Thanks for the great comments...Hugs to you all, Dorinda

Dorinda said...

Gladys, I have seen some real improvement in Nicole lately. She really seems to be understanding here of late that at home we speak this way and at the sitter's we speak this other way.

She is so in love with learning right now. We sit on her bed at night and she says, "¿Qué es ésto Mami?' el cajón para la ropa...she says...and I love this so much 'el cajón para la lopa' ; ) I´m so happy for her. Now the real brain kicker for her is when we move to Argentina for awhile, I think I will need to speak only English to her...hahaha poor thing.

What do you think? Hugs Dorinda

info said...

It is not only you who worry about those things. Most people are bilingual and it will take a while till they don't mix languages any more. It is important to stick to one language as a mother. There is also a super link where you can discuss that matter and see how other parents made it:

Post your concerns on