Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's Cool to be Bilingual... Finally!

We are truly a bilingual family. In our house, el esposo only speaks to the children in Spanish. In fact, they're still convinced he doesn't even speak English, which is weird because he and I always converse in English. But hey, they still believe a tiny, little fairy sneaks into their room at night to steal their old teeth in exchange for money. So, I guess it's not all that strange.

Anyway, speaking Spanish with Papi has never been a big deal for the boys. They don't complain about it or try to sneak in a word of English here and there. It's just kind of the way life is. But they've never been enthusiastic Spanish speakers. The boys never speak Spanish with one another. They will consent to watching Shrek in Spanish if their father insists every once in awhile, but that's about as far as they go with using their language skills for anything beyond communicating with their father. Until now.

Thanks to a friend with connections in the world of children's educational television, my boys got to do a minor bit of voice over work today for a new Spanish cartoon. Mind you, they only had to record two sentences each (two sentences that I think will be forever burned into my brain having heard them practice ad nauseum for the last 48 hours.), but because it was in a fancy recording studio, in a fancy high-tech building, in a fancy part of the city, my kids were over the moon. Seriously, my eight-year old, who is usually quite reserved and shy has now decided he might be an actor. As a former drama queen myself, I'm thrilled.

But here's the thing. The only reason my snigglets got the part is because they speak Spanish. And they know that. Suddenly, speaking Spanish is a hot commodity in their minds and I'm going to exploit that idea to the hilt. Watch me! In fact, I may suggest they might want to learn even more languages, just in case the production company wants to do a cartoon in French or Arabic.

I'm just kidding. Sort of. I'm just happy that my kids got a chance to use their Spanish in this super cool way. The whole experience may have only lasted for a blip in time, but for them it was the experience of a lifetime. I'm happy it happened.

What do you other bilingual families do to keep the love for the non-dominant language alive? I'd love to hear some suggestions, because clearly I can't keep hiring my kids out to do cartoon work.

I'm listening.



New Rap said...

i can't live with a family that all spanish i get too confused it hurts my head when i cant understand stuff...

Waiting for Zufan! said...

Wow! How cool is that. They need any more bi and trilingual kiddos over in that studio?! :)

kate said...

Very cool!!!

My kids watch all their TV and movies in English (DVDs may have a Spanish option) and I read tons of books to them in English. Someone recomemended a series of comics in Spanish-- your 8yo might enjoy them (though I haven't actually seen them.) They are about a character named SerafĂ­n Cordero and the publisher is Edelvives. I know a few are available on Amazon. Also, the movie Planet 51 was actually a Spanish production.

Anisah said...

So have you learned any Spanish with all that Spanish being spoken?

I am glad that your kids are learning it young. That's the way to really learn a language for keeps.

Generations ago in the US, parents didn't speak to their kids in their language (German, French, etc.) because they wanted their children to assimilate. But later either their kids or their kid's descendants wished they had learned the language.


Anonymous said...

My daughter only watches TV in Spanish. I am very lax about TV rules if the shows are in Spanish. V-me is awesome.

She mostly wants to understand Spanish because thats what Estefany speaks from Lazy Town. Seriously.


Connie said...

My daughter is only allowed to watch videos in French and Chinese. Most of the Disney videos have a Spanish and French language track. For the longest time she didn't even know the English versions. Now that she is in pre-k, she speaks more and more English, and it's inevitable, but keep trying.