Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family. Are you monolingual? Multilingual? In which way are you raising bilingual children?
I was born in Houston to parents from El Salvador. I moved back to El Salvador with my mom when I was six and lived there until I moved back to the States for college. During that time, I would visit my dad in Houston every year and got to live in both cultures and both languages. I speak both Spanish and English fluently and don´t remember ever learning either one.
I met my husband in Mexico City, where he´s from, and we moved to Los Angeles together where we´re now raising a bilingual and bicultural girl. We only speak Spanish to her and are making sure she will be placed in a dual language immersion program when she starts kindergarten next year.
Why is it important to you that you raise your children to be bilingual? Why is bilingualism important to you?
It is important that my daughter speaks, writes, and reads Spanish fluently because it is the bridge, the connection to her family in Mexico and El Salvador. We have no family members in our city, so it´s vital that she feels she belongs and is part of a familia when she sees them. Also, I want her to be able to have more doors she can feel confident to open when the time comes for her to go to college and to work.
What challenges have you faced as a parent who is raising bilingual children?
I have to admit that so far it hasn´t been too challenging because my girl is only four and she still gets to be surrounded by Spanish most of her day. My hope is that if we continue this way and she´s accepted into a dual language program, then we won´t have too many challenges to deal with because of a lack of motivation or rebellion to want to speak it.
What have been your greatest successes or celebrations in raising bilingual children?
My biggest celebration was two months ago when my sister and 6 year old niece came from El Salvador to spend 10 days with us. My girl and her prima got along like sisters and all thanks to the fact that she speaks Spanish so well! My niece does understand English, but prefers Spanish, so they definitely were able to bond. The best part is that now anytime my girl starts wanting to talk to me in English I remind her that we need to speak Spanish so her prima can understand her. That trick always works!
What tips or suggestions do you have for other parents who are raising bilingual children or would like to raise bilingual children in the future?
To start as early as possible and talk, read, sing to them in the minority language as much as possible. Find or start a playgroup with other kids that are also learning the language and meet with them as often as possible so your kid will feel connected to them and to the language. If you have the means, travel to countries where the language is spoken. This is the best way to make the language relevant to kids and motivate them to speak and learn it.
Bio: Ana L. Flores has over 15 years of experience as a content creator and television producer, with a specialty in the U.S. Hispanic industry. After becoming a mom, she co-founded SpanglishBaby, the online community for parents raising bilingual and bicultural kids, which was chosen as a Must Read Mom’s Blog by Parenting Magazine and featured on CNN en Español, PBS Parents and Vme TV among others. In December of 2010, Ana appeared on the cover of Hispanic Business Magazine as “The New Face of Social Media.” Ana is currently writing the forthcoming SpanglishBaby book which will be published by Bilingual Readers in the fall of 2012.
Parent to Parent is a weekly interview series that features parents who are raising bilingual children. If you would like to participate in the interview series and share your experiences with other parents, please contact us at multilingualmania(at)yahoo(dot)com.
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Parent to Parent: It’s About Much More Than Bilingualism
Multilingualism Fosters Greater Understanding and Acceptance of Other Cultures