12 August, 2016

What´s up?

It´s been too long since my last post. As always, work, kids… life comes in the way. But, since this is truly a lifelong project, almost one year may turn into nothing, right? (AKA lame excuse). Here is the update of what´s going on with our young bilingual fellows at age 6y-3m old (boy) and 3y-5m old (girl).

The kids´ speech is evolving, as it was expected, and the patterns are turning kind of flexible. The big boy has changed a bit. I guess it´s the pressure of the social sphere that is powerful, his friends and most of his interactions are in Spanish, and despite the presence of some English in school, it´s not enough to balance the situation. The fact is that he talks to me a lot more in Spanish lately, and I don´t want to twist his arm too much by interrupting the communication, so I let him be and answer in English… From time to time I ask him to switch so “we don´t forget our language”. The good point is that when requested, he can pull out his English and it´s usually fresh, so he doesn´t seem to have forgotten many words or expressions, unless it´s a rare one.

We keep watching tv in English without any complaints, and when we talk about the movies we´ve just seen, they both seem to understand everything that was said, so we are cool in that area.

Our challenge now would be to get the big boy talking more spontaneously in English (not only on demand…), and get the little mermaid to finally start speaking English, since she understands, and is able to say some things but way less naturally than her brother, even when he was her age. I think she has had less exposure and clearly less strict patterns from my side, as it´s been impossible to maintain the same attention than before. You know what I´m talking about if your offspring is formed by more than 1.

There´s another reason why exposure has been more limited in case of the little girl and that is the temper tantrums phase. Since she was 2 years old she´s been having many tantrums and acting out a lot which makes us focus all our efforts in controlling her in these moments (suffering I´d say…), and we end up exhausted, and with little energy to work on OPOL, English playtime or anything but resting our heads, which are about to explode sometimes. I guess girls are always more complicated than boys, because although the big one had some tantrums, they were never like hers.

Despite all the above mentioned, it´s also fair to say that sometimes she does jump in the English field and maintain a reasonable conversation, not without some effort, and not without pointing out afterwards how cool it is that she is speaking English with “Papi” and how happy we all get because of this rare occasion J… The truth is that she is coming up with really funny Spanglish expressions like these:

  • You are “keaming” your feet – for “your feet are getting burnt”, here you can see the Spanish structure (predominant in her) with words in English and some made-up stuff that she pulled out of her hat (“Get burnt”= “quemarse in Spanish”). The boy used to work the other way around, using English structure, English words and some Spanish in the way.
  • In the car – Papi! You must fasten your “cint”!! – for “you must fasten your seatbelt” (Spanish-“cinturĂ³n”).
  • I don´t want to “ensuz” my hair!- for “I don´t want to get my hair dirty!” (Spanish- “ensuciar”=get dirty)

It seems that she came to the conclusion that speaking English is just like taking Spanish Words, cutting off some vowels here and there, and then using a funny accent to say things (like chewing on something), all mixed up and… TA-DA… I speak English!

Apart from the tough times It´s also fair to say that she gives us also precious and joyful moments like the other night, when we were going to bed:

“Papi, if I had all the fathers in line (I guess she meant all of them, in the world), I would choose you”. And that is just so sweet…