I start writing this blog with the hope of finding more people is my similar circumstances. Married to an American citizen, we speak to our child in English and in Spanish at home. However, my experience as a teacher of bilingual children has proved that this is not enough. Children like to communicate and socialize. Children like to play and meet new friends. But children are very practical too. If they see that their friends speak English, they will naturally refuse to speak their second language just because their friends don’t speak it. We have to create a social environment, where our children can be encouraged to speak Spanish, or any other language apart from English. If they have friends that speak both languages, they will be keen on speaking them too.
Nevertheless, our job as parents doesn’t stop there. This social environment can foment the use of the second language among our children but it doesn’t assure that they will be able to read and/or write it. We have to create an academic environment for that purpose to be certain that our children will get those skills.
Having a command of the four disciplines (speaking, reading, listening and writing) is extremely important, not only to prevail the family cultural heritage, but to get better opportunities as professionals in the future and benefit for all the benefits of being bilingual (cognitive skills, social and emotional skills and improvement of the overall learning process). This is our responsibility as parents. Don’t let our children down when we can give them better opportunities!