We have the privilege to have this British mom rising her two daughters bilingual, her daughters speak Spanish amazingly and they have been an inspiration at our Spanish club. We hope this interview inspires you to continue with your journey of raising your children bilingual/multilingual. #ElRecreoCrianzaBilingue
1. Could you please tell us a bit about your bilingual / multilingual home
We are a family of 4, all British with English as our first language. We live in south-east
2. How many children do you have and their ages?
We have two children, age 5 years and18 months.
3. What are your main motivations for your children to speak Spanish?
It has taken me years to reach a good level of Spanish as I started learning as an adult. Yet
children can pick up many languages if exposed to them from an early age.
4. What daily / weekly activities do you do to encourage Spanish to your
I try to speak to them in Spanish every day. We have lots of Spanish books, we listen to
BabyRadio.es and I have learned tons of children’s songs. Now my 5 year old is learning to
read, I am also encouraging her to read in Spanish. She only watches TV programmes in
Spanish, thanks to YouTube and Netflix. Both children attend weekly clubs.
5. What barriers do you find in bilingual parenting and how do you overcome
The fact that Spanish is not my first language makes it a real challenge. If I’m just a little
tired, or in a hurry I revert to English. Because my partner doesn’t speak (although
understands a little) Spanish, we naturally speak English when we are all together. My 18
month, who doesn’t yet talk, understands Spanish commands more than English as we spend so much time just the two of us. However, I know that won’t last as she gets older and spends more time with English speakers.
6. In addition to motivating bilingualism, do you encourage Latin American /
Spanish culture in your home? How do you do it? What do you like the most
about this culture?
We travel to Spain at least once a year. My 5 year old has done a little Flamenco dancing and enjoys to dress in traditional costume. My partner and I love Spanish food although the
children have yet to be won over.
7. According to your experience, what are the most important and efficient
ways / activities to encourage bilingualism in children?
Repetition always works for children. Speaking the ‘foreign’ language at home is ideal as
they will pick up the native language elsewhere. However, to encourage them to speak it they should see others outside the home speaking the same language. This will validate it for them. A local group lesson or club, where they can learn with their peers, will hopefully
make it a fun and cool thing to do. However, I’ve found nothing impacts our rate of
improvement more than a week in Spain. Hanging out in cafés, on playgrounds or on the
beach, surrounded by Spanish speakers and aiming to speak Spanish the entire time.
8. What do you consider to be the benefits of bilingualism?
Having another language opens doors. It means you can travel more confidently to areas
where that language is spoken, and there are more jobs open to you as an adult.
Moreover, a second language can give a deeper understanding of the first language, of
common origins and of grammar structure.
9. What do you consider to be the best age to introduce a second / third
language in children?
Children’s minds are open to everything from birth.
10. What bilingual activities/resources/events for your children and family
would you like to have in your area?
I’m lucky as in London there are quite a lot of activities available. A nearby library has
Spanish library (albeit smallish) of books, CDs and DVDs would be super.
11. Do you have any advice for parents who want to raise their children
If you want to raise your children bilingual you need to make it your mission. Get involved,
learn what they are learning (I had no idea what the word for ‘nappy’ was before). If you are
lucky to have local groups, go along. If not, use YouTube, internet radio, books and any other media and take a daily dose. Use technology to your advantage. It requires discipline, but you can do it. Good luck.