My husband and I want our daughter to be exposed to several languages now that she is young. Too much research supports this, but it’s also a personal necessity; half her family speaks English only, and the other half speaks only Spanish, and still others who my husband grew up with speak only French.
So, from the moment she was born, and even before, we have been speaking to her in both Spanish and English. We read to her, sing to her and do as much as we can in both languages. Of course, she is immersed in English with my parents for most of the day and gets Spanish only from my husband who actually, unfortunately, spends the least amount of time with her given that he works and goes to school. This has made our One Parent One Language approach rather problematic, since Spanish is completely minimized in her life. At this point, it’s mostly sung to her since he gets home in time most nights to just help put her to bed.
Plus, it can be a little strange — whenever he is with her, he needs to speak Spanish, so do I translate between him and my parents? Does he speak to me and I respond only in English? All these questions weigh on us.
I have said for a while that for my daughter to be bilingual and bicultural, I need to become the same, which is easier said than done. I also worry about the impact of hearing a non-native speaker; plus, if I am essentially code-switching, even if I do it at specific times, am I going to confuse her? I haven’t done enough research on this specifically except that I do know being able to codeswitch is a real strength. I’m just not sure how great it is as an unintentional teacher. So, for now, I’m sticking with speaking English to her and Spanish to my husband in her presence, which is to help him speak to someone other than her in his language.
The approach of One Parent One Language sounds good on paper, but it’s far trickier in practice.