When we were growing up, our parents had a strict “No English in the house” rule. Therefore, with them, we would only talk Spanish. However, between the three of us, we would only speak English. It is rare that we would talk Spanish with each other. The only time we did is if we didn’t want someone who didn’t know the language to hear or if we were angry. Our parents would send us to Panama for months, so we would have to speak Spanish because that was the only language our family members spoke. The one who gave my parents problems was my little sister, and it was because she came to this country when she was four or so. Kristine refused to speak Spanish, and it wasn’t until our parents sent us to Panama for the summer that she started speaking it.
I think this is one of the reasons that it’s so hard for me to speak Spanish to the kids. Besides the fact that their father doesn’t speak it, I am used to only speaking it with my parents and family in Panama. However, I know that I am doing my children a great injustice by not teaching them Spanish. At their school, there is a huge waiting list for Spanish classes. There was also a study that just came back that showed that being bilingual is also good for the brain. It helps people multitask, prioritize, and fend off against Alzheimer’s Disease. Knowing more than one language is very rewarding.
I’ve been making an effort to speak Spanish to them. Luckily, they already understand a lot, but now that they see me speaking the language, they are trying to do the same. We are also reading all these books my mom and I got for them in Panama, and I love that they are actually reading them. My aunt who passed away used to get us tons of books every time we arrived in Panama, so I always think of her when I see them reading in Spanish.
We sat down and made a goal that they will be talking Spanish by the time we head to Panama in December. I know that they will if I keep on top of speaking Spanish to them every day.