Multilingualism in my family: Frances' story

24 Jun 2015

Meet Frances and her family. Frances' story is a little different from the ones I have published before in that she only introduced her son to her language when he was 4. But it is a great success story too. Read on. It is never too late!
via Flickr - by Nick W

1. Name


2. Blog

3. In what country do you currently live?


4. How many children have you got and how old are they?

I have one son, soon-to-be 7 yrs. old 

5. Who speaks what to whom (in the home)?

I speak Spanish to our son and English with my husband.  Little one speaks to me in Spanish, and to his Daddy in English.  Hubby speaks English with both of us. He’s not bilingual. Sometimes between my son and I we also have a good mix of Spanglish going on.

6. What language does your child hear outside home?

English mostly. Spanish from a few friends and extended family.

7. If you had to put a percentage on the languages your child hears what would they be?

My son hears on a daily basis 80% English, and the other 20% is Spanish.

8. Did you set out to follow a particular method to raise your child multilingually? Why? Why not?

When I was pregnant I was very clear on raising a bilingual child.  My husband and I agreed that we’d be using the OPOL One Parent One Language method.   However, I failed to follow through with my well intentioned plans of OPOL. I fell into the comfort of only speaking to our child in English since he was born.  It wasn’t until my son’s 4 yr. annual well-care check-up that I got a “wake-up call”.
My “wake-up call” happened when my son’s pediatrician asked excitedly if my son was bilingual, and I answered no. I was disappointed with myself, and I had to act fast! At 4 yrs. old I focused on using the “Language Boundaries method” especially during our night time routine bath, and story time.  Slowly I eased into speaking to him only in Spanish, and it also helped that I enrolled him in a preschool Spanish language immersion class.

9. What works with your current family language set up? Why?

OPOL has been working for us thus far. Spanish screen time, children’s book, and music has been incorporated into our daily routine as well.

10. What would you do differently if you could or would have to do it again?

Great question! I would have started speaking to my son in our heritage language since the moment he was born.  Nevertheless, as it has been in our experience it is never too late to teach your child another language. It takes a lot of commitment, and discipline on your behalf as a parent.  It was a hard transition for me too, switching from speaking only in English to our child, to speaking English, then translating into Spanish to now speaking solely in Spanish to our son.   However, it has all been worthwhile!

11. Any other comments.

Although, our bilingual journey started late we are reaping the benefits of raising a bilingual kid.  He speaks, and understands Spanish; and he’s currently learning to read and write in Spanish, as well.   I beam with pride every time I hear my son having conversations in Spanish with his friends, and my heart swells up when he tells me at bedtime, “Buenas noches Mamá. ¡Te amo!”  So to the next person that asks if my child is bilingual  I will proudly answer, “Yes, he is!”

Many thanks to Frances for answering my questions. You can read about other families here.

1 comment

  1. Nice interview! We spoke mainly to Spanish to my daughter since she was born but then I started with English when we moved to Germany (and she learned German at the kita).


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