Raising Bilingual Niños: A Beginner’s Guide for Non-Fluent Parents
I am a non-Spanish speaking Puerto Rican. I was raised in Tampa, FL until my preteens and I was never taught to speak Spanish. I am not bilingual, and although I can understand words here and there, I still struggle to understand conversations in Spanish.
This is not the kind of life that I want for my children.
I am now a single mother, without the luxury of asking my partner to translate a word or phrase for me whenever I need it. So how does a single parent who doesn’t speak a second language, raise a bilingual child?
First off, make sure if the other parent is in the child’s life, that you both are on the same page. I am grateful that raising bilingual children is just as important to my children’s father, as it is to me; so we are both in agreement. If you’re devoted to raising your children bilingual and the other parent isn’t as devoted, there are obviously going to be issues. It’s going to take consistency and you want the other parent to be consistent as well. Try to get the other parent on board, if you can.
If you can’t get them to agree, or if they’re not in the picture do not worry. There is plenty you can do on your own! Try to connect with other single parents raising bilingual children. Join a forum online and network with bloggers who are in a similar situation.
Utilize your local library and Bilingual Ebooks
Our library has a whole section of kid books in Spanish and other languages There are also some read along books where you can pop in a CD and read along. One of the first books we read was Goodnight Moon, and it was in Spanish and English.
‘Read Conmigo‘ also provides ebooks, for free, and I believe it is an amazing resource! My children and I always look forward to receiving our book in the mail. :)
Have a Bilingual Cheat Sheet
I also printed a list of English/Spanish Phrases to use throughout the day, thanks to Chantilly @BiculturalMom! I use them daily, and they’ve been priceless! You can make your own list, by googling phrases in the language you want to teach your child.
Bilingual Cheat Sheets from BiculturalMom.com:
Introduce your children to bilingual cartoons, children safe websites, dolls/action figures, puzzles and books.
It might sound a little over the top to some, but you’re teaching your child on your own and in order for them to learn a new language, the environment they’re in should nurture this. And rest assured that there is no way to do this “wrong.” There is no perfect way to teach your child(ren) a second language. Be positive, stay consistent, and find a support system of friends or family who can help. :)
Bilingual/Spanish websites for children
- PBS Kids – Oh Noah! – Noah Comprende
- Nick Jr – Learn Spanish with Dora & Diego
- 123 Teach Me – Spanish Flashcards
- Fun Brain – Alligator Translator
Bilingual & Multicultural Toys for children
- Dolls Like Me – Bilingual Books & Games
- Discount Schools Supply – Bilingual Games, School Supplies & more
- Amazon – Multicultural Toys
Gabrielle Ocasio is a single mom of multiples. She has been blessed with two sets of twins, 3 girls and a boy. Gabrielle blogs about her life raising her multiples on www.gabieandkids.