Raising Bilingual Niños: A Beginner’s Guide for Non-Fluent Parents

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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:

Infant & Toddler Spanish (1)
Infant & Toddler Spanish (2)

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

Bilingual & Multicultural Toys for children



bilingual latina mom of twinsGabrielle 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.wordpress.com. She also writes a weekend column on MamiofMultiples.com about lifestyle topics about raising a family and being a Latina mother. In her spare time Gabrielle enjoys reading with a hot cup of black coffee, documenting her children’s life through photographs, and striving to feed her family healthy meals on a budget.



  1. says

    I am in the same boat. My oldest is almost 3 years old and I am proud to say her Spanish is beautiful. It hasn't been easy but with hard work it is very possible for a non-bilingual parent to raise bilingual children.

  2. says

    These are great suggestions and resources. I would also suggest tapping into the authentic language resources online. Children's songs on YouTube are one place to start (search canciones infantiles). I blog about lots of these songs and other resources on Spanish Playground. What you say about being consistent is so important! Over time, the little things really add up. ¡Buena suerte!

  3. says

    I'm proud to say it can be accomplished, while I'm "fluent"…..sort-of ( I learned Spanish at 9 and English is my "go-to" language) I've been FORCING myself to catch it at home and speak to my daughter in both. I'm proud to say she is FINALLY picking some of it up and although she isn't speaking it yet she relies here and there which means she's starting to understand my conversations, comments and requests in Spanish!!

    Great post, thanks for sharing!

  4. says

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. I am proud to say that I raised my daughter to be bilingual. She speaks, reads and writes both languages perfectly, especially Spanish. We are originally from Colombia but she was born and raised here. I went through with the same situation you guys are going through but in the end it paid off. She is now 22 and attending college. She's studying a career that involves the knowledge of two languages. She inspired me to write bilingual books for children. Check my webpage I will appreciate your support.

  5. Tyeisha says

    I just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU!!! Your blog has given me the exact bilingual help I’ve been looking for! My husband and I want to raise our baby girl to be multi lingual, Spanish being one of the languages… You have given me the best starting point so far…. Thank you so very much!!!

    A very thankful reader,
    Tyeisha Velasquez