Sunday, March 28, 2021

Little language learners

Day 28 of 31 at TWT!
"Manos!" Wriggling her hands, Rainbow Girl proudly smiles up from the changing table with her biggest squint-eyed smile. 

"That's right! Manos are hands!" I lean close, touching my nose against hers, and start singing, "La la la, las manos a lavar!" 

She giggles, holds up her hands and wiggles them some more, and joins in. "La la la, las manos a lavar! A lavar!" Then she tilts her head up in that squinty proud smile and half-shyly murmurs, "Muy bien!" 

"¡Muy bien!" I agree, "¡Buen español!"

I think of how she asks for "más leche, por favord" (I can't get her to stop adding that extra d sound, but on the bright side, it's super adorable!) at every meal, sometimes adding, "Más means more!" or "Agua is water!" in a firmly declarative tone. 

Or how when Sweetie asks for leche or jugo at breakfast, then chooses between "de uvas, de manzana, o de frutas," Rainbow often interjects "jugo is juice!" or "manzana is apple!" (or sometimes, not as correctly, "uvas is juice!")

Sometimes I wish I'd spoken to both girls in more Spanish all along, but that would have been so much work that I just really haven't had the mental energy for, especially coupled with how hard it was to find quality Spanish children's books (we have some, but not nearly enough!), and both girls' early arrivals to the world. Moreover, there's truly something special about speaking to them in my first language, using the same silly little English phrases and family colloquialisms that my parents used with me. 

So I'm content that I'm exposing them to Spanish in a way we all enjoy, even though that means they're not bilingual... yet. (After all, with the exception of a little Spanish club I attended in kindergarten, I didn't start learning Spanish until middle school.)

Being home with them this year has given me the opportunity to build more Spanish into our daily routines, and that has certainly paid off, although again, I'm disappointed that I haven't had the capacity (perhaps the most useful phrase I've learned during the pandemic!) to do more. But they are learning to understand and speak more and more, and even more importantly, they're learning that languages are fun. I love hearing Sweetie say, "Mommy, I'm so glad you're teaching us Spanish!" out of the blue just as much as I love hearing them ask for something they need en español or sing a Spanish song.

(As I was drafting this, I heard Rainbow screech "Agua! Agua!" several time to Husband downstairs!)

Best of all, they're learning that we choose our words carefully (even Rainbow now knows which books Daddy can or can't read to her, often announcing "That's in Fpanish" or "That one's in Enguhlish!"), that how we speak is part of who we are, and that there's more than one way to be in the world.


  1. Learning a second language is something they will never regret. I love the way they intersperse the Spanish and English.

  2. Wonderful! Little language sponges, they are!


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