I know there are a lot of articles, blogs, videos and research papers out there that are all about the amazing benefits of being bilingual. I love to read them! (and I even write about the topic often). But I wanted to look at it from a more personal angle and really think about what bilingualism looks like in the lives of my children and why I think it’s so amazing.
It is my hope that this will be an exercise in self-evaluation (for myself and for my family) and it will be a way to encourage us to keep going with this taxing, but rewarding way of life.
So, what is so amazing about my children being bilingual?
· They easily communicate with ALL of my family. Not only can they share with our English speaking family, but they can speak with all of my aunts and uncles who don’t speak English. These are amazing people that shaped my life, and I love that they will also be able to shape the lives of my children.
· They listen and dance to the music that shaped my childhood. From singing “Que llueva, Que llueva” (a very popular children’s rhyme) to “Hablame de Maracaibo” a song about my hometown.
· I love watching their linguistic ability grow and even enjoy the mistakes they make along the way. I have noticed lately that my daughters like to put an “a” before any action in Spanish. “ Vamos a hablar con ellos,” is the correct way of saying “we are going to speak with them.” But then they says things like “Yo tengo que a limpiar,” (I have to clean), “Yo quiero a comer” (I want to eat), etc. And I realized that they are simply putting a “to” in front of everything as they would use it in English. It’s such a cool insight into their mind for me!
· They happily and easily make friends wherever they go. Not only do they make friends with children that speak English or Spanish, but they make friends across language and cultural differences with no regard to the differences that one would think could separate them.
· They are open to anything that is “other.” Whether it’s people who speak different languages, different kinds of music, cultural activities, or even food. They love to experience things they haven’t experienced before and are unafraid to try, taste, ask questions and show a kind heart to everyone they come across.
I can say that the few minutes it took me to write this piece were well worth the amount of encouragement it gave me. I really love what being bilingual has accomplished in my children and I want to continue working and studying our language and culture with them.
So, I definitely encourage you all out there to make a list of your own! Refer back to it whenever you are feeling like it’s too much or like you are failing in your journey. If you feel comfortable, share it with others (and with us!) as well. You never know who you might be lifting up!
About the Author
Keli Garcia Allen is a certified Spanish teacher and currently works as a Preschool teacher in a bilingual classroom. She is the Head of Content for Learn Safari and is currently working on Spanish Safari, a Spanish Learning game for children 4-10 years old. You can follow her and the rest of the team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.