My kids with Jose-Luis Orozco
You know those moments when you have to pause, take a breath and remind yourself to take it all in? I had one of those language moments last weekend where the figurative waters parted in totally unexpected ways to reveal that all my hard work around my kids’ language development is actually paying off.
The well-known bilingual children’s musician, Jose-Luis Orozco, performed at our local children’s library last weekend. He led us through the alphabet, numbers and numerous songs in Spanish. Magnetic and engaging, he clearly derives such joy from music and children.
It was a small room so at the end, I encouraged my children to go over and thank him in Spanish. He asked my kids a few basic questions in Spanish and I saw their Spanish has surpassed the basics now. They couldn’t have had this conversation a year ago, I thought. All my efforts at developing their Spanish are paying off!
Sometimes I feel a little like the crazy mom about languages, you know the one whom every time you meet just never seems to shut up about something you could care less about. Since before I had children, I always imagined they would be Spanish speakers since it’s a language I love so dearly. But it definitely takes organizational acrobatics to introduce a new language amidst already busy schedules and trying to support our home language, Arabic, too. But when it comes to my kids and language, I will gladly take on even the uneven bars of scheduling, even though it requires added expenses—it would be much cheaper if we just sent our kids to the regular afterschool program for example—and it necessitates endless organizing, scheming and assembling groups, teachers and transportation.
But I know I am giving my kids a huge opportunity and gift even if at times I have wondered if all of these extra expenses and organizational headaches are really worth it. And finally after almost a year, I can see it’s working. And the unexpected thing? Their Spanish is proving to be a gift that touches other people’s lives as well.
My six-year-old daughter came home last Friday to proudly show me a board game she made during Spanish-immersion camp. I did a double-take when I saw she had written her first words in Spanish on the board. And I switched to Spanish with her to see how she was progressing. Here it is (I haven’t quite gotten the hang of talking a little softer when the camera is so close to my face. Sorry about that!):
Then I did what any proud mother would do and sent the link to my second family of sorts who live in Ecuador, the ones who witnessed my development from a non-Spanish speaker to a bilingual in the year I lived in their house after college. We are still very close and she refers to my children as her nietas, grandkids. And my Ecuadorian mom’s reaction? Gracias por ayudarme a vivir un poquito mas. Thank you for helping me live a little longer. Witnessing the joy my daughter’s Spanish brought to my Ecuadorian mom was such an unexpected surprise. Her words made the sun shine just a little brighter that day.
All in all it confirmed what I already know. Bilingualism makes the world a better place!