I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household. I was born in LA, my mom was born in Texas, my grandmother was born right here in Oakland, and my great grandfather was born in Colorado, so the fact that we've been able to hold onto the language for so many generations is quite remarkable. Learning Spanish was never an option for me. I was fully immersed in it from birth and wasn't really exposed to English until I started preschool. My mom was a single parent and I spent most of my time either with her or a Spanish-speaking babysitter. My whole world was in Spanish including the telenovelas I watched with my babysitter (I don't condone this, by the way) and my playmates, who were usually my Spanish-speaking cousins. Even after I learned English, I was only allowed to speak Spanish at home. I have many vivid memories of starting a conversation in English and my mom replying, "No te entiendo". This would usually result in me rolling my eyes or throwing a fit and then getting in trouble for being such a brat. It was frustrating because she did understand me, very well in fact. It took me years to realize that her sly way of forcing me to speak Spanish was for my own good and incredibly beneficial. As much as I fought it in my youth, I am now so grateful for her undying persistence.
One of the first things I was certain of when I decided to one day have a child, was that I had no intentions of breaking the mold and not teaching my child Spanish. Honestly, even the thought of not giving it a valiant effort makes me cringe. Yes, we're all (or most of you reading, anyway) Americans, but we also come from some place else and it's a little sad to me that as a culture, we tend to lose some of that generation after generation. I'm not saying I want to send my kid to school in a sombrero or anything, but I would like him/her to somehow be in touch with their roots. Fully surrounding a child with a language, like I was, would obviously be the best and easiest option... but, what if only one of the parents speaks that language? I would assume that that would make things slightly more complicated. Aside from a few simple phrases such as "let's go" and "I don't speak Spanish; my wife speaks Spanish", Joe isn't exactly a Spanish savant. Our current plan is for me to speak to the baby exclusively in Spanish and for Joe to only speak English. I've done lots of research on this and studies have shown that although this is a highly effective method, children who are raised this way tend to develop their verbal skills a fair amount of time later than children who are learning to talk in only one language. I guess I'm ok with this? I just don't want to inhibit my child's learning abilities in any way. So, I'm curious... are any of you raising your child(ren) in a bilingual household? Or, were you raised learning two languages at the same time? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages you've found? I know this is going to be a difficult process and I don't want to be in over my head. I'd love to hear any tips or suggestions you might have.