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Reply with quote  #1 



Both my wife and I are native English speakers and are expecting our first baby in mid-September.  I have just enough Spanish to get by in a restaurant and locate a bathroom when we are in Mexico and my wife knows less than I.  My wife and I have decided it is time to buckle down and learn Spanish, and I want to raise my child with both Spanish and English.  I think it will be a huge benefit for the baby later in life. 


My problem is this:  I am concerned that we may not know enough to be able to effectively teach our baby by the time he/she is here 


If we start now, is it likely we can build enough to be effective after the baby is born? 


What is the best/quickest way for my wife and I to learn Spanish (I have considered Rosetta Stone software and/or college Spanish classes)?


I suspect that speaking and reading to our baby will accelerate our own learning.  Would you agree?


All ideas and comments are welcome and appreciated!!


Many thanks,



1. Country you live in----Oklahoma, USA
2. Languages the family speaks---English
3. Ages of the children---still cooking....due in mid-September
4. Language system----undecided 

Reply with quote  #2 
I am also doing a language (Russian) with my child that is non-native for me (grew up monolingual English), although it's my husband's native language. My suggestion is to start now collecting media in Spanish--books, videos, cds; maybe you can even find Spanish-language toys, say, that play songs or say, "The cow says...moo" in Spanish instead of English. I've had a hard time finding such things, and often wished I had started looking earlier. I should hope that Spanish is easier to find than Russian, especially in your part of the country (I live in Massachusetts), but you never know.

Not being native speakers yourselves, you might want to have Spanish be the dominant toy/media language in your house, and have nothing in English, or only a few select favorites. Looking back now that my son is 2 1/2, that's what I wish I had done. Perhaps the days of video-watching and book-reading seem very far away, but they will be here before you know it, and it's not easy to shop carefully when there's a baby to be looked after.
Reply with quote  #3 

I am a Spanish teacher (secondary schools) and I would say that you just need a basic understanding of the language right now. If you learn at a local college that would be a good start. I'm not really familiar with the Rosetta Stone program. At the very least, you need to know how to pronounce words by reading them, and some basic grammar and vocabulary. I definitely think that your vocabulary will improve as your child grows. I also agree that you should have as many books and videos in Spanish as you can for your child. And you have a great advantage - there are tons of Spanish speakers in your state (I believe you are from Oklahoma, and I'm from Texas.) You can take advantage of native speakers in your area - try to make friends with some native speakers to improve your language and maybe have some play dates later on, and I've always liked the idea of having a nanny, babysitter, or housekeeper that speaks Spanish. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford help like that, but I think if you take advantage of that, it would be a great asset to your child. Just keep finding ways to improve your language! Good luck!

Reply with quote  #4 

I also wanted to let you know that in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area there are some schools that offer bilingual education in regular public schools. There may be something like that in your area. Basically, the students learn half of the day in one language (Spanish) and the other half in the other language (English). This could be a great asset for your little one when the time comes.

Reply with quote  #5 


I'm always very sceptical when I hear parents say they want to speak a language they don't master properly to their children. I am so much for multilinguism, speaking 3-4 languages myself and being about to give birth to a baby-boy who will be speaking Bosnian, French, Englih and Norwegian. But transmitting a language to a child is so much more than just transmitting speaking skills: you give your child a whole world of culture as well.

I think your idea of transmitting Spanish at an early age to your child is a VERY GOOD one. But I think your best card is to hire a Spanish-speaking nanny or au-pair who will be able to give your child: a proper accent in Spanish (which you might not have as a non-native speaker), a broad vocabulary, idiomatic expressions (which only very fluent speakers master in a foreign language), plus the culture of her native country. 

I am French and have been living in Norway for 10 years now. I started learning Norwegian 13 years ago. I see myself as fluent in Norwegian. I can understand and take part in any conversation. I'm a teacher and I'm not afraid of teaching Norwegian to Norwegian pupils. But never ever would it cross my mind to speak Norwegian with my son! Simply because Norwegian wouldn't convey my motherly feelings to him... Only my mother tongue can...

You and your wife barely speak Spanish for the moment. Do you really think that in 7 months you can learn enough Spanish to feel confortable in expressing your feelings to your child in a language which is not yours?? 

Please, don't give up on the idea of giving your child the gift of bilinguism from birth.

But I honestly don't think that your parent-child relationship would benefit from your speaking a language which is foreign to you all in the first place. Better to introduce a Spanish-speaking person like a nanny or an au-pair in the family. You and your wife can always learn Spanish in the same time as your child.


Good luck,

an experienced mother tongue teacher.

Reply with quote  #6 

I think that you can try to learn as your baby learns. Just because it isn't your mother tongue doesn't mean that you can't become fluent and learn along with your baby. Spanish is not my mother tongue, but I am a Spanish teacher and I intend to improve my language skills even more. I do think it is imperative that your child has native speakers to associate with, such as a babysitter, nanny or an immersion daycare or preschool, but do not let this discourage you! If you look on this site at the different types of raising children to be multilingual, some people speak the community language (English) at home, and the child only has access to the secondary language (Spanish) at school and with friends. You just have to find out what makes sense for you.

Adrian Villalobos
Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Katie-

I also live in Dallas. My husband and I are raising our son (Diego) bilingual Spanish/Enlgish. Another thing that we have in common is I am a Spanish teacher also. My son is 14 months old. If you are interested in a playgroup, let me know.

Adriana Villalobos
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