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I think I posted this message in the wrong place earlier, so I'll try again. My family lives in the US. I am a non-native Spanish speaker, and my husband is a native Spanish speaker from Mexico. My husband has lived in the US for 20 years. We have a 16-month-old daughter that we are raising using the mL@h method. It has been a difficult adjustment for me, because my husband and I always spoke English to each other before she was born. However, it is important for both of us that she learn Spanish well. Anyway, my questions have to do with when my daughter and I are around non Spanish speakers. For example, my mother comes over to our home 2 days a week to help out. She does not speak Spanish. I try and still speak Spanish directly to my daughter but increasingly find myself speaking English to her to as it gets to be cumbersome to switch back and forth. Should I worry about this confusing her, or is it ok to do this? The other situation we encounter a lot is when we're out at an activity with English speaking parents and children. I want my daughter to understand that she needs to respond to the other children in English, so I will speak to her in English to instruct her to say "thank you" or something like that. What should I do in those situations? Is it better to explain something to her in Spanish until I get to the word I want her to say or just explain it all in English? I would appreciate any help. Thanks!

Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Ann,

 I often ask myself the same questions especially because my daughter, at 21 months, still needs me to facilitate a lot of playground interactions.  When dealing with non-French-speaking kids her age, I do speak to her in French until I get to the word that I want her to say.  I then make a similar comment to the parent(s) in English.  Maybe 6 months ago I worried that our daughter would never say "au revoir" or "merci" because everytime we took leave of some store I would  tell her to say bye and thank you.   Now she says all four in real situations and make believe.  Probably at some point soon I will stop saying the English word because she will just understand that the listener doesn't speak English.  As I type this I remember that one of my bilingual students (portugese/english) is 3 years old and responds to my French with Portugese, so it may take longer than I realize. I agree that translating is tiresome at times, but I think that our daughter will grow up thinking that it's normal. 

I've met other families recently who are either embarrassed (sp?) to speak their minority language in public or worry a lot about isolating majority speakers.  If that's the case for your family you might want to consider some version of ML@H.  And if your mom's at all interested in learning Spanish/supporting your bilingual family, maybe you orchestrate some Spanish time/activity for the three of you when she comes over.  That way you create a little bridge to Spanish but without feeling like you're excluding your mother/or tiring yourself out with translations.

There's no right/wrong or way to do it.  At least that's what we all tell ourselves ;-).  Keep us posted.

OPOL French/English, living in the States 

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