Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to do?!

I have had this same frustration many times before! I hope that you can help me! Please comment with any suggestions.

I feel like my kids need more Spanish!! They need more than just me and my husband (we do have a babysitter that speaks only in Spanish, thank goodness!). I am a part of a wonderful group of moms that speak Spanish to their children. The problem: my oldest daugher (5 1/2) needs a friend that only speaks in Spanish with her. There are a few boys her age in the group. She enjoys playing with boys, but loves playing with girls. Some of the boys speak Spanish, but most of them switch into English pretty quickly. My daughter can really speak Spanish and carry on great conversations with me, but if the conversation goes English, she does, too! Don't get me wrong, I still want her to build friendships in this group. It is wonderful, but I feel like she needs to really feel a need to speak in Spanish. Her Spanish would take off and she would have the motivation she needs.

I have to say there have been a few times that I have felt like giving up. One time we went to a park playdate. Another 5 year old little girl was coming from the Spanish speaking group. My daughter was so exctied to meet someone her age that spoke in Spanish. We got there and the mom with the 5 year old only spoke English to the other moms. Her daughter was shy, but eventually she went to the sandbox. My daughter went over and started playing with her (in Spanish). The girl moved away from her and didn't say a word. This went on for about an hour. My daughter wanted to go home eventually because she wouldn't play with her! Driving home, I wondered why I am even teaching my kids Spanish if no one will talk to them!

My biggest pet peeve is when Spanish speakers meet my daughter and then they switch into English instantly and don't even try to let her speak in Spanish. I tell them she speaks Spanish and I know they are thinking "Oh, yeah, I bet she knows her colors and watches Dora." I don't know how to communicate that she really can speak Spanish!

I have thought about starting an older playgroup, but I don't know if the kids will really speak Spanish or if there is any interest in doing this because of busy schedules. As many of you know, I am homeschooling her right now. She is in Kindergarten and we do a lot in Spanish. Schedules are getting busier with kids her age. But I really feel that if I don't find a friend soon, she will lose motivation. I have been known to go up to strangers in the park and try to get to know any child I see speaking Spanish. I feel like people think I am strange and fanatical!!

There are several Spanish classes in the area (all immersion). Some are about $22 an hour and, again, there really are kids to play with, just the instructor speaks Spanish. They are also teaching and reviewing things she already knows (colors, shapes, parts of the body).

I just don't know what to do!

Thanks for letting me express my frustrations. I read amazing articles from Spanglish Baby like this one. I feel like I want to do those things, but they don't seem possible. Please let me know any suggestions you have.


Adriana said...

I completely can relate to your frustrations. My son is at the point where his English is catching up to his Spanish and will switch to English if he knows that the person speaks English. We are visiting family soon and I have already warned them that they BETTER speak to him in Spanish. My first thought for you would be to increase the Spanish spoken at home to almost exclusive. No matter what situation we are in (even surrounded by English speakers) Diego will only speak Spanish to me and vice versa. He associates me and my husband with Spanish. Another would be to make sure (as best you can) that your kids play together in Spanish. This is going good for me so far. I am terrified that Mateo's Spanish will be less than Diego's because he will hear Diego speaking English. Let me think some more and I will email you.

Maria said...

I agree...I have a 6 1/2 year old, 4 yr old and almost 2 year old and I am living the same frustrations. We have always had the pleasure of being surrounded by a large Spanish speaking population and until 6 months ago all their friends, minus one family, were Spanish speakers. Fast forward one move and 6 months and I feel like their Spanish is melting and for the first time ever I spend my day reminding them to only speak to me in Spanish. We also Homeschool so you would think that would make it easier, but in our new city we have yet to meet any Spanish speaking peers. I too stalk Spanish speakers but no luck so far. I think finding peers is essential to them wanting to continue to speak. I would not give up, and keep looking. You will find someone at some point. For now I have hired a native Spanish speaker to come and play with us for a few hours a couple times a week. It has really helped give them new motivation for speaking, and as a bonus I am using it to get some one on one time for each child. But, the search for peers continues. Do you mind sharing where you live? Maybe I could point you in the right direction if I know anyone that way...buena suerte.

Tati said...

Thanks for your suggestions! I have thought about exclusive Spanish, but I don't think I am willing, especially since I am planning on homeschooling and they would only get minimal English at the park or church. It has been very successful with my oldest, but I am finding my second daughter doesn't speak as much. I don't know how to get them to play only in Spanish. I only see them do it when they are with another friend that speaks Spanish (hence, what I am trying to find :) Thank you, I do think they need more Spanish.

Maria, it's good to know there are other stalkers out there. Can you e-mail me at wannajugarwithmigo [at] gmail [dot] com. My husband doesn't really want our location out in cyber space! I would love it if we could help each other out!

artsy_momma said...

I gave you a blog award:
I find your blog and Adriana's blog so inspirational! I speak English to my son (it's all I know!) and my husband is supposed to speak Spanish to my son- it's his 1st language- and he ends up speaking Spanglish to him half the! My son's grandparents only seak Spanish and of course it's important for him to be able to communicate with them. My son has 14 Spanish cousins- 1 of the older cousins speaks English perfectly and his Spanish is not too good because it wasn't used enough when he was younger.... I am worried this will haen with my little one as well :( Have you looked into at all? You can click on Find Groups and do a search for Spanish playgroups or Sanish Homeschool Groups that maybe host field trips together (in Spanish) or you could always start your own group....just a thought.
Good Luck!

artsy_momma said...

Ugh... the "P" on my laptop was stuck...can you tell? :)

Adriana said...

I gave you an award! :)

Blogger said...

Rocket Spanish: The Award Winning System That Will Get You Speaking Spanish & Loving Spanish Culture.

(And the best thing is - it only takes minutes a day)

ROCKET LANGUAGES was used by over 1.2 million people, just like you, to master a new language.