the gift of bilingualism

Speaking Spanish to a baby is hard. There are often moments when I have to pause and look up a word or phrase on my phone. For example - what do you say in Spanish when you tickle someone? Is there a different word for peek-a-boo? How do you tell her to bend her knees? I am constantly second guessing my word choices and self-correcting my grammar. All this doubt causes me to reflect on the reasons I have for raising my baby bilingual.

It can definitely be beneficial to make sure we are doing things for the right reasons in order to refresh and renew motivation. When we start going through the motions, we have lost sight of our purpose, and are probably not doing a good job of it. Living intentionally and all...

So anyway, after 7 months of struggling through speaking to Pippa in Spanish, here are my reasons and unreasons for raising baby bilingual.

I am NOT raising my baby bilingual...

...to give her an "edge" in the job market. Who knows what the dominant languages will be in 20 years? Plus, also, I don't want Pippa to feel like money is the motivation to learn the language.

...to help her get ahead in school. Although this will be a wonderful benefit of being bilingual, school is not a competition.

...to expand her pool of potential dates. Even though I encourage my high school students to learn Spanish in order to woo a girl or guy, Pippa will not be allowed to date until she is 25, so it won't mater.

I AM raising my baby bilingual...

...to pass on my love for words. I got in trouble for reading as a child. I took 2 foreign languages in college for fun. I got excited when I found out that the word for "to survive" in Spanish is sobrevivir and in German is uberleben - both sobre and uber are prepositions meaning over; above, and vivir and leben are both infinitives that mean "to live." What? Awesome. I want to share that nerdy excitement with my daughter.

...to open her eyes to other cultures. Along with teaching her to carry on a conversation in Spanish, I'm hoping to teach Pippa to cook foods from Spanish-speaking countries, celebrate holidays of Spanish-speaking countries, listen to Spanish-language music together, and most importantly travel to Spanish-speaking countries. I'm already imagining our hijinks hiking Machu Picchu together, studying at a Spanish language school on a beach somewhere, and learning to tango in Argentina.

...to communicate with as many people as possible. She's going to double the amount of people with whom she can converse, befriend, and learn from.

...because of the cognitive benefits. It's good exercise for the brain!

...to travel. Which is kind of like the other cultures thing. But I think if you know another language, your desire to travel to a place where that language is spoken increases. This is not based on anything but my own experience.

Like anything worth doing, raising Pippa to be bilingual is hard work. Doubts will creep in, and frustrations will arise, but in the end, bilingualism is a gift. 

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