Raising a Bilingual Child

Raising a child to be a good person is hard enough. Now throw in trying to raise a child to be bilingual as well and the task becomes almost daunting. I was born in Nicaragua and raised in Miami, Florida. I am bilingual in English and Spanish. My wife and I want to pass this skill to my daughter. There are so many benefits in being bilingual, which include improving cognitive skills and easier time focusing on tasks. I’m going to vent some of my struggles in accomplishing this Daddy Duty for my daughter. At the same time try to provide some solutions. Like any parent, I want to do what’s best for my daughter Lena.

The Struggles

First, my awesome wife is Caucasian and born in Dallas, Texas so it’s safe to say she doesn’t speak Spanish. So the main language spoken at home is English. English is becoming my daughter’s native language. Second, it’s very difficult to find bilingual education at all levels near my home in Miramar, Florida. It’s almost impossible to find a bilingual curriculum at the Pre-K level. And, the one pre-school I did find was out of my price range. Unfortunately, Florida lacks Dual-language programs for K-12 offered in states like California and Texas.  These are my 2 main impediments, that if I can overcome that result would be a Bilingual child.

Spanish at Home

My wife and I have to come up with creative ways to speak Spanish at home. We make an effort to read bilingual and Spanish books to our daughter every night. The benefits to reading to a child out loud are a ton including vocabulary acquisition. Also, we are blessed to have to my wife’s step mom Karina (Venezuelan) watch our daughter on Thursdays of every week. Karina exclusively only speaks Spanish to Lena throughout the day. Parents and in-laws play a critical role as well in the immersion process.

Bilingual Education

After researching and visiting preschools throughout our area we discovered a preschool that met our price point and accommodated us with speaking Spanish to our daughter. The school doesn’t have bilingual curriculum, but what they do have is a complete staff of bilinguals. The director and staff agreed to speak to our daughter mostly in Spanish during the day. Luckily, Broward County Schools has a Dual- Language program. There are 43 schools that offer the dual language program. The program begins in kindergarten or first grade. Students will learn the second language in context. Language Arts, Social Studies, and Math are taught in English and Spanish. Our goal would be for Lena to attend one of the 43 schools.

Global Citizen

Hopefully, applying these two steps Lena will be on track to becoming bilingual. More than 410 million people speak Spanish, which will allow my daughter to become more employable. Especially since South Florida is the doorway to Latin America. We plan to promote an environment of learning with our daughter. With luck she might be motivated to become multilingual.

Jehu Somarriba

Educator looking to motivate and ignite the genius in every child through use of technology.

4 thoughts on “Raising a Bilingual Child

  • March 5, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Well said… All children no matter their native primary language, stand to benefit from dual language programs. … Too often, these students fail to achieve the same level of academic success as their peers. The earlier the child learns it the easier. Thank goodness for Abuelas!!

  • March 6, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Awesome wife here – as I’m typing this I just printed out the list of Dual Language Programs in Broward County. I love how much Lena understands in Spanish – it is now speaking it that she has to get better at.

  • March 7, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I too identify with your struggle, as my children do not seem to be picking up Spanish but want more than anything to be bilingual. Their school does offer Spanish as an elective, and the teacher is from Spain and amazing. We also speak Spanish to them in the home. It’s hard, bc they are not fully immersed in the language. I think it’s most important to expose them and make sure that they have a love and respect for their culture and hopefully the language piece will come into play eventually.

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