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Raising Bilingual Children

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I remember all the emotions I felt my first day of school as a little girl who had just immigrated to the United States, I was 9 years old and in 5th grade. My english, in my mind was pretty good, since my parents had made it a point for us to attend a private school which taught us english 2 hours each day back in our country. Little did I know what my real life experience would be, when put in the environment were I would actually have to be submerge in the language 100% in a school day. 
You see, I was so nervous that all I could hear was blah blah blah, nothing made sense and as much as I tried concentrating it was like it was a completely different language then what I had learned. Once I overcame my nerves I begin to understand things here and there. I learned that most kids broke sentences up, such as instead of saying "How are you doing today?" they would say instead "How you doing". 
Fast forward a year later, into living in this country I could understand most anything, I was translating for my parents at parent teacher conference, doctors appointments and at church. But I was so shy when it came to speaking to other children my age. I didn't have the confidence to communicate because I was afraid I was going to say something wrong. When I finally decided to go for it and let my voice be heard, I felt an immense sense of connection and validation as a young girl. I understood the power of knowing two languages would one day carry my dreams forward and allow me to grow and progress in this country which was now home to us. And that is exactly what happened, I landed most jobs, scholarship, positions in student government, because I possess a skill which serve communities. Being bilingual became my biggest asset!
Now I have my own children, and I often find myself in the dilemma of speaking more English then Spanish, because with all honesty "I feel in Spanish, but my brain thinks in English". It was always the plan to raise fluent speakers in Spanish and in English. But my reality is a little different, even tough my children understand Spanish and English, their Spanish has a strong English Accent, to most this might be a failure. But the way I see it, is they have the foundation, they understand me when I speak to them in Spanish and when in doubt, they ask me and 80% of the time they are correct. 
They understand the importance of knowing two languages and I find every opportunity to submerge them in the Spanish language from choosing to watch cartoons in Spanish, reading bilingual books, lessening to music in Spanish, while we clean or ride in the car and believe it or watching shows like "El chavo" and "Cantinflas". Most of all I try to emphesize the importance of them learning to communicate with their grandparents and great grandparents in their native language and the importance this has in having a connection to who they are. 
My hope would be that little by little they will get to the point were they master both english and Spanish at the same level, that they would also see the blessings of knowing two languages in their lives and find many opportunities because of having being Raised as Bilingual Children!

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