3 Failures and 3 Resolutions
I've always been a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. Even if I only stick to them for a few days, a week or a month, at least it's something, right?! As I've gotten older, I have discovered a few ways to make my resolutions a bit more realistic, but I definitely still fail more often than not.
Going into 2020, I had some lofty language learning related goals, and in reflecting on the craziness of 2020, I thought I'd share 3 of my language learning failures and 3 small and *hopefully* more manageable goals for 2021.
I'll share my failures first...
1. A Spanish book club for adults
I was so excited about this idea! I thought this would be a great way to meet other bilingual parents and offer the added bonus of having my kids see me reading Spanish books in my free time. I asked the IG community if anyone would be interested in a Spanish language book club for adults and was super excited when other parents shared interest! We started off with Elísabet Benavent's Toda La Verdad de Mis Mentiras.
I'll be totally honest, this is the only Spanish book for adults that I read this whole year. The second book was El Día Que Se Perdió El Amor, and I just couldn't get into it. This was totally my fault because I unintentionally skipped the first book in the series. But... it was what it was. And then March hit, and with it came COVID and craziness with jobs, schools, stay-at-home orders and this book club goal died about as quickly as it had come to life. I'm bummed about it, but I'm still so glad I set this resolution because it means I read one more Spanish book for adults this year than I did in 2019! That's slightly embarrassing, but it's the truth. And honestly, I LOVED Toda La Verdad de Mis Mentiras - it was so steamy, high on drama and a super fun read! I'm hoping to read another book by this author this year!
2. 80% Spanish at Home
Going into 2020, I convinced myself that time at home with the kids had to be 80% in Spanish. This was a totally arbitrary goal, but I think it was my attempt to tell myself I had to speak Spanish to them all the time but could occasionally slip up and not be too hard on myself about it. I know our kids will get English exposure at school and in the community so I felt this was important. I was also committed to letting them watch TV exclusively in Spanish and reading mostly Spanish language books to them.
But, I'll be totally honest, I prefer speaking to my kids in English. English is my native language, and I feel so much more comfortable expressing my emotions and connecting with my kids when I don't have to think too much about the words I'm using. And that's especially gotten to be the case as they get older and it's not just me pointing out things and kind of talking to myself. Once schools closed in March, I used their newfound "lack of English exposure" as an excuse to allow myself to speak more English with them. Do I regret it? Honestly, yes, I kind of do. I know these are critical language learning years, and teaching kids a second language is such a gift. But, I'm grateful for my husband's consistency in speaking Spanish with the kids, and I've found myself more actively seeking Spanish books and music to help compensate for my own mixing of languages. I still speak Spanish when Adrian and I are both with the kids because I love speaking Spanish and it comes to me more naturally when he's around, but I have been giving myself way more wiggle room when it's just me with one or both kids. I'm definitely nowhere near the 80% goal, but it's still better than nothing! And I'm glad I set this goal for myself because the barriers that I experienced made me consider school immersion programs more seriously even if they're a bit of a longer commute for us.
3. Spanish classes
Before our school closed in March, we relied on a twice-weekly Spanish class through our daycare. It was so comforting to know that our kids would be learning Spanish with other little ones each week and would come home with new song verses or words every few days. When schools closed, we looked for an online option, but after trying them out a few times, we just gave up. We just didn't have the patience to help our 2 and 4 year old figure out zoom calls and stay in their seats for long enough to make it worthwhile. Serious props to all parents this year... and extra awe for those that got their toddlers to actually pay attention to zoom classes for more than 4 minutes! I know this takes way more patience than we could muster.
As we head into 2021, it feels a bit weird to make resolutions given how unpredictable 2020 has been and the uncertainty for the next year. But the one thing I can control is what I do so I'm still excited for a fresh start and a chance to reflect on what worked, what didn't, and what I hope to do more of or do differently. This year, I want to be a bit more realistic about what we can work into our existing schedules, routines, and life, start small and build from there. Here's my first pass at 3 language learning resolutions for 2021!
1. Continue the Spanish Learning Library
Our local library has totally saved us this year, but it doesn't have the best Spanish language collection. I'm so grateful for the small community of parents that joined Amber of @BilingualBookshelf and me to rotate Spanish books monthly. It's been such a great way to get access to more quality Spanish language books without having to spend a fortune. Fingers crossed we can continue to to this throughout the rest of the year and expand the group so we can get even more books to share! If you're interested in joining, just drop me a note (marina @ lufiandfriends.com)
2. Listen to more stories while commuting
Now that Lucas is a bit older, he has really started to enjoy listening to stories even when a book isn't in front of him. We've been able to take advantage of this by playing different story podcasts for him while we're commuting. It's a routine we already have so adding a Spanish story to it isn't too difficult. We also recorded a few stories for him to listen to while we drive to school each day, and it's so fun to see him actually listening and remembering things from them! I totally zone out during the stories, but he actually remembers what happens and references them! This inspired us to start the Cuentos y Curiosidades podcast with bilingual stories, and my somewhat lofty goal for the year is to record one episode a week. My less lofty goal is to find more podcasts to play for the kids in the car and to defer to Spanish stories a little more often and try not to force our kids to listen to Up First everyday.
3. Leverage music more!
Music has always been one of our favorite ways to sneak in language learning. That's what inspired our first set of song books, but I'm going to try to work Spanish songs into our routine a bit more this year. I've been working on compiling a set of routine-related songs that we can make a habit of singing daily - whether when we're brushing our teeth, putting on clothes or going to school. I think this will be a super fun way to easily incorporate more Spanish vocabulary into our routine, and if it's helpful for you, download the cheatsheet I made for our family with 9 songs to easily incorporate into your daily routines!
Would love to hear from you! Have you changed your approach at all to raising bilingual kids? Any resolutions you can share for inspiration?