Just a quickie, a few observations on the delights of bringing up bilingual kids.
My kids (aged 4.5 and 2) both speak English and Spanish. My son (4.5) can switch fairly easily between the two (he speaks English to me, and Spanish to his Dad). His vocabulary is better in English – he struggled a bit with his Spanish when he started school, especially the first term, despite having been at nursery for two years already. But he’s come on amazingly, and I love listening to him talk to his Dad, “Papa”.
I’m so used to him switching languages, I don’t notice it any more, but when friends come round to visit, or we’re at a park get-together, his bilingualism gets commented on. I take it for granted, though I’ve lost count of the number of people (mostly Spanish) who remark on how lucky he is to have both languages. English classes for their kids are often their number one consideration.
One of his biggest confusions is saying “that’s why” when he means “because” (porque) – normally I only have to correct him once on his grammar (I’m an English teacher and a journalist, so he doesn’t stand a chance, poor thing) and he gets it straight away. But this time, because there’s the confusion of ¿por que? (why) and porque (because), he’s got himself into a right lio.
My daughter (2) mixes the two languages – mostly the nouns in English and the verbs in Spanish (from her nursery, I guess) – “VEN AQUI, DOGGIE!” “QUIERO RICE CAKE!” “VAMONOS, BATHTIME!” , “OTRA VEZ PLANE!” It used to be “patos” (zapatos), now it’s “shoes”. Or, when she wants to be taken out of her cot “QUIERO OUT!”. All shouted at full volume, Spanish style. Like most girls, and especially second children, she’s picked up loads more words than my son had at her age, and can express simple ideas quite clearly.
As with everything to do with bringing up children, it’s a learning experience for all of us. But, for me as a linguist, one of the more enjoyable.