Languages are a beautiful thing. Although I grew up mainly speaking English, I had an opportunity at a very young age to learn and speak Spanish, and my dad's family is all in Costa Rica so I have family members who I primarily speak to in Spanish. That gave me the tools I needed to work in Argentina and Brazil for part of the time I was with GE. GE would've never sent me to Latin America right out of college if I hadn't had those language skills. Sue and I want Devina to have that same kind of opportunity.
Sue is in a similar (but stronger) position with Korean, as she speaks it primarily with her parents, and always did growing up. So we have an opportunity to raise Devina speaking multiple languages, but we knew that figuring out a way to do so would take work, because Sue and I speak to each other in English.
So we agreed that, from the start, I would speak to Devina exclusively in Spanish, which I've been doing for the past six months. At first, I didn't know if it would be hard or easy because it's been a long time since I've gotten an opportunity to speak in Spanish on a regular basis. And while it's not hard, it's not exactly easy, either. It's kind of like going into a room in a house that you don't enter very often. You haven't forgotten where things are, exactly, but you need to do a bit of spring cleaning to really make the room usable again.
But a funny thing has happened since I've forced myself to speak to Devina exclusively in Spanish: When I look at her, my brain now automatically switches to Spanish. Whereas at first it was strange to break out my Spanish on this new person in my life, now it would be strange to speak to her in anything other than Spanish. I wasn't expecting it to be so natural, because in the past I've either spent the entirety (or at least) bulk of my interactions speaking entirely in Spanish (or Portuguese, which I can handle fairly well) -- for example, when in a Spanish speaking country-- or entirely in English while here in the US. It's always been natural to be speaking Spanish when others are, and English when others are, but this is the first time in my life where I'll be speaking with Sue in English, and then turn to Devina to say something in Spanish, and then turn back to Sue and say something in English, over and over again. I thought that part of it would be hard, but it isn't. My brain switches between the two as if on cue.
The part that is harder is that Sue can't always understand what I'm saying to Devina. Sue is actually scarily good at understanding Spanish, even though she claims not to speak any of it, so this hasn't been too much of an issue yet, whereas when Sue speaks to Devina in Korean, I'm totally lost (Mental to-do: Learn Korean). But as I start having more complex interactions with Devina in Spanish, and with Sue doing it with her in Korean, I'm not exactly sure how things will play out (especially if Sue and I don't compare notes on what we each told her, i.e., Devina potentially is the only one in our family who would know that mom said one thing to her in Korean, and dad said something entirely different to her in Spanish. That could get interesting). The answer there is probably that I have to learn at least some Korean, which I've been wanting to do, so this is as good a time as any to do it, and ditto for Sue and Spanish.
Another thing that I don't know is how things will go as Devina gets older. I fully expect she may rebel and not want to communicate with me in Spanish since everyone else around her is speaking to her in English. I'd love to hear from other parents that are raising their kids with multiple languages (and especially if only one parent speaks that language). How have you handled that type of issue?
What else should we expect? What other tips do multi-lingual families have?
Some people have said that it will take Devina longer to start speaking due to the different languages being thrown at her, and I expect that's true, but that doesn't bother me or Sue at all.
The picture above is an incredible shot Sue took of Devina using this $75 Raynox macro lens attached to our Lumix Micro 4/3 camera. If you want to use the same setup, with the pancake lens, you'll also need to purchase this inexpensive 46 to 43mm adapter ring so you don't have to use the unwieldy snap-on adapter that comes with the macro lens.