During the three years my wife and I have been together, she has learned a lot of Spanish, but she doesn’t speak it fluently. We both understand and take seriously the need for her to be comfortable with Spanish if we want to be effective as we can be at raising our children bilingual.

Photo by tanakawho

Photo by tanakawho

But life is busy, and having an 18-month old boy and another one on the way leaves hardly any time to keep up with laundry, let alone commit to the major undertaking that is learning a new language as an adult.

So we worry a little bit. We certainly haven’t abandoned our plans to help her learn the language as fully as she can, but day after day, we seem to be falling back on plan B, which is: learn as you go.

We’re already running into situations where we we accidentaly undermine each other because she didn’t fully understand something I told our boy to do or not to do. Nothing serious, but I can already see us getting to the point where I will have to either speak to my boy very slowly so that my wife can understand what’s happening, or get into the habit of translating for her what might be important for her to know at the moment.

Now, assuming that we stick with the status quo and rely solely on my wife’s sharp intellect (which is sharp indeed, no joke — love you baby!–) and just let her learn as we go, I wonder what impact that will have in the long run as I try to establish an environment where my children will speak only Spanish to me (dellisional much?) and English to their mother, without effectively excluding her from the interactions in Spanish.

I would love to hear from people who have been in this situation. I have no doub that we will make it work, but I do wonder how difficult it will be. I know my wife will learn Spanish sooner or later (she already has been), but I want to be prepared for the bumps along the way.

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