Notice the question mark. Any of you familiar with my blog know that I have an unsuccessful, hubris-filled, and expensive history with teaching Spanish to Bruce(6) when he was 2-4 years old. So now it is with a good deal of hesitancy that I embark on attempting to teach Jenna(26m) Spanish too. I have had about two years to reflect upon what went wrong with Bruce’s Spanish experience, and these are the lessons I’ve learned:
- Keep things fun. I thought I was keeping things fun, but Bruce’s separation anxiety at his uber-expensive Spanish immersion preschool probably had a big impact on his declining enthusiasm for Spanish, even though he enjoyed participating in class once I could pry his arms off my knees and scoot him into the classroom. For him, Spanish went from a secret language he had with mommy, to something that forced him to be separated from mommy. No wonder he blamed Spanish.
- Spanish is not like piano lessons. My mom’s a piano teacher, so of course piano lessons were not optional in our household. I studied piano for about ten years, and also learned to play the organ in college. I still love to play piano. My sister stuck with piano for many years too, (under duress), and does not willingly play piano. But she probably could still sit down a play something if you gave her some music to read. I thought it would work like this with Spanish. I could force Bruce to stick with it, and he would learn to love Spanish and thank me later. But this is not what ended up happening because Bruce doesn’t remember almost any Spanish, even though at one point he was seriously on track to becoming bilingual.
- Don’t spend a lot of money. All in all our family spend almost $2,000 trying to teach Bruce Spanish at a young age. Most of this went to the $900 yearly tuition for his 75 minute weekly Spanish class. In retrospect, yes I am crazy! I wish I had put all of that money into Bruce’s 529 instead. At least then I could blame the market crashes for the money’s disappearance. 🙂
So now the question remains, what to do with Jenna? Should I even bother trying to teach her Spanish? I think the answer is yes, because each child is dramatically different. Just because something didn’t work for Bruce doesn’t mean it won’t work for Jenna. But this time I’m going to apply some sense and simplicity into our program, and keep things as fun as possible. Here’s my current plan:
- Child directed. If Jenna doesn’t want to do any Spanish that day we aren’t doing any, period.
- Twenty minutes a day. Or maybe thirty, but certainly no more.
- The library is my friend. I’m going to hunt down and put on hold every single Spanish for kids item I can find. I did this with Bruce too, but hopefully there have been more things published since then.
- Vme, Muzzy, books, CDs and games. Not an expensive Spanish class!
Deep breath. I hope this works.