Raising bilingual kids (year 6): where did their Spanish go?

We have been in Holland for a year now, due to Covid travel restrictions around the world. We have spend our first winter in Holland in 10(!) years. Freezing cold!! Something that Steven loves, and the kids.. Well, they cope I guess. As long as they have warm clothes and warm jackets, they manage!

This year in Holland we had a great time. We rented an apartment on a farm to spend the winter. Our mobile home/ cabin is not winter proof and very cold when temperatures drop. When we cannot live on the campsite, we wanted to live somewhere ‘outside’, in the countryside. Where we have a view and can watch the sun set and rise every day. We found a great place in the tiny village of St Isidorushoeve, just a few kilometers outside of Haaksbergen.

Vesper has loved tractors and big machines since he could walk. He loves everything farm and has fallen in love with being on the farm.. For him this was a golden 6 months <3.

Unfortunately one of the downsides of being in Holland for so long, is the complete absence of the Spanish language. The kids to speak it anymore, don’t hear it around them, don’t sing songs anymore and don’t want to listen to Spanish stories to read (Uh oh…). It seems as if Spanish has just completely been wiped from memory.

Isa says: ‘mom, we are in Holland now, don’t speak Spanish please‘.

Well ok….

She has a point. There is no need to speak it here, nobody does.

This is an important lesson for us and for anyone who wishes to raise a bilingual child in a monolingual family. So if you don’t speak the foreign language as a mother tongue: make sure they spend enough time in countries where the language is spoken.

If you take them out of the country where the language is spoken, it does not mean they will forget everything they have learnt about the language. All the little paths in the brain for that language are there. They just aren’t being used. If you are raising a bilingual child in a monolingual family, or considering to do so, you might want to read my post I wrote about it. I will talk a bit more on how it (theoretically) works.

As soon as the child will start using the Spanish brain path again, words and sentences and sensations will come back.

So I decided to just trust the process and give them a chance to pick it back up.

In October of 2021 we hope to start traveling again and will take a slow start with the language as well. Kids won’t go to school immediately but start playing with friends they made the year before. We will be around Spanish speaking people and we will then also speak Spanish. We hope this will awake the Spanish brain again and open up the word memory for them!

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