We get a lot of questions about when our son will be speaking Spanish. I think some expect “fluency” in a year or so, and that is just far from reality. It’s a multi-year process, just as it is for our first language learning. There are a few resources out there that I have found quite helpful regarding second language acquisition, including HERE and HERE.
I will say that one of my favorite documents is one put together by the State of Oregon. They correlate cumulative hours of instruction with acquisition benchmarks. For those curious, here it is: Oregon Revised Second Language Standards
So we have just a month left of school. I’m thinking a lot these days about our experience in language immersion. I think for the most part it was easier on us that I expected. We came in expecting a lot more stress and anxiety for our son than there was. In fact, the biggest challenge was the longer day and the exhaustion he experienced after a day spent in another language. This was mostly combated with a big, protein rich breakfast, and an earlier bedtime.
With all the reading I have done, I was also expecting a setback or at least a stall in his English language reading and writing skills. I can say we are thrilled that this is absolutely not the case. His spelling has improved greatly. Reading skills on one language sure supplement the other. I do think that his confidence stemming from his ability to read in English makes him believe he can read anything he wants in Spanish! We won’t know until the end of the year how well he’s reading in Spanish, but he does enjoy it and at this point, that’s all I ask for.
What I’ve noticed as of late, is his willingness to respond to questions in Spanish. Things like casual conversation questions from our teachers are met with a quiet response in Spanish. He’s also got a fascination with “What language do they speak in ____ ?” He is certainly more aware that they speak different languages around the world. This weekend he told me that he’d like to also master German.
We have an exciting two weeks in Mexico planned this summer, and it’s our first trip south since his enrollment in immersion school. We follow up our trip with a month of Spanish immersion summer camp here locally. I’m still wondering how we’ll keep up some Spanish learning in August – probably a trip or two to the local library, and maybe find some new music to add to our collection. I have found some online games, but have not given them a test run to see if they get a “¡muy bien!” from anyone. I can say there needs to be more iPad games for language learning. So for all you multilingual programmers out there, start coding!
Alas, I think we feel that in part that this school year has flown by, and in other ways it’s been a lot of work and last September is a distant memory. But as a family we are pleased and thankful to be making this journey. And we are certainly looking forward to what next year has to bring.