For quite some time, it has been a dream of mine to be bilingual. I can think back to as far as middle school, I began my fascination with other cultures and languages. It could be my zodiac sign, Sagitarrius, natural explorers, lover of culture and people but I have an undying desire and quest to speak multiple languages and immerse myself in the cultures around the world. Instead of daydreaming of the day of walking through the streets of Peru or Cuba speaking with the locals, I devoted myself to learning how to speak Spanish. I began to search for practical ways to learn and decided to start with learning on a basic level for conversational Spanish. One way that has helped me accelerate my Spanish speaking skills is by reading bilingual children's books.
The idea came from one of my former patients when I worked in healthcare back at Walgreens. He was British married to an African woman with trilingual children. OMG! He was reading a children's board book and of course, being curious, I asked him what was he reading and why was he reading a child's book. He showed me the cover and it was a bilingual Spanish book that he was reading to teach himself Spanish. LIGHTBULB!!!!!! He explained the best way for him to learn was starting at the beginning of learning a language and building a vocabulary just like children begin to learn their native language.
Bilingual Books are books written in two different languages. They aren’t usually translated word for word, but rather the same storylines are written in each language. If they are written well, bilingual books can be a valuable resource for parents and educators to use with children. It becomes a comparative lesson almost when you can compare words in two languages with storylines.
Here's a tip I will share with you of how I took some baby steps to make sure I am on the path of speaking Spanish fluently before 40. I go to my local library in the children's section and search for bilingual books. You can find everything from board books for toddlers that teach you colors, body parts, up to complete short stories. Learning a language can be pretty expensive when you start purchasing so many resources like cds, books, and even lessons. Bilingual books have been a great way for both Amira and I to learn a second language. It helps Amira to learn at a place that is comfortable for her with similar storylines as English books she's currently reading. We get to bond over learning something new together, which is always pretty cool.
I am more than confident that within 3 more years, I will be able to speak Spanish fluently if I continue to read a bilingual book a night. Hopefully as I continue to share my journey, SPEAK SPANISH FLUENTLY, with candid videos, short stories I've written and even bilingual blog posts, I will inspire you to do the same.