Series Post: Is Your Bilingual Baby Confused?

So there’s this question Tico and I have heard repeatedly about this whole bilingual thing to date:

“Is Guapa confused with all that language stuff?”

Maybe these curious people don’t word it exactly like that, but you get the idea.

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Do I think my daughter is confused? It’s an interesting question that is worth exploring because of course our purpose is not to confuse her!

As a sequential bilingual, I knew very much what was English (obviously, ha!). Learning a second language then was a process of new vocabulary that was categorized in my thinking as Spanish. This clear classification of language was perhaps simpler as a sequential bilingual.

As a simultaneous bilingual, Guapa is absorbing both English and Spanish at the same time and the differentiation between languages has not yet taken place.  

Could that be confusing? Maybe. I have heard from several bilingual friends that their kids seem (or seemed) confused.

In observing Guapa and asking myself if she seems confused, I’ve found she can communicate clearly what she needs to Tico and I, and perhaps the perceived “confusion” (in quotes because perhaps there is a better word… misunderstanding?) comes as she tries to communicate an idea in a way that the listener does not understand (i.e. if she says a Spanish word to an English speaker or uses only a sign).

To the onlooker that expresses Guapa is confused, I would beg to differ. Monolingual babies and toddlers use lots of meaningful gibberish to communicate while their parents (and maybe siblings) are the only ones to understand as the toddler explores a new world of communication through sound. The family creates a natural bridge by responding to the toddler’s meaningful noises and helping him to gradually transition into an understandable language world where he can communicate with many different people, not just his parents.

I would dare say that’s where we are with Guapa. We’re a language bridge, enabling her to communicate with others. Eventually she’ll be ready to communicate on her own.

As the language bridge in her life, what are we doing to ensure that she is not confused while absorbing two languages? I realized I have so much to say about this that this question will be the foundation for our first series post here at the Bilingual Bubble!

Upcoming posts:

Hang on tight for upcoming updates on how we’re making this work! In the meantime, please leave any comments or questions below as we would love to respond to your thoughts on this topic!

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