Tracy Lopez, a blogger for SpanglishBaby, wants her son to speak Spanish so badly that she admits to employing bribery to get him to speak it. She wrote about how her son has now turned the tables on her own tactics, using Spanish as a form of persuasion:
Yesterday he asked me in English to play a dancing video game with him — because I was busy with work, I brushed him off with a “Tal vez más tarde.”
My son put the sweetest look on his face and switched to Spanish, “Mami, ¿no quieres bailar conmigo?… Por fa?”
As a mother to a bilingual kid who has not yet spoken his first word and who desperately wants him to absorb the non-dominant household language (English), this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. I would do just about anything for him to speak my language, but would I resort to bribery?
Most of the commenters on Tracy’s post found her example funny. Some even suggested other rewards such as an increase in allowance for speaking more Spanish. But I was just left with a sour taste in my mouth.
I’m sure every parent resorts to bribery now and then, but when you add language to the mix, doesn’t it get the short end of the bargain? If your kid is bribed into speaking a second language, won’t it then seem like a chore?
The question is, of course, how do you encourage your child to use a less dominant household language without resorting to bribery or other rewards/punishments? I don’t want to have to use any tactics with my own son, apart from speaking with him and enjoying reading and other media in English.
I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. For now, I’ll accept my son’s beautiful 8-month-old babble, whatever language it is.