Lately I feel as if using Spanish in our home is like another person. I still haven’t decided if this person is a man or a woman. Sometimes I feel like its a moody, always complaining chick. Other times I imagine Spanish is a stubborn man, just sitting there, not saying a word. Many times, thankfully, Spanish is a fun and loving child making her way in our home. As I have mentioned before, and as the title of my blog clearly states, I have an obsession with interpreting my bilingual life. Many times I find myself literally observing, interpreting and reporting (on this blog and my conversations with people) about bilingualism. I’ve learned that the more I make it a point to use Spanish or expose our lives to Spanish intentionally the more material I have to write about. So, off I go…to continue reporting about bilingualism and trilingualism. I’ve started a list of blog postings I have in mind. Finding the time to write and post them is an ongoing challenge… as they say in French…C’est la vie.
As I typed out the title of this posting I could not help but form a smirk on my face. Here’s the deal. The further I delve into the work of identity construction in my doctoral program, the more I realize that individuals take on multiple identities depending on the context they are in and multiple other elements that come into play. Even in the previous sentence I wrote there are several words I would have to define to explain exactly what I mean about identity construction and how it happens to possibly relate to living a trilingual life. Herein lies my dilemmas as a bloguera/academic writer: almost everything that makes up academia has made me question the most general observation or statement about language acquisition.
I guess what I am trying to explain is that no matter how I attempt to shape our lives so that Sabrina learns three languages, she will always be negotiating multiple identities, just as we all do. What’s amazing is that many of us don’t even realize that we do this. At least I didn’t prior to studying the concept of identity. Sure I was conscious of the way I acted differently with family, friends, or colleagues, but if we were all aware of the little nuances that influence how we think, what we say, essentially who we are at a particular point of time, we would realize that learning multiple languages is not black and white. This is part of the reason I always question any language program, whether it’s for kids or adults.
Speaking of language programs, now that my bebita is 7-months-old, I have learned that most of her language learning is probably going to occur at home until she enters kindergarten since the “day care” settings I would like her to participate in are mostly for children who are there full-time or nearly full-time. I learned that there is what they call a “mothers day out” and then there are “day care” settings, both of which have a different ambience. If there is a “mothers day out” with a Spanish or French immersion component, then I have not found it. That being said, my new plan is to continue exposing her to Spanish at home and create a time during the week to listen to French. Somehow, I have a feeling that I will constantly be adjusting our little plan as she gets older and as our lives change.
I realize that this posting seems all over the map, but ever since I had a baby I feel like my mind, my writing, and my life is all over the map. So, readers please bear with me as I work through motherhood. In fact, there are times when I ask myself, “Wouldn’t my life be a lot easier if I just spoke in English all the time?” When I start to think about language and how I want to expose my daughter to it as she grows I start to consider everything that is tied to acquiring multiple languages. I guess this is one of the reasons I am pursuing a PhD. I guess it only makes sense that I question and consider the multiple elements ties to learning languages. It’s times like these that remind me of one of my favorite quotes, “Give me the bliss of the ignorant or give me the strength to bear the knowledge.”