Strictly speaking this is not really the start, we’ve been intending to bring the girls up as bilingual all along, but life got in the way.
We never really planned much the whole bilingual thing. We thought it would just happen! My partner asked if I’d speak Portuguese with the girls, I said yes, and that was it. The commitment had been sealed.
Reality was different.
Having two under 2 children was full on, my partner worked shifts, I worked full time. I had spent nearly half my life in the UK where I spoke English 99.9% of the time. There was little time for reflection and taking stock of how it was all going other than my constant guilty admission when asked by friends and strangers if the girls spoke Portuguese, that yes they understood it but I wish I spoke more of it.
Until one day my eldest child said “Mum speak English so I can understand” and soon after: “I don’t like Portuguese”. That was a wake up call.
I started paying more attention, reading about bringing up bilingual children and, generally, making more effort.
As part of this refreshed focus, I attended a workshop led by The Alma Collective where all parents were asked what their bilingual goal was. I replied, rather arrogantly, that my children would be bilingual, biliterate and bicultural. The workshop lead said “That’s ambitious! Do your current efforts match that ambition?”. Looking at the colourful Post-It notes from the previous exercise where we noted what exposure we gave our children to the minority language, I was ashamed to admit that no, it didn’t. I was well behind ‘schedule’.
I decided there and then that I would change that. Hence in September 2017 our bilingual journey v2.0 starts.