Go on an ENGLISH Fast to Take Your Child’s Spanish Fluency to the Next Level

No, an English fast is not some sort of religious requirement, but a wonderful secret trick that I have used many times (while learning Spanish myself).

It is very common for bilingual parents to code-switch, and change between both languages throughout the day; or even within a conversation. This, by itself, is not ‘bad’ or ‘embarrassing’ in any way – but it can be detrimental to your child’s total language fluency. Again, once your child has a wonderful grasp of both languages, switching languages can be more appropriate and enjoyable.

The Awful (yet common) Scenario

Here is what tends to happen an awful lot: you are speaking to your child in Spanish, and they respond back to you in English. So, you decide to respond back, and possibly stay in English for a while. This allows for English to be a language crutch for your child. Why are they responding in English? There are many possibilities, but the most common reason is that they FEEL MORE COMFORTABLE expressing that particular idea in English rather than Spanish.

This is a problem. Why? Because your child does not know how to say that particular feeling or phrase correctly, and you are allowing a switch to English. Over time, this compounds into your child not actually reaching the highest level of fluency (such as your level of fluency, perhaps).

The Solution – take an ENGLISH fast

No, not an English diet, not an English pilates class, but an English fast. The fast is usually easiest to handle as a one day event. You simply do not speak English (or allow English) at all for an entire day. From waking up to going to sleep. I realize this is not that easy to do, so here are some helpful tips:

  • Offer a reward to your child (and yourself) for completing the English fast. For example: if both of you it through, you both go to get ice cream that night….or something else that you will look forward to. “What are you looking at! This is an English fast, not a carb fast!” – sorry had to slip that in…
  • Whenever your child wants to move back to English, simply do not budge. If necessary, ignore their English, and act as if you don’t understand. (this generally works for younger children better than older children)
  • Read books in Spanish and watch a movie with Spanish audio on. This makes the day a little more fun, and makes it easier to stay in Spanish; rather than reverting to the dangerous ol’ English.

Completed the English fast successfully? That is an amazing feat. Next time, try two days, and if you are a little on the wild side – an entire week!

Of course, BookLingual Spanish books are the perfect way to pass time during your ghastly English Fast…


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