No, an English fast is not some sort of religious or fanatical requirement. However, it is a wonderful secret trick that I have used many times (while learning Spanish myself). Taking an English fast can take your child’s fluency to the next level.
It is very common for bilingual parents to code-switch. This merely means that they may 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 & Common Scenario
Here is what tends to happen an awful lot: you are speaking to your child in Spanish, and they respond to you in English. So, you decide to respond, 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, these compounds into your child not 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 make 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 carbohydrate 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 ole 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!
Taking an English fast can take your child’s fluency to the next level. Of course, BookLingual Spanish books are the perfect way to pass time during your ghastly English Fast…