American in Spain

Spanglish Shenanigans

February 25, 2011
Grinning in Pigtails

As I have mentioned before, Nora has a very strong preference for speaking Spanish over English. It can be rather frustrating for me, since I'm doing everything in my power to motivate her to use English, and she just refuses. My general technique for reinforcing English use goes like this:

  1. Nora asks for something in Spanish.
  2. I say "What?" or just pretend to not hear.
  3. She repeats the request in Spanish.
  4. I repeat the request for her in English.
  5. She repeats the request in English.
  6. I immediately act on giving her whatever she asked for.

In the last month, her spoken Spanish has really taken off, and I think her English understanding has improved greatly as well. I can only think of three words that she tends to use in English before Spanish: cookie, shoe, and down, as in "get me down from this chair". Recently we've been having a lot of back-and-forth exchanges where I try to get her to say something in English and she insists on saying it in Spanish. A particular recurring "argument" is over the word "tomorrow". A recent discussion went like this:

Me: Are you going to school tomorrow with [favorite daycare worker] Nela? Nora: ¡Sí­! Me: Say, "Tomorrow to school with Nela." Nora: Mañana al cole con Nela. Me: No, tomorrow to school with Nela. Nora: Mañana al cole con Nela. Me: Say "tomorrow". Nora: Mañana. Me: Tomorrow! Nora: ¡Mañana! Me: Tomorrow! Nora: ¡Mañana!

By the end of it, she had realized the game and we were both laughing, despite shouting in each others' faces. Today on our walk, she kept pointing at cars saying, "¡Otro coche!" I said, "Another car!", and she would repeat "Another car," but then when the next vehicle caught her eye, she was back to exclaiming "¡Otro coche!". Sigh...

Today after lunch, she was doing the most adorable, though not ladylike, thing of taking sips of water and then burping, so I went to get the camera, and she turned silly with grinning. The following four minute video is a good example of my frustration with speaking English to her and getting almost exclusively Spanish in return. The pigtails are courtesy of her stylist.

If you stay until the end, she'll give you a kiss.