I always dreamed of going to a Spanish speaking country and immersing myself for long enough to become fluent... but life got away from me and that desire just sank lower and lower on my "list".
Fast forward almost a quarter of a century later, and here I am with 3 beautiful babies of my own.
Last November, we had the incredible opportunity to spend 6 months in Mazatlan, Mexico. I didn't know how much we would or could actually learn in just half a year of immersion, but here we are on the other side of the adventure and I'm ready to report how we did...
First of all, here's what our lives looked like abroad:
We rented a furnished house in a completely Hispanic neighborhood, far away from the tourist district and expat communities that are prominent in Mazatlan, in hopes that we would be forced to speak more Spanish. It worked!
I was homeschooling (or "worldschooling" as I like to call it) my girls, age 5 and 8. My youngest, Kenton, who turned 3 during our time in Mexico, attended a 100% Spanish speaking daycare 3 to 5 days a week. We considered placing the girls in private school but opted against it, for this trip at least, for a number of reasons that I may post about in the future if there is interest.
I only allowed the kids to watch Spanish television and movies, except for Friday nights, which were fondly known as "English Movie Night". We also tried to listen to music in Spanish whenever possible, and would read children's books in Spanish (and English) every day.
We became friends with a wonderful family in our neighborhood who had two girls of their own - the youngest was only a week older than Kenton, and the oldest was in between Jenica and Tenley's age. The mom spoke a little English, but much of the time we communicated with the help of google translate or hand signals.
However, just spending time with their family helped me to learn so much, allowed me to feel more comfortable speaking Spanish around my kids, and my kids learned so much just by playing with their Spanish speaking friends.