I’ve lived in the continental US for roughly 14 years now, studying and working mainly in English. I thought I’d been doing a good job of maintaining my Spanish, but as soon as N started getting curious about the names of things and their functions and their why why whys, I realized I needed a more extensive arsenal at my disposal. Growing up bilingually, I tended to speak Spanglish (with an emphasis on the ‘glish) when it came to topics I associated with the US, which to me included, among other things, anything to do with snow. It’s a vocabulary I learned through movies and trips to the US so for me, “copo de nieve” just did not have the same whimsical feeling as “snowflake.” Little did I know as a young girl in Puerto Rico, that I would be spending my adult years in the cold and snowy northeast.
And leave it to a toddler to make you question your most basic knowledge. Until a year ago, I called most construction vehicles either trucks/camiones or cranes/grúas, but unsurprisingly that did not satisfy N’s curiosity. And the list of topic-specific words I’ve had to learn goes on and on — basically every time N or E move on to new obsessions, I realize all over again how much I have to learn.
So what do I recommend for those of you who may be going through the same thing? Books. Lots and lots and lots of books, with a side of Google Translate and a dash of some well-chosen programming. As I add more content to this site, I’ll be posting topic-specific recommendations and resources for Spanish language books, shows, movies, and activities that may make things a little easier for you.