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Gabrielle & Cirilo Augustín 

click to enlarge Gabrielle Bills, 29, and son Cirilo Augustín, 16 months - SAM SIMON
  • Sam Simon
  • Gabrielle Bills, 29, and son Cirilo Augustín, 16 months

You were raised in a French-Canadian family in Vermont; your husband, Edwin, grew up in Chile; and you both speak Spanish to Augustín at home. Did you speak more than one language growing up?

Gabrielle: No, my mom's generation was the first one to grow up not speaking French in the home, so I grew up hearing somewhat limited French from grandparents and older relatives. I learned Spanish in school and from listening to salsa music. I became fluent in Spanish in high school. I studied sociology abroad in Chile, and it was all in Spanish. I always planned on trying to raise a child speaking Spanish at home, but I thought I'd be the only one doing it. I definitely didn't expect to marry a native Spanish speaker.

So, what's your strategy for raising a bilingual baby?

Gabrielle: Well, we know Augustín is not at risk for losing English as a language; he's immersed in it everywhere he goes. So basically, we only speak Spanish to him at home. We also use sign language all the time because, while navigating two languages, he can use the same signs for words at school and at home. He actually used three signs together the other day to ask me to get a toy for him. He signed help, please and down. I was impressed!


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