Into the Story



Episode 34: A Story About Raising Bilingual Children with Alex Perdel

Nivel: Intermedio
Acento: Español

¿Es posible educar a tus hijos en dos lenguas aunque no domines una de ellas? Alex, nuestro invitado de esta semana, el living proof de que sí, en efecto, ¡Es posible! When his first child was born, Alex did some research, and read all about the benefits of growing up speaking two languages. He only spoke Spanish and a little bit of English, pero decidió que le hablaría en inglés a su hijo, y aprendería lo necesario para enseñarle mientras crecía. ¿Cómo le fue el experimento? Listen to the episode below to find out!

Today’s episode of Into The Story is about rising bilingual children. As you listen to Alex tell us about his educational journey, you will learn useful vocabulary, such as the meaning of ‘nursery rhymes‘, ‘freak out‘ and ‘turn heads‘. 

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Quote of the episode

“I remember we went to a friend’s house, Raul was one year old, he was playing with the typical toys on the floor, and I said: ‘Raul, come here one second, give me that ball’, and that baby understood me very well in English! I remember that two friends turned their heads and said, ‘Wow! That’s working.’ And I said, ‘Yes, why not?” – Alex

Bree (00:02)

AC Inglés presenta ‘Into the Story’ el podcast para aprender inglés con historias reales contadas por gente de todo el mundo. Hey, there listeners, today’s story is about raising bilingual children. En el episodio de hoy, hablamos con un invitado especial, Alex Perdel, de la plataforma Crecer en Inglés. Alex nos relata su experiencia creando un hogar bilingüe como español hablando con sus hijos en inglés.

Alex (00:40)

‘We were so excited about waiting for Raul… we were talking about a lot of things for the future of him. One of the things that we were talking was about the English in Spain. We don’t have a very good level but we knew that we had to do something….’

Bree (00:59)

In today’s story, Alex talks about the decision to begin speaking to his son, Raul, in English and how he began this process. He also shares some of the challenges he faced along the way and how eventually this language experiment became his work. Continue listening to find out more about Alex’s English parenting journey and his platform, Crecer en Inglés. Antes de escuchar la historia de hoy, veamos 4 palabras y expresiones interesantes que utiliza Alex en este episodio:

Bree (01:37)

Firstly, nursery rhymes. In English, a nursery rhyme is a traditional song sung to help children usually fall asleep. En español diríamos canciones infantiles o canciones de cuna. You’ll hear Alex today talk about singing his son nursery rhymes in English as a way to immerse him in the language. Nursery rhymes.

Bree (02:04)

Secondly, to freak out this informal phrasal verb, to freak out, in English can mean different things in different contexts. If someone says spiders freak me out or I freak out, if I see a spider, it means spiders cause me to become anxious, afraid or upset, or I become very upset, anxious or afraid when I see spiders.

Bree (02:31)

On the other hand, a person can also freak out when they receive good news. In this case, the expression means to become excited or very emotional. Freak out. Next to turn heads. In today’s podcast episode, Alex talks about his family and friends turning their heads when they heard him speak to his son, Raul, in English for the first time. In English, if someone or something turns heads, it means that it gets their attention. To turn heads.

Bree (03:05)

And finally, to grow up. To grow up is a phrasal verb that we use in English to talk about children growing and developing into adults. In Spanish, we would simply say crecer. See if you can hear Alex use this expression in his story to talk about his children growing up in a bilingual home. To grow up.

Bree (03:29)

Si quieres la transcripción, la ficha de vocabulario, y un test de comprensión de este episodio, sigue el enlace en las notas del programa. OK, now, let’s get into the story…

Alex (03:42)

Hello, I’m Alex Perdel, I’m from Seville. I’m 38 years old now. Oh my God. We were so excited about waiting for Raul. We were talking about a lot of things for the future of him. What will we will have in the future? The work, the school, the football match. I don’t know. A lot of things. One of the things that we were talking was about the English in Spain. We don’t have a very good level now maybe from when we grow up from when I was a child.

Alex (04:19)

But we knew that we had to do something for try to to give a good level. We started to share a lot of information on the internet about how you can speak in English at home. Is good? Is bad? The typical doubt. The typical mistakes and what a crazy idea that we say what why not? Maybe we can try to speak in English to him or if not to speak maybe the TV in English we go because we were watching TV in English, maybe a little book, maybe a bilingual school.

Alex (04:53)

But the bilingual education in Spain, the people say that it is no good. I don’t know, I am going to share. So we say, Well, maybe we can try to speak something or put on the telly or the songs, why not? We are going to try to do that.

Bree (05:07)

Alex did a lot of research about the advantages of growing up in a bilingual home. He realized children in a lot of countries learned several languages at an early age, and not only is it easy for them, it’s incredibly beneficial. They decided Alex would be the English speaking parent while his wife would speak to their son in Spanish.

Alex (05:30)

Of course, the first day I don’t speak all the time, I I didn’t have vocabulary for a baby, I didn’t have good expressions. I don’t have cute words for him… lovely, sweetheart. The typical first words for the baby. The baby don’t speak to you. It’s difficult the first time. But I say, OK, I’m going to try to do the little routines in the bathroom, cooking with him when you describe the ingredients or the food. And step by step for three, four months, I feel very comfortable in this moment.

Alex (06:03)

I say, OK, that is fine. The most positive ingredient for that adventure that was that when I started speaking English to my baby, he laughed, he enjoyed and the nursery rhymes helped to sleep. So OK that this communication. It is a language. It’s not (chemical) science. It’s not (going) to space in a rocket. No it is it’s very, very simple. Was only communicate with him, not only with the world in English, only with the expression of the face, or only with the pronunciation, with the the tone of your voice.

Alex (06:44)

And doing that at the same time with the English language was fun for him, and I feel that how he loved me in not natural language for me. I said if I could do that in English, that is working. And, of course, the first time the people freak out and say, ‘wow, what are you doing? Why? Why you are going to try to speak in English? That is not natural. Are you crazy?’ I say maybe. Yes, I know. I don’t know.

Bree (07:17)

One year after beginning his language experiment, Alex realized that little Raul was understanding English. This gave Alex the confidence to keep going, despite some friends and family finding the concept a little bit strange.

Alex (07:34)

Obviously, one year after I remember that we went to a friend’s house to lunch with another friends, maybe 10 people, and Raul was one year, one year and a half and he was playing with the typical toys on the floor and I say, ‘Oh Raul, please come here one second, give me the ball or give me the car. Be careful. Don’t stand up. Don’t sit down there on the sofa. I don’t know… the typical expressions. You say the instructions to the baby. That baby understood me very well in English and the people looked at me and said…I remember that two friends turned their heads and said, ‘Wow! That’s working.’ And I said, ‘Yes, why not? Why not is it going to work?’

Alex (08:19)

For me, that was the best moment to say yes, I had to continue. One year after. That’s one year. It’s not easy. But one year after he could understand structure. Complete… I think that they are complicated no? Please, Raul, don’t sit there or can you come here and give me something? Well, it’s a lot of grammar structure for a baby. And he understood all the things so (it) was an awesome moment.

Bree (08:47)

Alex’s English parenting journey was going well, but he wasn’t finished. He decided he wanted to share what he had learned with other parents looking to raise bilingual children. Alex decided to collect all the resources and information he had learned and put it together in a podcast and online platform.

Alex (09:08)

The project started like a hobby. I started writing for him. To Raul, Raul, when you grow up… you will read that today, we went to the grammar hours and listen to a baby song and I was talking for him. I wrote for him. Four months later, I started the podcast because too write is good. But I said, I need to talk about that. I need to express with my voice. I need to talk to the people how is that, only a little.

Alex (09:41)

I start to talk about the tips. The main typical doubts or mistakes and (do) interviews for (to) learn because at the same time my baby was very, very small. So I, I, I was not an expert in this moment. I was learning at the same as the podcast. My podcast is like a road map of my bilingual experience. I started to have interviews with families, teachers, (scientists), doctors, all the people that could help to another person on a lot of people to grow up in English and the children.

Alex (10:19)

That was the beginning. One year later, I say, OK, maybe (this) could be work. Maybe I would like to have all the information, all the videos, all this real experience, all this examples, and a lot of concepts, tips, (resources) and ideas in only one platform. I say, OK, (is) anybody do that? I’m going to do it. So I made the platform for help to the people to grow up in English, to their children.

Bree (10:49)

Thanks to his hard work and passion for raising his son in a bilingual home, Crecer en Inglés was born and Alex’s language hobby became his job. Five years on, both his sons are fluent in English and Spanish, and they continue to grow and learn the language together with their father.

Alex (11:09)

I think that the people are in the comfort zone. It’s easier, of course, later when pass the years, you say, Oh, now I have to go to academy. You are lucky. Sorry. Yeah, you are lucky. No no. It’s effort, not lucky. That is not a lottery. I don’t have a… when Raul was born, I don’t say ‘take’ it’s a bilingual boy! No. OK, so I think that the people have to change.

Alex (11:42)

OK, I’m going to be positive a lot of people now start to try something… books, TV, songs maybe in English. I see that the concept of the bilingual or the most important second language. It starts to change and that is good. In a bilingual adventure I had, I think that the most beautiful thing that you can learn is that your child, your son, your daughter connect(s) with you in a second language in a very different way.

Alex (12:15)

The natural language for you is very different. The connection is (a) special. It’s magic. When my son say hi five to me, when my song say, Can I have a hug? The connection to me is different. It’s not the same. It’s is because this is special for us. No front on that or not, because it’s English. Maybe it could be another language. But it’s (its) own language, its own way to communicate is already joke in another language that make that, that is different.

Alex (12:47)

I learned to enjoy or we learn together. We learn to enjoy, to be fun, to be angry, to argue in a second language and make a very special relationship together.

Bree (13:08)

Thank you so much, Alex, for sharing your story with us and for helping so many families out there find their own path to creating a bilingual home. If you want to learn more about teaching your children English, I recommend listening to Alex’s podcast, Aventura bilingüe, where he shares stories, tips and also the science behind creating a bilingual home. You can also check his website Crecer en Inglés, which is full of resources. You’ll find links to both on our website, acingles.com.

Bree (13:43)

And that’s all for today’s episode. Don’t forget to subscribe to our show to get the newest episodes. And if you want to help us continue bringing you true stories of people from all over the world, then we would be so grateful if you’d leave us a five star rating on Apple Podcasts or on Spotify. OK, friends, until next time, we hope you have a good time, or at least a good story to tell.

Wonderful Words

very impressive, amazing or inspiring

raise (children)
to have, look after and bring up children

a spaceship

a slang word to refer to television

an object for children to play with

Excellent Expressions

to freak out
(1) to become very anxious, upset or
afraid because of something or someone
(2) to be excited or very emotional because of something or someone

to grow up
refers to children getting older, developing
(mentally and physically) and becoming adults

nursery rhymes
songs for children that are typically sung before bedtime to help them sleep

to turn heads
to get someone’s attention

Si la historia de Alex te fascina tanto como a nosotros, puedes seguir su language learning adventure en su blog Crecer En Inglés y su podcast (solo en su web). Y si quieres más, escucha el episodio #50 de Into the Story y el enlace a otro episodio con Bree como invitada hablando sobre este tema.

We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of Into The Story. Ahora puedes seguir mejorando tu inglés suscribiéndote a la newsletter de AC. We can’t wait to see you there! 

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4 comentarios

  1. I love it. I’m an English teacher and I think I’m going to try it. Right now I’m pregnant. In some days I’ll meet my son so… Thanks a lot for sharing the story. I’ll look for the Aventura bilingüe 🙂

    1. Hi Laura, ohh that’s amazing just few days left! Let us know when the little one is here and how do you feel speaking to her or him in English. Thanks for your comment Laura.

  2. It’s interesting but I don’t know if it’s a good idea if you don’t speak well and with good accent…
    In Catalonia all the children are bilingual.
    Thanks a lot for the podcast

    1. Hi Teresa! You’re totally right, they talk about bilingüal, and Catalonia is already bilingual. Regarding the accent, that’s not a problem, and about the level, any intermediate and above should be enough to feel confident enough. Check out Into the Story episode #50, and the link to Luke’s English Podcast, where Bree talks about this matter. Thank you Teresa, I hope this helps!

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