Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about “tackling preschool worries when raising bilingual and bicultural children.” At that point, I was pretty much freaking out about the possibility of my daughters going from “loving Spanish” and it being their first language, to stashing ‘it’ in ‘la gaveta del olvido’ (a drawer). A lot of moms seem to have the same worries since that blog posts keeps ranking as our #1.
Today, I am happy to report that my daughters’ preferred language is still Spanish – not by a little, but by faaaaar. Truth be told, I am honestly surprised that after having been totally submerged in an English speaking preschool for two years – reading, playing, singing – they still prefer Spanish. In fact, if I admit it, they actually don’t speak English. They understand everything said, and they say a bunch of words plus the obvious letters, colors, numbers, and animals, but I have barely heard them make complete sentences in English.
I do know that they understand it because when I try to get away saying something in English (so that they supposedly not understand), it fails every time. Also, they make the typical mistake of saying in Spanish the adjective before the noun – which is incorrect and shows that they are using the English way of describing things. Plus, they find English hilarious and make fun of it all the time.
Now, back to the point. My US-born, American girls don’t speak English. Am I worried? Not at all! I pretty much learned English myself in 6th grade when I was enrolled to an English speaking school in the Dominican Republic, and about 5 years after that I was already writing complex essays about “Mice and Men” or whatever other novel my teacher had assigned. Hey! I even got in to an amazing college: Babson College (The number one worldwide in entrepreneurship for over a decade)! The point is that there is NOOOOO way that my girls will not learn, speak, write and comprehend English very well… so, no. I am not worried. They cannot get by in the United States without speaking it, plus it’s a very fun and cool language.
In fact, I think this school year I will see those full sentences sprout out of their little mouths. I imagine that it is because they know they are heading back to school next week that they asked me last week while we were in the car, “Mami, me ayudas a practicar mi ingles? (Will you help me practice my English.” So, of course, I said yes and we were driving around spotting a bunch of things to translate in English.
If I stop and analyze why do my daughters still prefer Spanish? Instinctively, my answer would be because we made it cool. Plain and simple. Yes, my husband and I are both committed to only speaking to them in Spanish – but not in an awkward way or forced; we just do. It’s just been fun! (You can read the Tackling Preschool Worries article to read and learn how we do it.)
And yes, of course, I’ve had the privilege and constant support of fun and charming characters along the way – helping me through stories, songs, live shows and games. I’ve literally had the luxury to involve my girls in the creation process of building Mundo Lanugo; they have pitched in on stories lines, worked on voice overs, danced on live shows, and been my #1 and #2 go-to-reviewers for the animated videos and our upcoming children’s app in Spanish, called “Mundo Lanugo: Juega y Aprende.”
So in the end, I believe that they have really gauge that it’s so freaking fun to be Latino and to speak Spanish – not that it “can” be; but that it just IS! And for this, I am forever grateful. I know that although I can’t quite measure with numbers the impact it will have on their lives, I know – without a doubt – that this pride and awareness about their heritage will strengthen their identity and their confidence. And we all know that at the end of the day, life is all about confidence, about believing that you are worthy, and that you can achieve your dreams.
Oh yes… and today in particular, about not caring what ‘naysayers’ like Donald Trump might say or think about you as a Latino.