I've been raising bilingual kids for over six years and I've been researching and writing about it for almost four and yet, I'm still very surprised when I hear people say that bilingualism causes confusion. I've found this is a particular concern of new parents who've been thinking about adding a second language, but are worried that their kids will get confused. Truth is this is just a myth. One that has been perpetuated through the years thanks to old and erroneous information about bilingualism.
Sadly some of those responsible for keeping this myth alive are unusual suspects like pediatricians, speech therapists and teachers—professionals we normally trust.Continue Reading >
I thought this day would never come, but it seems like this country is closer than ever to real immigration reform. President Obama just announced how he plans to overhaul our broken immigration system and I'm sure that the 11 million undocumented immigrants many of whom pretty much live in the shadows scared to death to be discovered and deported listened very closely to his words. I know I did... and I'm not undocumented. I do, however, know many people who are. Some are close friends and some others are acquaintances. The one thing they have in common: a desire to be able to stay legally in the only country they've ever know and loved. A country they call home.
And now, it looks like this may very well be a reality.Continue Reading >
Raising bilingual children is easier for some parents and harder for some others. In my case, for example, my husband and I are both native Spanish-speakers, so speaking Spanish to our kids all day long is not really an issue. But most parents I know are second or third generation Latinos, which means that although they may speak Spanish, it's not their native language. Regardless of your situation, the truth is that besides language proficiency, there are other key traits all of us raising bilingual kids need to do it successfully.
The good thing is that as a parent, you probably possess all of them already.Continue Reading >
When my daughter Vanessa was born more than six years ago, it never ocurred to me that I would speak to her in any language other than Spanish. Although I'm fluent in both English and Spanish and I have spent the majority of my life in the United States, I still consider Spanish my first language and the one I use with my family--even though they're all bilingual too. As my daughter went from baby toddler and started speaking, I realized that using only Spanish with her raised a lot of questions for me. Of particular concern were: How would she learn English? And would she be at a disavantage if she didn't learn it early on? At some point, I even wondered if I should start speaking to her in English.
These and other concerns led a college friend of mine and I to create a blog about the ins and outs of raising bilingual and bicultural children in the United States.Continue Reading >
I'm not a professional translator, but I've been translating from English to Spanish and vice versa the majority of my professional life as a journalist. Since I am fluent in both languages and I'm a word lover, one of my biggest pet peeves is bad translations. Sadly, I have seen my share of embarrassingly bad translations. These seem to be even more prevalent now that many businesses are starting to realize the need to offer their Latino customers information in their native language.
But the really bad translation I'm about to highlight takes the top prize not only because it's completely wrong, but also because it's insulting, offensive and mostly discriminatory.Continue Reading >
For most people in this country, the holidays ended on January 1 with the arrival of the new year. But for many Latinos, the festivities continue as tomorrow, January 6, is Three Kings Day--a Spanish tradition that is celebrated in many countries in Latin America.
In my house, this is an important holiday as my husband and I are raising our children with the same Latin traditions with which we grew up. Since our kids are still little, we use books, movies and crafts to teach a little more about this beautiful custom. And today I want to share some of these with you.Continue Reading >
Talk about showing you want something and you want it bad. Undocumented immigrant Isaide Serrano, a Mexican mother of six, was so desperate to show a judge in North Carolina what deportation would do to her family that she showed up at her hearing just FIVE hours after giving birth to her sixth child. She was there with her five other children ages 3 to 18 pleading for her deportation order to be canceled. The judge must have gotten the point because that's exactly what he did explaining that there were sufficient grounds to prove Serrano's deportation would cause the family many difficulties.
Like many undocumented immigrants, Serrano has been in the country for more than 20 years and has never gotten in any kind of trouble with the law. Unfortunately, she was detained at a traffic stop two years ago and police discovered her undocumented status then.Continue Reading >
It was about time, was the first thing that came to mind when I found out that public schools in Los Angeles are trying to change the ways in which students--most of whom are Latino--learn to speak English. For many kids, being labeled as "English learners," as they're referred to by the public education system, is something that stays with them during their entire educational lives. Sadly, this is the case even when they do speak their second language--English--fluently.
In L.A., a third of students are considered "English learners" and a majority of them remain in remedial classes for up to five years. The school district's new plan is to shorten that time as much as possible.
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I did an interview for a syndicated radio show yesterday to promote my recently published book Bilingual is Better, and I was asked some pretty interesting questions. One of them reminded me that while a lot of parents wholeheartedly support the idea of raising bilingual and bicultural children, a lot more people out there go as far as thinking that this practice is unpatriotic. I know that sounds ludicrous to most of us, but it's the sad reality. A lot of people truly believe that in order to be fully American, you need to let go of your (or your ancestor's) heritage, language, traditions and just assimilate into this country's culture. But nothing could be further from the truth.
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Unlike other presidential elections, this year, I did my best to keep my lips tight regarding several of the more controversial issues at stake. Not because I didn't care, but because I can't vote. And, like my husband likes to say, if I won't do anything to try to change the things I don't like or I don't agree with, then I shouldn't have the right to complain about them. But yesterday, as I watched the results of the presidential election with my two small children and my mom--all of whom are American citizens--I came to the realization that the time has finally come for me to become a naturalized citizen.
It's been years (too many to divulge without being embarrassed) since I became eligible to go through this legal process, but for very personal reasons--that have made sense only to me--I have opted against it.Continue Reading >