Bilingual Me.

15 Responses to “Bilingual Me.”


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  1. John Lamb says:

    I’m not doing too well on reading Spanish to my kids, even now that we’re in Chile! But as I look back on my own experience, the most accessible Spanish-language texts I ever read were the short stories. Julio Cortazar was my favorite – find a place for him on your Kindle, too.
    John Lamb´s last essay ..Yvette Martinez, Governor Haslam’s press secretary, talks about Mexican-American family, military, hard work, faith, and taking risk

    • Carrie says:

      John, thanks for the feedback and the book recommendation. I will add it!

      I was delighted to discover a friend who read the post gifted me this: “Nosotras que nos queremos tanto” (Spanish Edition) (Kindle Edition) by Marcela Serrano via Amazon. Says it is her favorite.

      Are the kids going to an English-language school in Chile?

  2. Elaine VanCleave says:

    My Cuban mother did not teach me Spanish as a child. She says I argued with her and she gave up. In reality, I don’t think she tried very hard. I took Spanish in high school but am no where near fluent. I regret that I cannot speak, write, or read Spanish very well. I applaud you parents who are persistent and keep the language alive for your children. Don’t give up.

    • Carrie says:

      Elaine, though my parents spoke Spanish to us, it was my grandmother’s militant insistence that really dug the Spanish into our brains…She refused to speak English, or allow us to around her.

      I persist, though I could be way better.

      Thank you for the encouragement…and where did you grow up?

  3. Carol says:

    This is such an excellent and honest post. I have dropped the ball big-time! Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Ashlee D. says:

    I’ve been following for a little bit and really enjoy your blog! In some ways, I think a lot of your concerns are normal. My boyfriend, for example, was born an raised in Puerto Rico by Cuban parents, but went to the US for university. Because of that, he says he feels like his English is much more “academic” than his Spanish, and feels more comfortable writing in English than in Spanish. And the opposite is happening to me, I’m a gringa, but am getting my Master’s in linguistics in Puerto Rico, in Spanish. I don’t feel comfortable talking about linguistics in English, even though it’s my first language, because often times I don’t know the translation.

    I think immersion is the best way, or, spending time communicating with monolinguals, since there isn’t the option to “slip into English.” Don’t doubt yourself though, speaking and understanding (in my humble opinion) is more important than reading and writing… Knowing where to put the accents doesn’t mean you don’t know the language, those little things you can pick up at any time. That being said, reading in any language can do wonders for vocabulary!
    Ashlee D.´s last essay ..Why bilingual relationships rock

    • Carrie says:

      It is a really cool pleasure to get your comment. What a great story you have, and your blog is beautiful.

      It is great to hear about others having similar issues between the talking and the writing. Interesting!

      I would have agreed until recently that speaking is more important, but I realize that it makes me way more marketable to write very well in Spanish. I think it has surprised people who know me to learn am not comfortable writing in Spanish.

      And, I need an accents cheat sheet! …and a month in Mexico!

      I’ll go visit your blog again.

  5. Frank Juval says:

    I had the exact same thought not to long ago! It was sparked by a conversation I had with two Latin acquaintences at a friend’s party.

    I had a conversation with them and naturally Latinos want to know where you’re from. They asked about me so I told them I’m Puertorican raised in Miami. Their response to that? “Mira, un Americano que habla Espanol.” What a blow to my already poor Latino ego. After that I felt like calling it quits in teaching my kids Spanish. What’s the point, right? I’m just prentending to be Latin since I’ve been here so long. I’ve lost it.

    But that little thing inside me refuses to give up. If I don’t teach my kids Spanish, I’m robbing them. Robbing them of their culture, the beautiful language and the history of our peoples struggles and triumphs. Not to mention how fast the Latin population is growin in the US. They’re going to need to speak Spanish later on in life.

    I’ve definitely dropped the ball in teaching my kids Spanish. Mainly my 4yo daughter. I need to truly immerse both kids (and myself) in Spanish and not just speaking to them or teaching them words. It hasn’t been enough.

    I need to buy more Spanish books. I was being super picky at what type of children’s Spanish books I was buying. I didn’t like that they call a back pack “una mochila” instead of “un bulto.” Or an owl “una lechuza” (sounds like “lechuga”) instead of “un buho.”

    After having a conversation with a Puertorican lady who just moved here, she said “it doesn’t matter. It’s all just details. You have to get her to learn Spanish. Worry about specific words later.”

    So I’ve stopped the pickyness and will start just buying children’s Spanish books with good stories.

    I have to find out about Spanish games, songs, and even TV shows that she can watch. I have a decent amount of Spanish music that she loves to sing to but I need more. It’s not easy even here in Orlando where there’s a large Latin population.

    I’m going to start reading more Spanish as well. I’ve added Ficciones to my Amazon wish list.

    • I used to worry about the words, too. However, since it has been hard to find books in Spanish with a good story and interesting pictures, I’ve found myself simply translating the English board books on the fly. It’s not a perfect solution, but you could do the same to simply replace the words when you read them until it’s time for your kid to learn to read… if they’re not already there yet.
      Yazmin @ A Pretty Rock´s last essay ..La busca para libros de hoja cartón en español continua…

  6. Carrie says:

    Frank, we must have bought the same Spanish kids books because when I saw buho I was like “what the hell is that?” And mochilla? No idea!

    I hear you about the identity thing…I’ve written a lot about that over at Tiki Tiki..I’m not Latin enough for some, and not American enough for others and so what the hell am I?

    Well, I’m a semi-gringa chick who speaks Spanish…and who is trying to pass on a gift to her own semi-Latin, mostly-gringa daughter.

    Let’s keep going.

    And, if you’ve read this space,you know I have added a lot of my daughter’s Spanish through music and silly games. I feel that as long as she can pronounce well, she’ll be fine. I read that their ear “closes” around you have time.

    But, all that to say, I work with a few non-Latinas who learned Spanish in school and they speak beautifully. They give me hope for my own daughter.

    We just have to make sure they love the fun of Spanish, the crazy of the culture, and hope from there!


  7. I have issues with accents as well… and it does shake my confidence in my bilingualism. You’ve made a good point about reading Spanish literature. I’ve read maybe one book in Spanish in my entire adult life and simply glanced at newspapers. I’m going to make it a point, too, to read more in Spanish and maybe jump on the bandwagon to read Ficciones…
    Yazmin @ A Pretty Rock´s last essay ..La busca para libros de hoja cartón en español continua…

  8. Nikki says:

    I just stumbled across your blog via Spanglish Baby..I so relate to several of your issues here. I was raised bilingually, by parents who spoke/speak Spanish exclusively to each other…the best gift ever! I have a 12 month old and only in the past four weeks or so have I buckled down and began to speak to him only en español. It’s getting easier, but I can’t help but wonder sometimes…are my efforts futile? Will it matter? I will keep telling myself yes, but reading that others ask themselves the same questions somehow makes me feel better. I’ll keep reading..

  9. Nareen Rivas says:

    Carrie, Your post on raising bilingual children is something that I have been mulling over for some time. Even though I speak fluent Spanish and can read and write it I have to admit I get pretty confused as to where to put an accent and my higher level thinking and critical skills are communicated better in the English language. Why is that? Because academically I learned to express myself in the English language. Spanish is something that I do at home and with my family. I do think the key to making children proficient in another language is for them to read in that second or third chosen language. I can read to my son a beginner’s book in SPanish but beyond that I sound like an American girl trying to read Spanish. It doesn’t sound pleasing to the ear : ) It sounds awkward. I wish they automatically taught a second language in schools here in the US like they do in Europe.
    Until then I guess I can have my Spanish speaking relatives read to my son in Spanish in order to fill in the gap.
    Thank you for posting a very thought provoking post.
    Nareen Rivas´s last essay ..Hump Day Inspiration: True Heroism is…

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