Skip to main content

Does Bilingual Upbringing hold you back?

It took a long time for Maya to start speaking, unlike rolling over, which she did at three months, and walking, which she mastered by nine months. By two, she could only say a few words. Her lexicon included “Mama,” “no,” and “agua,” but not nearly as many words as her monolingual peers. She definitely didn’t have the 50-word vocabulary of the average two-year-old, and still had yet to string any words together to create phrases or short sentences. But I wasn’t worried, because I knew in bilingual households, it can take longer to acquire two languages than one, and slowly I began to see her understanding of both languages develop. 

Although we received some pressure to “Teach her English because she’s American” (yes, that’s a direct quote), my husband and I chose to persevere in her bilingual upbringing, with an emphasis on her Spanish language development, and for good reasons. 

Besides the obvious benefits of being able to communicate with 80% of the world, a recent study shows that babies raised in bilingual environments develop core cognitive skills like decision-making and problem-solving before they even speak. Another study shows bilingual adults have better executive brain functions, and there’s recent evidence that being bilingual is associated with a delay in the onset of symptoms of dementia. It’s inspiring to see research propose a “bilingual advantage” to combat the antiquated idea that lose who don’t speak English fluently are somehow less intelligent than those who do. 

Now as she nears her third birthday, Maya can chat nonstop. Most of her oral language is in Spanish, with a few of her favorite English words (like “fish,” “candy,” and “people”) peppered in. She also has some words she has made up that are neither English nor Spanish, and sometimes I’m able to translate those into something comprehensible, and sometimes not. (She still calls food “num num.”) She makes plenty of grammar and syntax errors, as most toddlers do, but as I watch her language ability begin to grow, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with pride, and pleased that we could give her one of the most advantageous gifts of all that will benefit her entire lifetime—bilingualism. 


Popular posts from this blog

Why my Children Won't Believe in Santa Claus

Tonight all across the world, children are waiting for Santa with bated breath. They've made lists of wants and perhaps written letters addressed to the North Pole, baked cookies, set out milk, and dream of sugar plums dancing in their heads. But not my children. Well, maybe the dreaming of sugar plums part, but definitely not the white beard, chubby and plump right jolly old elf part. Even before my two biological children were born, my husband and I made the decision to not deceive them with the narrative of Santa, and in fact, not give them any gifts at all on Christmas. Intrigued? Infuriated? Here's why... My husband is from Guatemala and was raised Jehovah Witness , and one of the tenants of that faith is a strict adherence to not celebrating anything here on earth. This includes not celebrating Christmas or birthdays , and not giving gifts to commemorate these days. While he isn't a practicing Witness right now (instead we attend Celebration International Church

Why We Don't Celebrate El Dia de los Muertos, either

El Dia de los Muertos, (The Day of the Dead) is often considered the Latin-American equivalent to Halloween, as it is a celebration that takes place every year on November 1st and 2nd throughout Latin America. But it actually has nothing to do with Halloween, and even pre-dates the Celtic Samhain, which is where our modern-day Halloween traditions come from.  The ancient indigenous Aztec people of Mexico celebrated the lives of past ancestors 3,000 years ago, and that month-long ritual was condensed into just a few days around the 20th century and is now known as the Day of the Dead. Today,  El Dia doe los Muertos is a time for Latinos to remember their dead loved ones and celebrate them, for it is believed that the souls of all people that have passed away return to Earth to check up on their families during this day.  But up until last night, I didn't believe El Dia de los Muertos was celebrated in Guatemala. Growing up in California with many Mexican-American friends, I was fami

Why My Daughter Won't Be Attending Preschool

There's no doubt that the first five years of a child's life are formative and indicative of later success throughout their lives. As an educator, I know preschool can play an important part in the cognitive and social development of toddlers. However, in this unprecedented time of pandemic life, social distancing and remote learning, sending your child to preschool is a personal decision that varies by family. And our family has decided not to send our daughter to preschool.  The research on the benefits of preschool is irrefutable, and there have been incentives for families to enroll their children in preschool since the 1960's and 1970's. Many BIPOC families have actually been targeted and encouraged to send their children to preschool, with HeadStart and other free programs available. According to a DOE report , access to high-quality preprimary education can be the key that unlocks education equality across races, geography and income.  With all of my experience a