One of the first signs of assimilation, in first and second generations of Latinos in the U.S., is the loss of one’s native language. Those of us whose parents were immigrants or who are immigrants ourselves remember that minute fact a little more clearly than our counterparts whose relatives immigrated several generations ago.
Acculturation has been happening to immigrants from various countries for decades. Just go visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in New York City and see for yourself. In fact, if you are really interested in the history of immigration, check out any immigration museum in another country and you will notice a definite trend. I made it a point to visit the one in Buenos Aires a few years ago and the headlines on the newspapers articles, the immigrants, and the reasons why they transplanted to Argentina along with the struggles and outcomes were all too similar to the stories I have witnessed in America.
Before Sabrina (almost 3 months old now), came into our lives, my plan was to speak Spanish at home. Since having her, several things have happened and one of them is that I find myself using Spanish more outside of our home! My plan was that anything would be accepted outside the home because English is everywhere. I came to the conclusion that speaking Spanish outside my home is one of the main ways I have subconsciously preserved my family’s language.
The subconscious daily practice makes me feel like I am assuring that Sabrina will learn it too. Maybe its because my perspective of English is that of an invasive one. Just the other day I was asking a friend from Argentina how to say entrepreneur in Spanish, she said, “Emprendedor pero usamos la palabra entrepreneur.”
See! Invasive. It creeps into the Spanish vocabulary even in its original form. No wonder the French limited the use of English signs in public spaces! I swear, I read that somewhere. Either way they certainly have a reputation for preserving anything “French,” so it wouldn’t surprise me if what I read was true. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating being that my motherly priorities have kicked in, but English is everywhere. My sister saw it in the streets in Beijing years before the Olympics. Mind you, she was teaching kids as young as two to speak English on a daily basis. She also found a way to teach some students Spanish. So, it seems as if the use of Spanish is evolving in daily use just as much as English. I guess you can say you can try and implement a plan but how it actually pans out is a different story.
Ok, so what about our choice to use French? We are still working on how we will ultimately introduce it to Sabrina. So far my husband reads our one and only children’s French book, Babar: La fete des couleurs, every once in a while. Me on the other hand, well…
I finally checked out and started listening to Pimsleur French Language Program CD’s. (Thank goodness I took Beginning French last fall because CD’s are totally a different way of learning a foreign language and the class has given me the foundation I needed.) We are also slowly building Sabrina’s library. One of our readers even shared the following site with me to purchase more children’s books in French: www.frenchbooksonline.com/index.html
Just like our little one, I have a feeling that our strategies to teach her three languages will also grow and change over time to suit our needs and personalities. In return, I would like to think I am raising a global citizen not just a multi-lingual individual, but who really knows. I’m just a new mommy with a different or possibly a very common perspective?