Image source: Speculum Mundi

Editor’s note: We continue our coverage of NPR’s special series “Two Languages, Many Voices” with a preview of today’s story, which will air on Morning Edition, related to bilingual families and technology. 

Access to the internet and being able to afford a computer doesn’t necessarily mean one can make use of either. This is the case for many Latino immigrants in the United States.

The Bilingual Families and Technology report in the NPR series, “Two Languages, Many Voices: Latinos in the U.S.” gives us a glimpse into what it’s like to live in today’s world without being able to access things that are now increasingly available online.

The problem for the immigrant parents is two-fold; Often times not only do they not know how to use the technology, but lack of English skills plays an equal role — That’s where the children come in.

Without the help of their bilingual children, many parents would not be able to use online bill pay, get driving directions, assist with homework research, or find local businesses. The bilingual children of immigrants, with a foot in each world, have traditionally always shouldered a lot of responsibility in helping non-English speaking parents, but that is even more so today.

I love this report by NPR because I’ve seen this same scenario play out in my own home. While I’m a native English speaker and I can cruise the internet with ease, my husband, a native Spanish speaker from El Salvador who had very little experience with computers upon arriving in the United States, has often needed assistance.

Over the years my husband, intelligent and determined as he is, has learned a lot. He speaks English proficiently enough that he is now attending a college level class for the first time, and he now knows his way around the world wide web. However he would be the first to admit that he didn’t get to where he’s at without the help of our bilingual children clicking the mouse for him every now and then.

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