Bilingual is Better
Feb
04
2013

Money as a Barrier to a Bilingual Life

Posted by:  |  Category: Daily Blog, Must Reads

15

 

Today, I’m writing about something that most of us don’t talk about: MONEY. Personal finances. Status.

Just typing the words makes me cringe because they are such taboo topics in this first world, competitive country. None of us likes to admit that we might be down on our luck, or that we can’t afford to keep up with the Joneses (or los López, as the case may be). This constant pressure is something we can get over when we’re talking about cars or jewelry, but when it comes to our children, we all want to have the means to give them every opportunity. What if lack of funds is a major barrier to raising a bilingual family?

I wouldn’t say this is the case with my family, since we are lucky that our children have exposure to lots of Spanish-speaking family members. However, it is a factor in our inability to send our children to camps, buy them quality bilingual books, and especially take trips to Latin America. By the time we pay for five flights, our vacation budget would be gone…that is, if we had a vacation budget.

To be honest, since my husband and I met and started raising our kids together, we have been dealing with the financial burdens of child support, debt from our respective divorces, and the everyday challenges that come with keeping up a house and cars. Even when we try to make cultural exposure or recreational activities a priority, it seems like we are the couple from the movie Up, constantly breaking open our savings jar because of some expensive emergency.

I’m sure lots of couples feel that way in this ongoing recession, but I never realized how much more depressing this (or, in many cases, true poverty) can be when you’re trying to show your kids that a second language is important. We don’t all have public dual immersion programs available, and we certainly can’t all afford tutoring or good bilingual movies and games. Sure, there are great children’s TV programs in Spanish, but what if (like us) you can’t even justify paying for cable? There are also lots of free apps out there, some of which we review at SpanglishBaby, but what if you don’t have a smartphone or an iPad? It can seem like there’s an expensive roadblock at every turn.

Aside from visiting the public library and reaching out to Spanish-speaking friends or family for in-home language support, what would you advise those who can’t set aside money to establish a bilingual life do to feel better about their children’s Spanish language exposure?

Regardless of the particulars of our financial circumstances, I think we could all use some creative ideas for stepping beyond the world of stuff and remembering that the true beauty of the second-language gift has little to do with purchasing ability. Share your tips in the comments so we can help each other to feel less inadequate and more inspired.

{Photo by slowdownfast.com}

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