The topics of bilingualism and the state of the Spanish language in the United States have been in the news a lot lately.
A couple of weeks ago, an article I worked on over the summer titled “Can Spanish survive in the U.S.?” was published on USA Today’s Hispanic Living magazine, as you can see in the photo of the cover above. It’s an article I truly enjoyed working on because it was incredibly interesting to delve into the history of Spanish retention in the United States. I had the opportunity to interview several people with completely different stories who helped me understand how difficult it can really be to pass on your heritage language.
One of my favorite interviews was with Oregon State University Professor Susana Rivera-Mills, an expert on Spanish language usage in the U.S., who told me something that has stayed with me ever since our interview this summer: “The home, by far, continues to be the last and strongest enclave for language to be transmitted from one generation to the other. And when the home is eroded, then that transmission becomes weaker and weaker.” Hearing that reminded me how important it is for my husband and I to continue to be committed to making Spanish the only language we speak at home, especially as our kids get older and things get more complicated.
On another note, and although it was to be expected, I was a bit saddened to see so many negative and utterly ignorant comments about bilingualism, how this is America and everybody needs to speak English and how nobody cares if Spanish disappear. When will this people understand that bilingual means two languages and that speaking Spanish (as one of your two languages) doesn’t make you less American?
Besides the USA Today article I wrote, I was also interviewed about the topics of bilingualism and whether the Spanish language will survive in this country by both EFE, the Spanish international news agency, and CNN. Here are the links in case you’d like to check them out:
Unfortunately, all three articles seem to point to the idea that more and more Latinos are speaking less and less Spanish. While this seems hard to believe considering the ever-growing community we’ve created through SpanglishBaby, the notion just makes us feel even more committed to providing the necessary tools, information, resources and support to parents who want to give their kids the gift of bilingualism.
How much truth do you think there is to the notion that Spanish is a language in danger in the United States?