Bilingual is Better

I Am The Mom Who Speaks Spanish

I volunteer in my boys’ classrooms when I can, and we make a point of going to school events. One of my favorite things to do when it comes to school, though, is just hang out. They’re still young enough to get excited when I have a day off and can come have lunch with them in the cafeteria, and when I pick them up at aftercare on the early side, I like sitting with them and the other kids at the table while they finish writing and drawing, or wrapping up games of chess and Connect Four.

In the beginning, I got a lot of strange looks from their classmates — because I would sit down and chat with my sons in Spanish. The confusion, though, immediately gave way to curiosity and I was peppered with questions. What language is that? Is that Spanish? I didn’t know they spoke Spanish. Where are you from? Do you speak any other languages? And they listened attentively to my answers. The boys and I only speak Spanish at home. I lived in another country when I was a little girl. I only spoke Spanish with my mother. My job is helping people who speak different languages understand each other. I learned French, too, in France and in Africa.

The part I didn’t expect, and the part I love the most, is that after the questions the floodgates open and I get to hear all about their experiences. My parents went to Costa Rica once! I spent the summer in Russia with my grandparents. I learned my numbers in Spanish in preschool. I love listening to them, and I love building on their questions. Okay, let me hear your numbers. Did you learn your colors, too? Do you know how to say “school” in Spanish? And on and on we go.

In their eyes, I have become The Mom Who Speaks Spanish, and I like it. There are a few children who I know speak at least some Spanish at home, and I’ve taken to only speaking Spanish to them, as well. I think of the adults who encouraged me when I was little and I wonder if some day it might make the tiniest bit of a difference. At the very least, I hope some of them might get excited about languages.

I was walking out of school one day last week and one of the second-grade boys came running after me. “Mrs. Lane? I forgot to tell you the other day that my grandmother used to be a Spanish teacher.” I smile at him and start asking questions. Do you know what grade she taught? Did she teach it in grade school or high schoolers? That is so cool, I’m glad you told me.

I am The Mom Who Speaks Spanish.

{Photo by woodleywonderworks}

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