Bilingual is Better

About: Elsie

Elsie Rivas Gomez is a mother, wife, teacher, and writer living in Pasadena, CA. She was born in El Salvador and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her first collection of poetry, Swimming in El Rio Sumpul, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her blogging over at MamaFeminista.

http://www.mamafeminista.com/

Twitter: ergomez

Xenophobic Attitudes Can Prevent Kids From Becoming Bilingual

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I heard this really interesting story on NPR the other day about Macon, Georgia public schools which are now becoming Mandarin immersion programs. While I thought this was a cool idea, I was shocked by some of the community reactions. There was anxiety on the part of some parents due to the fact that the Chinese instructors were being funded by local nonprofits backed by the Chinese government. NPR reported that, “Some parents see a Communist regime enacting its geopolitical agenda onRead More ...

Why I Don’t Want my Kids to Follow This Cultural Tradition

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If you grew up like me, you remember being pushed to give an abrazo to relatives you didn’t remember or who just plain gave you the heeby jeebies. I survived all those awkward moments, but I’m not planning to put my children through them. When Ana recently posted about piercing her daughter’s ears, it was the occasion for our first disagreement (friendly, of course). In explaining my reasons for not piercing my girls’ ears, I referred to my belief in bodily autonomy.Read More ...

Talking To Our Bilingual Kids About Skin Color

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I am one of six children. Like so many Latino families, we look like a spectrum of skin colors from very light/white to dark brown. Unlike some Latino families, we all have dark hair and eyes. Some of us get confused for middle eastern or european. My hair, with it’s big curls, is generally what helps people place my ethnicity as Latino, much more than my light skin. When I had a Salvadoran passport, I had to check either “negro”Read More ...

5 Spanglish Summer Reads for Young Children

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As the daughters of two writers and teachers, our niñas really can’t escape the world of words and books. They fill our bookshelves and theirs, spill out of drawers and pile up on most of the surfaces of our house!  One of our great joys is finding beautiful Spanish or English/Spanish bilingual children’s book for their collection. Since some of you might be embarking on summer reading, I thought I’d share some of our very favorites. Each of these isRead More ...

Explaining Culture to my 4-Year-Old

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What is culture? Marisol asked me that last week as we drove to preschool for the Cinco de Mayo celebration. It’s a simple question with a complicated answer. I found myself saying something like, “Culture is something a group of people share, usually from the same place, like a country, like food and music and, well, you know, like we speak Spanish.” I know — explanation fail. I’m still not sure how to answer her question. We share a culture, stemmingRead More ...

Small Changes Making Una Gran Diferencia In Our Spanglish Home

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Recently, I’ve been thrilled to notice an increase in Marisol’s Spanish vocabulary. Now, this doesn’t mean she is fluent in Spanish —we are most definitely raising Spanglishbabies in our family. It’s been a challenge to even get this far because I am the lone Spanish speaker in the home, and I’d call myself fluent only in limited settings. I am most definitely fluent in “baby Spanish:” Vamos a comer. ¿Quieres leche? ¿Dónde está el gatito? ¿Tienes hambre? But ask me to talk to you in Spanish about myRead More ...

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