Ethnic Identification and the State of Being Entre

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As the rapid influx of Spanish speakers transforms the American populace, I stand between two cultures, two languages, two peoples, simultaneously grateful for and bitter about the prejudice that grows with the numbers. I think it is important that everyone experience being a member of the minority. Speaking Spanish has provided me this opportunity: under the guise of my gringa appearance, I carry around a sensitivity for and understanding of Latino culture that others don’t expect me to have. IRead More ...

Note to Self: ¡No Busques Perfección!

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Yes, I speak Spanish every day. Yes, I use it in a business and personal context. Yes, I feel muy cómoda switching to Spanish unexpectedly. So, why do I feel like my Spanish skills have stagnated? When I find myself explaining how to get past “the learning plateau” to a tutoring client, I am always reminded of my own relationship to the Spanish language. My job is to help others overcome that period during a course, test preparation, or languageRead More ...

Palabras: Excess and Absence

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I have always been somewhat anal about language – grammar and the like. I think if someone had told me when I was a kid (before I became bilingual) that the nouns I used were interchangeable with others that I had never heard before, I would’ve been…well, perturbed. This is why I am completely floored by my son’s ability to latch onto 2, 3, 4, or more nouns for every thing in his world. Isaiah doesn’t just move fluidly betweenRead More ...

The Eloquence of “Um…” (And Other Nonnative Setbacks)

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All parents are familiar with physical exhaustion, but some of us are even better acquainted with mental fatigue. My son, now almost 29 months old, requires more and longer explanations each day, and he is stretching my Spanish abilities to the max. Living in Orlando gives me plenty of practice with conversational Spanish, but spending every waking hour explaining the world in every grammatical tense and with as many particularities as an inquisitive kid requires drains me, to say theRead More ...

Tengo Miedo de Your Language

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“He’s confused.” This seems to be the refrain of my interactions with monolinguals these days. Talking is the big milestone for two-year-olds and would be the topic of conversation even if I weren’t speaking Spanish with my son. Because I am, though, it feels like a rather contentious subject. SpanglishBaby readers are already familiar with the debate over code-switching and its role in fluency. We know that experts confirm that mixing languages is a sophisticated linguistic skill, not a signRead More ...

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