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El Espanol

I enjoyed reading this article because I took Spanish for five years and it felt like I could somewhat relate. ;) Anywho, down to business. Last week when I was volunteering, I randomly decided to ask some of the kids if they ever spoke English outside of school. They said that they spoke English sometimes in public, but rarely at home.
In this article, a Spanish family decided to start speaking only English around their kids in order to speed up their English fluency. This was a very good strategy and had great results; however, I don't believe that it was a good idea. After this family started using this strategy, their kids (especially Ricardo) slowly forgot their native language of Spanish. The family's relatives then frowned upon this and looked down on their family.
It's a good idea to encourage English in a Spanish household; however, it isn't necessary to completely turn away from Spanish. A person's background is important and shouldn't be put at risk. I believe that this family should have spoken both languages in their house. Therefore, the kids would learn English faster while keeping their native language.
I have a friend back in Fargo that was in a similar situation. Her family came from Vietnam when she was fairly young. When her family came to the United States, her parents spoke some English; however, she did not know any words. As she got older, the language in her house began switching to more and more English. Nowadays, the language spoken in her house is about half Vietnamese and half English. I think that this was a good strategy because she is still fluent in both languages. Also, she still practices some of her native culture.
I have always lived in the United States, so my native language of English has never really been threatened. However, I kind of wonder how long it would take me to forget English words if I were to move to a foreign country.

Alex Christianson

Comments

I completely agree with you, that it was sad that Ricardo had to lose much of his language. I wonder if the family could not have worked out some plan, like speaking English on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while speaking Spanish on the other days. That way both the kids and parents could develop their English language skills without sacrificing the gift of being bilingual. Unfortunately this was not the way it worked out. Although he no longer feels like an insider in America, if he ever chooses to go back to Mexico when he is older, he might have to go through the process all over again of learning the language.
It is definitely true that if you do not use a language it will go away. One of my best friends from Japan came to the United States for an entire year. By the time she left she was completely fluent in English along with her first language of Japan. Going back she was nervous that she would not be able to speak Japanese well, but now as she is recapturing the language, she is struggling in remembering the English she knew. As she plans to come back to the United States next year for college, she struggles with losing her language just like Ricardo did.

I agree with you. It is very important for students to speak English outside of their learning environment in order to gain better understanding of the language. This is a proven fact. People that go to a country learn the language much faster than those who learn it in the classroom. The same thing applies here. Those who speak English outside of the clasroom will be better than those who do not.