Funny…as a Gringa (Stop gasping! The word is not a bad word!) I find myself so intrigued, moved, and inspired by the recent Associated Press article about how the Spanish language is being used incorrectly and sometimes even “slaughtered.”
Only yesterday I was talking with my neighbor from Ecuador, mainly in Spanish, and I told him as we said our goodbyes, “Yo tengo que practicar mi español” because I found myself struggling with some words while also asking Jorge what a few words meant that he used in normal conversation.
It’s that old saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” I continue to lose much of my acquired Chilean Spanish as I live in a predominantly English-speaking home and neighborhood. Many of my Latino friends refer to themselves as “acculturated” and I often ponder that word and wonder what it exactly means to the future of this beautiful romance language, Spanish.
Bottom line in all of this, whether it’s the slap on the hand delivered by the AP article or the glaring realization that many Spanish-speaking families feel their native language going by the wayside (or at least diluted by a strong English-only mentality still permeating our country in the United States), it’s the future generations at risk.
Children enter our public school system, knowing only Spanish and wanting desperately to fit in to a classroom where he hears only English. Imagine how his self-confidence plummets. Imagine how physically ill he must feel at times. Imagine yourself in this scenario at the tender age of 3 or 6 or even 10…Not a good visual is it?
SAVE SPANISH?!?! Want to know where to start? It has to start in the early years where these native Spanish-speaking children should be allowed to hear their native language woven into the classroom routine of their new English-speaking environment.
I am not talking dual immersion classroom here. Goodness knows our public school system will NEVER have the funding for that nationwide. I am simply talking about giving every teacher the tools necessary to sprinkle some Spanish vocabulary words and phrases into their daily classroom routine so that the Latino child benefits plus the other children in the class benefit by learning some Spanish while increasing everyone’s ability to become better readers, better problem-solvers and better communicators.
Happy Educating! ¡Sea feliz educando!