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Growing Up Bilingual In The Education System

Children are sitting at the table in the kindergarten and playing with toys

Growing up bilingual in the US was a big challenge for me. The older I got, the less I felt that I was able to express how I was feeling accurately. Little did I know that I was far from alone in that sentiment. LatinX families raising bilingual children with confidence in both English and Spanish continues to be a struggle. Especially so, when they confront US educational norms that instill insecurity in their child’s language ability. 

There is a massive demand for Spanish/English bilingual professionals. So why does the stigma of Spanish as a first language translate to language embarrassment for young learners? It seems to be a lack of understanding from the resources we trust to educate our children. These children primarily use Spanish at home while being encouraged to speak, write, and learn in English at school. It is the parents who are responsible for framing their child’s mindset around language. However, with outside competing interests, our society creates confusion and misinformation for these families and their kids. 

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In a recent podcast from Latino USA, Jeanne Montalvo asked her mother why they stopped speaking Spanish in the home when her brother was young. Her mother recounted that her son’s teacher had called her and insinuated that speaking two languages at home was confusing him and hurting his school performance. This seems like it would be an antiquated issue, but this kind of misinformation is still being spread today in various forms. 

As adults and eventually parents, these kids will ultimately decide whether or not to rekindle their fluency of the language and raise their children in a bilingual home. Listen to the full story from Jeanne Montalvo in the podcast below.

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Lo Boutillette

With deep ties to music and the arts, Lo is constantly inspired by her Latin Americana roots and the spontaneity of New York City. When she isn’t planning and perfecting her productions you’ll find her tending to her rose garden with her dog Bella.

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