When I was younger I took for granted all of the amazing things our culture had to offer because I was so busy trying to fit in with the rest.
I’m ashamed to say I was a part of the “No Hablo Español Generation”. I’m not sure if that’s really a thing but I know for a fact that many of us first or second generation Latinos went through this as we tried to assimilate and fit in this new culture our parents were raising us in. Many times the only way we figured we could fit in was to act like we didn’t speak Spanish.
I remember very clearly going through that phase where I pretended not to speak Spanish.
Yes, “PRETEND” is the correct word because I knew español. Maybe I didn’t know the big words or maybe some of it was mixed in with Tex-mex but I knew Spanish. My parents made sure that I grew up speaking Spanish in our home.
Regardless, this was my rebellion against my heritage, my culture, my roots and little did I know at the time but also “my story”. Many of us multicultural, bi-racial or first generation raised in the U.S. children know exactly what I mean to “rebel against our heritage”.
But you see it never struck me that no matter how much I tried to fit in I would never fit in with my “Breakfast Club” friends who had fair skink blond hair, freckles and blue eyes. As my mom would say, “Mija tienes el nopal en la frente.” Which basically meant you can’t hide that you’re Mexican. But I hoped maybe people wouldn’t notice my creamy brown skin, dark, long, thick hair and not so pretty dark brown side burns that fell over my ears.
Alas, there was no blending in not even by saying “no hablo español,” you still noticed I was not in any shape or form like “mis amigas.” If I said, “No hablo español!” then they would try to guess if I was Indian, Hawaiian, Indonesian…
One day I was standing in line at the store waiting to pay for some milk and bread my mother asked me to pick up. Well, the lady in front of me didn’t speak English, she was obviously frustrated and she kept looking back at me hoping that I would help her, (but remember I was pretending I didn’t know Spanish) so I dug through my purse and busied myself looking for gum, I knew I didn’t have. From that moment on I was done translating for people. I was done speaking Spanish. I was done speaking Spanish and then having others correct me because I said the wrong thing. I was done!
After a while, of standing there and watching the lady struggle I couldn’t pretend any longer. I remembered how I was raised. I was raised to be proud of who I am. I was raised to be kind. I was raised to stand up for others. I realized then that I didn’t translate for others just because I spoke two languages but because I was given a gift. The gifts of kindness, justice and speaking two languages. Suddenly I found myself talking to her in Spanish and helping her out with her transaction. Everyone around me commended me for being bilingual and for not being ashamed to use my Spanish (little did they know about my rebellion) and from that moment on I was done with my ridiculous “no hablo español” rebellion.
I’m glad I had that moment of realization because little did I know at the time, that in the future I would have so many more opportunities offered to me as a result of being bilingual. Not to mention, I would make a lot more money then my monolingual Breakfast Club amigas because I had a Master’s degree and spoke two languages.
Honestly, though speaking Spanish has many times filled me with lots of shame and doubt. Either because I don’t speak it enough or I don’t use the correct terms but I decided it’s part of my story whether it’s broken Spanish or elementary Spanish coming out of my lips–it’s part of who I am. My boys speak Spanish, though in our home we speak English but one of the ways I pass on my heritage to my children is by encouraging them to speak Spanish broken and all. So my hope is to find ways to make Spanish learning fun and get them practicing it. Below are some ideas that I have used and others that I can’t wait to try.
So friends whether you’re reading this and you’re raising kids who have rebelled against their roots. Or maybe Spanish has never been your first or second language but you want to give your children the gift of being bilingual. Wherever you may find yourself, I encourage you to find ways to get your kids speaking Spanish.
Spanish Language Activities for Kids
Spanish Day – Pick a certain day in the week when you’ll only speak Spanish for that day.
Conversation Jenga– This is such a fun game with random Spanish questions to get kids talking in Español.
Foreign Language Number and Color Practice Activity – This is another great way to turn a fun favorite game into a language building activity. You can even play the game in Spanish.
Jump Rope Rhymes – Not only are you learning Spanish with this game but you’re burning off some energy.
Mano Nerviosa Game – This game is on my list to try. She even has a video to show you how to play it.
Spanish Clapping Games– This is great for younger kids to practice new and old words through repetitive play.
Demolition Spanish Printable – This is a fun Spanish printable to go with the book–Demolition great for little ones who are reading.
All About Me Spanish Activity – Another free printable to get the kids practicing their Spanish.
I Spy– This is a favorite I’ve done with all of my kids in hopes to distract them from our hikes. What you say is “Yo Veo…” I spy… and then you describe the object. So if I wanted for my son to guess the red bird I would say, “Yo veo un animal dojo.” He then guesses if he doesn’t get it then I continue. “Yo veo un animal rojo que canta.” Or you can make it more simple and just say “Yo veo un pajaro rojo!” and he has to point to it.
Spanish book time – This is my favorite way to speak Spanish by reading a children’s book with my kids. Here’s a great list of popular bilingual books.
Headbanz game in Spanish – You can actually purchase it in Spanish or use the english version but play it in Spanish. Basically you give clues to the word until the person with the card on their forehead guesses the word.
10 Minute Spanish Challenge– I’ll share more about this tomorrow but for now basically you’re taking on the challenge to speak 10 minutes in Spanish every day with your children.
This article is a part of our Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month Through Latin America Blog Hop!
Throughout the month, go to Inspired by Familia to get the updated schedule and follow along. Here are the wonderful Hispanic bloggers participating Mama Latina Tips, Mommy Maestra, Embracing Diversity, Your Sassy Self, Hispanic Mama, Guapologia, Mama Educa, A Vivir LA, Inspired by Familia, One Post At a Time, La Cooquette, Spicy Latina Mom, Nerdvana Kingdom, LadydeeLG