Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Early Halloween celebrations? Nope. Just a stop off at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Which leads me to my rant today.

While waiting for our waitress, we were teaching Megan how to say various foods in spanish...papas fritas (french fries), hamburguesa con queso (cheese burger), cerveza (beer), you know, the basics. When our waitress showed up we innocently asked her what the spanish word for pumpkin was as Megan had told us that she learned it in spanish class that day but couldn't remember it. (I, on the other hand, had seven years of spanish in high school and I don't think that's a word that I ever learned.) (It's calabaza, by the way.) Of course Megan had to count to 10 for her as well. (She'll sing it for you too.)
The waitress proceeded to tell us that she too has a daughter in kindergarten and that she had to enroll her daughter in english classes. You see, she has never spoken to her in english and upon entering school her daughter couldn't say or recognize a single word.

Maybe I shouldn't have been, but I was taken back by that. Here we are, proud of Megan for learning another language and yet this woman, who lives in the US, sends her daughter to an english speaking school, couldn't be bothered to teach her child a single english word?

See, when we found out that Megan would have spanish class every Friday in school, I was happy about this. Bill on the other hand? Not so much. I look at it as a good thing. Everyone should know a different language and in fact, I wish that I had retained more and used what I learned in those seven years more frequently.

But the conversation we had with our waitress simply reiterrated Bill's point and irritation about this subject. We're completely behind a parent's wish to ensure that their child can speak their native language and of course they would want to maintain their family's culture as well. But you live in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Where we speak ENGLISH!! If you are going to live in this country, learn the language and use it!! Then go home and speak spanish, french, german, italian, yiddish, whatever, to your little heart's content. And don't ask me on a phone call to press 1 for english or 2 for spanish...just continue speaking in english and give the option for an alternate language. I shouldn't have to choose!
Maybe I'm being a bit too regressive on this issue. I look at other countries where english is splattered all over the place, on products and in public places, and think nothing of it. Am I being a hypocrite? Perhaps.

To top it all off, this woman was quite fluent and spoke with barely a hint of an accent. So I assumed that she was sharing this story with us because perhaps she had a tinge of regret for speaking to her daughter solely in spanish for the past 5+ years. Perhaps she now saw how maybe some english (and I'm being generous by saying "some") would have been a good thing to help ease her transition into kindergarten...in an english speaking school... After she told me how her daughter was progressing and that she had begun to pick up the language fairly quickly, I asked her if she now spoke to her in english a little more often to help out with the learning curve. Her response was, "no", with a big, content smile on her face.

And we wonder why spanish is predicted to become the predominent language spoken in our country...
**UPDATE** Yes, I know that there are not 7 years in H.S. No, I did not fail math during that time frame either. I had 1 year of spanish in elementary school and then another 6 beginning in 7th grade. I was just too lazy at the time of the post to clarify this so I lumped it all together. Next time I will not be so general with my information in order to keep everyone informed properly. (By everyone, I mean BILL.)


Anonymous said...

As your husband it worries me that you had seven years of Spanish in HS. Either you lied to me about your age, or had a very long tenure in HS.

Kimono Karen said...

Amen, sistah! Oh wait... is ebonics acceptable form?

I'm with you though. I hate that the Spanish language is taking over. It's wonderful that our children are learning a second language, but it should not be because no one else bothered to learn the national language of the country they live in.


Lisa said...

Ha ha - very funny Bill. One of those years was in elementary school. I guess I could have just written "school" but must have had HS stuck in my mind. Either way - I had 7 years of learning this stuff.

And no, I did not lie...I really am only 25 years old...

MP said...

I agree w/ you 100%..I grew up in an Italian area..and when I was young there were ALOT of immigrants. There was nothing worse than holding the entire class back because these kids living in the US didn't know how to count in English. I think the TV taught most of them. He the TV (PBS) tought me my first Spanish words!