Spanish at Home, and Out
If you read the last blog, you will remember that we talked about the challenges of younger people communicating with family at home. If you, or young people you know, are struggling with this, you should keep reading.
To reflect about the issue, I will tell you about an anecdote. The other day at a restaurant I happened to sit by a big Hispanic family. It was a Mexican restaurant and they were having a great time, plus the food was delicious. I observed how they interacted. The four kids were very lively, a bit loud. They spoke sometimes English, very well, and uttered some words in Spanish here and there. This felt normal to me as it is a very familiar dynamic among friends and even family.
The father, in broken English, enjoyed joining the conversation dominated by the children. But the mother hardly spoke. She would smile occasionally, but unlike him, she hardly spoke. She seemed used to it, staring away sometimes, missing out on what were some funny, and silly, family anecdotes. What was supposed to be a fully bonding experience was leaving her out half of the time.
Does this sound at all familiar? I am sure. If you don’t live it yourself, you probably have seen it, at some restaurant, or at home.
If you or someone at home is struggling to keep mom, or grandma, in the loop, there are a few fun rules that you can implement to brush up your communication at home.
• “Only Spanish at Home”: Make a concerted effort to only speak Spanish at home. It is good for everyone. People at home will be your best teachers and they won’t judge you. You can ask as many questions as you want. They will be happy to help you. And mamá or your abuelitos will thank you for it. It also strengthens your bond with them. Try it!
• Teach a friend Spanish: You know Spanish. Weather you know a little or a lot, why not share it with someone who wants to learn. This gives you the opportunity not only to teach someone else, but to learn as you teach. Make it fun.
• Read a book: Pick a Spanish book, a children’s book, any book. Even if you don’t understand it 100%, it will give you a sense of the Spanish in writing. As you find new words, ask others about them, or look them up, and use them in sentences as you would in a school exercise.
• Listen to Spanish music: Spanish music has one of the greatest varieties in the world. If there is a genre or a type of music you like, Spanish has it. Listen to music you enjoy, learn the words, look up the words you don’t know, sing it.
• Watch some Spanish television: For kids and young adults, t.v. time should be limited. But in your tv time, make sure to pick at least one program in Spanish. Go for the educational programming, or even cartoons to make it fun.
It’s just like school, the effort you put into it will determine how much difference it makes in the long run. Make sure you make it fun and interesting. It will not only help your communication with family members and friends, it will also help your self-esteem and broaden your horizons. Dare yourself and enjoy the ride.
Speaking more Spanish will give you more confidence and will open many exciting cultural doors that you did not know existed. Discover the joy of speaking Spanish with your family so that mom does not have to be left out. In time you can be speaking fluent Spanish at home, and out.