I recently got a huge response for my post about how my husband Aron doesn’t speak English, and thought I would add some thoughts while they are still fresh in my mind.
Earlier this week, I spoke with a very nice woman — perhaps in her 60s — about some of the sentiments my family has had during our transition to life in the U.S. I knew I shouldn’t have let it slip that Aron only speaks Spanish. I ended up listening to her briefly inform me that it will be necessary for him to learn English, and that while he is working in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant he will not get the opportunity to branch out and learn our language.
Sigh. Instead of sarcastically complimenting her on her novel idea of cultural/language immersion, I respectfully bit my tongue.
I think this would be a good spot to mention that tomorrow we will be celebrating our first anniversary of entering the U.S. as a family! Go us!! This was a feat of sorts, but I will get into the details of that at another time.
So first of all, the reasons Aron works at a Mexican restaurant are these: the owners of the restaurant are great people, and the place is literally about 2 blocks away from our home — very helpful, since we only have one car, and Aron can walk out of the house four minutes before he has to be at work and still make it on time. It was a chance for him to make some more money for us, and it was too convenient to pass up. Oddly enough, Aron has actually been learning some English back in the kitchen because the food preparation information is all in English. Go figure. That’s not as good as being fluent, but I would not expect him to be fluent after a year anyway. I wholeheartedly embrace those baby steps.
Aside from what I have discussed previously about our reliance on Spanish to maintain our relationship, and to keep the Mexican culture flowing through our home, one thing to know about Aron and me is that we put our 3 year-old son D’s education on the front burner. That doesn’t mean we sit down with little D and pour over a pile of flash cards every day for hours on end. That does mean, though, that we are concerned about shaping his verbal, mechanical, intellectual, and social skills. One of the main things we emphasize is the need for D to speak English and Spanish fluently, with an appropriate accent for each. The amount of time we spend with D, along with devoting time to our grown-up jobs and normal life events, takes priority over what Aron and I do for ourselves. That means it is more necessary for D to be listening to authentic Spanish in the household than for us to be focusing on Aron’s English.
Another thing I take into consideration when measuring our efforts regarding my husband’s verbal ability is that I know what it is like to be in a place that is far away from, and drastically different from, where I grew up. Dissimilar cultural immersion can take a physical and emotional toll on a person. Heck, I feel like I was on-and-off a crazy person the entire 4 years I was living in Mexico. I felt relieved to listen often to music in English, to bond with friends who spoke English, and to watch U.S. TV shows; and I know I am not the only traveller who has experienced this. So let’s ease off a bit on the language force-feeding. It will come with time. We may be able to scrounge up the money to get Aron into some language courses at the state college soon, but for now we are doing our best.
We are still working out the snags in our methods, but I really love where we are headed as a family.
Check out the link below for an easy-to-read brief (for those of us who are lazy or who don’t care to allot too much time for interpreting demographics) from the U.S. Census Bureau to find out more about the Hispanic population of the U.S. Based on the trends, it’s interesting and exciting to think about how society will be changing over the upcoming years!