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Christina’s mother was just a year old when she emigrated to the U.S. with Christina’s grandparents. “She grew up, went to school here and learned to speak English as fluently as she did Spanish,” she explains. “My father, on the other hand, finished his education in Mexico and emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 19. While my mother could speak Spanish, reading and writing in Spanish weren’t her strong suits. So my father made it his goal to teach my sister and I to speak it fluently.”
Christina’s parents used an approach many experts tell advise parents to try when teaching their kids two languages – “one parent, one language.” Christina’s mother spoke with her in English, and her father spoke to her in Spanish.
Learning two languages offers many benefits. The list is long, but here are a few:
People who speak more than one language are in a constant state of multi-tasking. This extends to activities beyond translating words. Studies show functioning in multiple language makes you better at mastering multiple anything.
Christina is grateful that her parents ensured she is equally comfortable speaking English and Spanish – along with bigger view of the world and other brain-related advantages.
“Growing up, I knew that I had to speak to my mother in English and my father in Spanish,” she adds. “My maternal grandmother, who also spoke Spanish, reinforced my father’s teachings and gave me someone else to communicate with in Spanish.”
Do you have a story about being bilingual or its benefits? Share it with us in the comments below.
Originally published 9/28/2016; Revised 2023
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