Start the School Year Speaking Spanish

As a mom of two school-aged children, I feel the impending end of summer and the excitement and nervousness of a new school year. Many parents are concerned with having enough funds this year in the family budget for the normal back-to-school spending frenzy. While children concern themselves with the social aspects of the educational journey connected with the school year ahead. It is amusing to witness the differences between the two areas of concern, anxiousness and nervousness.

Often times this part of each year marks a renewed commitment to learning something with more intensity, more mastery than ever before. Be it on the part of the parent saying to himself or herself that they will stay more involved with the studies of their children, thus lending their wisdom and experience towards these endeavors. Or be it the child vowing to apply himself towards a particular area of studies he knows he has been slacking off in or the student who truly hopes to master a new language during the school year.

I will never forget sitting within earshot of a family one day at a local diner. The two teenage sons were discussing with their parents the coming school year and what types of classes they would be hoping to register for. The eldest son seemed keen on discussing his foreign language selection. He had chosen German, and the parents were still questioning him on why he felt that to be the best choice out of the languages offered at his high school.

It was all I could do not to turn around and provide my depth of wisdom and personal experience with having Spanish as my second language for more than thirty years. Here I am living in a country where Spanish is the most requested language program still to date, and this young man was adamant about German being the perfect selection for him. If I had heard foreshadowing of living in Germany, working with a company whose corporate office deemed German as a highly recommended second language, and then I would never have felt an urge to offer my two cents.

This particular family paid their bill, left the diner and never received my free, valuable input! I feel compelled, however, to share what was on the tip of my tongue that morning and remains there on a daily basis as I live the life of a person bilingual in English and Spanish.

With more than 45 million people living in our United States of America speaking Spanish as their native language, and with that number growing by more than 2 million annually, I see Spanish as a second language selection crystal clear! Spanish remains the second most widely spoken language in our country, and in the world it ranks as third. Mandarin is first, English is second and Spanish is third.

I know that the talk is wide spread about making certain your child learns Mandarin which is a dialect of the Chinese language. For many reasons, many of which are too political to bring up in this article based on helping parents and teachers, I will not succumb to that thought process or that notion. Why you might ask?

First of all I want to ask you, how often do you walk around your community or travel across this great United States of America and hear Mandarin being spoken compared to how many times do you hear Spanish being spoken? We all are very aware of the increase every year in our cities and our states in the Latino population. And as savvy parents and educators we realize that being bilingual is no longer an option, it is a necessity.

Again, without getting involved in a political debate about immigration and Latinos learning our English language, I want to stress that the point here is related to which language you and your family should choose to begin the school year with, which second language is going to make your travel through life more successful and full of better opportunities. Spanish is the natural choice for most of us, adult and child alike.

Secondly I would be remiss if I did not point out that the country in which Mandarin is spoken, China, continues to add negatively to the pollution of our world while choosing to spend more than three hundred million dollars on the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in which they are showcasing themselves as a world force to be contended with. I find it so unappealing to introduce their language into my home when I feel the ever-increasing dark shadow of their presence in our country.

With all of that being said, as controversial as it may sound to you, I hear parents and teachers around the United States recommitting themselves to helping provide their children a jump-start on becoming lifetime language learners. With that renewed commitment also comes an awareness of the imminent need to speak both English and Spanish in order to communicate, perform and succeed in our communities with our new Latino friends, colleagues and family members.

Start this school year with a positive outlook on what will make the future of your child even better. Latin? I think not in spite of it being the root of all languages. French? Perhaps, should your child be planning on working with a company connected with Europe or in the travel industry. Mandarin? Do not get me started! Spanish? Absolutely the number one choice still of parents requesting what their children receive along with the decisions connected with schools, both public and private.

Make it a great year ahead. Stay connected with your child, his school, her teachers and their studies. The more you show an interest in what they do daily in connection with their education, the more value they place on the time invested towards their future. A future that is proving to be a very global one. Happy educating to all!


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