Did your parents teach you their native language?
My dad was born in Mexico but came to the USA with his parents and brothers when he was 7 years old. Although he grew up here in the USA, he still continued to speak spanish with his family. He grew up speaking spanish and is fluent, but unfortunatley never taught me or my siblings spanish, besides a few words or phrases that he would use here and there. I grew up hearing spanish but only when my dad spoke to my grandparents or if we were out at a mexican restaurant or maybe with some random people here and there. He hardly speaks spanish anymore since my grandparents passed away. His fluency has declined alot over the years but still speaks it pretty good.

It frustrates me that he couldve taught me spanish when I was a kid but for whatever reason chose not to. I've never asked him why but maybe I will, I just would like to know if there is a reason.

Anyone else in that same situation? Im just curious, what do you guys think about parents not passing down their native language

Oct 7, 2016 11:40 PM
Comments · 5


October 8, 2016
He probably thought he would make you a service by learning English as your first (and only) language, maybe he was afraid that learning you Spanish would somehow diminish your chances to become fluent in English. I believe this is very common, or was, in the past anyway. In those days they viewed second languages as less important, the globe wasn't as interconnected as it is today so if you were in one country, you rarely had anything to do with people from other countries. I remember when I was around 11 or 12 and saw a Norwegian (I'm Swedish) newspaper for the first time and thought it very exotic. In those days, you spoke the language of the country you were in, fair and square, and that's that. Very much unlike today's world where you have to juggle several foreign languages and in my case especially English which is required to almost fluency level by most employers. In any case, I once took a "total immersion" class in French. In that school, you followed classes at your level, and I specifically recall an American who came there and stayed for three weeks. He could not speak a word of French when he arrived but after three weeks could explain all of this to me himself, and to do so in French, a language he hadn't been able to speak three weeks earlier. (Very impressive.) This might be something you could consider looking into to get yourself a head start. 
October 8, 2016

I am not in the same situation but I have noticed that this seems to be very common in the U.S.  In my city about 10% of  people are Hispanic and about 90% of those are of Mexican descent. Despite this, I find it much easier to find people to speak Spanish with here on italki than to find Spanish speakers to practice with my community.    Some immigrants from Mexico teach their children Spanish but the next generation, especially,  very rarely appear to pass their language down.  

I once had a conversation with my waitress at a restaurant. She told me she taught Spanish to her son as his first language but that when he took Spanish in high school it was his most difficult course because Castillian Spanish is taught in our schools, which was different than the Spanish she taught him at home. I later talked to a Spanish teacher who told me that children whose first language was Spanish taught to them by their Mexican parents almost always did poorly with Spanish as it is taught in our schools unless they take one of the few classes specifically designed for native speakers.  She told me she just had her first student who earned a B in her 5 years as a full-time Spanish teacher.  She said this was primarily because the children of immigrants from Mexico tended to be embarrassed about speaking Spanish in front of their native English speaking peers and will not participate in class.    

It appears to me that most people who immigrate here from any country tend to be working hard to improve their life and to fit into the wider culture and tend to prioritize that above passing on their native language. At first I thought this was not good and did not understand why Mexican people did not pass on their language, but then I realized most everyone does that in the U.S.--- my Swedish/Norwegian grandparents did not appear to try much to pass their language on here either.    

October 8, 2016

And pass on the Spanish language to your children.

There are millions of us around the world in the same situation.

One community that impresses me are the people from India or of Indian decent. They manage to impart their culture and language to their children in a way I find quite amazing. The other is the Polish community.

My father spoke another language, Ghaa but I felt he used it to keep secrets from us...LOL!

October 8, 2016

Yes partly the same.

My late father felt that learning multiple languages would be confusing for a foreign(I used the word..LOL!) child in the UK and make it difficult to integrate.  Hence he always spoke in English unless we were in trouble. My mother, on the other hand, didn't speak English and would always speak in Twi, one of the languages of Ghana. So I and my younger UK-born siblings understood everything, but couldn't speak fluently. This all changed with long trips to Ghana and ruthless relatives..LOL!

Today, we speak Twi with my elderly mother, but with an English accent.  She ridicules our errors but we return the favour when she speaks English.

Your father would have gone through hell learning English as I did and probably wanted to protect you from that. So don't blame him.  He probably had much more pressing things to deal with and perhaps felt he couldn't teach you. 

It is sad, but all you can do is improve your Spanish, start speaking with him and enjoy your time together.

Ask him!

October 8, 2016
Language Skills
English, Spanish, Yucatec Maya
Learning Language
Spanish, Yucatec Maya