The U.S. does not have an official language, yet English certainly plays a vital role! I would be lying if I thought it wasn’t a necessary part of an individuals’ linguistic repertoire in order to succeed in this country. That being said, children at an early age pick up on the high status English carries in their everyday interactions.
My nena, for example, already pegs anyone outside her home as “English-speaking.” I have very few friends and family that, in my nenas eyes, are Spanish speakers or bilingual (even though most of my friends are bilingual) because of the status English plays in her interactions with them. For these simple reasons alone I make it a point to attempt to increase the status of Spanish in our everyday lives.
One very strategic move I have made is to make sure all of her doctor visits are with Spanish-speaking, hence bilingual, practitioners. I am even willing to drive out of my way to make sure she see’s a bilingual doctor. In fact, I prefer for them to be female as well. I guess you can see my motives are two-fold. I want her to have role models she can identify with as she develops her identity as a bilingual Latina.
Recently we took her to her first dental appoint. It was important for me to find a Spanish speaking pediatric dentist because we had been talking about what dentists do entirely in Spanish and I wanted my daughter to make the connections we had talked about at home once she was seated in front of her actual dental practitioner. I called at least four different pediatric dental offices and solicited information from my friends on facebook to find a doctor closer our home.
Just like searching for the ideal bilingual school environment, I learned that there are other aspects of choosing the right doctor for my daughter. These aspects include considering whether or not the staff is kid-friendly and if the office had a ambience that made children feel comfortable. Well, all in all, we were lucky to find Texas Tooth Fairies Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Singletary, a Venezuela native, and her staff were amazing. Not only did my nena get her teeth cleaned without a problem she actually LOVED the experience, as did I, because it was mostly in Spanish.
What are some strategic moves you have made to increase the status of Spanish in your everyday interactions?