As a kid, I grew up in a Hispanic household. Although I was born in another country, I was brought to the U.S. at the age of one and mostly grew up in Rhode Island. Occasionally, I went back to Guatemala to visit family for the summer. Because of that, my mom and dad were always strict about us speaking Spanish at home.
My mom more than anything was always yelling across the house, “Español!” whenever she heard my brother and I speaking English at home. She would keep a constant barrier between both languages so we could learn and practice our Spanish. She’d say Spanish at home and English at school. My mom would mainly do it because she wanted us to know how to communicate well with family in Guatemala. She wanted us to indulge and appreciate our culture.
I will always be grateful to my mother for being stern with us, and for teaching to speak Spanish growing up, especially in a world where knowing two languages is so crucial. It has helped expand my mind, thoughts, ideas, and knowledge. There have been many times when my mind gets tied in knots from going back and forth in languages but has helped to more flexible with it. It has inspired me to write and read more in Spanish because I want to be more diverse with my writing. Being an English and Journalism major has allowed me to study American and British writers, but people tend to forget that literature pertains to other languages too. It's insane to think about, but literature and words are endless. Its constantly going, and it makes me proud to be a bilingual speaker, a Guatemalan, a reader, and mostly, a writer.
In addition, I have had the influence of my brother who was a language major at the University of Rhode Island in Spanish, French, and Italian. Seeing him learn other languages and revel within other cultures has also affected my views on the world. It has sparked interests in studying abroad and exploring the world.
Knowing two languages has been so good to me, and has giving me double the opportunities I would have if I only spoke one language. I hate to choose between one language to the other because they have both benefited me in different ways. I can sometimes be very indecisive, but in situations like this, I don’t feel the need to choose one over the other. They have benefited me equally, and I support encouraging the same in other households as well.
Regardless if it's Spanish, English, French, Italian, German, Swedish, etc., the world is becoming more and more diverse so knowing another language is always great. It increases your learning ability. So, why not? I, myself, have now completed my second class in French, and I plan on continuing to practice on my own as well.
Note: Duolingo is a great way to start, and a fun way to practice and advance in other languages. Also, it was created by a fellow Guatemalan, so kudos to my people!