Being Billingual

I check popular childcare job postings on a pretty regular basis and I am finding more and more that parents are looking for bilingual nannies. The family I work for now did not have that as a requirement when I was hired but I have to say, knowing Spanish has been a lifesaver since I work in an area with a high Spanish population.

A while back I had a conversation with Jay, the 10 year old I watch. He came home saying a phrase that took me by surprise. Jay has been bullied in the past but this really hit hard. He said some boys at school kept repeating “Tu es feo y estupido.” “Espero que morir” y “ir al infierno” to him. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish the translation is this: “You are ugly and stupid.” “I hope you die” and “go to hell”. People, these are elementary school kids…

My heart broke.

I am by no means bilingual but I do have 5 years of Spanish classes under my belt.  (I still sound ridiculously white and can not roll my rrr’s)..regardless I know enough to ask questions and comprehend when someone is being rude. I told Jay never to repeat what they said but didn’t translate for him. I talked with the mom, who emailed the teacher and called the principal.

The worst part was knowing Jay didn’t understand what they were saying. He thought they were welcoming them into their group.. Kids can be so hurtful.

Now Jay is obsessed with Spanish culture, language, money and people. He wants to travel to Mexico when he is older and speak the language. I am conflicted with teaching him the basics of Spanish since I know I might be adding fuel to his burning passion to learn but I am an advocate for children learning multiple languages. It has been shown to improve cognition and knowledge as well as compassion and the ability to communicate with people around the world; all which are important in our ever changing, more globally connected world.

When asked or as a reward for getting his homework done quickly, I will translate certain words like homework-la tarea,  boy-el nino or good job-bueno! or exelente!

I think it is a good compromise to my dilemma. What do you think? Share your stories and comments!

2 thoughts on “Being Billingual

  1. It’s so sad that Jay is getting bullied, but to be honest I don’t think that is a reason not to encourage his interest in Spanish. Hopefully the principal will be able to deal with the bullies, and maybe taking hold of his new interest might give him some confidence to know whether or not they are still being mean about him (I know I was always paranoid if I couldn’t tell what people were saying and thought they might be talking about me). The bullies won’t be able to use it as a weapon any more, and as you say it is always useful to be bilingual!

    • Very good points. I think sometimes you get so connected to a situation your perspectives get clouded. It is great to have other people’s opinions. Thanks 🙂

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