Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My daughter Danielle started attending community college a few months after we arrived from Puerto Rico. Because we homeschooled, my children's native language is English. We spoke it at home, we watched movies in English, we attended an English language church, and it was the language they did all their studies in.

They understand Spanish and can speak it when necessary, but not as fluently as I would have liked. It is one of the areas where I believe I dropped the ball. I should have spoken more Spanish to them at home so they would be more fluent.
I believe all parents can look back and think of many 'should haves'. Oh well...

My children speak English with no prominent accent. Yet, when Danielle started school, she had more than one person come up to her and say, very slowly and enunciating every syllable, something to the effect of " W-O-W. Y-O-U-R E-N-G-L-I-S-H I-S S-O G-O-O-D." Mind you, my daughter has never had any type of hearing problem. After the first few times, she finally began to answer, no doubt smiling her biggest smile, "T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U. S-O I-S Y-O-U-R-S."

She understood that the people who told her that meant no offense. And it has actually become a point of humor for us. I am just surprised at the assumptions that people make based on where you live or lived, what your surname is, or any of the other cultural distinctions.

It is one of the things I have learned to deal with. Most of the assumptions are simply based on ignorance. We can get angry, but I don't believe that anger without action has ever eliminated ignorance. Or we can simply find the humor in such ignorance. But the best course of action is to educate people. Of course, some will always choose to remain ignorant. There is little we can do about those. But for those whose ignorance is based out of lack of exposure, we can gently teach them who we are and what we believe and do from our cultural standpoint.

So to those who still comment on our excellent command of the English language, as a former New Yorker, I thank you, especially because I still pronounce coffee as caw-fee.

1 comment:

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