Is your child embarrassed by your Spanish, Cuban, Mexican or Puerto Rican accent? Young people do not want to be different. Youngsters wish to belong, especially to the country and to the culture they were born into or have adopted. They are true conformists and their parents and grandparents who do not have fluency and a certain dexterity in English make them feel ashamed, uncomfortable, and embarrassed in front of their peers.
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Long ago, some of my college classmates avoided taking me to their homes because they were embarrassed by their parents’ lack of mastery of the English language. I had that impression because I was often asked to wait in the car while they went indoors to get something we needed: a book, money… whatever. But keeping me outside did not keep me from hearing one of their parents come out and shout something in broken English with an Italian, Slovak, Czech or Bulgarian accent.
I myself was chagrined to hear my aunt talk to the neighbors in a lingo that had little to do with the English language. When we went to downtown Pittsburgh, to a restaurant or shopping, I made desperate efforts to keep her mouth shut, lest waiters or salespeople would hear her disconcerting accent and grammar, which truly mortified me. The supermarket Giant Eagle was simply Chainigo to her.
We must make allowances and be understanding, of course, but at the same time we have to instill in our children that other languages and cultures are nothing to be ashamed of, on the contrary. Tell them that even though your English is not perfect, you have two languages at your command, and that other parents do not have this option and must do with only one language and one culture. Tell them that, in this day and age, the more communication tools we have, the better off we will be.
If you manage to make them proud of the fact that their parents speak more than one language, they will respect you and be proud of you in front of their friends. And at the same time do try to master the language of your adopted country by making an effort to study and improve it. Everybody will be the winner.