Raising Bilingual Children: From ‘La Isla’ to NYC

Image: Flickr / creative arts in education


From Puerto Rico to New York City

Everything is almost set!  It looks like my family is packing bags and moving to the Big Apple in just a few months. As excited as I am to live in such a diverse and magnificent city, one fear seems to trump everything else…the question of whether my daughters will stop speaking Spanish.

First of all, I want to say that for those struggling to raise bilingual children in the United States, hats off to you. I am sure there is no harder task. But I am in complete denial about this. I refuse to believe that my daughters could potentially lose their native language, something that my husband and I consider a significant, if not the most important, element of our culture.


Raising Bilingual Children in the U.S.

Adding to the pressure is everyone else’s opinion on the subject. I had one person tell me it’s almost impossible. One other said they will be speaking like “gringas” (his words not mine).  My daughter’s teacher tells tales of her nephews coming back to Puerto Rico after a year of being in the United States and not remembering a word of Spanish.

Our concern has been such that we are already devising a preemptive plan. Buy or rent as many children’s movies as possible on DVD so that the girls can watch them in Spanish. Find and place them only in public bilingual schools. Send the girls off twice a year for a sort of family language boot camp in Argentina and Puerto Rico where none of their relatives speak English.  And of course, no English allowed at home.
But the questions remain…will I bow down to pressure?  Will I give up like I’ve seen other people do? Can I live with that guilt? What else can I do to avoid what seems to be an inevitable destiny?

I would love to get your reactions on the subject. What strategies have worked for you? Is it a lost battle? Should I be as concerned as I am? What would you do if you were me?



  1. dariasmusic says

    I totally sympathize. My daughter and son UNDERSTAND Spanish, but won't speak it back to me. I still hope it has settled into their brain, one day to bloom again! Please keep writing on this subject!

    • MariTereMolinet says

       @dariasmusic Thanks for your comment. Yes, I will definitely keep writing about this and our progress with this battle, especially after we move back to continental USA.

  2. says

    I am a "gringa" living in Cancun. My husband is from Cuba, and our two-year old son is well, a Mexican Cuban-American? haha I have the opposite issue. I am trying to make sure he learns English. Almost all of his DVDs are in English and I speak English to him but obviously at daycare (or la guardaria) Spanish is spoken and Papá speaks Spanish to him. He doesn't even call me "Mommy" most of the time. I am Mamá, something I never expected to be called! :) His newest thing: when I say "two" he says "no dos". Will he learn English? I am keeping the faith and standing my ground…"nooo, TWO". :)