I started this blog a year ago on Christmas. We were in Wisconsin and everyone was sick. This year no one is sick and the one family accident we had turned out okay (though it could have been tragic– a helmet saved a life and we’re thankful for that, so wear those helmets!).
My dad died 3 years ago– I miss him. I’ve read that in Mexican tradition the third and final death is when you are no longer remembered. But, how can I forget? My parents are part of who I am– they are a part of me. My dad had qualities that I wish I had. I hope that some part rubbed off on me, but there we are different too. He was outgoing. He could strike up a conversation with anyone. I’m terrible at that, I’m most comfortable with people I know and have a terrible time talking to people I don’t know. But, I do manage to get through lectures and through talks at conferences.
Here’s a picture of my dad and me (I have that chair in my home now, but it’s purple!). My dad was always proud of who he was and where he came from. He was proud of his language. I think that he instilled in me anyway a respect for my cultural background via use of Spanish. My brother, sister, and I are all bilingual. We have maintained connections with family who live in the U.S. and in Mexico throughout our lives. The ability to switch between languages has opened other doors for me as well. It certainly influenced my choice of career and my research interests.
Maintaining a home language is a critical way that children make connections with their family. I think that programs that encourage and support continued use of the home language are valuable in ways that go beyond the educational and cognitive advantages that are often talked about. Making emotional and personal connections is an important part of development that I think is also marked by the language(s) that we speak. And this aspect of development in terms of home languages is sometimes not thought about in making recommendations for language development in bilingual children with disabilities.
There are several blogs I read from time to time by parents who are trying to teach their children their language or a language which is not the majority language where they live. One is papaetpiaf. You can really see parent’s love come through in their descriptions of their interactions with their children, regardless of the language they are using.