Should You Teach Your Children Your Foreign Language?

I read a news story the other day about a woman with Latin American roots that was now living in an English-speaking environment.

She was distraught that her daughter wasn’t growing up with the same cultural traditions and customs that she grew up with in Latin America.

She was so upset by this that she felt it her duty to “force” these customs on her daughter, whether or not they had any cultural/family significance to her daughter.

It got me thinking about how many of us translators grow up and live in a world that is divided between cultures. Language is culture and when we speak more than one language, we undoubtedly have at least some emotional connection to the cultures housing the languages that we speak.

Those connections we have with two or more languages/cultures is what uniquely defines us. It affects us and makes us who we are.

And I wonder if we should “force” our children to have the same experiences that we have had, just because they were good for us.

Before I get any further, let me say this…

…teaching a foreign language to your child is not wrong and can be very beneficial…

…but is it something that we should “force” on our child without them having any say at all?

My children have grown up in a completely different culture/environment/location than I did. The way I grew up shaped who I became and I wouldn’t trade those experiences because I’m proud of who I am.

But just because I feel that way about myself does not mean that my children need to “follow completely in my footsteps.” They have their own experiences and cultures and language learning hat they are going through that are shaping who they are becoming.

So, bottom line.

If you want to pass on your cultures and language to your children, please do. Of course, children should definitely know where they come from and who they are.

But don’t do it because you think your children have the same experiences you did when you were growing up. Integrate your past with their present and they will learn to love both. And so will you.


If you want to know more ways to turn your second language into more money, read my book: Second Language, Second Income.

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