“Victoria – do you speak Spanish?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question at work. I’ve worked in multiple newsrooms, at multiple networks, and in different cities and states, yet the need for Spanish speakers is never equal to the amount of Spanish speakers in any workplace I’ve ever been a part of. As a matter of fact, there’s been times I’ve been used by other departments or shows because they needed someone who speaks Spanish and didn’t have someone on their team who did. I may sound naive, but it never ceases to amaze me.
When I took my SAT and ACT, I remember seeing words I had never read or heard of in English, but they resembled a word I knew in Spanish. I used my bilingual deductive reasoning to figure out the meaning. All of my closest friends are bilingual. Most people in Miami are bilingual. I honestly grew up thinking this was the norm. Clearly, I was incredibly mistaken.
Anytime I am reminded of what an asset my bilingualism is I think of my mother who made sure we not only spoke Spanish but proper Spanish. She always told us, “La persona que habla dos idiomas vale por dos,” which translates to “A person who speaks two languages is worth two people.” My Spanish skills are invaluable. (This is why I believe so strongly in our upcoming AzTech Games series as game changer. Back it on Kickstarter now if you haven’t already!)
Spanish is one of the most popular languages in the world so it grants me the privilege of learning about so many other countries and cultures. But, as discussed in a post I wrote about the benefits of bilingualism, this all goes way beyond that. Being bilingual helps better school performance, it makes you smarter (like our games!), and slows brain aging among other things.
There’s also the cultural doors it opens. No English-language songs ever give me the feels Spanish-language songs do. I remember a friend of mine from high school (who I met in Spanish class) posting a video of her little niece, who is about 4-years-old, singing along to a song in Spanish with all the joy in the world. We both later discussed how her niece would’ve never experienced that moment and that joy if she didn’t know Spanish.
Memories of my childhood with my mom and family in Honduras are all in Spanish. My mom always feared the idea of us not being able to communicate with our family and my grandmother if she didn’t insist on us speaking their language.
So many of my mom’s greatest words of wisdom get lost in translation. If I didn’t speak her native language, we would have a completely different relationship. I wouldn’t be the godmother of my adorable little cousin. I would’ve had a completely different career path and taste in music. I wouldn’t even be able to laugh at all the things I do because everything truly sounds better and more over-the-top in Spanish!
I wouldn’t be me.
This is why I firmly believe that the smartest thing my mother did as a parent, besides ingrain in us the importance of a college education, was to make sure we were fully bilingual. Gracias, mami.
At 7 Generation Games, we’re creating bilingual games for bilingual kids and to make more kids bilingual. Support that effort! Back AzTech Games on Kickstarter.