Why I'm grateful for the gift of bilingualismRoxanna Sarmiento
It was the year I started fourth grade.
It wasn’t that big of a deal at first — I had learned some foreign words from TV, and I thought the second language was easy. The new school was really nice and I was excited to start.
But it didn’t take long for the tears to begin.
I was frustrated. The other kids had been reading and writing in two languages for far longer than I had, and I remember staring at the pictures in our strange and foreign textbook looking for clues. A picture of an old lady in purple and some cats sticks out in my mind for some reason. I specifically remember a very tearful math homework session — MATH! — why did I have to learn math in a stupid foreign language?
The language was stupid and useless and I didn’t see the point.
Thankfully, my mother, who didn’t speak the language, calmed me down and helped me with my homework.
“El inglés valdrá la pena,” she said. “English will be worth it.”
It was, of course. Fast forward a few decades and I make a living communicating in English, and occasionally Spanish.
And I am forever grateful.
In honor of Thanksgiving and the publication of Bilingual is Better (co-written by fellow Babble writer and friend Ana Flores), I’ve decided to share a few reasons why I’m grateful that my parents gave me the gift of bilingualism. I hope it inspires you to stick with learning a second language, or to encourage your children to learn as many different languages as possible.