Better late than never: a monolingual parent's journey… | Sol Book Box


Better late than never: a monolingual parent's journey to a biliterate family


As a child, like so many of my non-native, language learner peers, Spanish was mostly an academic exercise. It was something I studied in school – an abstract skill to be learned, rather than a living, breathing part of my identity. Unlike my colleague Karina, I didn't have the immersive experience of living in a Latiné community. My friends were almost exclusively monolingual, and despite being a good student, language learning never came naturally to me. So once I took my final Spanish class in my freshman year of college, I largely put the language on the shelf next to Astronomy and Intro to Statistics.

It wasn’t until 20 years later that I fully grasped what I was missing.

In 2018, when exploring elementary school options for our first born, we submitted an application to our local dual language charter school...almost on a whim. When she was accepted, the wave of congratulations we received from other parents in the community honestly took us by surprise. Was this something we should do? My wife and I had so spent so little time in our adult lives thinking beyond our monolingual world view, this was new terrain to be sure. But with encouragement from friends, we took the plunge.

Flash forward six years later, with two young children now thriving in immersion school, I’m beyond grateful for the opportunities it has provided them, not just as a means of communication but as a gateway to understanding different cultures and perspectives, and a lifelong tool for navigating an increasingly globalized society.

My daughter with some favorite books. ♥️

Seeing my kids learn and grow in two languages fills me with pride, and motivates me to reconnect with the language myself so we can share the journey together. Sure, it hasn't always been easy (for them or me!), and there have been moments of doubt along the way, but seeing them embrace the language, whether it's through reading a Spanish book or proudly showing off their skills to a relative, makes every effort worthwhile.

Ultimately, my "why" in raising my child bilingually goes beyond the practical benefits. For me it's about fostering empathy, curiosity, and a sense of openness to new experiences. It's about giving them a bigger, richer, fuller experience of the world. It's a journey that challenges me as a parent to be creative, patient, and persistent, but it's one that I wouldn't trade for anything.


Jeff Cambron is a voracious reader, erstwhile writer, brand builder, & dad to two kiddos living their best bilingual life.

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