NPR's Morning Edition is exploring bilingual life in the U.S. as the population of Spanish speakers grows. How does the use of English and Spanish affect your life?
When we asked our Facebook fans how the use of Spanish and English was affecting them, we were surprised by the more than 1,000 comments the question received. Fans shared feelings of appreciation, claimed it had enhanced their love lives and expressed annoyance and anger at being turned down for jobs for not knowing Spanish. One mother in Texas even told us she made her husband sleep outside her son's school "in the cold and rain" to secure a spot in a dual language program. Here is a sampling of responses. ¡Que disfruten! (Enjoy!)
Razz Irasema Cortes-Maceda: "Spanish is voice of my soul and English is the voice of my expression. As a fully bilingual person, I cannot imagine how narrowly monolinguals perceive the world."
Brian Purcell: "I am a self described 'Gringo with the Lingo,' who learned Spanish in high school and college and even lived in Chile for a few years. Today I work in the Seattle tech industry dealing exclusively with the Latin American market switching between Spanish, English and Portuguese all day long. I love it!"
Barb Blond: "I hate it. In San Antonio the Hispanics are proud that they are here for generations and speak English. Do not speak Spanish to them as it is an insult. In Chicago it is the opposite. Hispanics want Spanish and they speak it [in] public. It could hold them back intellectually. English is the language of USA. If you come here, learn it just like proud immigrants of the past."
Timothy John Jeanal: "My mom was half Spanish but I never learned. So now my kids and I have the Spanish look but only know American culture. Some people get mad at us for not knowing [Spanish]! When will we just be American Only?"
Cynthia C. Tidwell: "The constitution of New Mexico recognizes both Spanish and English as official languages. At our village council meetings we recite the pledge of allegiance in Spanish and English. Hearing Spanish spoken so naturally is like music. Even we anglos can appreciate the depth of culture and heritage embodied in the Spanish language brought here some 450 years ago."
Pauline Jackson: "I hate it when I have 'press 1' for English!! WTF??"
John Latsko: "i live in a bilingual partnership (gay). we've actually survived quite well in our own brand of spanglish. AND as an urban high school teacher in LA i know that many (spanish) words enter our vocab. but how 'bout hybrid verb tenses? absent pronouns --- all of these are affects of grammar influencing our own english, get ready, there's no going back america!!!"
Roberta Semler: "I can't find a job in Houston that doesn't require me to be bilingual in English and Spanish. The down side is that I don't speak Spanish."
Michele Herron Brandhofer: "We are Americans living in Spain so our children are growing up bilingual. At times it is very challenging for us and a lot of work to work at speaking, reading and writing in two languages. But I believe that we have a huge advantage — knowing these two languages, we can communicate with a large percentage of the people in this world. In Europe being able to communicate in at least two languages is necessary for almost anything you want to do with your life."
Renee Lange Esses: "Dual is Cool — that's what it says on my son's school shirt and I am a believer!!! I am mono-lingual but jumped at the chance to put my native English speaking children in a Dual Spanish/English pilot program at our public elementary school."
Liz Lyons: "I was bullied in elementary school for being bilingual. It wasn't until we had to take Spanish classes in 7th grade that people would even talk to me and it was only because they wanted me to do their homework. Even now there's discrimination. I was raised speaking Castillian and I've had employers turn me down for work because I speak 'the wrong kind of Spanish' or that my accent would 'confuse people'. Being bilingual is great if you're the 'right' type of bilingual."
WKAQ 580: "Even though Spanish is spoken on a daily basis, most news and technology we get from the outside is in English. We are used to it. Somos bilingue. Greetings from WKAQ 580 in Puerto Rico!"
Di Harrison: "I remember my Father, who is 70, telling me when he was growing up on the border. He would be in school and if a teacher heard you speak Spanish they would whack your hand with a ruler to discourage you. My father was fifth generation US born citizen but he liked to speak Spanish. Yes he did get whack."
Greg Schmidt: "If I'd never learned Spanish I'd have never met my wife ... "
Carolina Bodner: "I moved to South Florida 2 years ago and then I began to notice how deficient my Spanish was. I have been essentially forced to 're-learn' Spanish. Spanish is everywhere, the local restaurants, movie theaters, even some of the local high schools answer the phone in Spanish. Being bilingual in South Florida is the equivalent of owning a car in the United States--it may seem like a luxury in other places, but down here is a necessity!!"
Linda Fure Billings: "I am third generation German. Do I speak German? Nein! It all fades away and the Spanish will, too."