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Building a New Tradition of Bilingualism

As co-founder of MamaLingua, I love what I’m doing. I get to share my passion for raising bilingual kids with other parents who want to do the same – as we build a new tradition of bilingualism together.

As co-founder of MamaLingua, I love what I’m doing. I get to share my passion for raising bilingual kids with other parents who want to do the same. I love sharing my experiences, lessons learned, and my knowledge of second language acquisition to help guide parents in providing the necessary environment to foster bilingual education and provide language support at home. Along with my team at MamaLingua, we create and curate resources to make parents’ lives easier.

My Spanish Promise

I consider myself a “non-native bilingual.” That is, I’m of Hispanic heritage, but I was born and raised here in the United States. I learned Spanish at home, but all of my formal education was entirely in English, as were the songs, rhymes, and games of my childhood.

So when I made my Spanish Promise to raise my kids bilingual, I had to learn all there was to know about singing, talking, playing, and teaching a young child in Spanish. But finding the resources I needed to do that was hard.

Even as a bilingual with a community of native Spanish speakers around me, I couldn’t find the things I needed to learn those songs, rhymes, and games to teach to my son and daughter. And I realized that if it was hard for me, that meant it was even harder for parents without Spanish fluency or community to try and raise bilingual kids. It became my goal to both find and create the resources we all needed – and empower parents to raise bilingual kids in the U.S.

Empowering Parents to Raise Bilingual Kids

Historically, the U.S. education system hasn’t highly valued second language learning. In fact, only 13 percent of elementary schools currently offer a second language. But in my journey raising bilingual kids, I’ve found that statistic is actually misleading. It’s not representative of the desire and interest I see among parents in the real world.

That’s how I started my Spanish Meetup six years ago. I decided to teach mamas the Spanish they needed to know for their daily routines with their child. I wanted to make it easier for them to plant the seeds for language learning and provide them with a community to help them along the way.

Fast forward a couple of years and the dream has become a reality. I’m now frequently asked to speak to parents at dual language and Spanish immersion programs. And I feel such joy when they get excited about the resources, recommendations, and tips and inspiration I can provide to them. They no longer have to feel lost in the world of the web, searching through so much data, unable to determine what would be useful for them and their kids. We – MamaLingua – provide that solution.

Building a New Tradition of Bilingualism

The stereotype of the American not wanting to learn a second language isn’t accurate. The desire is there – it’s just that it’s been unattainable for so long – and interest in dual language education is growing. As it turns out, there are social and economic benefits of dual language education for all involved.

With increasing research by leaders in this space, like Thomas and Collier, and insight and expertise from authors Beeman and Urow, (see their book "Teaching for Biliteracy”), dual language education is seen as the best way to close the achievement gap between English speakers and English learners. Well-implemented dual language instruction provides all students the opportunity to develop proficiency in two languages, which can give them the benefit of becoming highly-sought-after bilingual professionals in today's global economy.

There’s a new push in this country to embrace dual language education and raise the next generation of bilingual, biliterate, multicultural citizens. (See Fabrice Jaumont’s “The Bilingual Revolution.”) We at MamaLingua are proud to be a part of it.

"There is no language of power, just language." - Aileen Passariello-McAleer

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