Carrie, an Iowa native, and Luis, a Peruvian, always planned to live in a bilingual household. When their sons were born, they spoke to the boys in Spanish and both were becoming strong, fluent speakers. That is, until their oldest son started pre-school. When Carrie and Luis realized their children wanted Carrie to translate between them and their father, they feared that their desire to foster a bilingual household was in trouble. Surrounded by English speaking friends at school, their son began to reply in English when spoken to in Spanish. Their son’s reluctance to speak Spanish escalated until he refused to speak directly to his father at all. While this created a problem between the children and Luis, Carrie and Luis also knew it would also lead to alienation between their sons and their family in Peru.

 

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Luis & Carrie with their Boys @ Machu Picchu in Peru

 
Providentially, Luis & Carrie heard about Covenant Christian School’s Spanish Immersion program. They spoke with a family whose children were in the Spanish Immersion program. That family praised the school’s diversity and the program’s effectiveness in nurturing culturally aware children. While Covenant is a bit farther away from home than their previous school, the drive is worth the benefits. In their second year at Covenant Christian School, Carrie & Luis are astounded by their children’s fluency. Now, rather than refusing to speak Spanish with their father, the boys correct their mother’s Spanish…and occasionally their teacher’s Spanish (all of whom are native speakers).
 
For Carrie and Luis’ boys, speaking in Spanish has become normal, with their family and even with their school friends.  After returning from Peru at Christmas, the family took a trip to Kalamazoo. While in the car, their oldest son asked what language to speak when they arrived. As Carrie explains, comments like these demonstrate the extent to which her sons have internalized a cultural sensitivity that understands people in different places speak differently—and that linguistic and cultural difference are good things!

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