How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The case for living in two languages

Book cover of "Bilingual Is Better."

Bilingual Readers

Book cover of "Bilingual Is Better."

The coauthors of a new book titled "Bilingual is Better," Roxana A. Soto and Ana L. Flores, also happen to be the two bloggers and bicultural mamis behind Spanglish Baby, a go-to site for parents who are trying to raise bilingual children.

To call such an undertaking a struggle is an understatement. Public school English-as-a-second-language programs have given way to English immersion for non-native speakers, and schools offering dual-language immersion classes are very limited. Even if they are learning a second language, some children rebel and only want to speak English. There are naysayers. The list goes on.

But the research out there does point to how speaking a second language is good for you, benefiting the brain in numerous ways, and eventually the pocketbook as dual language skills can help boost one's career prospects. And there are no better cheerleaders for life in two languages than Soto and Flores, who grew up bilingual themselves and are now raising bilingual children, at least trying their best to.

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Readers weigh in: Does not speaking your family's native tongue make you any less culturally authentic?

After San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address during the Democratic National Convention last week, part of the conversation afterward revolved around his lack of fluency in Spanish. Yet as a third-generation Texan of Mexican descent, is someone like Castro really expected to be fluent in the language of his immigrant grandmother?

Not so, if you look at the way language evolves across immigrant generations. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, native language fluency drops off with each generation; among Latinos, only one in four among the third generation are fluent in Spanish. A post earlier this week discussed this, as well as whether not being fluent in the language of one's immigrant ancestors makes one any less culturally "authentic" as a member of that group. After all, while language serves as a cultural bridge, there are other aspects of ancestral culture that get passed on.

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