Latino USA Presents: Spanish As A First Language

Oct 18, 2019
3:19 PM
Originally published at Latino USA

(Photo by Jeanne Montalvo Lucar)

Being a new parent comes with a series of challenges—one being the decision of whether or not to teach your child a second language. Producer Jeanne Montalvo is a new mom and made the decision to speak Spanish to her son Martin. Her husband, Ernesto, is from Peru, and Jeanne’s family is from the Dominican Republic, so it was a no brainer since the couple speaks Spanish at home.

But when she sat down to consider her own upbringing as a bilingual child, she started to wonder about some of the decisions her own parents made. And especially, she thought about the case of her younger brother Carlos Montalvo. Although the two siblings grew up in the same household in the South, their take on the Spanish language and culture is very different. Jeanne was drawn to speaking Spanish, while Carlos never wanted to speak it growing up. He was a skateboarding, Metallica-loving teenager, while Jeanne listened to Ricky Martin and Shakira and loved salsa dancing.

What happened at the Montalvo home that made the two kids have such a different relationship to the Spanish language? And with both now grown up and raising families of their own, how will they pass on Spanish to their children? Latino USA investigates.

This Latino USA podcast was produced by Jeanne Montalvo Lucar.


NPR’s Latino USA with Maria Hinojosa, produced by Futuro Media, is the longest-running Latino-focused program on U.S. public media.