Being bilingual is very convenient. Especially if the two languages that you speak are Spanish and English, the two most prominent languages in the occident. My first language is Spanish. I grew up in a Spanish speaking home. Then, I learned to speak English when I was in junior high at age 13. My best friend at the time coached me to get rid of my accent, which I feel I 98% of the time don’t have, but there’s still an accent that you can hear now and then. My Spanish, however, is on fleek, and I have what is considered the clearest Spanish accent. Now a days, I speak Spanish at home and pretty much English everywhere else. In all, I can say that I am pretty blessed in the communications department… or so you think!
You see, being bilingual also implicates thinking in two languages. Sometimes you are intersected mentally by a Spanish word in an English conversation, you blank out on the English translation and then people think you don’t know the language and vice versa. However, the reality is, I do know both languages very well, and it’s because I do that I can mix all the information in my head. We have two languages to pick from, and when you are constantly speaking both, getting words mixed up can happen. Some want to argue that if we mix the languages (which is very common along the U.S. and Mexico border cities) is only because you are lazy or limited, meaning that you really never learned both languages properly. However, I can attest that it’s neither, it’s just that we have more information in our brain to pick from. In my case, I hardly ever mix the languages, my momma taught me better, but if I ever do I completely get judge on it, and what’s worse is that the judgement usually comes from a monolingual, which is ok... Hey! At least I know two languages! And don’t get me wrong, situations like the just mentioned has happened with English speaking people AND Spanish speaking people, accordingly.
There’s a really funny line that I love from one of my favorite movies, Selena (1997), which Abraham Quintanilla (Selena’s father character) says, “…and we got to prove to the Mexicans how Mexicans we are, and we got to prove to the Americans how Americans we are. We got to be more Mexicans than the Mexicans, and more Americans than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting! Dang! Nobody knows how though is to be a Mexican-American!” Well, same thing with being bilingual. As bilingual as I am, and still Spanish being my very first language, I have to speak perfect Spanish when in Mexico, and I have to speak perfect English when in the U.S. just to prove that I am truly bilingual. It’s not exhausting all the time, but it can be.
In conclusion, all I want to say is that I am very grateful at the fact that I was able to learn two languages growing up and that I have access to both in my brain. Heck! I even want to learn two more languages! But when monolingual people have to judge because you forget one word here and there, they have to stop and remember that they only know one language and really don’t understand what it really means to think in two languages and how it can make your brain trip. Newsflash: it does make your brain trip! Yet, I have to say that being bilingual is the best blessing in the world! ☺