Helping Latinos become fully bilingual may seem like an easy thing. But children who speak Spanish at home with their parents often do not have reading or writing skills in that language, because they have not been educated in it.
At Blessed Sacrament School on Saturday, middle school students read aloud in Spanish. Their teacher, Suyapa Mejía, stops them to discuss unfamiliar words. Elsewhere in the building, several elementary students are doing a similar activity, while their mothers learn English around the corner.
Mejia recognized the issue soon after moving from Miami to North Carolina. The Latino children spoke Spanish at home but lacked ability to read and write in Spanish.
“They are learning the language of the parents,” Mejía said, “but I see their vocabulary in Spanish is so little.”
When Mejia leaves the classroom for a minute to speak to someone in the hall, the students quietly converse on English. They speak fluent Spanish, but the English speaking environment outside of home has a big influence.