‘It makes you question your identity’: What it means for Latinos to lose Spanish fluency

While the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has grown, the share has declined in the last two decades.

Ana Gore grew up learning English and Spanish simultaneously. At home, her Peruvian mother would primarily talk to her in Spanish, while her American father spoke to her in English.

But early on in life, Gore lost her fluency in Spanish. Her family in Peru didn’t expect her to speak the language, and when she did, it was “a big deal—it was just not the kind of attention that I wanted.” And she compared her level of fluency to her older sister’s Spanish.

“She kind of had this basically, like, perfect Spanish and I was far enough behind that it was kind of that feeling of like shame that, if I wasn’t able to do it perfectly, I shouldn’t do it at all,” said Gore, a 20-year-old college student in Chicago.

Many U.S.-born Latinos like Gore face the pressure and expectation to speak fluent Spanish. But many factors, including English dominance and language discrimination, make maintaining Spanish difficult for many Latino families in the United States.

Even though the number of Latinos who speak Spanish at home has been growing, the share […]

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Michelle Rojas-Soto is Social Justice Director at the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Managing Director at Encompass, a racial equity nonprofit. Her children attend LAUSD and Glendale USD schools.

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