For infants, learning their first language from a native speaker helps to build a solid language foundation. But some Hispanic immigrants have been encouraged to only speak English to their children. [César Rincón, Wikimedia Commons | CC by 2.0)
It seems natural that the first language you learn would be your parents’ native tongue. But some Hispanic immigrants in the United States feel pressured to only speak to their children in English. This prevents them from learning their first language from a native speaker, setting them behind their peers when they enter school.
A new smartphone app, Hablamebebe, aims to empower Hispanic parents to speak their native language to their children. I spoke to two of the app’s creators, Melissa Baralt and Natalie Brito, to better understand why speaking Spanish is so important for these immigrant families.