Why don't some parents teach their kids their native language?

I've heard of a couple cases like this and it's sad newer generations are losing their roots.

Real case:

My friend was brought to the US at the age of 4. They are from Nicaragua. Only Spanish was spoken in the household while English at school and outside.

Many years later my friend marries her HS sweetheart. Their kids (8 year-old twin daughters) only speak English and barely any Spanish. While the father is a native English speaker, I don't understand why my friend doesn't teach them her native language. Spanish is pretty too.

I've also known other cases of people that can speak more languages but won't share that beautiful knowledge with their children. Why?


If you know two or more languages, then I think there is no excuse to not teach your children what you know. It puzzles me on why some parents refuse to share that gift with their kids.

6 Answers

  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are falsely assuming that one person is sufficient for a child to learn that language.

    I have a counter example.  My uncle is a native French speaker and my aunt a native English one.  He DID speak French to his two kids in the beginning. They are both adults now and neither one is competent in French.  They don't speak it themselves although they can understand some.

    Although my uncle had French speaking relatives, they all lived far away.  The family lived in an English speaking area of Canada (note that they studied French in school as well).   There were enough French speaking sources (relatives, friends, movies, tv, etc).

    In addition, most children learn to speak the way their classmates do.  My daughter, for example, also a native English speaker like me, uses the grammar and vocabulary of where she was raised, not what I used around her (I was raised elsewhere, speaking a slightly different version of the same dialect). 

    My buddy, who has a major in French (like I do), also tried speaking French to his kids.  It just didn't work.

    From my experience with Canadian relatives, I didn't even try with my child.  I knew it was doomed.   I did talk to her about it and occasionally say things to try to spark her interest, but Spanish snagged her instead. 

    Yes, there are families where the children learn to speak the minority language, but there are other factors play. More sources of speakers.  In cases where children do become competent, there is some sort of community where they learn and use it.  Not just from one person. 

    If there is only one person in the child's life speaking that language, it is highly unlikely they will learn it. 

    A child's interest also matters.  Languages aren't all that different from any other topic.  I am a huge science fiction fan.  My daughter has always been exposed to it.  I live and breathe it.  She simply doesn't care for it.  What I wanted simply didn't matter.

    Now, in those rare cases where a family could have taught the minority language with a high probability of success, then I too don't understand why they would choose not to.   But we must acknowledge that it's often impractical to teach it.   

  • 3 weeks ago

    Same thing took place with my nephews and nieces... I think it makes no sense for parents in the U.S. to teach their children their native language if this could cause later in life for those children to be bullied or harassed as a result of speaking such language.. Haven't you watched on youtube how often SOME "superior white americans" bully other  people for speaking a foreign language in public places in order to communicate with their family members?  I'm glad that my nieces and nephews only speak english and with no accent at all... this means that they will never be bullied as a result of their language.

  • 3 weeks ago

    My father was an immigrant from Germany. At home we only spoke English, being needed for my father's work. There can also be cases of their kids not being interested in learning it.

  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    3 weeks ago

    usually because of the superstition that growing up with more than one language would "confuse" the child and/or slow down its progress in the main language.

    Sometimes there  are political circumstances, like in Worldwar 2 when the Germans in the USA stopped speaking German

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  • 3 weeks ago

    Not all parents give a crap about their kids or not that much of a one and would prefer to do the bare minimum or nearly so and spend the rest of their time having fun when they're not working in one form or another- hell they may simply not have the time and energy to expend on it.

    It should be noted that if you are bilingual and have children you should make an effort to teach them both languages as they're not only useful for them in general as a means of communications and buffing a resume but they are reported to aid in children's problem solving capacity- how that works I don't know but I saw an article or two about it.

  • 3 weeks ago

    They are just exhausted after potty training

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