Bilingual and Bicultural

bicultural girl

So, I just read this essay “How Cultures Combine and Blend in a Person” and it hit me that you can be bilingual and not bicultural and bicultural but not bilingual.

From the article:

Contrary to general belief, bilingualism and biculturalism do not always go hand in hand. People can be bilingual without being bicultural (think of Europeans who use two or more languages in their everyday lives but who live in only one country and within one culture), and people can be bicultural without being bilingual (such as British expatriates who have lived in the United States for many years). But of course, many bilinguals are also bicutural; they use two or more languages in their everyday lives and they navigate within and between their different cultures.

I knew that, of course. But, perhaps it did not register because I claim both. But, I see the examples in my own friends — like Mexican-Americans who don’t speak Spanish, or the bilingual Venezuelan friend who pretty much lives Latina in the U.S., or my own daughter, who knows about pinatas and el ratoncito, but whose Spanish is not advanced.

My 7-year-old has two distinct cultures, and an extra if you throw in her native Southern upbringing. She speaks and understands English and is getting a bilingual and bicultural education at home and school. But, I wonder what her identity will be as an adult? Will she remember Los Reyes and Santa? Will she buy Violetas perfume for her children? Will she sing them Los Pollitos Dicen and The Wheels on the Bus?

Of course, I want her to claim both bilingualism and biculturalism, but keeping la cultura alive through language is getting harder for us as she gets older. I prefer to speak the tough, complicated stuff to her in English, which is part of my American upbringing.

No se. But the article really reminded me to up the emphasis on both. Mas Spanish, and more celebrating the customs of my people — the American, and the Latin-American.

What about you?

Are you bilingual and bicultural?

How do you identify?


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