It’s very rare that we talk in Spanish.: Becoming Minnesotan

Anna Amaya in her new home, Moorhead, Minnesota, July 2, 2000.
  • Name - Anna Amaya
  • Age at interview - 53
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 01.01.2010
  • Anna and Armando Amaya celebrate their 23rd anniversary with their children.


    Education, Language, Latino

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Many Latinos, especially those whose families have been in the United States for generations, speak mainly English and do not actively try to teach their children Spanish. They may feel a second language is unnecessary, or they may have concerns about negative feelings other Americans may have about Spanish speakers. More recently, however, some Latinos have begun to take more pride in their language and to make stronger attempts to pass on Spanish skills to their children as part of their cultural heritage.

    To learn more about Latino history and culture, visit our Latino Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Anna Amaya (AA)

    Interviewer: Abner Arauza (AbA)

    AbA: What do you speak at home?

    AA: English. Yes, we raised my granddaughter for ten years. She lived with us, and we never thought about speaking or teaching her Spanish, like just sitting there talking to her in Spanish. We always talked in English. So she knows what we’re talking about but she can’t answer us back in Spanish. And I tell my kids now, “With the little ones, you guys teach them Spanish, cause that is something that…it’s so important. It’s just so important.”

    AbA: Are any of them teaching Spanish to their kids?

    AA: My oldest one, Armando. Yes, well, because they’re in Spanish immersion.

    His two boys went to Spanish immersion from kindergarten. They’ve gone to Spanish immersion. They know more Spanish than I do, the correct way. They really do. They can read it. They can write it. You know, when they were little, they would go, “Hey, Grandma, can you help me out with this?” Like, “Yeah, okay, fine.” And then when they started getting a little bit older, and it’s like, “Grandma, what about this word?” Like, “Umm, I don’t know what that is. Cause in our language…”

    But they showed them the correct way. But the way we were taught, it was just listening to my parents. It was just Tex-Mex.

    But the thing with my parents, that they would talk to us in Spanish, we would answer them in English, so that’s how my parents learned how to speak English, and that’s how we learned how to speak Spanish. Cause when I got married to my husband, all I spoke to my husband was pure English and all he knew was pure Spanish. Little by little, I learned more Spanish and he learned a lot of English. And now, that’s all he talks is English. He says that he remembers when he was dating, you know before he met me, they would go like to the movies or the drive-in and his brother would go and pick up his girlfriend. And he says, “I would just go because I wanted to go to the movies," he says, "but I never spoke anything, because I didn’t know how to speak English. And I was embarrassed that if I said something, they would make fun of me.” So he never spoke English. Now, that’s all he talks. There’s times that he’ll say something or I’ll say something in Spanish and he’ll say something wrong in English and I correct him and he corrects me, you know. Now, that’s all he talks is pure English. It’s very rare that we talk in Spanish. We talk in Spanish like if we’re at a restaurant and we’re talking about something that we don’t want nobody else to know or if we’re in a store and we want to buy something and we’re talking about is it going to be worth it for us. Other than that, we always speak English.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun: Language school in which all subjects are taught in the second language.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 2179