“I’m American and Brazilian too!”

I’m American and Brazilian too!

That’s the answer my 6-year-old daughter gives anyone who questions her nationality. It may sound strange to some, but it is perfectly normal to her and to me.

My husband is American and he doesn’t speak Portuguese. We live in New Jersey, USA, where our daughters were born. Juliana (5) and Marina (2) are bilingual. They speak Portuguese and English perfectly for their age. With their aunts, Brazilian grandparents, the nanny, and myself, they speak only in Portuguese and rarely mix in any English. With their father, his family, and other American children they speak English.

I chose to raise my children bilingual from birth for two reasons:

1. Bilingualism will give them a lifetime advantage.

  • They will be able to (and already can) communicate with more people, including their Brazilian family.
  • They will have greater interest and ability to learn other languages.
  • Being fluent in Portuguese will help them be admitted to good colleges in the United States, Brazil, or other countries.
  • They will have more job opportunities in the United States and abroad.
  • They will adapt more easily if they choose or need to live in Brazil or another Portuguese speaking country.
  • They will be able to see and understand the world with a different perspective: one that is more open and inclusive (this is already true).

2. Portuguese is an inheritance they have a right to call their own.

When I received Juliana’s Brazilian passport at the Brazilian Consulate in New York and read, “Nationality: Brazilian,” my eyes filled with tears. I still get emotional when I remember that moment. Juliana, my first daughter, was only a few months old at the time. I thought to myself:

My daughter was born here in the United States, she is American, but she is Brazilian too! Since I am Brazilian, she was born with the right to be Brazilian. It is my duty as a mother to teach her the Portuguese language, so that she may not only know but also understand Brazilian culture and the social problems of Brazil. As a result, she will be able to exercise her right to Brazilian citizenship in any way she sees fit.

If I fail to teach Portuguese to my daughters, I will be taking away something that is rightfully theirs without asking for permission. I want my daughters to grow up proud to be American and Brazilian too! That is their identity. I want them to know where they come from so that throughout their lives it can be easier to choose where they want to go and which path to follow.

Portuguese as a heritage language and the opportunity to raise bilingual children

Portuguese is my native language and I am proudly fluent in it, as I am fluent in English, my second language. Despite speaking English every day at work, with my husband at home, and with everyone around me, I don’t allow that to influence my communication in Portuguese with my daughters.

I have spoken only Portuguese with my daughters since they were born, and that’s why they have learned their heritage language. It is a cultural and linguistic inheritance. It is a legacy that will always be part of their nationality and identity.

Many times, parents miss out on the opportunity to teach our children our native language while they are still young and able to easily learn the language.

Babies and children learn two or more languages at the same time naturally. They intuitively learn to switch from one language to another depending on the situation or the person with whom they are speaking. When it comes to learning a second language, we know that the best results come from early exposure. However, I also believe in the saying that it is “better late than never.”

If you are a Brazilian parent living abroad and want your children to grow up bilingual, choose to speak in Portuguese to them as much as you can. Educate yourself and get used to speaking to your children primarily in your native language, just as you would do it to a relative in Brazil. Read books and watch cartoons and children’s TV shows in Portuguese in order to encourage language development and to maintain your children’s bilingualism.

Daily exposure to different languages and cultures teaches children to be inclusive and to become adults with a better understanding of multiculturalism. Growing up bilingual is a special gift that I can give to my daughters and that you can give your children as well.End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

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Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
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Alecrim Dourado

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Rated 5.00 out of 5
$8.99
New
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99

Born in Brazil, Ana Cristina moved to the United States in 1999. Following the birth of her first daughter in 2011, she realized how important it was that she pass on her native language and culture to her children. As a result, she decided to create her own line of books and founded ABC Multicultural (former Little Gringo) in 2013.

The great effects of bilingualism on the brain

Benefits of a bilingual brain

Having an easier time traveling, watching movies without subtitles, being able to communicate with people from different cultures and places, having a better curriculum… all of that is well known as advantages of being bilingual. However, recent researchers have found out benefits to the brain that go far beyond that. Scientists have come to the conclusion that the brain of a bilingual or multilingual person actually works and looks different than the brain of a monolingual one. Studies that show the great benefits of being bilingual have changed completely the way bilingualism, especially in childhood, is seen.

Although it is known that all types of bilingual people can become fluent, the time and the way in which the language acquisition is given changes the effect it has on the brain. This is explained by the differences in the brain’s both hemispheres most dominant abilities. It is proved by science that the brain’s left side is more dominant in analytical and logical processes, while the right side of the brain is responsible for the emotional and social behaviors. This lateralization is developed gradually with age, and the language acquisition process requires the use of all of these functions. Putting all of this information together, the Critical Period Hypothesis was developed:

According to this theory, children learn languages more easily because of the plasticity of their developing brains, which lets them use both hemispheres in language acquisition, while in most adults, their language acquisition is lateralized to one hemisphere, usually the left. If this is true, learning a language in childhood may give more of a realistic grasp of its social and emotional contexts. Conversely, recent research showed that people who learned a second language in adulthood exhibit less emotional bias and a more rational approach when confronting problems in their second language than in their native one.

Here’s a summary of what bilingual brains do differently according to the study:

  • They show a higher density of the gray matter that contains most of the brain’s neurons and synapses.
  • They show more activity in certain regions when engaging a second language.
  • The high workout a bilingual brain receives throughout its life can also help delay the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia by as much as 5 years.

You can check out more of this information in the video below:

End of artigo. Leave your comments below.

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Books for babies and toddlers learning Portuguese. Click below to see more!

New
Sale!

Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$8.99
New
Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Alecrim Dourado

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99
Sale!

Portuguese

Sapo Cururú

Rated 4.75 out of 5
$14.99 $9.99

Renata was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She is an International Relations student at PUC-MG and a Marketing Intern at ABC Multicultural. She studied English for many years and will soon study Italian abroad. So far, bilingualism has opened many doors for her and made many of her professional goals achievable. Renata believes in the benefits of raising bilingual children and preparing them to live in a globalized world.