Post # 1
My MIL is from Mexico. Her and my FIL have lived here in the U.S. since they were married forty years ago. FIL speaks english she does not. Wait let me expand on that. She knows/understands a good amount of english but doesn’t utilize it as her friends and family switch from english to spanish when they are in her presence because it’s easier for her. And polite. It has come up several times that I need to learn fluent spanish. (I speak some spanish-can consruct a sentence, convey/get my message across) Everyone else in the family was born American and speak english primarily. So the reason they are suggesting it must be so that I can communicate with MIL in her most comfortable language.
I am I jerk for thinking that catering to one person who chose not to learn the language of the country she has made home is kinda backwards? Maybe I’m a litle miffed by the pressure to learn a language for someone who has not made the effort to learn the language of the country she resides and has resided in most of her life.
Post # 3
My mom moved here from another country and learned to speak English fluently. I don’t think you should bend over backwards to please a woman who has made no effort to learn the language of the country she lives in.
Post # 4
Well, so she understands English? If you keep talking to her in English she can either respond or not I guess. I’m with you that if she lives in the country she really should know the language, I can’t imagine it’s easy for her to get by without that!
Post # 5
The United States doesn’t have an official language. However, I do think it is a little rediculous (and kind of impressive) that she has lived here for 40 years and doesn’t speak English. I’m also super curious what state they live in since some have a lot more spanish speaking residents than others.
Post # 6
Yeah you’re not crazy. I could understand if she JUST moved here but it’s been 40 years. Maybe you could point that out to people, the more we speak English around her it will actually help the woman get a better handle on the language.
Post # 7
@asscherlover: We live in Southern California. It’s quite easy here to move to a neighborhood of mostly immigrants and never need to learn the native language.
Post # 8
No, you’re definitely not a jerk but I would suggest that you learn the basics for yourself and your future kids if you decide to have any.
I grew up in a Mexican American family and my parents always made an effort but many of their friends didn’t. I understand your frustration.
Post # 9
Forty years is enough time to learn not just English, but several languages.
Post # 10
- Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort
Personally, I think whether she should have learned English better by now is irrelevent to handling your situation. The fact is that she hasn’t, and that’s the reality you have to deal with. Since she is now, I’m assuming, just past middle-aged, it’ll be much easier for you to acquire a second language to fluency than for her to and much more useful as well. Plus, I’d imagine her culture emphasizes due deference to one’s elders, so in that respect, you are appreciating her culture by taking on the challenge yourself instead of asking her to. It’s all fine and dandy for us to sit here and claim that your MIL should know English, but that doesn’t solve your problem.
Post # 11
Ok. Glad I didn’t come off as insensitive. What bothers me is that I am made to feel inadequate for not speaking HER language. And I find that MORE than hypocritical considering that naturally I speak the language of my country. Don’t get me wrong, I may decide to learn fluent spanish, but don’t feel I should succumb to doing it because I “should” I also want to ask, why is the pressure on me? Why wouldn’t she feel like the pressure would be on her? I undertand that she is my MIL and am always willing go out of my way to show her respect, but his kinda rubs my beliefs the wrong way.
Post # 12
@Leemarie: There are a few relevant questions here. Do you want to/have time to learn Spanish? What does your FI say about all this? How important is MIL’s approval to you and DH?
If you don’t really want to learn the language and you don’t care too much about her approval, then don’t worry about it and just do your best to communicate with MIL and have other family members translate for you.
Post # 13
@mrsSonthebeach: yes, I agree. And the fact that she should have doesn’t change that fact that she doesn’t. Still rubs me the wrong way.
Post # 14
@Leemarie: I don’t think you’re being insensitive. I do however agree that whether she has learned english or not isn’t the point right now. I think the point is that people want you to have a relationship with your MIL and they are assuming that means you must learn fluent Spanish…
But…what if the two of you spent time teaching each other your respective languages? Let her show you spanish and you show her english? This has worked for me a lot when building relationships with people who speak a different language 🙂
Post # 15
I wouldn’t be too upset that she doesn’t know English. I also wouldn’t be too concerned about learning it yourself. If you visit, just have your SO translate for you. Or maybe you and MIL can try to teach eachother some words etc.
Post # 16
- Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort
@Leemarie: Sure, but to add some perspective, as she ages, even if she had learned or does now learn English, it will fade since she didn’t get that knowledge in as a child or young adult. My great-grandparents came from Spain in their 20s and learned English (actually, my great-grandmother learned Arabic first from the ladies at the factory she worked at and thought it was English until my great-grandfather asked her what the heck she was speaking… but she learned English right after that). By the time I was born and they were in their late 80s, they were struggling with English even though they had spoken it for probably 50 or 55 years. By the time I was in elementary school, their English was completely lost except for the most basic conversational units (hellos, good-byes, I love yous, etc.). My great-grandmother especially could really only keep command of her Spanish. So my point is that as your MIL ages, she’ll fall back more and more on Spanish and you will probably want to be able to communicate with her and want your children to be able to as well… and that will mean learning Spanish.