Series

Two Languages = Two Moms?

Link in Bio with Jenny and Alejandro
Do bilingual mothers treat their kids differently depending on which language they’re speaking? Psychologist Erika Hoff, PhD, explains how Latina moms can switch “cultural practices” when they switch from English to Spanish.
Show transcript
00:00
Jenny, you speak Spanish,
00:01
right? Yeah. Do you feel like it just kind of
00:03
hits different food, it hits different,
00:05
like, saying something in Spanish is so different than saying something
00:08
in English, English.
00:09
It's like, yeah,
00:10
big time. More of everything.
00:12
There's just more feeling,
00:14
you know. What about your mom?
00:15
Like she speaks both the,
00:16
oh, yeah, she does me la but when it's in
00:20
Spanish, like she's a whole another person,
00:22
like it's crazy, like,
00:25
oh dude. So it's funny that you say that she's a
00:28
whole different person. There was a study conducted by Florida
00:31
Atlantic University that basically said that Latina moms kind of present
00:35
themselves with the different cultures depending on what language they speak.
00:39
So if they speak Spanish,
00:40
it's gonna be more,
00:41
look at the hi man.
00:44
So, like, you know that she comes off called Mas
00:47
you know, the way that you said,
00:49
whereas if they speak in English it's kind of more just like
00:52
low key like, oh,
00:52
you know, like it's how they present themselves to.
00:55
Exactly. Exactly. I,
00:57
I feel that 100%.
00:59
So, yeah, it just hits different and there's actually science
01:02
that kind of backs this up,
01:04
which is the craziest thing joining us to talk about.
01:07
This is Erica Hoff phd and psychology professor.
01:10
They're at Florida Atlantic University,
01:13
the same university that conducted the study.
01:15
So welcome, Professor Hoff,
01:17
welcome, welcome you.
01:20
happy to be here.
01:21
Thank you for joining.
01:23
So, is this,
01:23
is this a bad thing?
01:25
Like does this impact Children negatively or in any way if you
01:29
know, their mom is constantly switching from not just one language
01:32
but like one personality to another.
01:34
Well, switching from one personality to another is,
01:38
is a bit strong a as a description.
01:42
But what what I found is they do switch from one
01:46
cultural practice to another cultural practice.
01:51
A particular cultural practice that I looked at is how mothers engage
01:57
their Children in conversation.
02:00
So European American middle class mothers do lots of asking the
02:06
Children questions and encouraging the Children to express themselves middle class European
02:14
American mothers tend to teach,
02:16
treat their Children as equals in conversation.
02:21
That's not a Latin American practice in Latin America.
02:25
Children are not equal to adults.
02:29
And this manifests itself in conversation with the adults,
02:34
doing more of the talking and the Children doing more of the
02:38
listening. So I don't know if you would call that a
02:40
personality difference. But people who are bilingual and certainly immigrants who
02:47
are bilingual by virtue of the experience of living in two different
02:50
countries are also bicultural and they do things in different ways depending
02:57
upon which culture is sort of activated or primed in their heads
03:02
This is one example of that.
03:04
And, and so it also serves as evidence that this happens
03:08
that, that bilingual bicultural people really do have different ways of
03:14
being and it doesn't have to be language.
03:17
There are other studies that find other things sort of trigger this
03:21
shift, but language clearly does trigger this shift.
03:24
So you act more Latino when you're speaking Spanish and more American
03:29
when you're speaking English.
03:32
So does this mean that anyone learning another language is also adopting
03:36
the culture, if you learn another language in such a way
03:40
that you also learn another culture?
03:43
And so that means a little bit more than just,
03:45
you know, memorizing verb conjugations.
03:48
But if you really start to know another cultural and participate
03:54
in other cultural practices,
03:56
you have a broader repertoire of behaviors for sure.
03:59
And presumably you have a better understanding of the range of human
04:05
behaviors. So relatable,
04:08
I'm not a mom,
04:08
but I am an immigrant.
04:09
And this is so fascinating to me because like,
04:12
I, I resonate with it so much.
04:14
So, thank you so much for conducting the study.
04:17
Like in this whole process,
04:18
I've learned so much and I hope our audience does too.
04:22
Where can people find you?
04:25
Oh Well, I'm here in Florida at Florida Atlantic University
04:31
and they can email me.
04:35
Perfect. Sounds good.
04:36
Once again professor. Thank you so so much for joining us
04:39
My pleasure. Thank you for having me.
04:41
Bye bye, dude.
04:44
That is so interesting.
04:46
Yes, dude. Super,
04:47
super interesting. But also explains why,
04:49
you know, I know people try to teach their kids Spanish
04:52
before they enter school,
04:53
like just Spanish and then that way when they enter school,
04:57
they're all they're taught is English,
04:58
you know, so it's like that way it sticks on and
05:02
yeah. But you have to make sure that,
05:03
like, I, I don't know,
05:04
you have to, like,
05:05
also teach them the cultural practices.
05:08
Right. Like the professor said,
05:09
it's more than just the language.
05:10
It's like the actual culture that makes a difference.