August 19, 2010

Yo Quiero A Spanish-Speaking Nanny

taco_bell_dog.jpgSo The New York Times reports that city families are seeking out non-English-speaking nannies to teach their kids a foreign language. Or I should say second language, since the whole point of New York is that there's no such thing as a foreign language.

The whole thing is premised on the conventional wisdom, which is basically based on research, that it's easier to learn two languages early. So there's that "wanting to give my kid an edge" argument.

But then the private school folks weigh in, and warn that bilingual doesn't help your kid get into preschool, and if anything, the associated verbal development delays may actually hurt your kid's test scores. Yikes!

And anyway, Mandarin's the hot "get a jump on Harvard" language, but almost all the parents in the Times story want Spanish-speaking nannies. Because it turns out to be a Roots thing. If parents are asking West Indian nannies to speak to their kids only in Creole now, it didn't make the article. Wouldn't that help on the kid's Lycee application?

This is what happens when the NY/Region section tries to take on a Style section topic. I can just imagine the eyerolling at Babble and New York Magazine right now. Meanwhile, hats off to Skip*Hop for the sweet product placement of their urban chic playmat.

Wanted - Baby Sitters With Foreign Language Skills [nyt]
image: Taco Bell talking dog plush toy, $14.95+s/h [ebay]

1 Comment

Good point about the private school mentality. As excessive and awful as the trend of babysitting+linguistic enrichment is, the most disturbing thing I've heard yet (at a dinner party on the upper east, of course) was a socialite originally from Madrid who had decided not to teach her kid Spanish because she thought it would delay her language skills and hurt her private school entrance exams. So no, Junior, grandma doesn't understand a word you're saying, and you have no sense of your own culture and background. But you got into an elite Upper East Side preschool!

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