Teaching kids Spanish has been something divisive within the Latino community. Latino parents who migrated to the United States claim many reasons they haven’t taught their kids Spanish. This has drawn criticism from many, with some calling it a “selfish” act. But Micah Bellieu explains that it’s not that simple.

The founder of TruFluency explains on TikTok that many factors contribute to kids not learning their parent’s native language. She posits that not learning Spanish or any non-English language can cause a disconnect within the parent/child dynamic. For immigrant parents, not teaching their kids their language can be an act of survival.

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Many people are confused to find out why kids don’t magically acquire their parent’s native language. More complicated than you think. #bilingualkids #bilingualproblems #spanishforkids #spanishlessons #spanishclassonline

♬ original sound – trufluencykidsspanish

Confusing kids with an additional language is among the many reasons parents choose not to raise them bilingual 

Some people believe that adding another language can confuse children. The Cultured Kid explains that this is a common misconception among parents. The publication details that teaching kids another language will impede their ability to speak English — especially at a young age.

However, studies site that the younger you teach a kid Spanish, the better. A Cambridge study found that children can pick up multiple languages. Not only did they pick it up, but they also code-switched between the two.

In her TikTok, Bellieu quotes a study that found some kids living in bilingual homes don’t speak their parent’s native language. 

“There’s a study out of England and many other countries that roughly shows that 21% of kids living in bilingual households don’t speak the native language of one of their parents — the minority language meaning the language not being used in society,” she says.


Many of us feel badly if we haven’t been able to pass on one of our languages to our children. And many of us judge parents who weren’t able to pass it on to their children successfully. But we don’t know everyone’s story. Here’s Izzy’s story. She was telling a mistruth most of her life until she started researching the truth. Even “experts” were wrong. Let’s pause before we judge. Let’s ask. You never know if 50 years later, the real truth or evidence will come out. #learnspanish #bilingualkids #bilingual #spanishonline #spanishlessons #spanishforkids #spanishteacheronline #trufluencykids #thetruth #facts #bilingualparenting #bilingualparentingtips #bilingualproblems

♬ original sound – trufluencykidsspanish

Bellieu continues, “Let’s use Spanish as an example. For many people, [who] balk and gasp, ‘How do the parents speak Spanish and the kids don’t? How do they not speak their mom’s language or their father’s language?’”

The bilingual parenting expert adds that she typically tells people not to judge parents who do this.

“I always tell people to put away the judgy eyes until they’ve actually tried to do this in their real life. It’s quite challenging, really — especially if the parent also understands English,” she affirmed.

Teaching kids a second language like Spanish hasn’t always come easy for immigrants whose goal is to assimilate 

Unfortunately, growing up in the U.S. hasn’t come without its difficulties for immigrants. Routed Magazine likens “linguistic assimilation” to “xenophobic aggression.” 

The publication writes, “Linguistic assimilation is an undermining experience that Mexican immigrants come across when they arrive in the United States—a dominant country in the Global North considered as a ‘graveyard’ for foreign languages.” 

“Van C. Tran defines language assimilation as a ‘one-way process whereby members of ethnic groups acquired English and abandoned their mother tongue with the endpoint being English monolingualism,’” it continues.


#duet with @Speechie #speechtherapy You heard it from the expert! Don’t let doctors who don’t know the research scare you about bilingualism and speech delays. They aren’t likely advising you wrong on purpose, or knowingly, they simply don’t know. Go on your merry way with your two languages or more. I sure am! And my daughter DOES use a lot of nouns and less verbs. Thank you for this knowledge! #speechtherapy #bilingualkids #bilingual #bilingualparenting #bilingualparentingtips #spanishtiktok #Spanishforkids #speechdelay #learnspanish #spanishclassesonline

♬ original sound – Speechie

Because of this, there are many Latinos who grow up not speaking it, and the farther removed they are from a Spanish-speaking parent, the less they speak it. A Pew Research Center study found data to support this.

It cited that 24% of U.S. Latino adults said “they can only carry on a conversation in Spanish a little or not at all.” When you consider third- or higher-generation Latinos, the percentages increased. About 65% of third- or higher-generation Latinos admitted “they cannot carry on a conversation well in Spanish.”

The expert also shared the struggles of other cultures who haven’t taught their children their native language

In addition to expressing her position on the difficulty of instilling another language, she shared the story of a Chinese immigrant family who relocated to the U.S. While the story was about another culture, many of its points resonate with the Latino experience.

“There’s a beautiful, yet sad story of a man who grew up in California with parents from China and the mom slowly learned English because she was the main parent and dealing with the school, doctor’s appointments [and] American society in general,” she begins. 

The Latina founder continued, “And the dad was always working in Chinatown with other Chinese speakers in order to support the family. And so the mom started speaking in English with her son because it was the societal language.”  


#duet with @gabi | the miami mami #greenscreen #bilingualkids I love this mini history lesson she gives us. My grandpa at 95 years old still won’t record his voice on his answering machine because he’s embarrassed by his Strong Mexican accent, and My mom doesn’t speak Spanish because my grandparents didn’t speak to her in Spanish. They were just doing the best they could in the era (1950s Oklahoma) they lived in. Please don’t judge others for experiences you haven’t had. I’m proud I could move to Mexico to learn Spanish and bring it back into the family moving forward, but not everyone is able to. #bilingualeducator #proudofmyaccent #spanishtiktok #nonnativespanishspeaker #bilingualkids #bilingualparenting #bilingualproblems #dontjudge

♬ original sound – gabi | the miami mami

Bellieu explained that the boy grew up not being able to communicate with his father, something that happens between many U.S. Latinos and their Spanish-speaking families.

“So the son cannot speak to his father, who he grew up with. Crazy, right? But not really; the child was never made to use the language or hear the language and therefore does not understand or speak it,” Bellieu pointed out.

She also asked viewers something rather poignant, “Why would somebody be able to do something they’ve never done before?”