Eva Mendes: ‘We’re trying to teach the kids Spanish & it’s harder than I thought’

Eva Mendes run solo errands around Town

When I was a kid, I never picked up any of the languages my dad spoke, probably because he rarely spoke those languages at home. He just spoke English at home, and only Bengali or Hindi when he was on the phone to India. Now that I’m an adult, I regret that I didn’t try harder to pick up those languages, and I’ve always admired people who grew up speaking another language growing up with immigrant parents or English-as-a-second-language parents. Eva Mendes – who is Cuban-American – is trying to teach her daughters (Esmeralda and Amada) Spanish by speaking Spanish a lot in the home, with her mom and sister. But the girls have only picked up a vague Spanglish way of speaking:

Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?! While on The Talk on Monday morning, the extremely private Eva Mendes opened up about her long-time love Ryan Gosling and their two daughters, Esmeralda Amada and Amada Lee Gosling. The Lost River star shared the “cute” hiccup she and her 38-year-old partner are experiencing as they teach their little girls how to speak Spanish.

“Well the Spanish in my home… I’m Cuban and we’re trying to teach the kids Spanish, and it’s harder than I thought,” the 45-year-old fashion designer and actress explained. “I speak Spanglish and that’s what they’re picking up. So it’s adorable but it’s technically not a language. It’s Spanglish.” She continued, “So our little girl will be like, ‘Mommy, my boca (mouth) hurts because I think something got stuck in my diente (tooth).’ It’s so cute but that is not really gonna go great out there.”

[From E! News]

I wonder if Ryan Gosling speaks Spanish? My guess is that he does not (or at least not fluently) and that’s probably one of the reasons why the girls aren’t picking it up so quickly, because they don’t hear daddy speaking Spanish to mom. Still, even Spanglish is better than nothing – little kids are sponges and it’s easier to pick up other languages when you’ve been exposed to them at a very young age.

Eva Mendes run solo errands around Town

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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24 Responses to “Eva Mendes: ‘We’re trying to teach the kids Spanish & it’s harder than I thought’”

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  1. LORENA says:

    I spoke spanish first as a kid and I can speak both spanish and english perfectly but i worry about this. Its important to me that my kids speak spanish but i think that would be hard unless i spoke spanish all the time which i dont *sigh*

    • Lua says:

      I used to teach bilingual children. The best way to teach your children to be fluent in both languages is to have one parent/caretaker speak to them exclusively in one language and the other parent speak the other language. Teaches them to switch back and forth. Their kids aren’t picking it up because it sounds like she speaks “Spanglish”. So technically they are picking up what she’s presenting them with. If she wants them fluent she needs to speak in only Spanish.

      • Cee says:

        Lua is absolutely right. If you exclusively speak in spanish and their dad in english, then they’re gonna pick up both languages. It’s important this happens before primary school as most spanish speaking kids will eventually only develop english once they’re at school because almost everyone will only speak english and they’ll adapt.

  2. 2lazy4username says:

    My husband (and all my dad’s family) is from Argentina and has never spoken a word of English to our daughter. She is 18 now and 100% bilingual. Granted, maybe it was easier for us because I’m fluent in Spanish, as well, but we agreed he would do the Spanish and I would do the English.

    • Kate says:

      I understand this is how you have to do it to teach your kids fluency in 2 languages. My daughter’s bff (lol they are 4) is learning Spanish by her father speaking only Spanish to her.

      • 2lazy4username says:

        I’m glad to hear this. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was right. I imagined she must’ve been so confused trying to sort it all out. But, she’s blingual now, so I guess it was a good thing? As I said, I speak Spanish, as well (was my first language – learned English when I was 5), so it was probably a little easier in that I understood everything my husband said to our daughter. I bet it’s hard if one parent doesn’t speak the other language. You’d feel all left out!

  3. Other Renee says:

    I spoke mostly Hebrew to my daughter when she was a baby/toddler. Her dad and I spoke half Hebrew half English. She originally learned both languages. The problem arose when she started pre school and realized English was predominant. She refused to speak Hebrew after that. I should have insisted and only responded when she spoke back in Hebrew but I just didn’t want to battle it every day. She understands it now (she’s 25) but speaks very little. She used to pretend she didn’t understand it so she could be like a fly on the wall when her dad and I were having conversations but finally admitted she did understand most of what we were saying. Now she says it’s all our fault because we didn’t insist. 🙄 Sometimes you just can’t win!

  4. Incredulous says:

    A friend of mine (Croat) had a kid with his wife (Chinese). They could only speak English with each other and he was determined his daughter grow up speaking Spanish as well (Beaches around the world). So his daughter grew up speaking an hilarious word slurry of 4 languages with little regard for a constant sentence construction. On the other hand, she will probably end up speaking 3 or 4 languages to start with.

  5. Mirage says:

    I only speak French to my son, and his dad only speaks to him in English. So far our son is picking up more French although we live in England. Teaching French to my son is an essential pillar of my education to him. It is unthinkable for me to not fully transmit my language and culture. He will speak, read and write for sure.
    It does take a lot of dedication. I speak and read to him a lot!

    • Eliza says:

      The hospital told us its called mother’s tongue for a reason. The baby will pick up the mothers language faster. He said only if the father exclusively speaks another language would it get picked up well. So i tend to use two languages when i speak to her, as i speak my husband’s language poorly we have to use English, but i will repeat words and phrases i do know in both.

      • 2lazy4username says:

        Funny. My husband only spoke Spanish to our daughter, and I only spoke English. Her first word was in Spanish!
        To this day he has never spoken English to her. She’s 18 now and bilingual, but when they talk, he speaks in Spanish and she responds in English. Brains are amazing!

  6. Splinter says:

    Mixing languages seems quite normal for a young bilingual kid, I’ve seen children initially using the easiest word of the two languages and ending up speaking both languages fluently.

  7. Rina says:

    I did not make a concentrated effort to teach my native language to our children. Sigh! They understand and use a few words here and there but that’s about it.

  8. Carey says:

    My family is from Puerto Rico. My parents were raised in New York from a young age so they primarily spoke English with me and my sister. My grandmother only spoke Spanish so I learned it from her, sort of. I was 19 when my grandmother passed away and my sister was only 7. Today, I can understand Spanish but speak it very poorly, my sister doesn’t understand or speak it. Language acquisition is a weird thing.

  9. Aang says:

    New language acquisition research shows that the critical period hypothesis is not as important as once thought. It is very possibly to learn a new language at any age. In fact ages 11-15, not early childhood, is the time when it happens the fastest because kids that age still have a very elastic brain but can also bring meta cognitive strategies to learning the target language. And adults have advantages like increased attention, motivation, and the ability to apply strategy to their learning. Length of exposure to the L2 is more important than age of commencement in every aspect of language acquisition except pronunciation. There adults can never match children. It’s almost impossible to loose an accent if you learn a language as an adult. It is however possible with extreme diligence. **none of this applies to children bilingual from birth~this is just second language acquisition**

  10. Lightpurple says:

    I am the only adult on my street who is not from China. They speak only Mandarin to the children at home. When I am outside in my yard, they send them out to me and I become “the English teacher.” When the kids are approaching pre-school time, one parent will work on English with the kid so they go off to pre-school with some basic English skills and vocabulary. Once they are in regular school, they are sent to an after-school program to learn to read and write in Chinese. By the time these kids are 8-10 years old, they are serving as the English translators for their grandparents.

  11. tuille says:

    Aang is correct. And pre-puberty is the critical time to learn to speak a language without a “foreign” accent, per my linguistics professors. I see/hear this in siblings who came to the US together, depending on their ages when they arrived.
    My neighbor came from Taiwan @ 11 & her sister was 16. Neither knew any English. My neighbor speaks un-accented West Coast American English & her sister, at 40, has a strong Chinese accent.
    A college classmate from a large family grew up in CA with a Spanish-speaking live in nanny & a mother who spoke only Spanish to the kids until they started kindergarten. Dad spoke only English. All 7 kids were perfectly bilingual.

  12. Cee says:

    She might be talking in spanglish to them. If you want your kid to be bilingual, one parent needs to speak Language X and the other, Language Y, unless you send the kid to an exclusively Language X or Y school. Immersion will force them to learn it.

    Spanish is my country’s unofficial predominant first language. A friend of mine married a german and they have a son. She speaks to him in spanish while the dad speaks in german. Kid was 3 years old and fully bilingual. Now he’s learning english as a third language at school.

  13. Ashley G says:

    I teach English to French children. Usually the children come from a completely French speaking households and only get English from tutors/nannies/aupairs. I’ve had children who speak 3 languages before the age of 7. It’s actually really easy for them to learn and a lot of them can speak 2 languages very easily. If she’s having that much trouble I’m guesisng she’s not speaking it enough with them. Usually that kind of trouble happens when children only get an hour a week of English. But having worked with over 50 children, very rarely where the family is one English speaker, one French, it’s rare for them not to pick it up. You’ll get kids who are scared to speak but they still understand English, they just answer in french. Your best bet is to get your children a second language person (aupair, nanny) when they are still young enough to be picking up their mother tongue. I currently teach to 3 bilingual children who’s parents are both French, they have French, English and Hebrew tutors and they are completely fluent. They have had English nannies since they were born.

  14. Loca says:

    I’d rather hear about her skin treatments. She looks amazing !

  15. Parigo says:

    I agree it’s not as easy as it seems. My daughter is bilingual but it was a constant struggle. Kids pick it up but you really have to insist.

  16. launicaangelina says:

    I speak English and Spanish – my dad is from Mexico and have traveled there often throughout my life. I want my son (4) to be bilingual, but I’m failing him. I speak Spanish to him often, but not often enough for him to learn. He does say a few Spanish words, but just here and there. *Sigh*

  17. A Fan says:

    My parents both had mother tongues other than English – yet neither taught my siblings or me those languages. My mother always said that was one of her biggest regrets.

    [*Wasted gift to not pass it on.*]

  18. Mash says:

    my Fiance will prob teach our kids Hebrew as that’s his culture.