Bilingual Miami introduction course
People often say that the more languages a person speaks, the richer they are. And we could not agree more. The sad truth is that the world today is so focused on progress that it neglects the past. This results in a loss of cultural wealth and death of language. But this is not the case with the bilingual Miami we all know or are planning to. So if you’ve been planning on learning that second/third language but never had the time, that time has come. Hiring a professional Miami mover and relocating has come and gone. Now comes the next step – getting to know Miami and becoming part of it.
Learning how bilingual Miami came to be
How does a timid southern city become a wild and energy-filled metropolis? Simple – you just introduce a Hispanic demographic and integrate it into the city foundation.
It all began back in the 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba. It is then that a mass exodus from Cuba began, resulting in over a hundred thousand Cubans migrating to Florida. Most of those settled in Miami and with them they brought into play their culture and heritage. Over the decades to come, the local economy and culture became empowered and influenced greatly by Hispanic presence. Business opportunities grew, and media and tourism became oriented towards Central and South America.
As a result, native Spanish speakers prospered and became influential residents of the bilingual Miami we know today. The 2010 U.S. Census file for Hispanic or Latino origins reports that about 35% of the population of Miami was of Cuban origin. About 40% of residents are Spanish-native speakers, which is more than enough to influence Miami.
The area west of the downtown Miami came to be known as Little Havana/La pequeña Habana or Calle Ocho. After the great migration in the 1960s, over half a million Cubans settled there, and named if after the capital of Cuba. As the neighborhood established itself, so did the warm and passionate spirit of Cuban culture. Today, you will find it hosting renowned festivals such as:
- Calle Ocho Festival
- Cultural Fridays/Viernes Culturales
- Three Kings Parade
Adding to the spirit of Latin America, you will find this part of town filled with colorful houses and local family businesses. And of course, since it celebrates Cuban culture, you ill find authentic cuisine as well as museums and theaters. All in all, a great place to visit and experience Cuban-American culture.
The battle against the arrival of bilingual Miami
As one might presume, there was a tension between the two languages within the limits of Miami. However, one has to understand that Spanish is more established in Miami than anywhere else in the States. It’s a way of maintaining the national identity of Cuba and savoring the heritage.
There was at one point during the 1980s a opposition to the spreading of Spanish in Miami. The so-called “English Only” movement attempted to suppress the progress of Spanish, but luckily failed to do so.
Miami is still a battlefield as it explores various political, educational and social reforms. Due to its unique population and mix of languages and cultures, Miami has become somewhat of a poster city for true diversity and embrace of the same.
Pursuing bilingualism in Miami from an early age
In 1963, shortly after Cuban exiles started arriving, the first bilingual school in the US at Coral Way Elementary School was opened. The school covers the area from Little Havana to Brickell Avenue. Ever since it’s launch, Coral Way has become a national model for dual-language education. It now has over 1,500 students from kindergarten through eighth grade versed in both English and Spanish
The curriculum is balanced out perfectly. Students learn language arts, science, and social studies in English and language, literature, humanities, and math in Spanish. When they reach 8th grade, students are already qualified to take (and pass) Advanced Placement Spanish exam.
Understandably, a majority of children in Coral Way are Hispanic. This does not however mean that all of them would be able to comprehend this level of Spanish at home. Particularly when you consider that the Miami youth today cares less and less about their Latino heritage. Coral Way and other schools like it ensure that the children don’t let go of their history and heritage. After all, those children will shape the future of Miami in the decades to come.
What does the present and future hold for bilingual Miami
Bilingual Miami is a city with an economy that relies on both languages today. But things are constantly changing. And while Spanish may have been spoken in homes growing up, recent research has shown younger generations of Miami Hispanics are less inclined to speak Spanish. And as a result, as they grow older they are far less likely to be able to read it.
The economy in Miami evolved and grew together with the bilingual system. But to sustain that, certain interventions are required. And if Spanish-language education isn’t harnessed at the local level, it puts the future of Miami at risk from economic crumbling. Even though most people consider Hispanics as non-influential residents of Miami, the truth is quite the opposite. We now have a number of businesses as well as successful educated Miami Hispanics influencing the community of Miami. To imagine the city without them would be ludicrous.
If you plan on (even on a budget) or pursue job opportunities in Magic City, prepare yourself. You will be confronted by a strong cultural influence of Hispanic culture and a large Spanish speaking population. Many people will address you in Spanish at initial contact and you would be smart to be able to reply in the same manner.
There is much to explore in Miami—from art galleries, restaurants and nightlife, to beaches, museums and performing arts centers. With Cuban influence and other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, you will find Miami is like no other place in the US.