Henry Sales: Welcoming Indigenous Languages in Schools

Educator Henry Sales (Mam) discusses the importance of welcoming Indigenous families' languages in schools and not assuming that all students coming from Latin America speak Spanish as a first language.


When I say students are Indigenous or they come from an Indigenous community, that means that they don’t speak Spanish or English, they speak an Indigenous language which is not from Europe, it’s from this continent, America. I would like teachers to know that not everyone that comes from Latin America speaks Spanish. If they do speak Spanish, but maybe they’re not fluent in Spanish, maybe they don’t how to read and write in Spanish, and maybe they never went to school. I would suggest that schools maybe, instead of saying, “Do you speak Spanish?” Or maybe, “Do you speak Spanish or do you speak an Indigenous language?” Because that really opens the door for a lot of parents to say, “No, no, I actually I speak – I don’t speak Spanish, actually I speak an Indigenous language.”