Every year hundreds of thousands of people come to America, some for sightseeing and most come to seek for a better life. These immigrants dream of a future in America that is no less than heaven. What happens is that they in pursuance of their heaven they forget about their world. What I mean to say is that for immigrants to achieve their American dream, they will usually have to work hard on a regular basis that they are left with little or no time to spend with the children. The children slowly and gradually convert to the local culture and adapt to the local language. With little or no practice of their heritage language the children often tend to forget what they might have learnt earlier about their heritage language.
In some cases the parents themselves are apprehensive about the idea of teaching their children their heritage language, fearing that it might affect their ability to learn English. This does not only keep them away from the language, but also from the heritage culture of the parents. With the passage of time, the children are totally Americanized culturally and most parents will realize this misfortune only when their children are totally far gone into a strange culture and consider themselves as strangers to their own parent’s heritage.
This is a very painful episode that an immigrant can go through as the children grow up with a different ideology and opinion which most times contradict what you have learnt in your culture and society. Yet, another point of distress for such parents is that your child will totally avoid people from your heritage culture and drifts away with people from the dominant society. They no longer own you, your culture, your ideologies and even in some cases your religion. This happened probably because we as immigrant parents were too busy trying to make ends meet or being too apprehensive to teach your children your heritage language at an earlier age.
Teaching heritage language not just makes a child bilingual, but it also deeply embeds the seeds of heritage culture, norms, mannerism and an identity. These seeds grow with time and constant practice of your heritage language. If properly nurtured, your child will not be lost in the sea of the dominant culture and you will be saved from regrets later on.