March 23, 1997 in Nation/World

‘No One Here Speaks Spanish’

By The Spokesman-Review

Isabel Arana, age 2, speaks Spanish at home and English at the day care.

Sometimes, she mixes her languages, making her family laugh.

Her father, Antonio, learned some English in high school in California after he left Mexico in 1973. He grew comfortable with the language working as a tool and die maker for Harpers Inc. for 20 years. The job brought his family to Post Falls in 1994.

Antonio translates for his wife, Josefina. She didn’t need English in California. Even the Arana children didn’t need English. The public schools taught them in Spanish.

Idaho was different.

“No one here speaks Spanish,” Josefina says. “It was very hard.”

She speaks softly, as if she’s afraid her words might be wrong. She consults Antonio in Spanish to make sure she says what she means.

She tries to learn a few English words every day and takes English classes four mornings a week. She also works nights in assembly at Harpers. With three kids, study time is hard to find.

Josefina’s two older children are learning English quickly at school. Josefina and Antonio don’t want their children to lose their Spanish, so they speak Spanish at home.

The Aranas know English is the area’s official language without being told. They’re doing their part to learn, but say they’ll always understand better in Spanish such important things as the driver’s manual.

The Kootenai County commissioners’ ruling “makes me feel bad,” Antonio says. “They have something against people who speak other languages.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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