Q&A: Sara Al-Khalidi (11)


Sara Al-Khalidi (11) speaks Arabic and English. Al-Khalidi shared how being bilingual has impacted her life.

Bailey Lewis, Author

Q:  How do you communicate with your family at home?
A:  I speak Arabic with them mostly. Sometimes I’ll throw in some English words that I know they will understand, but most of the time it’s just Arabic.  


Q:  Is it strange for you when you’re speaking Arabic to throw in English words?

A:  Not really because sometimes I don’t even notice it until after. It just comes out naturally. I learned [English and Arabic] at the same time because at home I would be speaking Arabic, but at school I would be speaking English. English [was easier for me to learn] because I was around it more and to this day I am more fluent in English than I am in Arabic because I have been influenced by it more. I feel like if I didn’t speak Arabic, I would be slightly better with English vocabulary. It doesn’t happen often, but I have ran into that problem a few times before with friends or teachers that I don’t understand. I will probably understand it from context, but I will not be able to give a definition of the word.

Q:  When did your parents move here?
A:  About 18 or 19 years ago. They used to live in Kuwait and then there were invasions going on. They decided to move to America for a better lifestyle. They have both been speaking Arabic all of their lives, even when they moved to America, they only spoke Arabic.  


Q:  Has speaking English at home influenced your parents vocabulary at all?
A:  Yes because when me and my siblings talk, we will throw in some English words and stuff that they will understand, so that has helped them. Also, when they go to their jobs, they speak English and listen to English speakers, so they catch onto that.


Q:  Has the language barrier impacted your relationship with your parents?

A:  There are English sayings that you can say that have a completely different meaning in Arabic and it doesn’t make sense. [I don’t think it has impacted our relationship] because we usually just laugh it off if I have said something in Arabic that I translate word-for-word from English. It wouldn’t cause a problem because we both understand how that is.

Q:  Has being bilingual helped you learn other languages?
A:  Yes because a lot of Arabic words and Spanish words are very similar. [I think it has been more difficult to learn] Spanish because of the lettering. With English, it’s easier, but with Arabic and Spanish, there are rolls of the tongue, so I think Arabic would be easier than Spanish, but also English is easier than Arabic.