Over the years, I’ve met many moms like me trying to pass on the native language to our children. We are lucky to have so many available resources to help us to teach Spanish. The same is with other modern languages spoken in the world. But, how do you pass your native language that it is in danger of extinction?
When Jewish mom Sarah Aroeste became a mom for the first time, she wanted her daughter to learn about Ladino, an ancient language also known as Judaeo-Spanish. Not finding children music in Ladino and inspired by her family’s Sephardic roots in Greece and Macedonia, Sarah decided to write her own songs.
On her children’s album, Ora de Despertar (Time to Wake Up,) this American songwriter and singer captures well her ancestral roots with contemporary influences such as rock, funk jazz and blues. The songs are catchy, fun and engaging. They will get stuck in your head and will teach you some Ladino along the way!
The differences and similitudes between Ladino and Spanish make this album so interesting to me. If you are a Spanish speaker, you will find that many words in these fun Ladino songs sound very similar. And this is because Ladino was originated by the Spanish Jews after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. (This is around the same time Columbus reached the New World). As Latinos, I think Sarah Aroeste’s Ora de Despertar is a personal invitation to explore our Spanish ancestry.
Many Ladino’s speakers today are elderly who have not transmitted the language to their children. Since the maintenance of a language is critical for the preservation of its cultural heritage, Sarah Aroeste’s children’s album becomes a wonderful resource to preserve Ladino. This is so important because “as languages disappear, cultures die. The world becomes inherently a less interesting place, but we also sacrifice raw knowledge and the intellectual achievements of millennia.” (Source)
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this album and animated series for review. All thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.