Juan Martinez, now a young boy, was born on December 20, 1998. He
is currently 6 years old and was born in Monterrey, Mexico. Juan is
Mexican, which is the majority ethnic group in Mexico. His primary
language is Spanish. The primary language in Mexico is Spanish, however
there are small towns in the southern part of Mexico that speak a
different language. Juan’s family only spoke Spanish at their
home in Mexico.
Juan lives with both of his parents and five siblings. Both his mother
and father are 35 years of age. Both of his parents are migrant farm
workers. They travel from state to state - season to season, following
whatever produce is in season at the time. Many websites give very
interesting information on the life of migrant workers, including
He has three brothers - ages 8, 3 and 1; and two sisters - ages 11
and 9. His two younger brothers stay with their grandma while the
parents are at work. When in Mexico, Juan and his siblings had to
travel with their parents whenever they went to another produce region.
They were never able to stay at one school for the entire year because
of their constant moves to follow work. Another website that gives
valuable information pertaining to children of migrant workers is:
http://users.owt.com/rpeto/migrant/migrant.html. It features articles
about migrant life as viewed by the children.
Juan’s family came to the United States for economical reasons.
They could not make enough money in Mexico to provide what they desired
for their family. They came seeking more reliable work and better
wages. Mexico did not provide the opportunities and income that is
available in the United States. Juan’s parents have stated how
glad they are to be in the United States. They still like Mexico and
visit often, but feel that the United States offers more opportunities
for a bright future. They want all their children to learn English
and to keep their use of Spanish. They have no personal issues with
the children speaking in English at home. They desire for their kids
to speak both languages fluently.
Now, that they are living in the United States, all of his older siblings
are currently in school and get to stay there for the entire school
year. Their grandmother is still the main provider of child care in
the home. His younger siblings still only speak Spanish, but can understand
some English words – most of which they have learned from Juan
and his other siblings. The primary language in the home is still
Spanish. However, Juan occasionally speaks to his older siblings and
friends in the community in English.
Juan’s parents work from sunrise to almost sunset. They are
a low-income family. Even though they do not have an excess of income,
Juan’s parents try to provide their children with the best possible
things. Juan and his siblings are very happy with their home life.
Juan, his parents, siblings and grandmother live in a modest 3-bedroom
trailer. They spend most of their afternoon playing outside with the
The community in which Juan and his family live is predominately Mexicans.
Most of their neighbors are from the same socio-economic status and
are employed at the same type of work. Most children in the neighborhood
are also watched by their grandparents, older siblings, or other relatives.
The language spoken in this community is Spanish, with mostly the
children speaking English with one other.
Juan came to the United States with his family when he was 4 years
old. He attended a Head Start program and is currently in kindergarten.
Juan is the average height for a kindergartner, has black hair, dark
brown eyes and tanned skin. He is very social with friends, but gets
very quiet when he does not understand something. His kindergarten
teacher provides little positive reinforcement and can be found making
references such as, “you should listen and get those potatoes
out of your ears.” When this is said to him, Juan looks confused
and starts trying to pull things out of his ears. These negative comments
are said to him and others in the class on a regular basis. Consequently,
it makes him shy away from his school environment. He is friendly,
very eager to learn and tries hard to speak English all of the time.
His English is very slurred, but he tries to stay upbeat about his
school activities he participates in.