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Honor Warren Is Already Bilingual – Sort Of

09/25/2009 at 08:00 AM ET
Alex Thompson/Broadimage

Jessica Alba attended the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Thursday to promote global education for all children, and told PEOPLE she also relentlessly promotes education at home with 15-month-old daughter Honor Marie.

“I am a mother who shoves information down her throat, poor thing,” the currently blond actress said with a laugh. “I sing her songs about colors in Spanish and English when I’m cooking. Literally I integrate learning into everything I do. We’re into colors because I feel that’s something a 15-month-old can sort of identify. So now she kind of points to blue and says ‘azul’ and I say ‘Yes, azul, muy bien!’ It’s slow going but she’s sort of picking it up.”

The Fantastic Four actress proudly says her little girl is bilingual already — almost. “She says gato for cat. Pato for duck, but dog is dog,” Jessica says. “She doesn’t say perro. She kind of flips back and forth. She’s very silly. She growls like a lion whenever I say leon.”

Jessica announced that she will be the United States co-chair of 1GOAL, the new campaign to make education for all children the legacy of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. The actress says as a mother “everything becomes more important,” particularly education, which is why she is particularly dedicated to the non-profit. “It’s a human right, I believe, to have the opportunity to have an education and it’s unacceptable that 75 million children on this planet don’t have a chance to have one.”

She hopes to bring her daughter to Africa for the first time early next year. “I’m actually really excited about going to Africa for the first time with my daughter and exposing her to a completely different culture and having her learn through life experiences,” Jessica explained. “That’s one thing she’s going to get that not a lot of children have the luxury of having: traveling and being exposed to world issues and cultures and food. I can’t wait.”

Jessica adds that she’s excited 1GOAL is affiliated with the World Cup because she is a soccer fan. “I played soccer when I was a kid and so did my husband,” she says. “The wonderful thing about the 1GOAL campaign being tied into the World Cup is it’s the one time in the world when everyone puts down their differences, puts down their weapons, and roots for a team.”

– Kathy Ehrich Dowd

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Showing 28 comments

Amy on

I am an early childhood teacher and I wouldn’t say that learning to identify colors at 15 months is typical nor is it something you should expect from your child. It is far better to work on words that will be functional for them, such as eat,drink,help,down,play ect. I see lots of parents who assume that learning colors and numbers early makes them smarter, when in fact the child may not even have a word to tell the parents when they are thirsty or hungry. Drives me crazy! Sounds like Honor is doing very well though and Jessica is using every opportunity as a teachable moment. What a great mom!

Moore on

Amy, I guess it can also go by how you’re raised. Knowing colors along with simple 2 word phrases by 18 months is the norm in my family. The words you listed are worked on and most of the time known by a year old, 14 months at the latest. Children are not expected to be masters at it but knowing them is typical here.

Electra on

Its good shes bilinigual, but in quite a few interviews Jessica has claimed to not know a word of spanish and claimed to have not been raised latino at all. So its funny that shes trying to teach her child spanish when she herself said she and her father(the mexicano side of her family) didn’t know it. This woman annoys me.

k on

Electra, she’s said she did not growing speaking Spanish since her father didn’t grow up that way, either. She never once said she was ashamed of being Latina or not raised as Latina – since she was on Dark Angel, she’s been talking about her grandmother and the traditions in her family. Is it so hard to imagine that getting pregnant and starting a family would make her consider how she wanted to raise her own child and change from what her father chose? In her interview with OK after Honor was born she was saying she wanted to raise Honor to be bilingual, clearly, she’s also taken the time to learn a lot herself. I don’t understand how it’s annoying that she would want her daughter to have more and know more than she herself did.

It sounds so cute that Honor growls at certain words, I bet she cracks her parents up. :)

Lily on

I agree with you Electra. Jessica pretty much made it clear early on in her career that even though she had hispanic roots and had a Spanish name, she didn’t consider helf latina. She distanced herself from her Mexican heritage and wanted to lay it out there like hey, don’t expect much from me, because I don’t speak Spanish and I’m not really latina. Don’t pigeon-hole me, I’m just an actress, not a latina one. She said that,in those exact words. Now she’s trying to raise her child in some sort of bilingual atmosphere, embracing the heritage, when all along, she didn’t think it was important enough for her, but I guess now it is for her kid. Whatever. I see it somewhat hypocritical.

JMO on

I have to say it’s great that she wants Honor to be bilingual, nothing wrong with that.

I have a cousin whose father is puerto rican and she was always watched by her spanish speaking grandparents during the day…the child could understand and speak spanish by two…however at almost 6 she rarely speaks it but does understand it if you speak to her in that language. But at home her dad doesn’t speak to her in spanish and at school she doesn’t speak it so she sort of has lost interest. It’s something that if you don’t keep up with they’ll certainly forget and a lot of times if they’re not made to speak it they won’t.

I have a full time 18 mos old boy in my care and he is an excellent speaker. He will speak complete sentences. But we’ve worked on the colors thing and so far it’s a no go! He really hasn’t gotten the concept and right now I just teach it when we’re playing with different things but never shove it in his face all day. I figure he’ll pick it up and identify it when he’s good and ready. As long as he’s speaking right now is good enough for me!

Gracie on

I too find Jessica annoying…everything that comes out of her mouth, she makes it sound like she’s better than us. I remember in an interview,that the only spanish word she knows is hello and now all of a sudden, she’s fluent.

sil on

Lily & Electra,
Maybe she changed her mind now that she became a mom??
I’m a peruvian married with an italian, living in Italy with two italian daughters. When my daughter began to talk i thought it was better to teach her only italian, because i thought it was better for her just to learn one language first, but then after a while i realized that it was important for me and for her to learn her mom’s language so now she knows spanish and italian.
Is not the same for Jessica because she is actually not mexican, but growing up maybe she realized that for her daughter could be important to learn two languages, because of her mexican roots and because it’s important for her future to be bilingual.
Now my daughter is 4 and I’m also teaching her a little of english :)

Brianne on

Gracie, I agree 100%. She does seem to come off like she’s better than everyone, which bothers me.. She did say quite often that she does not consider herself Latina at all, which to me, seems a little disrespectful of her heritage, regardless of if she chooses to have Honor be bilingual or not – I am italian-AMERICAN, and my daughter knows several spanish words – from watching Dora – does that make me a latina? doubtful. That’s how Jessica is making it seem. but I agree. She just annoys me quite a bit.

Me on

Jessica has said that she has taken lessons to learn Spanish. What’s wrong with trying to learn and grow? And as she learns about her heritage, she wants to also teach her daughter. Again, what’s wrong with that?
I hope those who are judging her so harshly are either perfect or have less judgmental people in their own lives.

Electra on

My issue isn’t that she’s grown and learned, my issue is that sometimes she tries to play up being latina and sometimes she tries to disown it. Like others have said, shes been quoted numerous times as saying that aside from having a spanish last name she is not latina. That she doesn’t know the first thing about latino culture and that she grew up like a gringa. She said that he dad said “I don’t speak mexican” to george lopez(After he started talking to him in spanish). I cna’t stand anyone who consistently contradicts themselves that goes for average joes and celebs. Personally I’ve always been under the impression that Alba grew up Latina, but she tries and fails to downplay it in hopes of getting better- white roles(like fantastic four). Its her business but she ends up looking really silly imo.

Mary-Helen on

I think alot of Jessica’s distancing herself from her latina heritage is that she is biracial, so perhaps she didn’t feel she could be all “So proud to be latin” without offending her mother’s family. Also, if you recall alot of her comments, it seems like her Grandfather instilled alot of that negativity in her by saying she needed to know only english. It may have been how she was raised, that she should distance herself from that part of her. Perhaps Cash’s family is more open to embracing both sides (he is also biracial) and this has helped Jessica be more accepting of her latina heritage. Either way, it’s never too late to learn something, so kudos to her for learning spanish and helping Honor learn as well.

bre on

I don’t understand why Jessica has to “own” or embrace her latina heritage if it’s not something she grew up with. If she looked like Cameron Diaz, Alexis Bledel, or JoAnna Garcia I doubt she would get the flack that she does. This is one of her quotes:

“I never felt connected or attached to any race specifically. I had a very American upbringing, I feel American, and I don’t speak Spanish. So, to say that I’m a Latin actress, OK, but it’s not fitting; it would be insincere.”

Oh, and I have known a few one year olds who know their letters, shapes, numbers, and colors.

Gracie on

I have a problem with this woman who would like to come across as “intelligent” when in fact, she probably only has a GED under her belt. I hate it when Hollywood people shove their political views to the public thinking they are a great source of info. Let’s not forget the whole “Be Sweden” about it and oh the incident where she defaced a property and instead of taking responsbility for it, she blamed the group that she was with. come on, if you want to teach your daughter something, start with behaving properly and not attacking a reporter or defacing a property.

JMO on

also I don’t think you have to necessarily be a part of the cultural heritage in order to brace another language. Many people feel that children are better off starting early learning all kinds of languages. So because she doesn’t want to me Jessica “I’m not a latina” Alba doesn’t mean she can’t teach her daughter the language.

Mariel on

I agree JMO. You can do with your own kids all that you want to. ¡El español es tan bonito! I would love to hear Honor speaking my language.

alana on

I think it’s wonderful she wants to better herself and enlighten herself and her daughter by learning a new language. I am fully caucasian and don’t identify with any sort of mexican/spanish culture, but living in San Diego I wish I would have been taught to speak spanish at an early age too, since when you’re young it’s easier to learn! I now speak it almost fluently and when I have kids I hope they’ll learn to speak it too! It will definitely come in handy for world travels, and right in their back yard too! I also find knowing Spanish often helps with learning other latin-based languages because they all have similar roots. It often helps with early learning and even SATs when you’re in high school. So more power to her! Criticizing her for not identifying with her racial background would be like telling me I’m a horrible person for not identifying myself as a german/irish/english/european-american mix! I think “American” is as good as I can get these days!

freebreeze on

God I hate the my kid knows all their colours or has an incredible vocabulary interviews on this site (and yawn they all are apparantly: Suri – a genius, Violet – and incredible child, and now Honor – open heart surgery at 15 months s etc etc etc). I get she is entitled to say it, and I choose to come here and read it but its so BORING and SMUG !

Jessica on

Freebreeze, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s natural for ANY new mother to be incredibly proud of her child’s accomplishments. Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, and Katie Holmes are all new mothers! I don’t think that they are trying to come off as smug at all! It’s an amazing thing when you wake up one morning and your son or daughter has learned a new word or a new skill… It may sound horrendously boring to an outsider who has no part in the child’s development, but it is really something so exciting for every new mother. If it bores you so much, don’t read the interviews! I don’t think they list their children’s accomplishments to be boring OR smug.

Liese on

i don’t get what the big deal is. she doesn’t consider herself latina because she wasn’t raised in that environment. i have friends that look hispanic and they’re family background is hispanic but they knew very little about the culture because they weren’t raised in. everything they know about it now they learned when they went to college and learn the history and language. when they are around hispanic ppl and they hear them speak spanish with an american accent they’re labeled gringos and then at other times they’re expected to “represent” their ppl. no matter what they do or say someone is upset. kind of like how no matter what jessica alba says or does she wrong.

RIP Michael on

Lol Electra stole my post!

I was also going to say that I thought I read that Jessica herself did not speak Spanish, but who knows maybe she has taken lessons?

Whatever it is good for her because being bilingual is a plus in this country. I wish I was!

CelebBabyLover on

Jessica- How are Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner “new mothers”? Violet and Suri are both three years old (and actually, Violet is much closer to 4, as she’ll turn 4 on December 1)!

jill on

Jessica Alba and katie Holmes come across as smug actresses and mothers…Honor is not the first baby to be bilingual…I’m sure thousands and thousands of babies speak two languages at home but you don’t hear parents bragging about it. Also just because Honor knows 5 spanish words doesn’t necessarily mean she’s bilingual. If that’s the case, then I’m bilingual in Spanish as well coz I know 20 words or so. As for Katie Holmes, she’s just a little weird when describing Suri…didn’t she say suri is a great artist and the way she described her daughter is just not age appropriate like she is Picasso or something. hey it’s great to see my son do amazing things but I don’t say “he’s a wonderful poet” etc etc

Alice on

Hasn’t any of you thought that she didn’t want to be thought of as a Latin ACTRESS and made it clear in the press because of work consequences? She wasn’t raised in the latino culture yet she has latino looks (sort of). Latino actresses can be stuck in “latino roles” (I hope you see what I mean and I don’t offend anyone saying that). Think Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek etc. Jessica probably said that not to reject a culture she hasn’t even been raised in but so as not to be typecast. I think it’s valid.
Then she went and learnt Spanish for herself and teaches it to her child, I think it’s great for Honor! But her personal choices shouldn’t affect her career if she doesn’t want them to.

Jessica on

CelebBabyLover – While they may not have given birth yesterday, they are raising very young children who are continuing to experience new milestones everyday! Why shouldn’t they be able to celebrate their children’s new feats? And Jill, while there’s no question about the fact that Honor is not the first baby to be bilingual (obviously!), why can’t it be celebrated? Every non-celebrity parent at home who has a bilingual little one surely gloats in his or her own way and they should be able to because it is something to be extremely proud of! If Jessica Alba is attending the Global Clinton Initiative to promote global education for children and an interviewer asks her how important she considers education for her own child, what is she supposed to say? “Oh education’s cool…yeah I’m just more important that my daughter has a strange name and wears bows in her hair everyday.” No! She’ll obviously answer the question with what Honor IS learning at her early age.

P.S. I am not an Alba fan at all, just a fan of moms being able to celebrate their children’s milestones without others rolling their eyes.

CelebBabyLover on

Jessica- I agree (and by the way, I was simply curious as to why you consider Jennifer and Katie new moms. I wasn’t trying to say that they shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate their children’s accomplishments!)!

I think all new parents do some sort of bragging at some point! :) Same thing as Katie saying that Suri is a “wonderful artist”. To her, Suri probably IS a wonderful artist. It’s no different than how some parents marvel at how good their kid is at telling stories, or what a little comedien their kid already is. :)

MissCate on

There are many moms on this site who tell Katie to brush Suri’s hair and take pride in her child’s appearance, but then have a go at Jessica about taking pride in her child’s achievements. I doubt Jessica sees it as a competition, so I think the rest of us need to as well.

Good on Jessica for making an effort to teach her daughter something. There are far too many parents out there who are neglecting their children, how about we pay a little more attention to them?

MiB on

Well said Alice! I definitely think that Jessica wanted to break out of the “latina roles” just like many black actors and actresses have fought hard over the decades to get out of the “black roles”. I think it’s quite natural to want to be seen as an actress rather than a “latina actress”.

Anyways, I think it’s cool that she makes an effort to raise Honor bilingually even if she wasn’t. I am slightly older than her and when we were children, there were a lot of “studies” caliming that children couldn’t lean two languages at once, and if the parents tried they’d end up knowing only two half languages. They have since been proven totally false, but a lot of people are still concerned that children can’t grow up with two or even three functioning languages, fully developed.

As to the bragging and exaggerating, I’ve met very few parents who don’t brag about their children or exaggerates when telling stories about them.

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