Dania Ramirez: I Have Everyone Speaking to My Twins in Spanish

01/15/2015 at 03:00 PM ET

Dania Ramirez L.A. Art Show Opening Night
JB Lacroix/WireImage

Devious Maids star Dania Ramirez is determined that her twins, Gaia Jissel and John Aether, grow up to be bilingual — and luckily her family is completely on board.

“My cousin Yoli is here from Mexico, and she’s been helping me with the kids since the very start. She only speaks Spanish to the babies,” Ramirez, 35, told PEOPLE at the L.A. Art Show Opening Night, benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in downtown Los Angeles.

“We just started reading them books in Spanish as well. Just trying to tell them all the stories in English and Spanish so they can be fluent,” she says.

While her 1-year-olds aren’t showing off their foreign language skills quite yet, Ramirez sees her efforts paying off. “I have everyone speaking to them in Spanish [so] I think they might understand it a little better right now,” she explains.

But the actress admits it’s a lot for her toddlers to take in. “I do think they might be a little confused,” she says with a laugh.

During her downtime, Ramirez is working hard and succeeding at getting her pre-baby body back. Although it’s only been a year since she gave birth, she’s in better shape than ever and credits it all to hot mat Pilates.

“I feel like it transformed my body,” Ramirez explains. “It’s one thing that you’re losing weight, but then to get those long, lean muscles and get your body in shape — the kind of shape that you want to be in when you have to act and take your top off — is another.”

— Abby Stern

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Showing 15 comments

Melissa on

Studies show speaking to 1-yr-olds in two languages will hurt their pronunciation of both languages. Maybe wait a year? Oh wait…too late. Good luck!

I said it so! on

But America and English bring you the bucks….

Krystal on

Really Milly? Get over yourself.

As far as the doubters, it does delay their speech sometimes to teach them 2 languages at once but children learn quickly. I’ve visited many places in Europe where small children are fluent in 4+ languages. They don’t seem to have a problem with it.

Katie on

Good for them. My granddaughter is the same way. When we took her to a Mexican restaurant one time, the owner was speaking to her in Spanish as usual – when I asked her what he said, she shrugged her shoulders and didn’t know even tho she was responding to him in Spanish. At her young age, she apparently couldn’t convert it in her mind to English. .

Katie on

I grew up with friends who were German and English. It was so funny because their younger siblings would complete a sentence in both language which is what their mom said they did when they were the same age. But they are fluent in both. I’d love to be!

mandy on

you live in America, use english

Rem on

You all are crazy! I spoke perfect Spanish and English since I can remember. I could read in English way before I went to kindergarten and learned to read in Spanish later on. It does not delay anything. It’s a growing problem in our Hispanic culture that kids raised in the US are not learning Spanish and it’s really sad that they aren’t able to communicate to older family members that speak no English. So good for her she’s enriching their lives by teaching them another language.

Carmen on

My twins are bilingual in both English & Spanish since they were a little over a year old. Were they a bit delayed? yes. But now at 9 years old they speak both languages beautifully and fluently. I can’t tell you how many people tell us was a great thing we did teaching the kids Spanish and how they wish their kids spoke another language.. BTW…we are Puerto-Rican. Some of the comments on here are just stupid and very ignorant…..Rem, I completely agree with you 🙂

Nicole on

My boyfriend is Mexican and he’s been speaking Spanish since he was a toddler. I don’t really know much Spanish but if we had children I would want them to learn Spanish as well English. I think its good for a person to be bilingual.

Vanessa on

what is wrong with wanting your children to be bilingual? I learned both French and English at a very young age and am grateful that my parents took the time to teach both my mother tongue (French) and a second language (English) as well as Spanish that I learned in school. Knowing more languages simply opens the world to you!

Marky on

I have a friend from Central America who married a person from the USA; their children have spoken Spanish with one parent, and English with the other all their lives, and have become fluent in both. They never had any difficulty switching back and forth, and simply speak whichever language you speak to them. It has been interesting to see them develop into such well-rounded personalities, and hopefully that will happen with the twins. As for “they need to speak English first”, Kids learn easily, and there is no reason for her children not to learn both at the same time.

Amanda on

Really people? This proves that some people will find fault in anything. She is giving her kids a serious leg up by teaching them another language while they are young. Did you know that learning another language while still so young is proven to help with learning OTHER languages later in life? Also, while it may delay speech, and often does, it does not cause any issues with them long term. I *wish* I had had people around me and my children when they were young to speak another language to them, it is so good for their minds and good for them in general. We may live in America but America is not seen as very intelligent because we are one of the only developed nations that don’t insist on our children being multi-lingual and eventually I believe that will be a huge downfall for our country in the global market. We aren’t the superpower we used to be and the rest of the world will not cater to ‘slow’ Americans who only speak english forever. Thankfully while I didn’t have someone to help teach my kids when they were babies/toddlers they now go to a school that has spanish class starting in kindergarten. It would have been much easier for them to have learned it younger though.

Damoiselle on

I can’t understand why some people think being bi/multilingual isn’t a good thing. I don’t know anyone who’s ever said “I wish I couldn’t know/speak another language”. It could be that the twins’ dad and his side of the family speak to them in English.

My husband and I are both trilingual, and we do, for the most part, one parent-one language with our 14 month old. We live in an English-speaking country and not once have we had any negative comments like “we speak English in this country, you should speak to her in English”. Our daughter WILL speak English because once she goes to day care / school, she was be immersed in it. It will come to her.

I’m expecting her mix up her languages, and for her to be a bit “slower” than her peers, but research also shows that mult-lingual children eventually catch up, and sometimes even surge ahead of their monolingual peers!

Kate on

If she has wanted FULL HISPANIC children she should have married a Hispanic man.

Rafael on

To People who say: “This is America, speak English or leave”, I want to remind then:
1. America is a continent from Alaska to Argentina. The most spoken language in “America” is SPANISH and not English.
2. If what you really mean is USA, then it is important to know that Spanish was spoken in the States (California, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Florida,…)150 years before than the first English settler arrived.
3. Many of this people who speak Spanish are born in the USA and have the same right that you have to stay, and they have the same right that you have speaking the language they prefer.
4. Many of those who say speak English! They speak only one language and they don´t like other people being bilingual. These people want you to speak English, but they will speak only English when visiting other countries (if they have ever being abroad).
5. There is not a official language in the US.