Meet Rachel Havana

I live a life of service and self-care. Like many of you, I do a lot as a mother, business owner, homeschool teacher, caregiver and follower of Christ. To keep all this going I have to be very intentional about how I spend my time.

This is me on a fun day. Love those.

Me on a busy day. Love these too. 

How did I get here?

My life has been mostly charmed and for a time hell on earth. And I'm so thankful for all of it. The good times and troubles have made me who I am today. 

This blog was a creative outlet for me in the beginning. I needed something positive to focus my attention and energy on instead of the deterioration in my family. The three years before were extremely stressful. I was being gaslight, manipulated and lied to after finding out the love of my life had a double life. I was shattered. 

And that wasn't the end of it. Let the good times roll and the misery drop like a rock. My home, the center of my life, became toxic. So, I focused on rebuilding myself and saving us, me and my children from completely falling apart. I chose a new and healthy path for our lives. 

My Spanish Language Journey

It all began in a kitchen filled with the smell of mole. 

I wanted to learn the language of my man, my high school sweetheart. Like most, I tried a college class and a textbook. I got my A. I was a hot mess in the real world of Spanish. I had no ability to use the language.

Real results came when I started using Spanish in my real life. I came up with my own methods to build my vocabulary. Listening and speaking in real conversations did it. 

Then to push my all my language skills forward, I studied Spanish Language and Literature at UCLA. Whoa, that fire hydrant almost drowned me, but I survived and got loads more experience - professors with every global accent, ancient Spanish (sort of Latin), 3 inch thick books, research papers... without end.

But nothing compares to:

The Teach My Children Spanish Challenge

The next life chapter turned me into a stay at home mother of five. Natural births lead to homeschooling, of course, that's the seed my friend planted in my mind. Inevitably, I taught my kids to read English and how to learn anything worthwhile, especially to fear and love the Lord.

There was one problem that I couldn't escape --- my kids were not learning Spanish. 

  • they resisted
  • they would only answer in English
  • they didn't understand anything in Spanish

And I wasn't the only one. So many other parents said the same thing. This was one challenge I was ready to overcome. 

All my creative ideas to learn and teach children Spanish are coming together here on this blog, Grow Spanish. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Whenever I speak Spanish, people always go into language shock >>> because I speak Spanish fluently. I am an enigma - bilingual and a native American girl. Which one gives? I must be from somewhere else. They want to know more, so the questions start.

Where are you from?

¿De dónde eres? De aquí.

I'm from here, born and raised in Los Angeles, California, USA. I live with my five rambunctious children, their two dogs and some city wildlife outside. 

How did you learn Spanish so well?

 ¿Cómo aprendiste hablar español tan bueno?

My journey to fluency has had lots of twists and turns. It all started with meeting my future mother-in-law. And fast forward twenty five years, now I'm teaching my children Spanish at home. Looking back most of my learning happened in regular moments of daily life. 

I did go to UCLA and chose to major in Spanish Language and Literature. My reason - that was the easiest subject. Let's just say I survived. 

Do your kids speak Spanish?

¿Tus hijos hablan español?

Among the five, they're on a spectrum. My oldest can translate, but not speak, yet. He's got some strong listening comprehension skills. Get to work on talking, son.

The second child claimed to not understand a word. Last week, she revealed her spying plot. I was having one of those Spanish, ha ha, you don't know what I'm talking about conversations. Out of nowhere she said, "you know I understand everything you're saying. The joy of teaching victory.

The youngest three have lots of experience. I see them do word exploration, read aloud and enjoy it, even though they don't want to sometimes.


The Two Questions I Ask Myself

My teenage daughter calls me a wanna-be Mexican. If cooking delicious beans, orange rice, salsa verde, sopes, tortillas, chilaquiles... and teaching my kids Spanish makes me a wanna-be, then I am.

What's my deal with Spanish?

¿Cúal es mi obsesión con el Español?

My blood runs a Scandinavian-European mix, yet I find myself marinating in the language and food of Latin America. Taco Bell mild sauce was the only salsa I knew. I studied German for two years in high school. I'll blame my ex. He was the reason I learned how to cook the food he liked. And I needed to understand Spanish when I went to his moms house. Now, it's all a part of who I am today. 

I believe in the importance of connection. Lack of shared language is a barrier to understand and support others. Being able to communicate effectively in many languages is a beautiful thing that brings people together. My bigger purpose is to improve Spanish literacy on a global scale. 

Why do I talk about my kids so much?

¿Por qué hablo tanto de mis hijos?

They give me lots of great stories to tell. And they are my inspiration for so many of my ideas for learning and teaching Spanish. After all, they're my biggest challenge these days. I've got a lot of solutions to come up with. 

I am determined to help parents pass their second (or first) language on to their children. So many times I've heard stories of defeat. I am going to change that into a story of parental pride for their children's accomplishments.

Fun and Sometimes Embarrassing Facts

  • My favorite answer to my kids who say "I don't like [eating spinach, waking up at a decent hour, being kind, reading in Spanish...}" is "that's okay, you don't have to like it, you just have to do it with a smile."
  • I'm a barefoot athlete. I love a good sweat from hot yoga and inferno pilates. And running is torture (spontaneous sprints are fun).
  • I play infection, around the world, have races with my kids. They're embarrassed on this one.
  • My sweet little girls give me the best hugs.
  • I make plans and toss them out because it's too rigid. I love spontaneity, usually.
  • My favorite beverages are coffee with cream and bubbly water, best enjoyed during a long, hot bath. Self-care 101.

learn more on the blog

Grow Spanish skills for your real life