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'Littlest Interpreters' Grow Up Fast, but the Benefits Can Be Many

March 09, 1990

I was particularly interested in "The Littlest Interpreters" (March 1) because I have some experience in this area, though not with Latinos.

Eight years ago a great number of Vietnamese moved into our area and I became their friend. All of the children acted as interpreters for their parents, and they often sought help from me when they didn't understand a letter or had trouble with the landlord.

I take exception to the experts who claim that these children may develop resentment toward their parents and that this is too much responsibility for children.

On the contrary, these kids benefit greatly and I feel certain that it strengthens the bond between parent and child. The child gains an important place in the family. He feels needed and capable. I recently had the pleasure of watching a child doing the family shopping alone. He swept down the aisles, handling money and coupons with an aplomb that few possess.

Supposedly, the average American has difficulty filling out a job application. Not these lucky children. By the time they are ready for college, they are experts. They take care of their own college applications and financial statements. They are ready to take their place as responsible, caring adults because they practiced as they went along.

JENNIE DOUGLAS, Long Beach

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