By Laurie Lechlitner
WARSAW — “My husband Lucas and I began Language Matters in a tutoring format at Grace College,” stated Bethany Fonseca.
“We began helping English speakers who wanted to learn Spanish and Spanish speakers who wanted to learn English. Before long, the venture became a language company that equips cities and businesses through Spanish marketing services, Spanish and English translation and language learning programs.
“I’m especially excited about the bilingual books project we’ve started, creating bilingual manuscripts for children’s picture books. An international team helps with editing. I’ve always been a writer at heart, and love creating literature in both English and Spanish.”
Fonseca grew up on the mission field. “We served in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. I learned to speak Spanish fluently, but more importantly, I learned to look beyond the stereotypes people associate with foreign cultures. To understand culture, you need to spend time with people.”
Fonseca encourages individuals to travel to broaden their perspectives. “Don’t go on trips with the purpose of ‘fixing’ or ‘helping’ the people in that region. Travel to change your own worldview and learn from them.”
One of the things she learned living in the Dominican Republic, for example, is that many families there choose to invite only their closest friends into their homes. “They meet acquaintances at restaurants and coffee houses many times before those individuals have earned the trust to be welcomed into their home, which they view as their most vulnerable and private setting. That was always really interesting to me.”
Writing her first manuscript at the age of 15, a dystopian-society novel, Fonseca has a wild imagination and loves to tell a good story. “The bilingual books project gives me the opportunity to advocate for Spanish-speaking kiddos in the publishing world.”
She has written six children’s books that are ready for representation in both English and Spanish, as well as countless drafts that are waiting to be turned into books. “We need more children’s books on the market featuring Latino protagonists. How will little Latinos and Latinas believe that they have a place in the reading and writing spheres, the world of books, if they don’t see faces that look like theirs? We want them to be represented better and more often.”
Fonseca and other staff members from the business noticed a trend that led to the creation of this project. “Many young Hispanics who have lived in the United States most of their lives are losing their ability to speak their native tongue; sometimes, they can’t communicate with family members in Spanish. But we want these kids to see the value in their heritage.
“Right now, we’re looking for agents and publishing partners to help us get these materials on the market. We can turn out engaging, quality children’s literature quickly in both languages.”
One of the books she’s written is titled “A Little Bit of Both.” “It’s a rhyming story about a spunky Puerto-Rican/American Chica. She’s exploring her place as a mixed-kid. Another book, titled ‘Yama: the Peruvian Llama,’ features a quirky llama on a Peruvian adventure to find a llama-love.”
To connect with Bethany and the Bilingual-Books-Project team, contact [email protected].