When You Are Bilingual And Love To Read

August 2021 – I’ve been wanting to write about this topic since I started this blog. Hello, my name is Nydia, and I am a Puerto Rican who lives in Florida. I started writing this blog in 2019, and I write and publish my posts in both English and Spanish languages. I do my own translations (sorry, Google translate helps, but it’s not always accurate.)

I have friends and family that speak and read in both languages, but I also have a few friends who understand only one language and not the other. Both posts get views. This tells me that I am reaching readers who find my posts and read them in English and in Spanish.

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The main communication language in Puerto Rico is Spanish, but we are part of the United States of America since 1908, so the American English language is taught in our schools and is used on the Island. Since we are considered American citizens, many Puerto Ricans opt to move to the continental states looking for a change, or for better job opportunities. There are still opportunities here in the USA for people who only speak Spanish, but having some basic knowledge of the English language helps.

Moving to the States is a bit of a culture shock, at least it was for me. Back in Puerto Rico, I was considered the “expert” bilingual person. When I moved to Florida, I barely could keep up in conversations or even understanding what was said while watching the news. I had to use the captions on my TV (I still do). I went places and had to ask “do you have anyone who speak Spanish here?” My sister Hilda, who was living in Florida at the time, was the one who called my attention on this. She said “how are you going to improve your English, if you are constantly asking for a Spanish speaker to help you?” That helped me put effort into improving my spoken English.

According to Babbel Magazine, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world (article The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World published in June 2021 I have to clarify that the article is based on the number of native speakers per country, not on people who live in other countries and speak the language. Taking into account access to media and technology around the world, the author compiled the data according to the number of native speakers per country, just to name the top 10 languages by number of native speakers.

The article clearly states that “determining what are the most spoken languages in the world is a more difficult task than you might imagine”. English language is listed as the third most spoken. The author mentions there are about 370 million native English speakers, and about 978 million people who speak it as a second language.

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This year, 2021, marks 20 years since I moved to Florida. My English language knowledge has improved, but I still get my “what did they say” moments. You see, at home I speak mostly Spanish, so when I go to the office to work, I sometimes forget the right words to use in English. It happens to me all the time.

Since I started writing the blog, I’ve always been curious about who reads my posts, from what country or location, and in what language they read them. I love seeing the flags of those countries when I check my statistics of who visit my blog. I know there are apps and plugins I can add to my website to verify these analytics, maybe one day I’d be able to add them.

When reading a book, I always prefer to read in my first language, Spanish. But most books I find, living in the United States, are in the English language. I do like reading in English. It gives me a chance to learn new words and how to use them. English is after all one of the top languages used around the world. But I like to check if those books are available in a Spanish language translation.

Living in any country with access to technology and internet, the access to resources in your native language are easy to find and use. But many times, you want to find information in your language without having to recur to those resources.

So, this also made me curious, thinking on how I love reading, and how I’d love to find those book I’ve read in English, translated into Spanish, I started wondering how many others think like me. I decided to do a survey. I only surveyed people who understand the Spanish language, because I wanted to know their preferences about language when choosing a book. Do they prefer to look up books in Spanish, or do they prefer to look up books in English?

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I surveyed 100 people to get their insight on their language preferences when reading. I am very happy with the results!

First, here is the summary of the demographic data responses:

Question 1, What is your age?: 97 responses, 3 skipped.

The youngest participants were two 21 years old females, and the oldest participant was a 74 years old female. The biggest age group that responded was the 50-59 group (38), followed by 40-49 (33), 30-39 (11), 60-69 (6), 20-29 (7), and 70-79 (2).

Question 2, What is your gender? 99 responses, 1 skipped. Females: 74, Males: 25.

Question 3, Relationship status: 99 responses, 1 skipped. 54 Married, 2 Widowed, 10 Divorced, 4 Separated, 13 Cohabiting, not married, and 16 Single, never married.

Question 4, Place of residence: 99 responses, 1 skipped.

The answers to this question are always interesting to me. I am from Puerto Rico, and I still have family and many friends who live on the Island. I currently live in Florida, where I also have family, and I have made many more friends. I also have many friends that I have met in person or through social networks, living in different states. I also have a sister who lives in Spain with her family. I received 37 responses from people residing in the continental United States of America (US) and 62 responses from people living outside the US. Those 62 responses included participants from Puerto Rico (55), Spain (5), Venezuela (1) and one answer I loved: from el “Caribe” (1). It actually shows how broad the scope of the research is when social networks are used. It also shows how we can reach people in other countries, how we connect and communicate through Internet and the well known World Wide Web (www).

From the 55 responses of people living in Puerto Rico, I received responses from 14 municipalities: Aibonito (1), Barranquitas (1), Bayamon (2), Carolina (3), Cidra (1), Coamo -my hometown- (19), Corozal (1), Guaynabo (3), Moca (1), Orocovis (6), Sabana Grande (1), Toa Alta (2), Toa Baja (1), and San Juan (8). 5 responses just listed “Puerto Rico”.

From the 37 responses of people living in USA, I received responses from 15 states: Arizona (1), California (1), Washington -District of Columbia- (1), Florida, my home state (16), Georgia (4), Illinois (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (2), Mississippi (1), New Jersey (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), South Carolina (3), Texas (2), and Washington (1).

Again, thank you to all who participated. I know one participant who is no longer among us, my late uncle Eliezer “Tantin” Barrios. He always participated in any survey I did. He was an avid reader and he always had a desire to learn and educate others. He enjoyed talking and discussing about so many different topics. He will be greatly missed.

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Here is the summary of the results. To discuss the findings, I always have many options to manage those responses. It turned out to be a pretty interesting research. This time, I am discussing the results in general, just focusing on the total of responses for questions on the topic of books and reading.

Question 5, Like or dislike reading: 99 responses, 1 skipped. I gave four (4) choices:

  • I love reading (61),
  • I like to read (28),
  • I read, but it’s not my favorite thing to do (11), and,
  • I’m not interested in reading (0).

I’m happy to report that 61 participants love reading, and, not even one person responded that they’re not interested in reading! I love that I have so many reader friends.

Question 6, In what language do you prefer to read books (Spanish or English): 100 responses. I gave five (5) choices:

  • read only in Spanish (27),
  • read only in English (7),
  • I can read in Spanish, but prefer English (11),
  • I can read in English, but prefer Spanish (27), and,
  • I have no preference (28).

A total of 54 participants read in or prefer Spanish, 18 read in or prefer English, and 28 have no preference. As a reminder, the survey was written in Spanish and directed at people who use Spanish as their main language. It was interesting to see how many of the participants have no preference.

Here I make an exception when discussing these results, because I am interested in knowing how the answers have been by place of residence.

  • Of 54 participants who read or prefer to read in Spanish: 37 are residents of Puerto Rico, 10 are residents of the United States, and 7 participants reside in other countries.
  • Of 18 participants who read or prefer to read in English: 6 are residents of Puerto Rico, 11 are residents of U.S, and 1 participant resides in another country (in the Caribbean). Participants residing in U.S. prefer to read in English.
  • Of 28 participants who have no preference: 6 are residents of Puerto Rico, 11 are residents of U.S.

Participants residing in Puerto Rico prefer to read in Spanish, and participants residing in the U.S. prefer to read in English.

This is a book by my friend, Puerto Rican writer JD Estrada. It’s a collection of short stories, essays and poems in both languages.

Question 7, When you like a book, do you buy to read it, or do you read then buy: 99 responses, 1 skipped. I gave three (3) choices:

  • I buy it to read (75!),
  • I read first, then I buy (6), and,
  • I look for it in the library (18).

I’m surprised and happy to see that 75 of 100 people responded they buy books to read! For me, personally, it depends. I have bought books to read, mostly because I know the author, or I like the brand (Hallmark romance, for example), or recommended by friends. Other times, I read it first then decide to buy. And, yes, there are times that I pick a book at my local library and decide to buy after reading it.

Question 8, When you like a book in English, do you buy it or look for a Spanish translation: 100 responses. I gave four (4) choices:

  • I buy and read in English (50),
  • I check if there’s a Spanish translation before buying (26),
  • I buy in English, but I prefer a Spanish translation (13), and,
  • I don’t buy it (11).

Again, these results are another interesting find. They reflect, in my opinion, that since the majority of participants understand the English language, half the answers were that they’d buy and read the book in English. 39 participants would look for a Spanish translation. Only 11 participants do not buy the book in English.

Question 9, When you buy a book, what format (traditional or electronic) do you prefer: 100 responses. I gave four (4) choices:

  • traditional/paper book (73!),
  • electronic/e-book (8),
  • audio book (1), or,
  • no preference (18).

Again, it makes me happy to see that the majority picked the traditional paper book. 18 participants have no preference. I personally prefer the paper book, the sensation of touching and having a book in my hands, and the smell of the paper. Only 9 participants prefer electronic version (e-book, audio book). I’m getting used to e-books and audio books. I can only guess this number will increase with the access to so many things on the internet. I recently discovered, with the pandemic restrictions of visiting many places, that my library offers people with subscription cards, access to a wide variety of e-books.

Question 10, last one, Where do you prefer to buy books: traditional bookstore, or online: 100 responses. I gave four (4) choices:

  • traditional bookstore or department store (31),
  • on line, prefer Amazon website (18),
  • online, at any website (13), and,
  • no preference (38).

The top answer was no preference (38), followed by traditional bookstores (31). An interesting aspect of this survey is that it was conducted between 2019 and 2020, before the restrictions imposed by the Covid pandemic started. I wonder how many of those participants had to turn to buying books online, because of the pandemic. I like buying books online, but I do visit the bookstores in my community to check and browse on titles or covers that catch my attention. I also like visiting places where I can find used books for sale.

In summary, the majority of participants: love to read, prefer reading in Spanish, prefer buying books to read, don’t mind buying books in English, prefer traditional paper books, and have no preference between buying books in a traditional bookstore or online, although 31 participants prefer traditional bookstores.

Since I started this blog, I’ve been suggesting to my author friends who write in English, to get their books translated to Spanish. I know there is a market, because I am one of those readers who love to find books in Spanish language. I have also made the suggestion to Hallmark Publishing brand and Harpeth Road Publishing, recently founded by writer Jenny Hale, who already gave me heads up that she is working on it. I hope to see their books published in both languages soon.

There is plenty more that I want to write and share with you about this topic. If you have any idea or opinion on this topic, please let me know. I am working on my first romance book, which I plan to publish in both languages. I hope that would be soon. It has turned out to be a lot of work and details before making it a reality.

Thank you all who participated, and all who read my stories. Thank you for reading. Thanks for following me on this journey. If you are on social media, I’m on Twitter as Nydia Raquel #FullofCoffee (@NydiaRaquel25). I have a page on Facebook, please visit and follow here Facebook, Full of Coffee Blog. And I recently joined Instagram @fullofcoffeeblog. I’m still learning how to manage all of these.

As always, no matter where you are from, or where in the world you are reading from, or what time zone you live in, or in what language you read my posts, it’s always time for my tacita de café. Salud!

Para la versión en español, vea

I'm a Puerto Rican living in Florida. Mom, Blogger, and Writer! Fan of coffee, baseball, books, sweet romance novels and Hallmark movies, and of course, my beautiful Puerto Rico.

One Comment

  • JDEstradaWriter

    Google translate sometimes works, but definitely doesn’t speak Puerto Rican lol. I am one of the many who joined the diaspora in search of better opportunities and more stability…and I moved to the US in 2016…just in time for things to get real weird lol. As for the most spoken languages, people often forget China. The main thing is that as far as Native Speakers, Spanish outnumbers English, but when it comes to people who know remedial/conversational English, that bumps the number considerably versus other languages. In regards to me, I’m also Puerto Rican and my first language is Spanish, but I almost always end up reading you in English. I think that reflects more on what I find easier to read though and I read WAY more in English than Spanish. And hooray for a solid pool of readers! And wow, as I make my way through your blog post I’m commenting and see my book. Mil y mil gracias por eso. Qué linda. As for books, I normally buy to read though I do also visit libraries (or used to). As for books in Spanish, I rarely look for a book in more than one language, with the glowing exception of El Principito. I did read Dante’s Inferno in English, and if you ask me, if you can’t read in original Italian, go for Spanish. Also, although not practical, I love the feel of a real book over eBooks always. Also, I may buy most of my eBooks through Amazon, but rarely do I buy paperbacks from them. I’m sure there’s a market for Spanish books, but I’m extremely picky and I want to do it myself. The thing is that it takes a lot of time and I have a lot of projects running at the same time lol. Pa lante, can’t wait to read your book, though now the question….en qué lenguaje te voy a leer???? 😀 Un abrazo.

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