A Dual Language School in Austin, TX

The link below is to a two-way immersion school in Austin, Texas. It is scheduled to be opened Fall of 2009! I am so excited because it uses what is, in my opinion, the best methods to learn an additional language (the two-way immersion or dual language model). The school will also teach Chinese mandarin and have an IB (International Baccalaureate) program.

I had the opportunity to teach in two-way immersion program in Kansas City, MO and observed the great benefits it can have in a community and on children!

The school is going through one of the many processes required by TEA (Texas Education Agency) before actually being approved as a “charter, ” so keep you fingers crossed. The hard work various key individuals have put into making this a reality is paying off!!!!


If you are interested in dual language education click on the link below to find out more about Austin Community School.

Austin Community School


Mira que gorda estas :)

Alright, here’s something I will probably never understand. This is an experience practially ALL of my American friends who have family or friends in Latin America have experienced. It starts with a friendly greeting, “Hola (besos y abrazos) como estas? Mira que gordos estan! Como les va?” Whoa!!!! What? Did they just call us fat? Yup, same reaction everytime. My girlfriend and I go through this experience back and forth trying to figure out WHY? Why do they (family or friends from south of the border) think it’s ok to comment on their opinion about our weight.

When I was in the Dominican Republic they wouldn’t say you were fat or a little overweight, they would say “El es muy fuerte!” Doesn’t that sound better? My grandmother on the other hand whenever she would think one of us was way too skinny would sit us down and ask if everything was ok. I think in the Latin culture if you are overweight people think you are doing well…maybe. That’s one rational I have gotten. The others aren’t sure why people feel it’s ok to comment on an individuals weight.

Another notion about the “Ay mira que gorda estas” comment is that Latinas talk about appearances (which I am sometimes guilty of myself) as if it was all that mattered. I guess thats one reason why I, and others, find the comment such a nuisance.

Who knows? Can anyone enlighten me on this topic?

Expression through language…

You can tell alot about a person through their choice of words. Like where they live, where they have been, and what they have read, seen, heard so on and so forth.

The aspect about language that I can’t seem to grasp are how some jokes are hilarous in Latin America, but just don’t translate here. Also, how certain comical phrases just aren’t funny in English. For instance, about a month ago I was eating dinner at my abuelitas house with some cousins from Mexico. One of the cousins looks at her husband and says, “Bueno, esposo mio, cuerpo de uva, ya nos tenemos que ir/Well, husband of mine, body of a grape, we’ve got to go.” Everyone, including myself was laughing, but as soon as I translated it, I knew that I could never pull that phrase off in English.

In Ecuador my husbands family loves telling jokes. Jokes that are what I would call stories. Sometimes they require two people to tell the joke. Throughout the story everyone laughs periodically. I do my best to follow, but many times I just don’t get them. Even when I translate them, I don’t find them comical. I remember another instance when we were hanging out with about 15 people from Colombia. They started sharing similar long jokes, everyone laughing. They are really quite engaging to watch, but it was difficult to find them as funny as everyone else.

I always to try to equate these kinds of experiences with instances in English in order to comprehend them better. This is when I realize that sometimes language is closely tied to culture and some things just aren’t comparable. Maybe not all language experiences share an equivalent counterpart in another language??

Lost in translation?

This past weekend I attended my cousins wedding. The most interesting part (other than the obvious beautiful happenings we normally see at weddings) was the reciting of the wedding vows. Let me preface what I’m about to write about with, everyone there spoke Spanish fortunately. The groom is a native Spanish speaker and more proficient in Spanish; decided to recite his vows in Spanish, while my cousin recited her’s in English! The minister said everything in English, so you can just imagine how on top of being nervous the groom was also trying to translate everything! The rest of the wedding was a muscial stream of Spanish, English, and Spanglish.

Infatuated with cognates/Infatuada con cognados!

I recently taught junior high students English as a Second Language (ESL) for a month. It was one of the very best teaching experiences I have had (it’s hard to beat Buenos Aires)! We started a cognate list immediately. All of the romance languages have obvioius cognates with English, especially academic terms. As we delved into extending our cognate list and as we received new students from Nigeria and Iran, whose native languages aren’t romance languages; I began to do some more research into what exactly is a cognate.

Essentially, cogantes are words that share the same origin. They’re helpful in the different content areas and with academic terms when students speak a language that share the Roman Alphabet like English and Spanish, although Farsi has English cognates, too.

Because most all of my students have been here from 2 months to 3 years I didn’t get into all the intricracies of what it means to have a cognate. I left it simply as “In our class cognates are words that have a similar spelling and the same exact meaning.” Whereas, the real definition includes words that have the same origin and meaning. In other words, their spellings may have changed in one language and even if they aren’t spelled similarly, they are in fact still cognates.

Here’s a list of some of the cognates we discussed: