In search of the ideal foreign language program for your child? (a post in progress)

Where do you start? Which language do you choose? How do you know which school is the best for your child? How much should it cost? Do all the parents at that school have the same goals? Does it matter? Should there be economic and ethnic diversity? If these are questions that matter to you when choosing a language immersion program then continue reading below.

When I started investigating,  8 years ago,  which language program would be a great fit for my daughter I simply looked at programs that offered Spanish. I failed in considering whether the foreign language programs were a good fit for her emotional and social well-being. One of the goals in writing this post is to offer parents an informed perspective, as a parent and academic, in helping you choose the “right” school for your child.

Please leave any other questions or concerns about choosing the ideal foreign language school for your child in the comments section below.

**this is a rough-draft of an upcoming post

 

 

 

 

Our Interview with Telemundo-Austin about Being Bilingual

When I got the e-mail from the Telemundo reporter, Camila Bernal, I was ecstatic. She said she found an old blog post of mine on NBC Latino about maintaining Spanish at home when my daughter was attending (for the first time!) an “English-speaking” school. I was happy at the chance to answer any of her questions about raising bilingual children in Austin.

I decided to have the interview at the Spanish immersion school, Academia Pre-escolar, my daughter was attending for various reasons. Not only does the school have an amazing backyard, but the owner, Pamela De Los Santos , has created such a warm and loving space where children can grow to become bilingual.

When Camila arrived my older daughter asked me if she could be interviewed too. I said, “Claro que si, pero tienes que hablar en espanol.” She agreed without a blink. After watching the recording when it aired a few days later and seeing Sabrina shine bright as a (bilingual) Spanish  speaker the entire SIX YEARS my husband and I have spent enforcing (in positive ways) the use of Spanish seemed to have paid off.  I couldn’t have been prouder of my nena despite the fact that she stole the show! LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. In the interview she mentioned that she loves speaking Spanish because her Abuelita speaks it and that she loves to sing songs in Spanish. My heart melted. This moment will definitely go down as one of the proudest “bilingual moments” we have had with Sabri.

I have to admit when my oldest daughter was born the support to raise bilingual children in Austin was on the rise. The year she was born coincided with the local school district implementing dual language education, which was also the year I started collecting data for my dissertation. This bilingual journey of ours has taken many turns from moving to Ecuador to collecting data in a dual language school. All in all, it has been an amazing adventure!

Below is the link to the interview. Enjoy!
http://telemundoaustin.com/news/local/formando-hogares-y-nios-bilinges-en-austin

Saludos desde Austin, Tejas where we proudly raise bilingual kids!

 

 

Co-authored a Huffington Post Article about CA’s Proposition 58- LEARN

Please help me in spreading the news about California’s Proposition 58 – (Language Education, Acquisition and Readiness). It will be on the November ballot and we must get California residents to vote YES. Voting YES means ALL students in the state of CA will have the opportunity to receive a multilingual education. This isn’t the first time I have urged the public to become advocates for bilingual education, so please take a moment to read about the proposition and share it with friends, family, and colleagues that can vote in the state of California.

Some may ask why I have an invested interest in seeing this proposition pass. I grew up in Southern California and in a bilingual community up until 8th grade. I personally did not benefit from bilingual education, but would love to see it an option for all students, but, especially students who come from bilingual homes.

Please click on the link below to read the Huffington Post promoting CA Proposition 58.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/american-anthropological-association/save-ca-residents-from-a_b_11387726.html

A Bilingual Journey of Spanish and English. Guest Post by Diana Sampedro

My name is Diana, I am a Spanish mum of a 6 year old girl, and we live in Spain. Her dad is Spanish, too. I love languages and speak English so I decided to raise my kid bilingual, even though I am not a “native” English speaker myself.

I think babies and kids have the natural capacity to simply repeat whatever you tell them, so I thought, why not try to give my daughter the chance to learn two languages in a natural and effortless way? Since I had the motivation I could find the tools I needed back then and the ones I could not find, I created them myself. I wrote a book about this. Baby English: Cómo conseguir que tu hijo sea bilingüe. Published by Vaughan system, 2016. I ´ll come back to it later.

I was living in the UK when I got pregnant. I used to attend to some mum-to-be groups and playgroups and I met some multilingual families. I started getting familiar with babies English vocabulary and I was amazed to see that some little kids could communicate in more than one language with their parents.

I decided to speak English to my daughter. She was born in Spain. But even when she was still in my belly I used to sing to her lullabies and talked to her in English, just to get used to both of us! I think this is really important when you talk to your child in a non native language, you both need time to get comfortable, and guess what, you will!

When my daughter was a baby, I used to write a blog about maternity and bilingual education. I posted vocabulary and ideas and personal experiences in my non-native bilingual journey with her.

But my baby was so little, she needed me, and blogging can be a huge commitment, so I decided to quit and focus more on her, and on having some family and some me-time

However, every day I had these doubts about vocabulary, Am I doing the right thing? Is this going to work?…and some years later I started to write about all of that and the solutions I was coming across with. You know, I love reading, I love writing.

THE BOOK: BABY ENGLISH: CÓMO CONSEGUIR QUE TU HIJO SEA BILINGÜE.

One day I told myself, why not writing a book? This could be the kind of book I was looking for before starting this bilingual project.

Because out there in the market you can find some very good books about bilingualism, but it was hard to find a book that actually helps couples who are not native speakers in one of the language they want to teach their kids. And I needed to know how to say for instance, “Mete la camiseta por dentro”, that is “Tuck your T-shirt in”, for example. O “Te echo una carrera”, “I´ll race you”, for example.

This book is perfect for Spanish speakers who want their kids being bilingual or very fluent in both Spanish and English

There are so many situations in a day with a child in different contexts and on the book you´ll find all these useful phrases, songs, games, both in English and Spanish and with an audio to check the right pronunciation. There are rhymes, games, tricks to improve your English for Spanish speakers, the evolution in the language of a bilingual kid…

There is also a chapter about reading in English and how to help children to get used to the English sounds.

BILINGUALISM

Everybody talks about bilingualism nowadays. There are some benefits about bilingualism that I can mention. I am not an academic so I cannot speak about the advantages of bilingualism in a scientific way but I have been reading more and more articles about benefits of being a bilingual.

What I can talk about it is the easiness you find when travelling, living in another country if you are able to speak more than your native language. You have a better and deeper access to other cultures, other interesting ways of living, thinking.

It also offers you the chance to see reality from a different perspective, and I guess that can have a good impact in the way you interact with the world. It gives you an open approach, a curiosity, a connection with your feelings in a wider way.

As I mentioned before, at the end of the day the main and most beautiful thing related to your children and you is to connect with them, to feel close and loved, through words, (languages), and actions.

Thanks Suzanne for the opportunity to share my experience and congrats on you blog.

If you want to contact me or know more about my story, please go to:

www.facebook.com/babyenglishdianasampedro

If you interested in purchasing Diana’s book, please go to:

http://www.casadellibro.com/libro-baby-english/9788416094769/2795572

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/8416094764/ref=s9_simh_gw_g14_i1_r?pf_rd_m=A1AT7YVPFBWXBL&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=BXBPCT98Q39QVF398BAM&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=6d8f0343-6251-45c8-9899-ea554850c331&pf_rd_i=desktop

I am happy to introduce our first guest post on the blog Interpretations of a Bilingual Life. Diana seems to have done an amazing job raising a bilingual child. I identified with her story because as a mother raising 2 bilingual daughters I have found myself feeling insecure about my Spanish because I never studied it in a school setting. Her and my personal experience are examples that there are multiple paths to bilingualism.

baby english portadaDiana y Diana

* If you are interested in writing a guest post for Interpretations of a Bilingual Life please feel free to email me at suzanne@mateus.com

3rd generation bilinguals: an anomaly?

Statistically speaking my daughters should not be speaking Spanish. It is a well known fact that most U.S. born individuals lose their parents or grandparents “native” language by the 3rd generation. First generation being the parents that immigrated to the U.S. and 2nd generation being the children born in the U.S. I have to admit we are likely an anomaly in the world of bilinguals in the U.S.A. It really should not come to a surprise that I have managed to raise one very bilingual 5 year old and a 2 year old well on her way to speaking 2 languages as well. After all, I am in the process of getting a Ph.D. in bilingual and bicultural education.

I am writing this post because I think there are distinct approaches in passing a heritage language to 2nd and/or 3rd generation immigrant children being raised in the U.S. As a parent I have certainly experienced what the process is like and as an academic, very well read in the literature of bilingualism, I am also very aware that we raise bilingual kids differently than parents who only speak one language and are seeking to have their child become bilingual.

In future posts, I hope to share a few of the strategies my husband and I learned along the way in our raising of 3rd generation bilinguals.

 

2015 in review! Looking foward to writing more about bilingualism this year! Stay tuned….

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Multilingual Education: California Education for a Global Economy Initiative (California EdGE Initiative)/Senate Bill (SB) 1174

This post is about Senate Bill 1174 which would repeal and amend proposition 227 of 1998 in the state of California. Proposition 227 ended bilingual education services for students who did not speak English. The new bill would provide services for ALL students in the state of California that would put them on the path to becoming bilingual.

I’m in the middle of writing the findings chapters of my dissertation, so this post is not as developed as I would like. What I am going to do is list websites below that talk about the upcoming SB 1174 in order to help spread the word. My goal is to include a diverse set of website that offers different perspectives:

https://ballotpedia.org/California_Multilingual_Education_Act_%282016%29

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/04/opinion/carter-bilingual-education/index.html

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB1174

http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-calif-senate-panel-advances-bill-to-restore-bilingual-education-20140430-story.html

http://sd33.senate.ca.gov/news/2014-02-20-senator-lara-announces-bill-supporting-multilingual-education

http://moramodules.com/sb-1174-talking-points

http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/sen/sb_1151-1200/sb_1174_bill_20140423_amended_sen_v98.pdf

Video about the bill by Senator Lara:

I will continue to add to the list.

The one aspect about this SB 1174 that I, as well as many other advocates of our heritage speakers of Spanish in the U.S.A., would like to point out is that the promotion of this senate bill fails to mention the cultural and linguistic benefits it can have for the population it was initially intended for.

#roughdraft

Multilingualism is like los manglares de Ecuador.

The mangrove forests are found in tropical places all around the world. One of the places they are found is in and around the surrounding areas of Guayaquil, Ecuador. According to World Wildlife:

“The world’s mangrove forests have been described as one of the most distinctive emersed tropical ecological systems on the planet (Fundación Natura 1995). The mangrove forests located in the province of Manabí (Ecuador) are small regions of coastal forest that shelter great biodiversity and play important ecological roles. Nonetheless, these ecosystems have suffered serious habitat changes and are critically endangered.”

When I first saw los manglares I was taken aback by their physical characteristics because unlike most trees the manglares (or mangroves), typically found in swamps, have their roots above ground. The roots form a dense network and to the naked eye it can look like there is no beginning and no end. If you try and follow where one root goes it will be impossible to see where it ends. Instead what you will see is one root after another kind of like a spider web. What I found fascinating about the manglares is that if you were to fly over them they appear to be traditional trees. From a birds eye perspective all you would see are the leaves and below would be what you imagine a “typical” tree look like. We lived across the street from a mangrove for a year and a half in Guayaquil’s prominent peninsula, Samborondon. During that year and a half I was writing my dissertation (still am!) and thinking about the way people use language. I would think about my dissertation (all the time) while cooking dinner, while bathing my daughters, at the park, in the shower, and at our weekly visit to El Parque Historico in Samborondon. The park had various attractions. It had a bridge that led visitors across the park to see tropical birds, spider monkeys, alligators, and even a children’s park. Along the way we would be constantly in conversation with one another about the animals, commenting on their behavior (or lack thereof). Many times the trail would be crowded with visitors depending on the day of the week. My favorite part was towards the end where the manglares were because just before that last section visitors had the option of exiting the trail. Many visitors chose to exit the trail because the section where the mangroves are located did not include animals to observe and comment on, there were simply trees. I loved that part of our walk because it was quiet. The mangroves offered a simple form of serenity. Each time I went by that section I admired the ways their roots intertwined for what seemed like forever. It was peaceful. And it was in that part of the trail where even for a brief moment I would think about my dissertation. It was where the manglares were located that I had an epiphany about bilingualism. It occurred to me that the mangroves or manglares are an ideal picture of how language works. On the outside languages can all look the same, in terms of structure and use, some may even say that most languages share the same roots (and many do!). For years researchers have been talking about language use in school settings in a binary fashion. As in students and teachers should use one language at a time, BUT in reality the ways bilinguals (students and teachers alike) use language is similar to the way los manglares de Ecuador interact with nature and quite frankly survive. Our linguistic resources are always in contact with one another. There is no beginning and there is no end with the way we use two or more languages. And what is more fascinating (to me!) is that this kind of dynamic bilingualism is only found in certain parts of the world. Like the mangroves, the climate, or context, in which individuals constantly draw from various linguistic resources simultaneously depends on (language) contact with other natural resources. For the mangroves this includes a swamp, for bilingualism it includes language contact. This analogy is a work in progress…..

Navigating Academia as a [Latina/Chicana/Minority]!!

2015

I wrote this post 4 years ago and never shared it. I am sharing it today because I have come a long way since then. I am now a doctoral candidate, and have several publications. I have applied to tenure-track jobs and have even been invited to go to an on campus interview. I decided to share it so that others that come across my blog see that it is possible to move past those lonely points in graduate school. This is my last year in the doctoral program. I am ABD and plan on walking next May! Si se puede!!!

2011

I was sitting in class (nervous about participating) and what happens every year in at least one of my graduate courses happened today! I said something, or at least felt like I said something stupid. Then it automatically feels like the whole room is spinning around me and the person speaking in response to my comment is moving in slow motion with a huge sticky note on her forehead that reads, “I am smarter than you will ever be and have ever been!” Of course this person is always Anglo and seems to be from a different upbringing. Yes, I am exaggerating!! The truth is that this was actually a reality when I was in high school and even as an undergrad at the same institution I am now.

There’s a part of me that will always be the attention-seeking, yet shy, Chicana from the barrio of Santa Ana, CA, kind of like Ugly Betty from Queens. I watched the show from the day it started and am currently rewatching the sitcom. It completely resonated with me because it reminded me of the experience I had as an undergrad in higher education. I started community college with such high hopes. I arrived almost two hours early on my first day because I really wanted to do well in the remedial math, reading, and writing courses I was placed in. Almost 20 years later I still feel like I don’t know as much as some of my doctoral peers. I hear their interpretations and think to myself, “Why can’t I interpret the reading as eloquently as they did?” or I compare my life story to theirs after hearing about how one of my classmates grandfather got his PhD from a Parisian university. I am pretty sure that about that same time my grandfather was immigrating to the U.S. as a bracero worker.

I’ll stop here with my self-reflection…..As I have mentioned before, this site is meant to help me understand various aspects of what it means to know more than one language, and that includes my personal story. In addition, writing can be very cathartic and after today’s episode, in class and on Ugly Betty, I felt the need to rant a bit….to better understand why, at times, I feel so alone in my doctoral program and why, at times, it feels like maybe I don’t belong.

**Don’t leave me, “Si se puede” comments, please. I was just ranting for therapy…for me.