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I have to say Bilingual education has been a gift given to me through my parents who encouraged me to learn another language. I didn't start learning Spanish until I was in high school. It was difficult for me. I had taken two years and stopped. I started over in college with a repeat of the same two years. My Spanish really came along when I enrolled in a program through my college that allowed me to travel to Morelia, Michoacan. This was more than just an experience for me, this was life changing. The program was only 2 months, but wow. It was an intense Spanish immersion program. When I got back from Mexico, I continued on with my Spanish for a few more quarters until I got my Degree in Education.
I began teaching in 1997 in a school where English only was taught (even though half of my class spoke Spanish). I was told, don't speak Spanish to the kids, they need to learn English. This saddened me more than anything. The kids learned a lot and we continued on in English. My heart kept telling me this was wrong, but I had no choice. I was a first year teacher.
I have since moved on to a new school where there is now an Early Exit program. In this program, the kiddos who are predominately Spanish speaking, start out in my classroom. Our kids get 30 minutes of "Oral Language development" in English as well as their specialists (PE, MUSIC, LIBRARY). The rest of their day is spent with me in Spanish. I've found my home with these students. They are proud Spanish speaking students who I feel really thrive when they come to school learning in their dominant language. We build relationships together.
I am a Caucasian woman who speaks Spanish. When I first came to this school, I felt the resistance from some of the families who were not quite sure what to think of me. Now that I've been at my school for over 14 years, I am not the stranger anymore. When I began, many of the families didn't say hello when I walked by because they didn't speak English. Now, we all hold our heads up high and Speak in the language we feel comfortable speaking in. There are times my families attempt to speak in English to me, but most of the time, we great each other in Spanish as they walk hand in hand with their little ones. I am proud to say that learning a second language is the best gift anyone could have given me.
I only hope that one day my children will be able to say mom, thank you for encouraging me to learn a second language. My son is in a Dual program... he is struggling, but I know he can do this! He, reads and comprehends most of what he hears, but is still in that listening stage. My daughter isn't in the program sadly because the district has pulled the plug on the program. :-( Both of my nieces are in a different type of Dual program and are thriving! To know that I can speak to them and they respond in either language is just amazing! I hope everyone who has the gift of a second language continues to encourage bilingual education!
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