The Benefits of Teaching in Two Languages
Bilingual education facilitates connections beyond the confines of a classroom.
From New York to Utah, U.S. schools have seen a steady rise in bilingual education. Dual-language immersion programs first appeared in the U.S. in the 1960s to serve Spanish-speaking students in Florida. Since then, the demand—and controversy—surrounding these programs has been widespread, and they now address the needs of more than 5 million students who are English-language learners in the country’s public-school system.
Teresa Chávez has been a teacher for almost 20 years, and is currently the lead teacher for Little Canada Elementary's Dual Language Immersion program in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I spoke to Chávez about the implementation of the Spanish-language program and how bilingual education facilitates connections beyond the confines of a classroom. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.
* * *Valeria Pelet: How did you get into teaching?
Teresa Chávez: My first passion was poetry. When I was in college, I was also working as a teacher, but as a volunteer. After that, since I was trying to improve my Spanish and I was also clinging to the idea of studying the humanities, I decided to move to Costa Rica. I began to teach, and then I taught in Lima, in Peru, and then in Minneapolis. It was quite a long process to discover that I liked the field of teaching and education.
Chávez: I believe that it’s important because we are more connected than before.There are many places in the world where people have to speak at the very least two languages. I think that it’s wonderful to learn how to express oneself in more than one language, to be able to travel, work, have friends … I believe that it’s important for children, for example, in the United States, because many families that speak English at home have not thought about the importance of [speaking Spanish]. The ones that speak Spanish at home sometimes want to The Benefits of Dual-Language Immersion Education - The Atlantic: