Interview with Elizabeth Valencia, a bilingual teacher

What languages do you speak ?

I speak English, Spanish, French and I am currently learning Cantonese.

Did you grow up with these languages or did you learn one when you were older?

No, my parents only spoke English to me but I love learning languages so I picked up Spanish and French in college. Now I am leaning Cantonese it’s really different from all the other languages I know which makes this language challenging but I’m willing to put in the hard work and we live in a city full of natives so I’m sure I will get a handle on it soon enough.

How do you stay fluent in all these different languages?

I practice Spanish at school and with my husband; he’s Mexican. I practice French with my friends who speak French. I make it a point to only speak French when I’m with them because, well, I can speak English whenever I want.

Do parents play a big role in the children’s learning?

Yes, I wish my parents would have put me into language immersion. When parents speak to their children in their native tongue it helps the kids practice and gives them a really good accent.

Do you think that knowing multiple languages vs one has changed your life?

Yes. Definitely, um, I love talking to people in the languages I know it’s especially useful here in San Francisco; I’ve made so many new friends threw my language skills.

Do you think bilingual education is important?

Yes, that’s why I’m working at this school. Knowing more than one language is so important we need more bilingual kids because it give them such an advantage in life and will help them and really everyone around them later on in life.

How long have you been teaching at a bilingual school?

I’ve been teaching bilingual education for four years now and it’s so great I always get a good mix of natives and kids who don’t know any Spanish at all and it’s so interesting to see how quickly the other kids pick up Spanish.

Interview with Carry Martinez, a bilingual teacher

What languages do you speak?

I’m Mexican so I speak Spanish and a little bit of Italian.

Did you grow up with two languages or did you learn one when you were older?

I grew up with English and Spanish I was born in Mexico and I moved here when I was three. My parents always spoke to me in Spanish but put me in school with all English speakers so I picked it up pretty quickly.

How do you stay fluent in both languages?

I speak them both every day with my friends, my family most of the people in my life are bilingual and we just speak what ever we feel like speaking that day.

Do parents play a big role in the children’s learning?

Yes it made a huge difference in my life because even after we moved to the united states my parents keep speaking to me in Spanish which is one of the main reasons I stayed fluent.

Do you think that knowing two languages vs one has changed your life?

Yes if I would have lost Spanish I would not be able to communicate with most of my family and if I lost English I would not be able to talk to everyday people who live in the United States both languages are very beneficial in my life and play a very big role depending on which friend group I’m with.

Do you think bilingual education is important?

Yes it is very important to me that’s why I teach here i think it’s important for kids who only speak one language at home to learn a second language.

How long have you been teaching at a bilingual school?

I have been working in bilingual education for eleven years.

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