To have another language is to possess a second soul
My whole life, I’ve struggled with trying to identify if I had more roots in the Latino community or in the American one. I am a first-generation American and this personal debate took me years to resolve.
My elementary experience is not something I remember fondly. There were no teachers who cared about my learning or any type of help to facilitate my lack of the English language. Instead, it was a rigorous, monolingual mess that made me hate school! My peers were no better. They laughed at me when I didn’t understand them. And they laughed at me when I tried to communicate with them. So, I kept to myself and just observed. And after what felt like an eternity of bullying, I learned English.
But once I did, I lost a little piece of me that loved to speak Spanish. I vowed to never speak Spanish in school to make sure I was never made fun of again. And this made me resent and feel ashamed of the language, the culture, and my people.
Ultimately, I moved away and began to see my Latino culture, not as a weakness, but as a strength. And a few years into college, I realized that I needed to be a teacher to make sure that my experience didn’t happen to any other children. A few years into my undergrad, my obsession with dual language began to grow as I observed one of the most amazing teachers, who I can now call a friend, teach her 2nd grade class. Ms. Ramirez’s eloquence and teaching style highlighted the fact that both languages are beautiful, and if done correctly, both languages can live and be taught harmoniously in the classroom setting.
From that point, my goal was to be a dual language teacher. And I’m happy to say that I met that goal within a couple months of finishing my degree.
But… now what?
Well, now, my goal has changed into a process of where I am learning and blossoming into that teacher I needed when I was their age. Dual language, although a challenging and exhausting educational journey, has been unbelievably amazing! The look on my students’ faces when they say or read a complete sentence in a language different from their own, makes this all worth it. And although I can’t say that every day is a good day, the truth is that I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am where I need to be and I’m doing what I love to do.