I must confess, when I first read the news that our school was shutting down due to COVID and that we were all to learn the ins and outs of Google Classroom, Loom, and the likes, my first thought was: may I be exempt? I teach Spanish at a small private school, and since my class is just an elective, surely they could do without it…right? The answer was no, of course. All elective teachers were required to teach their courses as regular.
This was my main reason for resisting to teach an elective during COVID: do kids really need it? I know why electives are important. They’re an essential way to broaden a child’s horizon and provide them with a well-rounded education. But during a pandemic? Pandemic means (or should mean, anyway) going back to basics. Keep your essentials, forget the rest. Learning a second language hardly seems like an essential during a global emergency. Not forgetting how to add and multiply? Yes. Reading? Definitely. Conjugating Spanish verbs? Not so much.
I fought long and hard to convince my principal that I was not an essential worker during this pandemic. But alas, my objection was in vain. I was expected to pick up my textbooks from school, learn how to upload worksheets, record myself teaching, and be available to answer students’ questions at least three times a week. I negotiated, again. I would teach upper-grade levels what they were supposed to learn from the textbook without using a textbook, and I would review everything we had already learned in lower grade levels so that language acquisition would not be lost, but I would not teach any new concepts or vocabulary. I would not quiz or test. My requests were granted (mainly because my supervisors had so much to take care of, they probably skimmed through my long texts and replied “okay” without much thought).
This week on Entre Dos, we talk to Aileen Passariello-McAleer, of Mama-Lingua. She talks to us about her app, which is aimed at teaching both parents and kids Spanish, as well as her new book Simon Goes To School,which tackles the joys and challenges of attending a dual language school.
You’ll hear Aileen give advice about starting a target language playgroup and her thoughts on dual-language education in the U.S. Hint: she’s very passionate about his subject!
We talked to poet and children’s book author, Jorge Tetl Argueta, about why he writes for children and his passion for promoting literacy. Argueta’s poems give us a glimpse of communities that are often misrepresented, erased, and dehumanized in U.S. American literature. His books, which center mostly around his homeland of El Salvador, offer a beautiful counter-narrative meant to build a positive self-image and empathy for our growing immigrant communities.
Music is a useful tool to expose kids to language and culture. Singing to or with your child is not only fun, it’s also a way to connect and introduce words, concepts, and sounds.
Susie Jaramillo is the co-founder of Canticos, a company that creates bilingual books, apps and videos for young children based on Latin American nursery rhymes. In this episode, she talks to us about what led her to start her business, how she feels her products create understanding among cultures and her tips for raising bilingual kids.
In this episode, we talk about the joys and challenges of raising our bilingual and bi-cultural daughters. We discuss what has worked, what worries us and how dreaming in Spanish can be a cause for celebration.