Hello! I am very excited to be joining the TEM team in the official capacity of blog writer. I’ve been working with TEM since 2012, when Maya, a colleague from graduate school, approached me about contributing to TEM’s first set of lessons on basic English. (Try them out! Really! They take the stress out of planning lessons for emergent English learners.) I also authored TEM’s white paper (i.e., what we do and why we do it) and now, the blog is here!
It’s uncanny, really—my personal and professional experiences have led me to this virtual space. My dad was born in Venezuela to Italian immigrants and moved to the US when he was in third grade. Although his English is flawless and accentless (though that doesn’t really matter, does it?), he was the first “English Learner” (EL) I ever knew, and many of my relatives prefer to speak Spanish, Italian, and Sicilian over English. Such a polyglottal atmosphere had a profound influence on me, because I love language—written, spoken, English, non-English, prose, poetry, “grammatical,” “ungrammatical” (more on why those are in quotes later)—and I have nice, shiny degrees in Applied Linguistics, Spanish, and International Communications to put that love to good use.
I’ve had insight into the heroics that teachers perform by working in a variety of classroom contexts—with Montessori kindergarteners, K-6 Spanish-native ELs in a California public school, adult ELs both domestically and abroad, and K-12 ELs in the Republic of Georgia (nope, not the state, the country). I love working with kids especially, which is why my husband (a native-Spanish EL himself) and I made one of our own. Our baby boy was born in April 2014, and he’s my own test subject for childhood bilingualism. We make our home in Washington DC, where by day, I work at the Center for Applied Linguistics on the team for the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, and by night… I blog for TEM. See what I did there? Full circle.
I hope this will be a space to dialogue “with” you and not “at” you. I want to talk about any and all aspects of language education—ELs and their academic challenges and advantages, bilingualism, language education instructional programs, , family-school relationships, assessment, meshing content and language instruction, language policy, and so on. If you promise to smile politely at the proud-momma stories I share about my son and his language growth, I promise to engage with the things you share about your EL students. Seems like a fair trade, and the start of a beautiful friendship.