2023 Hall of Fame Nominee
New Haven, CT
2023 Finalist from NECTFL
“The value of learning languages and developing cultural competence for all learners”
Throughout my career, I have worked hard to help my students understand why learning a second language is important and useful in their future lives. Even though my students may be unaware of the term “cultural competence”, they are beginning to understand that knowing a second language is a fundamental skill in today’s world. They want to communicate with their friends and families, and they have heard many of their parents say that knowing a second language would be helpful for their jobs
Besides becoming proficient in Spanish, I would like my students to be curious about other countries, people and cultures and be brave enough to investigate other perspectives. Students
can begin honing those skills in a world language class. The first step is learning to be risk takers in class by speaking a second language. I am always so happy to hear my students tell me how they are using their language skills in their community, with family or even playing video games with others around the world.
Next, as they learn about new cultures and practices they can begin to compare them with their own. This allows them to step out of their comfort zones and be better equipped to adapt to
circumstances that arise whether through traveling internationally or from within their hometowns as they experience and develop relationships with people of diverse backgrounds. I often use my own experience as an example for my students and tell my story of moving from Jamaica as a teenager and taking advantage of the opportunities in the USA. While my language skills helped me to choose a career, it also helped me to observe cultural clues and enabled me to evaluate and eventually assimilate to this diverse community and new culture.
Many students do not determine a career path until after high school and are not fully aware of the opportunities that await them. In this global economy and incredibly interconnected world, they will need to be culturally competent to thrive. Even if they never leave their hometown, they will need to build cross-cultural business and personal relationships, perhaps with people of different cultures and who may speak a different language or have a different cultural heritage.
The skills that we teach will foster better, speaking and listening skills. In learning about other cultures, many students develop a better understanding and appreciation of other cultures and hopefully will become more productive and empathetic world citizens
Our students live in a multicultural state and an interconnected world they will likely have to interact with individuals of diverse backgrounds. Facing differences can be daunting, however I believe they can transfer the skills they are using to learn a second language to any life situation.
.A quote my students and I discuss at the start of each school year is “A person who knows two languages is worth two” A second language is the differentiator that will give them an “edge”. In addition to their language skills, my students will be able to interact with people who are
different and bravely adapt to unfamiliar situations. A second language makes them more marketable and interesting while enabling them to understand different perspectives, discuss various topics and become more comfortable with other global citizens.