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Tips to Market your Self-Published Children’s Book (if you’re not tech savvy!)

  • Get your book out there: Your best (and easiest) bet is to begin close to home if you plan to promote a children’s book independently. Contact booksellers in your neighborhood and ask if they have a Local Author section, then request to be included.  Offer autographed copies of your book to help spark sales. Stores often put markers on the covers of signed books to make them more attractive to buyers. 
  • Host an in-person event: If your book has a theme, offer to host a promotional event. Don’t be afraid to be creative! Interactive events are a great draw for families and the media (as well as a fantastic opportunity sell your books whilst you’re there)!  People are more likely to buy children’s books from authors they’ve met or read about online.
  • Connect with your local library and book stores: Many authors are surprised by the role libraries can play in children’s book marketing. Donate copies of your book to your local libraries or offer to hold a reading at your library, as most libraries provide activities for children.  If the library doesn’t let you sell books on-site, be sure to hand out promotional material or business cards directing people to stores or online sellers where your book is available.
  • Get to Know Your Neighborhood Schools (or teachers!): Schools are always looking for guest speakers and authors. In most cases, you can arrange to donate books to the school while parents receive order forms for autographed books—which are great for them to give as gifts! Don’t forget to be prepared with an exciting presentation about a theme in your book or your background.  
  • Talk to People!: Always have a camera with you to document children reading your book and viewing your presentations.  Don’t be shy about asking for testimonials, either! Testimonials from teachers and librarians are especially valuable because they lend credibility to your book. Make sure to include photos, testimonials, appearances, and events on your website and post to your social media.

Marketing your self-published children’s book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not keen on using social media or other digital platforms. But whether you’re using tech or not, the key is to build relationships!! I don’t always have time to post on SM but I make it a point to build genuine relationships with people that are interested in the knowledge and ideas I have to share. And there’s no better way than to do that face-to-face!

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Writing a Teacher’s Guide for Your Children’s Book

As a bilingual educator and Ph.D. student in bilingual education, I know first hand that there is an increasing demand for bilingual education books and authentic resources for teachers that are developed and originally written (not translated!) in the languages of their diverse student populations.

As a children’s author, I’ve had the pleasure to meet and connect with other talented children’s book authors who have brought beautifully written stories to life. However, many of those authors don’t have a background in education and are unaware of what is needed in schools or how they can align their published books to those needs.

Writing and publishing a children’s book is one thing. Marketing that book to the right audience is another thing entirely. Authors, particularly those who are self-published, often struggle to find an audience in a saturated market. There is a market in schools, however. The increasing number of bilingual and dual language programs, for example, has created a significant need for resources that will help teachers integrate language, literacy and content in their instruction. Bilingual resources are needed to model rich vocabulary to students. Multicultural texts are needed to increase representation and depict stories from various cultural perspectives.

My books, Mi prima islena y yo/ My Island Cousin and I & Somos gemelas pero no somos identicas / We Are Twins but We Are Not Identical! are just two examples of bilingual children’s books published in the last year. Both of my books were published during the summer of 2021 and highlight the themes of multicultural identity and pride. Mi prima islena y yo juxtaposes the experience of two Puerto Rican cousins: one who lives in the island and one who lives in New York City. The first cousin has the privilege of being immersed in the language and culture of the island on a daily basis. The other cousin lives in a city surrounded by all of the world’s cultures, yet remains closely connected to her island heritage. Somos gemelas y yo juxtaposes the experience of two family members as well, but this time compares the experience of twin sisters of multicultural backgrounds. The twins’ Italian ancestry is more dominant with one twin whereas their father’s Guatemalan ancestry is more evident in the other. The themes of personal and cultural identity are important to highlight with young children who are learning about their connections to their families, their cultures and the world.

My bilingual children’s books (published in June & July 2021) are available for purchase on Amazon

I am working on publishing a teacher’s guide for these books, which will be published at the end of 2022. I will post updates on my progress as well as information regarding the launch of the guide.

I also recently had the pleasure of creating a teacher’s guide for author Naibe Reynoso, based on her collection of bilingual biographies including Be Bold! Be Brave!, Fearless Trailblazers & Courageous History Makers.

My experiences working on Naibe’s teacher’s guide as well as my own has inspired me to share important considerations for aspiring children’s authors who are looking to expand their work to a wider audience or hope to align their stories to topics students learn at school:

Familiarize Yourself with the Content

If you’re thinking of writing a teacher’s guide, it is important to ask yourself who the guide is for. Is it for elementary school? Middle school? High school? Will your teacher’s guide be focused on one subject area or will it be multidisciplinary? Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s important for you to familiarize yourself with the content area topics that may be covered for your target grade level(s). If you’re doing a teacher’s guide for social studies, for example, you want to make sure that the topics that are covered are appropriate for your grade level audience.

Does your children’s book align with a particular subject? If not, is there a prominent theme you can extract from your book that can help drive the focus of your teacher’s guide? Maybe your children’s book touches on the development of social-emotional skills or executive functioning skills. The content of a teacher’s guide doesn’t only have to be linked to Language Arts, Math, Science, etc.

Get to Know the Standards

If you’re trying to break into the educational market, it’s important to consider that teachers follow standards when planning for instruction. There are different standards, depending on the course subject, but a great starting point would be to check out the Common Core Standards. These standards are organized by grade level and you can familiarize yourself with the skills students are expected to develop in both English Language Arts and Math. If you’re working on a bilingual teacher’s guide, like me, it’s helpful to also consider the Spanish Common Core Standards.

Make it Engaging, yet Rigorous!

As someone who was in the classroom for fifteen years, I can tell you that I have tried pretty much everything to “entertain” my students. Yes, school should be about learning and not entertaining, but let’s be real. It is much easier to get children to do what they’re “supposed to do” if they are highly motivated and engaged.

That is why it is very important to make sure that the activities and lessons included in your teacher’s guide are fun, as well as highly educational. Your teacher’s guide should have more than simple worksheets and fill-in-the-blank activities. If possible, make sure to include 21st-century activities and skills like digital literacy and environmental stewardship.

Teachers are busy, busy people. They are highly appreciative of resources that will make their busy lives easier and will save them time. If a teacher can find a resource that is well aligned to the content and the standards they teach AND will make their kids happy because they’re engaged and having fun, you have a winner!

Final Thoughts

These are just some preliminary considerations for anyone interested in creating a teacher’s guide. I will continue to share my progress in the coming weeks and months as well as some sample lessons and activities.

If writing a teacher’s guide seems too overwhelming and you’d much rather delegate the task, I’d be happy to help! Please reach out to me by completing this contact form so we can set up a time and date to meet to discuss your teacher guide or children’s book’s authorship vision!

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LATINA AUTHORS VIRTUAL HOLIDAY BOOK FAIR 

I am happy to announce that I will be part of this years LATINA AUTHORS VIRTUAL HOLIDAY BOOK FAIR! 

This HOLIDAY SEASON, get the gifts that your loved ones can open forever: BOOKS!

Please Join me and other amazing others on Sunday, Dec. 5th – at 2pm PT/3pm MT/4pmCT/5pmET!

Click on the link below to register: 

⚡️Free to Register!

⚡️Get Discounts on amazing books

⚡Support Latina Authors 

#supportsmallbusinessess #latinxstores #supportLatinaownedbusinesses #shopLatina #shopLatinx #smallbusinesssaturday #latina #bilingualbooks #spanishbooks #booksforbilingualbabies #ownvoices #ownvoice

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Self-Publishing Bilingual Children’s Books (Part 2!)

My debut children’s book Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I will be released on Saturday June 12th

Countdown to launch!

It’s been a very hectic few months as I work to prepare all the final details for the launch of my debut books!

Self-publishing books hasn’t been easy. It’s been a journey full of as many ups as downs, but I wouldn’t discourage anyone truly interested in sharing a great story with the world to not take the risk and set out on this path.

In the first part of my self-publishing post, I talked about the first phase of my process, highlighting some of the major action steps that I took to get the ball rolling.

In this post, I want to highlight the steps I took after the illustration and proofreading process:

  1. Book Formatting: I’m sure everyone has a different experience, but for me, one of the most daunting and stressful process was the formatting process. Up to this point, my self-publishing journey had been relatively easy. I was fortunate enough to find fantastic illustrators for each of my books. However, before a book can be published, it needs to be properly formatted. Formatting entails that all of your spreads are laid out as they should be and that the illustrations and the text come out clearly.

Anticipate having to format your book multiple times! For one of my books, the spreads were off, so I needed to get it reformatted and reprinted. You have to pay each time you need to upload a new file and pay for the printing and shipping.

You should also establish a budget if you plan self-publishing your children’s book — something I quickly learned! With the illustrations, proofreading, formatting, etc. the expenses can quickly add up.

2. Choosing the right self-publishing platform: There are a few self-publishing platforms you can use to publish your book. Some of the most common ones are Amazon KDP, Ingram Spark and Lulu. Ultimately, I decided to publish the paperback and hardcover copies of my books on Ingram Spark. I decided to publish my e-books on Amazon KDP.

I found Ingram Spark to be very easy to use. Printing multiple proofs of my books and having them shipped out multiple times was a bit expensive, however. I ordered rush shipping for my proofs various times because I wanted to speed up the process. Expect to pay 15 dollars or more on shipping each time!

3. ISBN & Copyright: You cannot publish a book without an ISBN number, so you must apply for copyright protection under the U.S. Copyright Office to ensure that your work is protected. I purchased a package of 10 ISBN numbers along with two copyright registrations from Bowker. If you plan on publishing multiple versions of your book (hardcover, paperback, eBook), keep in mind that each version will require its own ISBN number.

Once you’ve purchased the copyright protection, you must complete an application from the U.S. Copyright Office website. You must pay a fee for each copyright registration.

4. Marketing: Once you are satisfied with your proofs and all paperwork has been completed, you are ready to enable your book for distribution. However, I wouldn’t recommend publishing your book without having done some serious marketing first. I spent about a month and a half launching my marketing plan and these are some of the things that I did to increase visibility for my book launch:

Organized an in person book launch: I am pairing up with another local author to organize a book promotion event on Saturday June 12th & Sunday June 13th. At this event, we will be doing a book talk and reading of our books. We will also have printed books available to sign and sell.

Interviews: A great way to bring visibility for your books is by doing interviews prior to your launch. I participated in an interview for a podcast called Wachame: Testimonios de Resilencia, which is set to air on Saturday June 12th (the day of the launch of my first book). Here is the link:

I also participated in a radio interview by Vocalo Radio in Chicago. There is a segment called Domingos en Vocalo and I had the opportunity to talk about my books, as well as the event I’ve been planning.

Social Media Promotion: Posting consistently on social media is also very important. I make it a point to post an update on my publishing journey, digital flyers advertising my book and promotion event, pictures of my books, etc. at least once a week. The two social media sites I use the most are Facebook and Instagram, but other platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn can also be helpful in raising visibility.

-Develop a launch team: Recruit people who would be willing to read and help you promote your book. Since I am a bilingual educator and I am publishing two bilingual children’s books, I am part of various social media groups for bilingual/multicultural parents, bilingual educators and bilingual education scholars. I announced my launch to various special interest groups that I am a part of, and I was able to gather a team of people who would provide me with feedback on my books and would help me promote the launch of each book.

Overall, I have learned SO much from this experience. I felt overwhelmed before I started and I experienced moments when I felt unsure about being able to pull this off. I didn’t give up, was able to push through and I learned a lot from the process.

I am beyond excited to announce the launch of my two children’s book, inspired by my four daughters and my experience raising bilingual / multicultural children.

My first book, Mi prima islena y yo / My Island Cousin and I will be released on Saturday June 12th. It will be available on paperback, hardcover and eBook.

My second book, Somos gemelas pero no identicas / We Are Twins But We Are Not Identical! will be released on Thursday July 1st. It is also available in paperback, hardcover and eBook.

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Self-Publishing a Bilingual Children’s Book

I’ve been in education for almost twenty years and I do love it. As stressful as teaching can be, it is highly rewarding. I love children and it is a privilege to serve their families and their communities. That being said, my pipe dream has always been to be a children’s book author.

When I was a kid, I wrote many stories during my spare time. Internet didn’t exist and my mom didn’t let us watch a lot of of TV. Being bored helped me develop A LOT of creativity. So I began putting my scattered ideas on paper. Sometimes I wrote stories about animals. Sometimes I wrote about princesses. Some of my stories were about little girls, just like me. Sometimes, I wrote the stories and my younger brother drew the pictures. I stapled the pages together and created a book. I remember feeling an immense sense of pride whenever I created a new one. I didn’t realize it then, but I was acting out what, in my heart, I knew I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

At some point along the way, I internalized the message that writing wouldn’t be a lucrative career. I never saw many books with characters or stories that connected to me in a real way. Growing up in the 90s, I didn’t have access to a lot of multicultural literature at school. Writing and publishing a book always seemed like an unattainable dream. Who would publish anything I would write? What does publishing a book even cost? What if I published a book and everyone HATED it? So I put my dream in a box, and I tucked it away somewhere deep in my mind, so that I could focus my attention on following a path of certainty and stability.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I have loved being a teacher. Following that path of stability has served me well. It has taught me so much about children, our society and myself. Being an educator has helped me a better mother. It is helping me tremendously in my doctoral research. And perhaps now that experience and knowledge that I’ve acquired as a bilingual educator can help me unpack my tucked away dream of writing books for children who, like me, are eager to really see themselves in the stories they read.

For the past year, I’ve been working on self-publishing my first two children’s books. Both of these books are very personal and are also closely tied to my identity as a Latina, a mother and an educator. I will publish more details about each book in the weeks to come, but for now, I wish to share a bit of my journey as a self-published author.

Get inspired by your surroundings

It is no secret that many authors often connect their writing to personal experiences. When I taught Spanish literature at the high school level, my students and I would explore how many of the authors wrote about topics that were very closely tied to their lives. Federico Garcia Lorca wrote about his experiences living in under a tyrannical Spanish government. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fictional town of Macondo was heavily inspired by his own birthplace. It was through reading the stories of some of these world-renowned authors that I realized that I have my own interesting stories to tell. My life right now isn’t ultra adventurous but that doesn’t mean I can’t write about what I am most immersed in right now, right? And right now, I’m most immersed in the lives of my four young daughters.

My two books: Mi prima isleña y yo & ¡Somos gemelas, pero no somos idénticas! are inspired by my four daughters. In fact, one book is dedicated to my older daughters and the second book is dedicated to my fraternal twin daughters.

Work on your craft

Months before I sat down and wrote out each story, I signed up for a few writing courses on Udemy. The two courses I took are called:

  1. Publish your Children’s Picture Book
  2. The Foundations of Fiction

There are various other writing courses on Udemy and online, in general. The price of the courses now may be different than I what I paid for but Udemy often has promotions and I often purchase courses when they are on sale.

It was important for me to really verse myself on the elements of writing a good story before sitting down and writing one. Writing a children’s book isn’t as easy as people might think. It is true that the stories are generally shorter and the language is simpler, but because of those things, it is important to choose your words carefully and be thoughtful about the flow of the story.

I’m by no means an expert in children’s writing yet and I hope to continue working on improving on my style and my ability to tell a cohesive story.

Research the process

To research how to publish a children’s book, I also spent a good amount of time researching the process. I downloaded and read through various self-publishing checklists I found on the internet. I joined a few Facebook groups for self-published authors. I watched a few videos on YouTube. I tried the research various perspectives on the self-publishing process so that I could find overlapping themes and get some ideas on how to carve out the path that best worked for me.

Some of the videos that I found on YouTube are linked below:

  1. thatssojayah
  2. Scattered Brilliancy
  3. Michelle Farley

These videos stood out to me for various reasons. Firstly, all of the authors on these videos are people of color who write books to give a voice and authentic representation to children of color. Secondly, these authors provided interesting insight on how to self-publish a book entirely on your own. I learned something valuable from each of these videos ranging from book illustration, marketing, setting realistic goals and solidifying my niche.

Hire an illustrator

Drawing is not my thing. In addition to my fear of failure, my lack of artistic ability is probably the other factor that kept me from attempting to publish a children’s book for so long. Originally, I was hoping my brother would illustrator the two books I am now publishing but, unfortunately, our schedules didn’t coincide. I’m hoping to get him on board to publish some of my children’s books in the near future!

Thanks to the videos that I found on YouTube, I learned about Fiverr and the many services that are offered there. It was there that I was fortunate enough to find the illustrator of Mi prima isleña y yo: Vidya Lalgudi Jaishankar.

I worked with Vidya for a total of five months. The experience was fantastic. She is an extremely talented illustrator who is based in England. It was truly a honor to collaborate with her and have her integrate her personal style to make my book come to life.

I found the author of my second book, ¡Somos gemelas, pero no somos idénticas! on a Facebook group called Chicago Latina Moms (https://www.chicagolatinamoms.com/). I’ve been part of this fantastic community for years now and I’ve found recommendations from everything ranging to bakers and travel ideas. I knew that perhaps I could find a talented Latina artist in the group and I wasn’t wrong.

I knew that I wanted one of the illustrators of my books to be a Latina and working with a local artist was a tremendous bonus. Through CLM, I was able to connect to Diana Torres. Working with Diana has also been an outstanding experience. Her quirky style gives my second book a look that is different than the other book but breathes life into the story in a unique way.

Get your work proofread

Even though I am highly proficient in both Spanish and English, I knew that it was important for me to get my book proofread by an experienced, bilingual proofreader. I was able to connect to a bilingual proofreader through Fiverr who not only checked my story for grammar and accuracy in both languages but also gave me some meaningful feedback pertaining to the overall direction of my story. It was a bit nerve-wracking to have a stranger pick apart my story, but it was an extremely valuable experience. It is a part of the self-publishing process that should NOT be left out, by any means.

Both of my books are currently undergoing formatting and, at a later date, I will post updates on that process as well as another crucial component of the self-publishing journey: marketing. Marketing is a tricky beast and that topic may require multiple posts in the near future.

Conclusion

For now, I will end this post reiterating how important it is to not relinquish your dreams. I have learned so much from starting this process and I am hopeful for the future. All of our stories have value and sharing them with the world is both cathartic and altruistic.

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¿Son todos los programas de lengua dual creados iguales?

A principios de este mes, NPR publicó un artículo en el que destacaba la expansión de los programas de dos idiomas en la ciudad de Chicago. En el artículo, vinculado a continuación, se mencionó que CPS ha expandido el número de programas de lengua dual agregando 26 adicionales en los últimos cinco años.

Enlace al artículo: https://www.wbez.org/stories/as-cps-expands-gold-standard-bilingual-program-questions-are-raised-about-who-benefits/e6c10006-fba9-4617-9ef2- fa7435dd3c09

Suena como algo bueno, ¿verdad? Después de todo, ¿no es la misión detrás de los programas bilingües brindar igualdad de oportunidades a todos los estudiantes para que se vuelvan bilingües, bilingües y multiculturalmente conscientes? El hecho de que CPS esté implementando tantos programas en un período de tiempo tan corto debe significar que hay una mayor aceptación de los programas de dos idiomas y que esa aceptación probablemente se deba al increíble éxito que los programas de dos idiomas han demostrado en la educación. TODOS sus estudiantes participantes, independientemente de su raza, origen cultural y socioeconómico, ¿no es así?

Durante años, muchos estudiantes del idioma inglés han tenido que renunciar a su idioma nativo para aprender inglés académico. Los pediatras o maestros bien intencionados han desanimado a los padres de hablar su lengua materna en casa para no “confundir” a sus hijos. Sin embargo, las investigaciones actuales han demostrado lo contrario: los niños que están expuestos a dos idiomas experimentan muchos beneficios que sus compañeros monolingües no experimentan, como la pérdida de memoria retardada, una mayor conciencia cultural y una mayor capacidad para aprender idiomas posteriores.

Los programas de lengua dual se crean con la intención de promover la justicia social y desmantelar las desigualdades, específicamente al proporcionar a los estudiantes del idioma inglés el apoyo lingüístico y de alfabetización que les permitiría desarrollar las habilidades de alfabetización en inglés, sin tener que renunciar a su lengua y cultura heredadas. Cuando el programa se implementa con fidelidad, los participantes exhiben un crecimiento académico más fuerte que sus pares monolingües. Pero al igual que la Dra. Sonia Soltero, profesora de la Universidad Depaul en Chicago, menciona en el artículo vinculado anteriormente: “Lengua dual es un objetivo elevado y ambicioso”. Está destinado al fracaso si no se cuenta con los maestros que son capacitados, [y] apoyo y aceptación de los formuladores de políticas. Si estas cosas no están en su lugar, esto no funciona muy bien .”

Al buscar una escuela para mis hijas, decidí desde el principio que inscribirlas en un programa de dos idiomas no sería negociable. Mis hijas mayores, de 8 y 6 años, ahora pueden entender perfectamente el español y el inglés y también están aprendiendo a hablar, leer y escribir en ambos idiomas. Sin embargo, a menudo me pregunto cómo se desarrollarán sus habilidades lingüísticas y de alfabetización en ambos idiomas a medida que crezcan. ¿Preferirán el inglés al español? ¿Tendrán brechas en el lenguaje académico en un idioma o en ambos? ¿Cómo puedo yo, como madre, saber que el programa de lengua dual en el que están inscritos mis hijos está realmente promoviendo su desarrollo de bialfabetización? ¿Cómo sé que el programa de lenguaje dual del que forman parte es de alta prioridad en su escuela?

No creo que pueda responder a todas estas preguntas con absoluta certeza, dado que hay tanto sobre los programas de lenguaje dual que todavía necesito aprender, ver y experimentar. Sin embargo, hay algunas características que he identificado a lo largo de los años, a través de mis experiencias como padre y educadora en dos idiomas, que definitivamente vale la pena mencionar. Creo que las escuelas de dos idiomas que abarcan muchas o todas las características enumeradas a continuación tienen una mayor probabilidad de sostenibilidad del programa a largo plazo y es más probable que desarrollen un programa que sea consistente, coherente y equitativo.

  1. La visión a largo plazo de la escuela es expandirse a un programa de lengua dual “en toda la escuela”: Cuando una escuela tiene un programa de lengua dual “de una sola línea,” esto significa que solo hay un grupo de estudiantes inscritos en el programa dual programa de idiomas mientras que el resto de la población estudiantil está matriculada en clases de inglés monolingües. Los estudiantes de lengua dual que forman parte de un programa de una sola rama pueden asistir a la escuela en una burbuja y pueden sentirse aislados del resto de sus compañeros. Sin embargo, una escuela que tiene un programa de lengua dual “en toda la escuela” ha implementado su programa a una escala mucho mayor. La mayoría, si no todos, de los estudiantes participan en el programa de dos idiomas de la escuela y el valor del programa está profundamente inculcado en la cultura escolar. Cuando se implementa a nivel escolar, el programa de lengua dual pasa de ser una iniciativa más que pasa por la escuela a una prioridad mayoritaria. Las decisiones que se toman sobre los recursos, el personal, el desarrollo profesional y todas las áreas de la estructura escolar se toman teniendo en cuenta el programa de dos idiomas.
  2. Hay aceptación de TODAS las partes interesadas: Cuando ciertas partes interesadas tienen poco o ningún conocimiento sobre el programa de lenguaje dual de su escuela, lo desprecian o se oponen rotundamente a él, mayores son las posibilidades de que el programa no cumpla con los requisitos. necesidades de los estudiantes. Sin embargo, cuando todos los miembros de la comunidad escolar creen en los beneficios del lenguaje dual, será mucho más probable que todos trabajen juntos para mantener el programa. La participación de todas las partes interesadas crea un sentido más fuerte de propósito para la escuela y cuando todo un grupo comparte el mismo propósito, habrá más personas trabajando activa y en colaboración para lograr todas las metas del programa.
  3. Existe una colaboración sustancial y un respeto mutuo entre los profesores monolingües y de dos idiomas: He observado programas en los que los profesores duales y monolingües parecen estar en desacuerdo entre sí. He escuchado a los maestros de dos idiomas expresar su resentimiento por el hecho de que tienen que hacer el doble de la planificación que sus compañeros monolingües o se ven llamados a más reuniones mientras que sus compañeros monolingües tienen más tiempo para calificar o planificar el curso. Por lo contrario, he escuchado a profesores monolingües expresar sentimientos de miedo y ansiedad ante la posibilidad de perder sus trabajos por no ser bilingües. He conocido a maestros monolingües que toman los cursos para obtener una certificacion de ESL / Bilingüe solo para preservar su trabajo, no porque tengan un deseo real de aprender más sobre el desarrollo de la bialfabetización. Estos sentimientos son válidos y comprensibles, pero no muy propicios para el desarrollo de un programa de lenguaje dual que pone las necesidades de los estudiantes en primer lugar. Cuando los maestros monolingües y de dos idiomas tienen una comprensión clara del papel único que TODOS desempeñan en el éxito del programa de dos idiomas de su escuela, es más probable que encuentren el tiempo y desarrollen el deseo de trabajar de manera colaborativa y respetuosa para crear un plan de estudios que sea intencional, sobre tener en cuenta los matices de ambos idiomas.
  4. El equipo de liderazgo e instrucción en dos idiomas es consciente de promover la equidad lingüística: Otros comentarios basados ​​en el miedo que he escuchado sobre la instrucción en dos idiomas incluyen: “No podemos ofrecer matemáticas o ciencias en español porque es demasiado difícil” o “Si los estudiantes si toman sus clases de matemáticas en español, tendrán un desempeño deficiente en las pruebas estandarizadas de matemáticas que se administran en inglés .” He visto el español (y otros segundos idiomas de instrucción) pasar a un segundo plano frente al inglés una vez que se instala una sensación de miedo en que los niños se “quedarán atrás” en inglés. Estos sentimientos de miedo aumentan durante los años de prueba. Cuando una escuela decide implementar un programa de lengua dual, es crucial que a ambos idiomas se les dé el mismo nivel de prioridad y se les asigne el mismo valor. Las mismas oportunidades que se les dan a los estudiantes para aprender inglés académico deben brindarse en el segundo idioma de instrucción. La designación de espacios “solo en inglés” envía el mensaje de que el otro idioma de instrucción no importa tanto. Si este tipo de prácticas continúan expandiéndose, el lengua dual corre el riesgo de convertirse en otro programa de educación bilingüe sustractivo, en lugar del modelo aditivo que se pretendía.
  5. El equipo de liderazgo e instrucción en dos idiomas es consciente de la promoción de la equidad cultural: Durante muchos años, la educación estadounidense ha sido de naturaleza monolítica. Los estudiantes, independientemente de su origen cultural y lingüístico, han tenido que leer las historias de personajes que carecen de paralelo con sus propias vidas o estudiar la historia de la cultura mayoritaria, mientras que se presta poca o ninguna atención a la historia de las personas de su propia cultura. Hoy en día, los formuladores de políticas educativas están enfatizando la implementación de un plan de estudios antirracista, enseñanza culturalmente sensible y programas de lenguaje dual como iniciativas para desmantelar la hegemonía cultural que ha existido durante mucho tiempo en los planes de estudio estadounidenses tradicionales. Pero los viejos hábitos son difíciles de romper. ¿Qué pasa si estas ideas perniciosas de alguna manera logran volver a tejerse en las aulas? Los estudiantes en programas de dos idiomas no solo necesitan estudiar historia y literatura en otros idiomas, sino también desde diferentes lentes culturales. La misma atención que se presta para analizar las causas de la Revolución Estadounidense debe prestarse a la Revolución Mexicana, por ejemplo.
  6. El programa de idioma dual brinda acceso equitativo a quienes más lo necesitan: Un desafío importante presentado en el artículo que vinculé anteriormente es que muchos de los programas de idioma dual que se han lanzado en los últimos cinco años en Chicago resultan ser en barrios que se están gentrificando o se han aburguesado. La gentrificación de vecindarios como Logan Square y Avondale ha expulsado a muchas de las familias de habla hispana de bajos ingresos que han vivido allí durante muchos años y ahora no pueden pagar una vivienda en esas comunidades. Algunas de las escuelas en estas comunidades, que han experimentado una baja matrícula, han decidido implementar programas de dos idiomas para hacer que su escuela sea más atractiva y comercial para los posibles propietarios. Estas circunstancias hacen que los programas de dos idiomas parezcan una estratagema de marketing más que una herramienta para un cambio social real

Personalmente, no tengo ningún problema con la expansión de los programas bilingües. De hecho, espero un futuro en el que los programas de dos idiomas sean la norma. Sin embargo, también creo que toda la implementación de programas bilingües debe ser reflexiva, coherente y equitativa. La instrucción en dos idiomas debe colocar ambos idiomas de instrucción, así como sus respectivas culturas, en pie de igualdad. Pero, sobre todo, los programas bilingües de alta calidad deben estar disponibles para los estudiantes que realmente lo necesitan.

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Are All Dual Language Programs Created Equal?

Earlier this month, NPR published an article in which it highlighted the expansion of dual language programs in the city of Chicago. In the article, linked below, it was mentioned that CPS has expanded the number of dual language programs by adding an additional 26 over the last five years.

Link to article: https://www.wbez.org/stories/as-cps-expands-gold-standard-bilingual-program-questions-are-raised-about-who-benefits/e6c10006-fba9-4617-9ef2-fa7435dd3c09

Sounds like a good thing, right? After all, isn’t the mission behind dual language programs to provide equal opportunities to all students to become bilingual, biliterate and multiculturally aware? The fact that CPS is rolling out so many programs in such as short period of time must mean that there is increased buy-in for dual language programs and that that buy-in is probably due to the incredible success dual language programs have demonstrated in educating ALL of its student participants, regardless of race, cultural and socio-economic background, doesn’t it?

For years, many English Language Learners have had to renounce their native language at the expense of learning academic English. Well-intentioned pediatricians or teachers have discouraged parents from speaking their native language at home as to not “confuse” their children. However, current research has shown the opposite: children who are exposed to two languages experience many benefits that their monolingual peers do not such as delayed memory loss, increased cultural awareness and increased ability to learn subsequent languages.

Dual language programs are created with the intention to promote social justice and dismantle inequities, specifically by providing English Language Learners with the language and literacy support that would allow them to develop English literacy skills, without having to renounce their heritage language and culture. When the program is implemented with fidelity, participants exhibit stronger academic growth than their monolingual peers. But like Dr. Sonia Soltero, a professor from Depaul University in Chicago, mentioned in the article linked above: “Dual language is a lofty goal and ambitious,.”It is set up for failure if you don’t have the teachers who are trained, [and] support and buy in from policymakers. If these things are not in place, this does not work very well.”

When shopping around for a school for my daughters, I decided early on that enrolling them in a dual language program would be non-negotiable. My oldest daughters, ages 8 and 6, can now understand Spanish and English perfectly and are learning to speak, read and write in both languages as well. However, I do often wonder how their language and literacy skills in both languages will develop as they get older. Will they prefer English over Spanish? Will they have have academic language gaps in one language or both? How can I, as a parent, tell that the dual language program my children are enrolled in is truly promoting their biliteracy development? How do I know that the dual language program that they are a part of is of high priority at their school?

I don’t think I can answer all of these questions with absolute certainty given that there is so much about dual language programs that I still need to learn, see and experience. However, there are a few characteristics that I have identified over the years, through my experiences as a dual language parent and educator, that are definitely worth noting. I believe that dual language schools that encompass many, or all, of the characteristics listed below have a higher probability of long-term program sustainability and are more likely to develop a program that is consistent, coherent and equitable.

  1. The long-term vision of the school is to expand to a “school-wide” dual language program: When a school has a “single -strand” dual language program, this means that there is only one group of students enrolled in the dual language program while the rest of the student population is enrolled in monolingual English classes. Dual language students that are part of a single strand program may attend school in a bubble and may feel isolated from the rest of their peers. However, a school that has a “school-wide” dual language program has implemented their program at a much larger scale. Most, if not all, of the students participate in the school’s dual language program and the value of the program is deeply instilled in the school culture. When implemented at a school-wide level, the dual language program shifts from being just another initiative that passes through the school to a majority priority. Decisions made about resources, staffing, professional development and all areas of the school structure are made with the dual language program in mind.
  2. There is buy- in from ALL stakeholders: When certain stakeholders have little to no knowledge about their school’s dual language program, are dismissive of the program or flat out oppose it, the greater the chances the program will fail at meeting the. needs of the students. However, when all members of the school community believe in the benefits of dual language, all of them will be much more likely to work together to sustain the program. Buy-in from all stakeholders creates a stronger sense of purpose for the school and when an entire group shares the same purpose, there will be more people working actively and collaboratively to accomplish all of the program’s goals.
  3. There is substantial collaboration and mutual respect between monolingual and dual language teachers: I’ve observed programs where dual and monolingual teachers appear to be at odds with one another. I’ve heard dual language teachers express resentment over the fact that they have to do twice as much planning as their monolingual peers or are pulled into more meetings while their monolingual peers are given more time to grade or course plan. Conversely, I’ve heard monolingual teachers express feelings of fear and anxiety over the possibility of losing their jobs for not being bilingual. I’ve met monolingual teachers who take the coursework towards an ESL/Bilingual endorsement only for job preservation and security, not because they have any real desire to learn more about biliteracy development. These feelings are valid and understandable, but not very conducive to the development of a dual language program that puts the needs of the students first. When monolingual and dual language teachers have a clear understanding of the unique role they ALL play in the success of their school’s dual language program, they are more likely to find the time and develop the desire to work collaboratively and respectfully to create curriculum that is intentional about taking the nuances of both languages into account.
  4. The dual language instructional and leadership team is mindful about promoting linguistic equity: Other fear-based comments that I’ve heard surrounding dual language instruction include: “We can’t offer Math or Science in Spanish because it’s too hard” or “If students take their Math classes in Spanish, they will perform poorly on the Math standardized tests that are administered in English.” I have seen Spanish (and other second languages of instruction) take a back seat to English once a sense of fear sets in that children will “fall behind” in English. These feelings of fear are heightened during testing years. When a school decides to implement a dual language program, it is crucial that both languages be given the same level of priority and are designated the same value. The same opportunities that students are given to learn academic English need to be provided in the second language of instruction. Designating “English-only” spaces send the message that the other language of instruction doesn’t really matter as much. If these types of practices continue to expand, dual language runs the risk of becoming another subtractive bilingual education program, instead of the additive model it was intended to be.
  5. The dual language instructional and leadership team is mindful about promoting cultural equity: For many years, American education has been monolithic in nature. Students, regardless of cultural and linguistic background, have had to read the stories of characters that lack any parallel to their own lives or study the history of the majority culture, while little to no attention is given to history of the people from their own cultural background. Today, educational policy makers are emphasizing the implementation of anti-racist curriculum, culturally responsive teaching and dual language programs as initiatives to dismantle the cultural hegemony that has long existed in traditional American curricula. But old habits are hard to break. What if these pernicious ideas somehow manage to weave themselves back into classrooms? Students in dual language programs not only need to study history and literature in other languages, but from different cultural lenses as well. The same amount of attention that is given to analyze the causes of the American Revolution needs to be given to the Mexican Revolution, for example.
  6. The dual language program provides equal access to those who need it the most : A major challenge presented in the article that I linked above is that the many of the dual language programs that have been launched in the last five years in Chicago all happen to be in neighborhoods that are gentrifying or have gentrified. The gentrification of neighborhoods like Logan Square and Avondale, has pushed out many of the low-income Spanish speaking families who have lived there for many years and are now unable to afford housing in those communities. Some of the schools in these communities, who have experienced low enrollment, have decided to implement dual language programs in order to make their school more appealing and marketable to prospective homeowners. These circumstances make dual language programs seem like a marketing ploy rather than a tool for real societal change.

I personally don’t have a problem with the expansion of dual language programs. In fact, I hope for a future where dual language programs are the norm. However, I also believe that all dual language program implementation should be thoughtful, coherent and equitable. Dual language instruction should place both languages of instruction, as well as their respective cultures, on equal footing. But above all, high-quality dual language programs need to be made available to the students they were meant to serve in the first place.