He opens the article with a brief yet fascinating story about his son, an anxious Spanish-speaking parent, and a school event:
"One day, we encountered an anxious parent who spoke to me in Spanish. I asked my son, who knows much more Spanish than I do, to translate.
"Daddy," he said, "I can’t translate."
"Can you ask him what he needs help with and tell me?"
"Oh, yeah, I can do that," my son replied. At 7 years old, he listened, figured out that the man was looking for a school event, and told him he had arrived one day early. The man gestured to my son and said, "Whoa, muy bueno! You papa?" I nodded yes with a proud smile."
In this moment, Principal Davern saw the long-term and important benefits of his son’s two-way immersion education in action. Empirical research has demonstrated that learning two languages can influence a student’s proficiency in critical thinking, interpretive readings, and improves overall cognitive function; furthermore, students that undertake a bilingual education develop stronger cross-cultural sensitivity and relationships.
Young Davern’s experience shows the benefits for one’s daily life: he was able to be compassionate, helpful, and kind. “Teachers who work with Spanish-immersion students…report an increased level of acceptance of differences. When students encounter classmates’ rituals or views that are unfamiliar to them, they’ll ask, "Is that a tradition in your family?" rather than assuming the unfamiliarity is strange or wrong.” This acceptance of other worldly views or traditions exemplifies TWIN-CS’s mission for global tolerance.
The hope, as Principal Davern reiterates, is for a “wider world,” a world in which we learn to understand each other despite cultural and linguistic differences. The community which we here at TWIN-CS wish to nurture and sustain is the very same. Follow the blog for more inspirational stories from teachers around the globe!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Research Assistant