Four speakers — Hali Chung, Evelin Campanur, Gabriel Gonzalez and Renata Horvatek— shared their experiences of being multilingual and how it has affected them as students last night in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.
The panel presentation, “Life with Two Languages: at home and school and in communities,” was the first of four events in the series “Multilingualism in our Classrooms and Communities.”
Each speaker brought their different experiences to the panel.
Chung and Campanur related similar feelings about trying to separate themselves from their parents’ language. But, as they got older, they realized how much of a benefit being bilingual was for them.
Speaking two different languages opened the door to two different cultures, Campanur said during the panel discussion.
Gonzalez discussed some of the problems that went along with learning English after moving to the United States from Colombia, but he also recognized the positives of knowing two languages.
“Perspective is key,” he said.
Horvatek believes that teacher training in the U.S. should focus on learning languages.
Following the speakers, there was a question and answer session.
The “Multilingualism in our Classrooms and Communities” series was organized by the Diversity and Community Enhancement Committee (DCEC) in the College of Education.
The DCEC is a group of people interested in diversity in education. For this year’s series, the committee chose to do language diversity. Within the DCEC, there is a theme committee, co-chaired by Elizabeth Smolcic and Laura Katunich, who have been working on the series since the beginning of fall semester, said Elizabeth Smolcic, professor of Education (English as a Second Language).
The committee chose to focus on language diversity because students are interested in globalization and the reality is, the majority of the people in the world are multilingual, Smolcic said.
She added that students realize that when they graduate and become teachers, they will have multilingual students.
“[The panel] was very helpful and insightful,” said Scardy Maceus (graduate).
It was great that the panel included a variety of experiences, said April Hartle (graduate).
There will be three more events in the series: a speaker, a visual display of people signing in different languages and an interactive workshop, Smolcic said.
The next event in the series will be “Preparing All Teachers to Educate English Language Learners (ELLs)/ Bilingual learners,” by speaker Dr. Rebecca Freeman Field, a sociolinguist and language educator on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. in Foster Auditorium in Paterno Library.