Episode 65: Insights into what it takes to teach your multilingual child with Berenice Pernalete

Episode 65

On this episode of Bilingual Avenue, I interview Berenice Pernalete, a biliteracy instructional guide, at Mundo Verde Public Charter School in Washington, DC.  We chat about bilingual language models, the challenges language teachers face and the amazing rewards the teaching profession can provide.  Berenice has over nine years of extensive experience in areas such as children’s performance management, children’s program development, and many others.

Episode #65 Quick Guide

On this episode, Berenice discusses with us:

Berenice discusses:

  • Her language journey starting with a move to the United States from Venezuela when she was only eight years old;
  • The overwhelming experience she felt after the move and especially when she started school;
  • How her teacher paired her up with another Spanish speaking student who helped Berenice make the language transition;
  • How her language learning experience has helped her when working in the classroom;
  • The more common bilingual programs available in language schools:
    • Submersion – A model in which language learners attend a monolingual school and receive dual language services to acquire the community language;
    • Transitional – In this model, students receive instruction in their home language for 50% of the time during for approximately three years.  Once they acquire enough social skills in the community language to function, they exit the program.
    • Two-way dual language – This model provides a full language immersion where half of the academic time is spent in the target language and the other half in the community language. These programs are highly effective.
  • Her experience teaching Spanish to children who are not exposed to Spanish as their home language;
  • How she uses miming, scaffolding, visuals, consistent routines, and a nurturing and loving environment to convey meaning for her language learners;
  • How challenging it can be to navigate the different levels of Spanish acquisition in one classroom;
  • The value she sees in reading authentic text in the target language to young learners;
  • The importance of finding outstanding teachers for language programs;
  • The challenge that young learners may not be intrinsically motivated to learn a second language and the role teachers must play to motivate them from an early age;
  • How parents can support their child’s language needs when they do not speak the language of the school including:
    • Portraying the value and appreciation for learning another language;
    • Leading by example;
    • Being a learner side-by-side with their children;
    • Encouraging meaningful interactions in the language they you do share with their children;
  • A wonderful perspective on language: “Language is a vehicle, language is not content. Language is the vehicle through which we learn content;”
  • Her latest project Acento: A place for networking, professional development and connecting problems with solutions that are unique to those who teach IN Spanish;
  • Her advice to multilingual parents to keep at it!


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