Growing up bilingual in NYC
Language – the sounds, structures, words and meanings that people use to communicate – has always interested me from a very young age. The child of first generation immigrants, I grew up in NYC with a German mother and a Puerto Rican father. We spoke English and German at home, as well as a little Spanish. I attended NYC public schools from K-12. I also went to German school every Saturday where I learned how to read and write the language.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
After college I lived abroad in Russia and Brazil, where I taught English for the first time. I absolutely fell in love with teaching English and wanted to know everything I could about language acquisition. This eventually led me to my earn my degrees in TESOL at Teachers College and, recently in May 2017, my PhD in Linguistics from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).
During my doctoral studies, my focus was drawn to the needs of our city’s emergent bilingual school children, or English Language Learners (ELLs). I gained extensive experience working in NYC and NY State public schools researching K-12 learners, coaching and training teachers on how to integrate content with language and literacy in a multilingual classroom, and designing and consulting on the creation of multilingual literacy assessments for NY State, as well as curricula for newcomer students with emerging literacy.
Having a child with a dyslexia forced me to go through the experience of navigating the complex world of support services here in NYC. Having been through that experience has added another focus to my work: getting expertise on teaching literacy to students with dyslexia and other struggling readers.
I am an Orton-Gillingham-trained practitioner. The Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach is research-based methodology that incorporates multisensory techniques (visual, aural, oral, kinesthetic) as well as systematic, explicit instruction of decoding and spelling.
This year I founded my organization, Advocating for Emergent Bilinguals through Language and Literacy (AEBLL), because my mission for the rest of my career is to help emergent bilinguals and their teachers, as well as students with reading disabilities and their parents. My upcoming work is going to center on professional development on language and literacy acquisition, providing private OG tutoring, and continuing my academic research.
I care deeply about supporting teachers, schools, and families in improving outcomes for all students, especially emergent bilinguals. I Advocate for Emergent Bilinguals through Language and Literacy because I believe all children are AEBLL to achieve academic success!