HARLINGEN — How do you say it?
In as many ways as you want to depending on your language skills.
Just ask some kids at Coakley Middle School and they’ll tell you themselves. They told it so well in their video, “The Power of Bilingualism,” they won the Rio Grande Valley Texas Association for Bilingual Education Student Video Contest last month.
“We gave an example of what happens in real life so they can relate,” said Liaida De Jesus, 13, an eighth grader.
That “real life” example was set at a local restaurant which allowed them to film on location. Instructor Jose Sanchez played a waiter and the kids placed their order in Spanish. The waiter didn’t understand.
“I like this because there are a lot of people that are not bilingual and they’re afraid to speak up,” said Kia Juarez, 12, a sixth grader.
“They don’t say anything,” she added. “They just stand alone.”
Mireya Galvan, library media specialist at Coakley, was proud of the students’ work. They all understood the need to speak more than one language, she said. Liaida and her brother Francisco just moved here from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Vannya Alatorre came here from Matamoros about two months ago.
“They see the importance of being bilingual,” Galvan said. “It helps them in their future, in their community and in their careers.”
As a matter of fact, besides trying to speak to a waiter who couldn’t speak Spanish, the students also included dialogue about the importance of bilingualism in many different aspects of their lives.
“I think it’s beneficial to know two or more languages because you can have a better future and a better career,” Kia said in the video.
Vannya, 12, also comprehended very well the crucial need to be bilingual. She’s only been here a short while. She speaks very little English, something she’s working to change.
“It’s important for conversation with students here at the school,” said Vannya, a sixth grader. “I am very grateful.”
Each student received $50 in prize money for their efforts.
Francisco De Jesus
Liaida De Jesus