Back to Belle Sherman

We recently returned to Belle Sherman Elementary School for a few last interviews. First, we interviewed Shelia Bowman, a kindergarten teacher who has several ESL (English as a second language) students in her classroom. She described how she uses hands-on activities, pictures, and things the students can hold in their hands to teach them new vocabulary words in the classroom.

We also interviewed parents of the students in the after school Spanish program at Belle Sherman. They told us that they wanted their children to learn about other cultures and develop a connection to other people and different forms of communication. When we saw Bella and Sofia, two students in the program, hanging around the cameras while we spoke with their parents, we decided to interview them together. Bianca speaks Spanish fluently and asked them about their experience learning the language. Bella and Sofia were great — they carried on the conversation well, even though they were a little camera-shy.


Interviewing the Expert: Dr. Cathrene Connery

We recently interview Dr. Cathrene Connery, an education professor at Ithaca College. She’s spent her entire life learning about and studying bilingualism in the United States. She also introduced us to several of our other sources, including some of the Ithaca High School students.

When we first spoke with Dr. Connery, she introduced us to the idea of the “bilingual bicycle,” — it’s a metaphor that  language experts often use to describe how students, both young and old, learn a second language. As Dr. Connery told us, teachers should help students develop their first and second languages early. When a student’s first language is underdeveloped, it becomes much more difficult to fully learn a second language — meaning a student attempts to ride a bike that has one small one wheel in front and one large wheel in the back. Continue reading