Alexandra is a seventh grade student at Carbondale Middle School in Carbondale, CO. She began kindergarten as an emerging bilingual at Crystal River Elementary. Alexandra lives with her parents, Simon and Bricelda, her older sister Lizzeth (17) and younger sister Natalia (10 mos). Alexandra’s family speaks Spanish and English. Alexandra and her sister Lizzeth have recently been studying Korean and would like to travel to South Korea someday.
Alexandra excels as a student and as a leader. She likes all of her classes because, she says, “It’s all an opportunity to learn and get and give knowledge and everyone will be united. Many don’t have the opportunity to go to school.” Alexandra feels lucky that she has the opportunity to learn. Alexandra plays basketball for CMS, plays the trumpet, is part of the Pre-Collegiate program, Outdoor Leadership, and was selected to be a WEB Leader (CMS’s youth leadership team). She is passionate about dancing, loves to sing, and really likes visual arts and mocha lattes.
Alexandra highly values her bilingualism: “I think being bilingual is an opportunity for your future life. There are many things you can do with it. It’s important because I can help my parents. I can help them learn English. In the future, I can talk to people who people who speak a different language. We can understand each other and learn new things. If you learn new things, you can become even better than you were before.” She actively seeks opportunities to strengthen her bilingualism. For example, she joined a bilingual book club, practices reading in Spanish with her parents, and seeks out bilingual friends. She says, “I like reading. It helps with your knowledge of things. If it’s a book that’s really interesting, it will stay in your head and you will teach other people new things. Reading bilingually is hard for me because sometimes I read in Spanish I read slower than in English but it’s good to keep reading in Spanish. My mom helps me with the Spanish words I don’t know.”
Before beginning school, Alexandra spoke only Spanish. “My sister and I wouldn’t communicate much because she only wanted to speak English. When I started Kindergarten I was scared because I didn’t understand anything in English. I had a teacher who taught us English by using Spanish and that helped a lot. Other kids didn’t understand as much because they were only learning in English. My parents wanted me to keep speaking Spanish because they didn’t want me to loose my Spanish. I don’t think it’s OK to let Spanish go. I think it’s really important for you to have it and communicate with your own family and speak the language you originated from and speak English at the same time. If you have parents who speak Spanish it’s easier to maintain your Spanish. If you don’t have parents that speak Spanish, you could maintain it by using bilingual flashcards. You can have the opportunity to be bilingual. You can also have friends that speak both languages. I try to help my parents talk in English. They ask us how to say things at home.”
Alexandra dreams of becoming a dancer: “I want to be able to dance in front of people and make a change. I want people to feel like no matter what they want to do, they can do it!” She is also attracted to the idea of becoming a doctor or surgeon. She sees her bilingualism as an important part of any career she chooses.
“People will speak to you in Spanish and you can communicate with them. As a doctor, if a person is hurt, and they speak Spanish, you need to be able to understand them to help them.”
Alexandra’s goal is to “make change for other people around the world and give them motivation to do whatever they want. I want to make a change in this world and help other people out.”