On education, language learning and making a difference

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Education blog
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Hi! thanks for stopping by. We post once or twice a week, all about education, languages and making a difference in children's lives. Check out our most recent posts here or head to the archive to read older posts.

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March 7, 2014

Quiz: How culturally ready for the future is your child?

LearningIt’s no secret that the world is continually coming together culturally and linguistically like never before. Universities, businesses, and governments all around the world increasing rely on employees who are skilled in diplomacy and cultural understanding. Intolerance is not being tolerated. It will take more than just a decent education to achieve success in our global economy… Is your kid ready for it?

Take the quiz. Here’s how the points work. a = 0, b = 1, c = 2, & d = 3. Add them up and see how your child is doing at the end...continue reading

February 27, 2014

Word Walls in the Language Classroom
A tool for all ages and all levels of language learningWord WallsMany educators may think that word walls are just for the elementary classroom – you know, for when kids are learning to read. But word walls are an effective tool when learning a new language in the classroom at any age and language level.

For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of word walls – its pretty much what it sounds like: words on a wall. In a traditional elementary setting, there are many kinds of word walls. When I taught bilingual first grade, I used a “sight word” word wall, which included high frequency words like “there” and “too”, and “of”. These were mostly words that you could not “sound out” – you just had to know how to spell them. When students were working on a writing project, this word wall was a quick reference to remember how to spell those...continue reading

February 17, 2014

Is Winter Camp the new Summer Camp?
Winter CampWhen I was 17, my family hosted an exchange student from Argentina. She stayed with us for about month. She was on summer vacation. It was January. That was the first time that I learned that much of the world – primarily South America - is on an opposite school schedule than us here in the United States.

Where do these students go for summer camp? Unfortunately, many probably do not attend in the United States because their summer vacation is when most of our camps are closed...continue reading

February 12, 2014

My All-Time Favorite Language Learning Activity
LearningI remember how cool I felt living in Colombia and being able to sing along to Shakira’s song, “Suerte” (In English it’s “Wherever, Whenever” if you want to put the tune in your head). Picture me in a cab, quietly singing along to the radio as the taxi swerved through the traffic heavy city – or better yet belting out the lyrics in the shower. “Contigo, mi vida, quiero vivir la vida…”

I felt cool – or probably confident – is a better word because I had fluency. I knew the words, and I knew what they meant, and I fit in when that song would be played at a disco or on TV. And then I think back to when I used to teach ESL to adults in the United States...continue reading

January 23, 2014

One of those teachers
BrainWelcome the newest member of the D'Angon team -Juliana Dangond! If it seems like there has been a little break in our blog posting, you are right, but for good reason. We welcomed our little girl into the world on Dec.12, 2013. Even though Juliana is only 5 weeks old, the educator in me is acutely aware of her language development - or more accurately - her bilingual language development. (I speak to her and our 2 year old only in English and my husband speaks to them only in his native language - Spanish). The research on the cognitive benefits of bilingualism is extensive: children who grow up bilingually actually become more intelligent in other areas besides language, like math. The input of multiple languages causes the dendrites in the brain to grow and expand differently than monolingual children, hence making more synaptic connections.

For any educators reading this, the information above is probably not new to you, or at least not surprising. Yet, when I reflect back on my years teaching in public schools, I remember being shocked...continue reading

December 9, 2013

When bullies pick on the ESL kids – What teachers can do
BulliesI always knew that my grandfather was referred to by the nickname “Dopey” by some very old friends and acquaintances in the rural Illinois town in which I grew up. What I didn’t learn until into my adulthood was how he came to acquire that name.

He got that name because he didn’t speak English when he started school at age 10. His parents where immigrants from Belgium, and he was raised on a farm. When he finally was enrolled in school, the other kids called him “Dopey” because he couldn’t understand anything. The name stuck his whole life.

We all know that bullying has severely evolved from name calling to the sometimes severe harassment that occurs too often today. For ESL teachers who witness their students being made fun of for trying to use their newly acquired vocabulary, this can be excruciatingly frustrating...continue reading

November 29, 2013

Foreign students entering US Universities at Record Numbers – Can they talk the talk?
Culture and LanguageMore than 800,000 foreign students are enrolled in US universities this school year, and the number is expected to climb – it has been doing so for the past seven years. China, India, and South Korea alone comprise half of these students, and keep your eye on Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait – their student enrollment in the US in on a notable rise.(

Unquestionably, these students are bright – they have high SAT, GMAT, and GRE scores. And, they obviously scored high enough on their TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to gain admittance into their chosen program. These students’ parents and teachers have prepared them well academically, but there is one area that in general that could be better – the English speaking part...continue reading

November 19, 2013

Just how important are international friendships for your child?
International ConnectionsThis post isn’t actually about friendship – it’s about money, and setting your child up for a successful career. I could discuss how when children are exposed to other cultures they become more empathetic, understanding, knowledgeable, and in general a better contributor to a global society, but those points are quite obvious.

The other benefit, or perhaps even competitive advantage, that your child gets from having friends from many cultural backgrounds or countries is a budding rolodex of international connections that they can leverage in their future careers. In fact, having more friends has been shown to being a stronger indicator of future earnings than standardized test scores. (

When I was a nine year old girl growing up in northern Illinois, I had a pen pal in Wisconsin. It was a nice little experience, but we lost touch and I really don’t know what happened...continue reading

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