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University of St. Thomas professor educates a new generation of bilingual teachers

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Dual language programs are increasing across the nation, especially for those who want their children to be fluent in both Spanish and English.

But, unfortunately, there’s a shortage of qualified teachers.

Now, one professor at The University of St. Thomas in Houston is working to change that. So far, it’s working.

Dr. Ginny Torres-Rimbau said she started to notice that students who wanted to be bilingual teachers had trouble with their academic Spanish, in spite of being able to speak the language.
“It is not enough to be able to speak to the kids in Spanish and to use their home language,” explained Torres-Rimbau. “But, we also need to be able to do the math and science and all the reading and writing skills in Spanish.”

Knowing that her students were dominant in English and only had oral Spanish skills, Torres-Rimbau created a program to help her students succeed when it comes to their academic Spanish.

She calls it “Con Cariño”; which means with affection.

“I call it Con Cariño because I’m not going to say, ‘You should know that, you speak Spanish. I mean, shame on you.'” she said. “No, I’m not going to say that. I’m going to say, ‘You learned this in English, let’s see how we can do it in Spanish.'”

It was this exact method of teaching that gave former student, Kalyn Vasquez, the confidence she needed to become a bilingual teacher.
“I was actually kind of unsure if I wanted to do bilingual because I knew that I knew Spanish, and I knew that I knew English,” explained Vasquez.

“Con Cariño” set her up for success.

She’s now a Pre-k teacher at a school in Channelview ISD. She says she uses the same trans-language technique on her students.

“[My students are] going to remember, ‘Oh, Miss Vasquez taught me that’s red, but she also taught me that’s rojo,'” she said. “That makes me excited.”

Torres-Rimbau’s program has a 93% passing rate on the state test. Her program has indeed proved to be successful.

She’s now conducting a study there at University of St. Thomas to find out why Con Cariño is doing so well, and how to improve it.

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