Do you speak more than one language? Are you a multilingual speaker?
This is part three of our interview series, “Thinking in Two Languages.” I had the chance to sit down and talk with Maria Fernanda Márquez to learn about her journey, benefits, and life as a bilingual speaker and educator.
Maria not only works with us here at Summit K12, she has taught in dual language and bilingual classrooms respectively.
How Language Can Shape the Lives & Careers of Multilingual Speakers
I wanted to understand better how a native Spanish speaker thinks in two languages and how it can affect both ones personal and professional life respectively.
Here are some of the notable bilingual benefits (super-skills).
- Communication Skills: Being fluent in multiple languages can allow you to communicate with a wider range of people – including clients, customers, and colleagues from diverse backgrounds. This unique power can also improve your ability to build relationships and negotiate with stakeholders, making you a more effective communicator.
- Increased Job Opportunities: Many roles today stem from a globalized economy that requires bilingual or multilingual employees. Speaking two languages can open new career paths and give you a competitive edge over monolingual job candidates.
- Improved Cultural Awareness: Speaking two languages often aligns with exposure to different cultures, food, and ways of thinking. This dual language ability can make you more culturally aware and sensitive, which is highly valued in many industries today.
- Higher Earning Potential: Bilingual employees are always in high demand. For the right career fit, dual language speakers can negotiate higher salaries or have access to more senior positions. Also, some companies offer language-based bonuses or incentives for employees who can communicate with clients or partners in multiple languages.
- Personal Development: Learning a second language requires patience, perseverance, and dedication, which are transferable skills you can use in many areas of life. Being bilingual can help you develop strong problem-solving skills and increase creativity – which can benefit you personally and professionally.
I think you will enjoy Maria’s “thoughts” and story as we take a closer look into this phenomenon.
Robyn Shulman: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us. Let’s start this conversation off with your current and past work.
Maria Fernanda Márquez: I am part of the customer service team at Summit K12. Our team contributes to improving the user experience of our web-based, educational programs across various school districts in Texas and other states.
Shulman: Can you tell me a bit about your teaching background?
Márquez: Although I am not currently serving as a teacher, I worked as a bilingual teacher for almost five years.
Shulman: Can you tell me more about your work in the education field?
Márquez: Sure. I worked with students from various socioeconomic backgrounds and diverse learning abilities under different San Antonio and Austin bilingual programs.
Shulman: Let’s talk a bit about your background in bilingual education.
Márquez: While completing my Bachelor’s degree to become a teacher, I was exposed to breakthrough research in bilingual education.
Research such as longitudinal studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of a well-implemented dual language program over a monolingual program.
Shulman: Sometimes, ESL and Bilingual students are labeled with learning disabilities and can be placed in the wrong classroom. How did you deal with this issue as an educator?
Márquez: I became an enabler in bringing social equity through language to a population that was once (by laws enacted in the 60s) stolen from their bilingualism. I often joke that my second languages are English and Spanish, and my first language is Spanglish. The truth is, I am working towards becoming trilingual.
“If being bilingual has impacted my life most beautifully, I cannot even fathom the bliss of being a multilingual individual.”
Shulman: I love the statement you shared above. Can you tell me about your experience thinking in two languages?
Márquez: I wish I could describe the moment when I first thought in two languages. Pondering has gone into this, but the moment passed unobserved.
The realization came the first time I got asked what it was like to think in two languages. Awareness of this phenomenon has made me grateful because I have expanded access to content, media, and people.
Shulman: How would you best describe your one superpower speaking two languages?
Márquez: One word: Traveling!
My Spanish knowledge allowed me to easily navigate through Italy, France, Spain (of course), and Portugal. And as a testament to the bilingual programs available in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland, I was often able to communicate in English there.
Shulman: Maria, thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and we can’t wait to see where your journey takes you!
About the author
Robyn D. Shulman is a writer, editor, educator and the Growth Marketing Manager for Summit K12 – where they empower learners and support teachers in the ESL/Bilingual and Dual Language Field. In 2018, she won LinkedIn’s Top Voice, and she is a former contributor to Forbes, where she covered education and entrepreneurship. Please follow Robyn, our page, and please share this article with those would benefit.