Twenty Years of Bilingual Revolution

The things one finds cleaning one’s closet! Here is a certificate I received in 1999 for participating in the International Symposium on Bilingualism and Biliteracy through Schooling organized by Professor Ofelia García and Long Island University. At the time, I was in charge of Ecole Bilingue’s Middle and Upper schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts (the school is now called the International School of Boston). The symposium was a way for me to catch some air after a busy semester and connect with a community of bilingual education researchers and practitioners from all over the world. I was very excited to attend this event and learn from the best, and I did. I not only left recharged and inspired, I left changed.

The guru of American bilingual education, world-renown linguist Joshua Fishman, signed me his book that day, The Handbook of Language & Ethnic Identity. He wished me luck for my “work in the French-American school(s).” I now read his note in some new, premonitory light, given what I have ended up doing in various schools around the U.S. since that time. The words he had for me and those he wrote touched me profoundly. Today, I am the one signing the books, and I make a point of writing a note every time somebody asks me to sign my books.

Also on the certificate, Ofelia García’s signature reminds me of how long I have been a big fan of the mama of translanguaging! Years later, she would write the most incredible foreword to my book, The Bilingual Revolution, which still gives me goosebumps when I read it. You can read it here. I recently interviewed her in French for my podcast, Révolution bilingue. Looking back, both Ofelia and Joshua have been my role-models as I followed steadfastly the path they traced.