Campaign aims to tear down bilingual barrier, fears

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

The Proud to be Bilingual campaign will be set up in the Library and Learning Resource Center starting in April to expose the beauty of knowing a second language while raising awareness through bilingual pride.

“Being bilingual is not a disability, we need to change the perception,” English as a second language professor Gabriela Segade said.

The campaign is dedicated to inform and educate students, faculty and staff about the diverse tongues spoken throughout campus.

By working to remove the negative perceptions of speaking a different language, the English as a second language department (ESL) plans to invite speakers to share their experiences coping with language barriers.

ESL professor Elisabeth Xiezopolski said, “We need to change the value that we have because we all have language needs.”

There is stigma attached to being an ESL student, she said. Having an accent instills the doubt that those people with a second language are not as smart or worthy as those who have a crisp English vocabulary already mastered.

Having an accent, for many, is intimidating, Xiezopolski said.

Although English speakers have the advantage, those who pick up another language have the ability to thrive on campus.

The campaign is not only directed toward those who have learned English as a second language, but for those whose first language is English but know a second language.

Xiezopolski said the campaign also reaches to those who are monolingual to learn a second language and benefit from speaking more than one language.

One of the main goals of the campaign is to encourage students to step out of their comfort zone and not allow a language to hinder them from advancing. There are students with similar challenges like those who are bilingual, Xiezopolski said.

She said knowing another language makes things easier when they want to travel to another place, as well as when applying for a job.

Speaking another language gives someone an advantage and in the process allows the brain some growth. 

Information about the benefits of learning a second language will be on display during the campaign as well, English as a second language department Chairperson Anoosheh Borhan said.

Those who speak a second language will be given a button with a globe and the quote “Proud to be Bilingual” in both English and other languages.

Faculty and staff will wear a button that says “Proud to be Bilingual” to represent the many different languages spoken throughout campus.

Xiezopolski said they will show different people who speak another language, including celebrities.

Visual displays, resources and articles with benefits of speaking a second language will be set up inside of a display case in the Library, Segade said.

Not knowing a language can limit someone from reaching out to receive the help they need.

“It is a feeling of deficiency, but we have so many learners,” Xiezopolski said. “Faculty needs to accept that it takes a while to get rid of errors.”

Borhan said for future Proud to be Bilingual campaigns, they plan to expand the event and bring in more ideas.