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The Human Brand

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    • #80351

      In reflecting about the work I do, I have been in bilingual education all 31 years of my career, I often ask myself how and why I have been successful in convincing people to believe in bilingualism. My field is very controversial and even though there is not any research supporting monolingualism over bilingualism, people are still very skeptical about educating their children in a bilingual environment. The benefits of bilingualism are many, the research is clear and vast, but I continue to have to educate principals, central office administrators, teachers, parents and the community about why they should trust our programs and implement our Dual Language Programs with fidelity in order for them to be successful.

      I have attributed my success to get colleagues on board with me to my ability to connect and build relationships with people. It has always been my starting point. Understanding and accepting the fact that I cannot tell principals what to do has made me start with building relationships and credibility with principals and teachers. Being able to deliver trainings myself has really helped me in these two areas. This year, our school district is focusing on building our “brand” as a district. The book “The Human Brand” by Chris Malone talks about warmth and competence in an individual and in a company as well. I remember something our superintendent told us once, “you are hired for your hard skills (competence) but you could be fired for your soft skills (warmth)”. This book explains, with very clear, real life examples, how you need to balance both to be able to be successful. Our district has lost students to charter schools and private schools. Our enrollment has dropped considerably. We have to tell our story in order to sell our product, which in this case is public education. As a bilingual department we have to sell our dual language program more. This year we will be reaching out more to the community and working on new strategies to recruit more students. Any advise would be greatly appreciate it.

    • #82284
      Karan Young, M.Ed.

      Thank you for your posting and your dedication to bilingualism. I have seen first hand the importance of being able to speak more than one language. Teaching internationally has created a love of language in me and I see the value of developing a second language in children.
      Marketing a “brand” is something I have some expertise in as the former owner of a school. When perspective families would visit my facility, I rarely discussed things like curriculum, cost and such. I focused on the value I could provided. I emphasized how our environment would install a deep love of learning that would carry their child throughout his or her life. Setting that solid foundation and love of learning was always my strongest endorsement for my school.
      Another thing I tried to instill in perspective clients was the research. I feel that being able to share with people just how the brain works and what the research shows is important, after they start asking questions. I am an avid supporter of acquiring a second language and recently found this rticle helpful: “The Sooner You Expose A Baby To A Second Language, The Smarter They’ll Be” (
      In this article, it highlights the findings of researchers at the University of Washington. This is a unique facility which has a lab specifically designed for infants. Embedded in this article is a marvelous video summarizing the findings of this study. The video goes on to state that by 11 months, children in a bi-lingual environment demonstrate more activity in the prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex. These areas of the brain have been demonstrated to be important areas for executive functioning. Her findings found no down-side to bilingualism. I am not sure have an article to refer parents to will increase enrollment at your school, but this and similar article definitely support your assertion that bilingual education is beneficial.

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