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| Rimbau is bound for Colombia with Fulbright Fellowship |
Dr. Higinia Rimbau, Chair of Bilingual and Dual Language Programs at the University of St. Thomas School of Education, has been awarded a five-year Fulbright Fellowship and has been assigned as a Fulbright specialist in San Andreas, Colombia, where she will work with local educators to address the bilingual needs of the students.
Rimbau has spent more than 20 years training St. Thomas bilingual teachers to help their students bridge the gap between their native tongue and English while continuing to learn at their grade level.
“This is my first time doing something like this,” Rimbau said. “It will be a great experience to see teachers teach bilingually in another country. I hope to bring that experience back to my students, and I am hoping to get data that I can present and publish.”
San Andreas is a former British colony whose inhabitants speak an English-based creole. Because it is a province in Colombia, a Spanish speaking country, the current curriculum is based in Spanish. As a result, educators are having issues of bilingualism, which are similar to issues faced in America, especially Texas.
Rimbau’s work will consist of several phases. The first involves her studying their education policy and research; After that, she will then design a study that she will conduct in San Andreas next summer. She will assess the needs of the teachers and design a program, taking six weeks to personally train them. Rimbau will follow up to assess the success and write a review of the program.
In the United States, Rimbau says there is a nationwide movement of dual language education, where students are encouraged to become fluent in two or more languages. In Texas, a growing number of native English speakers have expressed interest in learning other languages. The Houston Independent School District already has several programs moving in this direction.
“Bilingual education is very important in Texas because it has been a way to make sure that students can read and write while learning proficiency in English,” Rimbau said. “Research out of Canada shows that children who grow up bilingual have cognitive advantages as well.”
The University of St. Thomas School of Education prepares highly qualified educators who demonstrate the ability to be effective in a variety of field settings, both private and public. Instilled with an appreciation for ethical behavior inspired by the tradition of the founding Basilian Fathers, graduates of the school have a rich history of success in their chosen profession.