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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Bilingual childhood spurs career

Spanish assistant professor Linda Roy grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, where both Spanish and English were spoken. Both of her parents are bilingual as well. Taurence Williams/The Collegian
Spanish assistant professor Linda Roy grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, where both Spanish and English were spoken. Both of her parents are bilingual as well. Taurence Williams/The Collegian

By Valerie Edwards/reporter

The borders that surround America are clear and definite, but the makeup of an American is often diverse and blurred. Within the obscurities not only lies a blend of cultures, opinions and beliefs but also an opportunity for languages to be shared between the races.

Linda Roy, a South Campus Spanish assistant professor is the epitome of an American in this day and age.

“My mom’s Mexican-American from south Texas, Rio Grande Valley area,” she said. “My dad’s from up north (Iowa).”

Roy learned about both cultures and languages at home, but her experience learning two languages was very different from that of her mother’s. 

“My mom grew up in Brownsville and spoke no English until she started school,” Roy said. “She was punished for speaking Spanish in school. Her hand was slapped.”

Because Roy grew up in the Rio Grande Valley area as well, Spanish was as common as English outside of school because the population was 95 percent Hispanic. However, it was not until the seventh grade, after prompting from her father, that Roy decided to take Spanish classes.

“He really wanted me to not only become bilingual, but also biliterate,” she said.

Roy continued Spanish classes throughout high school and into college, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in English and a master’s in bilingual education.

Undoubtedly, Roy is passionate about people learning a foreign language, but she is saddened that the influence often does not extend into the home.

“It’s really a lost resource to have parents that don’t share [their native language in the home],” she said. “It’s unfortunate if you don’t take advantage of learning the language naturally.”

Luckily for Roy, though, her family was generous in helping to facilitate learning both languages while growing up. Now after teaching at the college level for 12 years, these experiences have helped to make her an effective and successful teacher.

Kaleigh Goodrum, a previous student of Roy’s, agrees that her background contributed during class.

“I believe that her experience has helped her tremendously,” Goodrum said. “She was able to help us in everyday situations rather than the black-and-white examples in the book. She also knew a lot about the culture in different areas.”

Goodrum also comes from a Spanish-speaking household where her father is fluent in both Spanish and English. Goodrum plans to continue sharing her experiences and knowledge with her daughter, whom she is now starting to teach Spanish.

Even though Roy is fluent in Spanish, she still has a thirst to learn new languages. Previously, she studied French, and now she is learning German. Roy’s enthusiasm about languages can be summed up simply by a quote she used to have posted at her desk.

“You learn your own language well when you learn a foreign language.”

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