Think Bilingual Austin seeks to build and strengthen community and economic opportunities in the greater Austin area by providing the public with easy access to information and services on bilingualism, acquisition of a second language, bilingual educational and multicultural engagement.
Why Think Bilingual Austin?
Our local community is becoming more diverse while our local economy is becoming more interconnected to the global economy. For our community and economy to continue to thrive, it must find a way to connect and unite our increasingly diverse population in a way that encourages mutual respect and appreciation for our differences. Moreover, vital for the growth of our own economy, citizens must be capable of operating with ease in an increasingly global economy. Acquisition of a second language is just one important component in meeting these demands. Education and involvement in multicultural events are other key components.
Language is vital to the way we connect, communicate and relate with others. While language is universal to all people, language itself differs not only in syntax but also in cultural context. It embodies the mindset and unspecified belief system of a given culture or community. By learning a second language, one learns not only the syntax but also the overarching cultural mindset rooted in the language.
While this acquisition of a second language facilitates a deeper understanding of the culture and of the particular ethnic group/s rooted in the acquired language; it also enriches and deepens the way one understands his/her own culture. Likewise, the learning of one's heritage language can also tie an individual more richly to one's cultural heritage, and in turn, provide a greater sense of pride and belonging. Being bilingual and bicultural thus enables one to more effectively bridge cultural barriers that may exist and encourage more productive engagement, understanding and empathy across cultures of diverse groups. As such, an individual who is more open to and understanding of other cultures tends to exhibit less fear and intolerance of other ethnic groups.
Bilingualism has also been shown to have a significant cognitive benefit by improving executive functioning and by slowing down the cognitive decline as one ages. Being bilingual also has shown to enhance communication skills, perception and creativity. Hence, Think Bilingual Austin's mission to build and strengthen community and economy by facilitating bilingualism, bilingual education and multicultural exchange is an important step for both individual self-improvement and the continued development of a local thriving diverse community and economy.
In the fall of 2017, Think Bilingual Austin launched the reformation of programs and services under the acronym SABER (to know in Spanish).
Support: We focus our efforts to support families and individuals in language learning and maintaining native languages. In addition to access to resources, information and advice through our website, we have also launched our Think Bilingual Ambassador program. The Ambassador program recruits volunteers in the community to help support others based on target age group and language of interest. The ambassadors will provide more tailored ideas and resources for language learning, organize social gatherings to support the use of the language and provide support when families or individuals are struggling to learn or maintain the second or native language.
Advocate: We have a new Think Bilingual Advocacy Committee chaired by a founding board member. It includes parents, teachers and other interested community members. The focus on the advocacy committee is to promote access and best practices for bilingual and bi-literacy education in public education. This committee is responsible for conducting research, facilitating discussions through public forums, and collaborating with schools, families and decision makers.
Bridge: Think Bilingual Austin strives to bridge communities by hosting activities and events that foster multicultural inclusivity and maintaining a focus on multicultural education. The online multicultural community calendar is also a tool intended to bring diverse communities together to celebrate and respect each other's cultures.
Impact StatementThink Bilingual Austin Impact Statement:
As we enter into our third year of direct community outreach, more people continue to be served by our website. We have received an average of 2520 views per month over the recent seven-month period. Compared with January 2017, we see approximately 40% increase in viewership in January. We expect continued growth as more community members learn about our organization and the resources we provide online.
Our social media following through Facebook continues to grow. From January 2017 to January 2018, our Facebook followers have almost doubled to almost 1000 followers.
Through our direct community outreach, we reached on average of 50 individuals/families per month with support, ideas, advice and education on the value of bilingualism and multiculturalism. These programs include our hosting booths at local targeted family events and farmers markets, parent workshops and guest presentations.
We host an annual community event, the Think Bilingual Fair, focused on bilingual and multicultural education. This event includes family activities, kid language workshops, multicultural performances, panel discussions and many of the local organizations that offer language learning and multicultural programs. Last year we had over 330 adults and approximately 100 children attend.
We partner with Univisión to offer a short monthly segment to promote bilingualism with Spanish speaking families. This monthly segment is aired during their morning talk show program to reach a large Spanish speaking population.
With the addition of our Think Bilingual Ambassador program and our Think Bilingual Advocacy Committee, we look forward to reaching even larger segments of the population in 2018.
Needs StatementNeeds Statement:
Think Bilingual Austin would like to raise money to support staff, fund public programs/forums and to purchase materials needed to support the various programs we have in place. Financial support is needed for materials and curriculum development that Think Bilingual Austin uses to support community programs. We also rely on donations to fund public events/forum that are free to the public and serve our organization's mission of building community through the promotion of language learning and multicultural understanding.
Survey results by participants from previous Think Bilingual Austin organized event showed:
99% of attendees who responded to follow-up survey reported that the content was helpful to extremely helpful.
More than 90% said they would likely attend a similar event in the future.
Approximately 93% responded that they were likely to recommend a friend to similar type of event.
*To help with our community outreach by assisting with bilingual and multicultural activities for children and families;
*To be a Think Bilingual Ambassador to help others find resources and information to help with language learning and multicultural exchange;
*To assist with website updates and maintenance to make sure that resources and information are correct and accessible to users;
*To assist in organizing public forums and events that promote best practices in language programs for public education and/or raise awareness of the importance of bilingual and multicultural education.