On this occasion, we had the privilege of interviewing Florentina Harley. Florentina is passionate about languages and a staunch advocate for bilingualism. Through her experience, she provides us with an enriching perspective on the importance of mastering more than one language.
Originally from Romania, Florentina arrived in the United States in 2001, bringing with her an innate love for exploring foreign languages. From an early age, she was drawn to languages. In Europe, it is common to learn one or two languages, and Florentina gained a good command of English. Additionally, this focus on multilingualism, characteristic of European schools, allowed her to develop a strong foundation in French and Spanish, two languages known as Romance languages, which fascinated her due to their Latin origin.
When Florentina arrived in the United States, she already had a basic understanding of Spanish. However, her true immersion in the language happened thanks to her friendship with Spanish speakers. Later, she decided to take university courses, although her main motivation has always been her passion and love for learning. Therefore, Florentina is grateful for her experience in the United States, where she was able to enhance her language skills. Being bilingual opened doors for her, transitioning from working as a waitress to becoming a French and Spanish teacher. Currently, Florentina lives her daily life speaking mainly English and Spanish, as the demand for the latter language is growing in the United States.
Florentina tells us that music, movies, and reading in Spanish are crucial tools to enrich her vocabulary. As a language teacher in high schools, her work is vital. Many of her students are newcomers, and she plays a fundamental role in their process of adapting to the new environment. Florentina understands that learning a new language can be frustrating, but her advice is clear: do not give up, work with patience and dedication every day.
Regarding the phenomenon of “Spanglish,” Florentina sees it as a natural evolution in communication. It reflects how words adapt and are created in new cultures. “Translingualism” is an interesting concept that illustrates the creation of innovative forms of expression. However, Florentina recommends to Hispanic parents to maintain the native language at home to encourage their children’s ability to speak multiple languages. Preserving the native language and culture enriches the identity and educational opportunities of young people.
Florentina reminds us of the beauty and usefulness of bilingualism, and how this ability can open doors, enrich our lives, and enable new forms of communication in an increasingly diverse and globalized world.”
By: Camilo Florido y Natalia Delgadillo