Tag Archives: Bilingual


Freestyle Language Center believes in the idea of learning through relevant cultural context. Our ‘Polyglot Austin’ blog series serves as an extension of that idea as we highlight people from around the city to learn more about the cultures and languages of our community!

The Great Multicultural Tapestry of Austin

The Great Multicultural Tapestry of Austin

In this entry of our signature ‘Polyglot Austin’ series, we’ll feature two individual ‘threads’ that contribute to this great multilingual, multicultural tapestry that is Austin.

Watch and listen to the videos of two Austinites from different parts of Latin America who work in two distinct fields. Then read the video transcriptions to strengthen tu español!   Entonces, leer our questions & post your answers (in español) in our comment area; one of our teachers will get back to you. ¡Vamanos!

1) Beginner Level – Edith Rodriguez

Let’s start with Edith Rodriguez from Mexico. Edith is currently pursuing a degree in social work while interning at The Equal Justice Center.

“Mi nombre es Edith Rodríguez. Ah, llevo aquí 20 años viviendo en
Austin. Ah, nací en México, en la Ciudad de México y lo que ahorita
estoy haciendo es pues, soy estudiante, horita con mi certificado en
ah, trabajo social. Y horita estoy haciendo un internado en el Centro de Justicia e Igualdad.

En un día típico me levanto por la mañana, desayuno, ah, el desayuno
sabroso de mi madre. Ah, también, ah, me alisto para venir, para ir al
Centro de Justicia e Igualdad. Y después llego a casa, ah, busco trabajo y algunas otras, ah, cosas por el Internet y acabo un poco de leer, de estudiar y después me acuesto a dormir.

Si pudiera ah, viajar en cualquier…a cualquier lugar en el mundo..ah,
sería viajar a Italia, especialmente a la ciudad del Vaticano. Me
encantaría ir a ver todas las…la catedral y…y el Vaticano si se pudiera.
Ah, especialmente los miércoles escuchar al Papa y disfrutar de esa
cultura italiana.”

2) Intermediate Level – Joel Maysonet

Now we’ll listen to Joel Maysonet, videographer & editor from Puerto Rico.  An Austinite with a vision, Joel is the owner of ‘La Brega’, a unique business that “is about bringing together compelling storytelling and new media technology”!

“Hola, mi nombre es Joel Maysonet, soy de Puerto Rico, tengo 33 años y llevo en los Estados Unidos aproximadamente 10 años. Aquí en Austin lo que hago es…soy un editor y videógrafo para producciones de video.

De Austin lo que me gusta es…es la cultura, ¿no? Eh y a lo que me
refiero es, eh, un estilo de vida que…que quizás vas más a tono con…
con mis intereses culturales, eh, de las artes, eh, culinarios, que hay
muchos tipos de restaurantes y la vida en general. Una vida así más…
más juvenil, liberal, eh, que pues va más con…conmigo, ¿no?

Si pudiera ir a cualquier lugar del mundo habrían dos lugares que me
gustaría ir. El primer lugar sería India, India me atrae mucho la cultura, eh, la comida y pues no conozco suficiente y me parece un país tan grande. Con tantas, eh, con tanta diversidad cultural que si pudiera ir a cualquier lugar me gustaría ir allá.

El otro lugar que me gustaría ir, eh, sería a Francia que no he podido ir todavía y me gustaría ir a Francia porque mi…aparentemente mi apellido es francés y me gustaría ir para Francia para ver de dónde viene el apellido Maysonet, que no tengo la menor idea. Y pues supuestamente viene de allá y pues quisiera ver si me encuentro a algún Maysonet en la calle por allá.”

Muchas gracias a Joel and Edith for letting us share their stories! Readers, now it’s time to test yourself and answer some preguntas in the comments section! 

Preguntas sobre el video con Edith:

  1. ¿En qué ciudad nació Edith?
  2. ¿Qué hace Edith antes de acostarse?
  3. ¿Qué lugar quiere visitar Edith en Italia?

Preguntas sobre el video con Joel:

  1. ¿Qué aspectos de la cultura de Austin le gustan a Joel? ¿Estás de acuerdo con él?
  2. ¿Cuál es la razón principal por la cual Joel quiere visitar la India?
  3. ¿De los dos países que quiere visitar Joel, ¿cuál elegirías si pudieras ir mañana? ¿Por qué?

The Freestyle Lifestyle

Our methodology incorporates technology and interactive media in a way which brings the most recent, relevant, high-usage vocabulary and everyday expressions to our students in an entertaining and effective way. Join us as we seek to revolutionize language learning: Try a free evening class or our popular Saturday “cafe” (11am-12:30pm) at 801 Rio Grande!

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Follow our blog for more interactive language fun! Know a polyglot in Austin? Let us know who you’d like to see featured on our blog by commenting below.

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Even at SXSW, caped polyglots can swoop in at a moment’s notice…

It appears that the city of Austin has survived yet another edition of the South by Southwest film and music festival.  For the residents of our fair city (apologies to Click and Clack), SXSW is usually tackled with either of two strategies:  one) you embrace one or both weeks of the schedule and avail yourself of the “We never stop serving” audio and visual buffet, gorging on as much as your ears and eyes can manage; or two) you resign yourself to a mini-hibernation, avoiding the clustering crowds, time-devouring traffic and cacophonous chaos, fleeing like Arthur and his noble, questing knights from the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, with your own rousing chorus of “Run away! Run away!”

An added bonus of Southby is the sheer amount of entertainment available to the polyglots of central Texas, to the residents and visitors from afar that call Austin home or pit stop.  Films from the world over, music from every corner of the globe (a strange expression to be sure, given the inherent roundness of said globe), and in enough languages to make Austin even more international than it already is.

Our adventure begins with two intrepid heroes–a Francophone whose obsession with music is probably only exceeded by his taste for wine and love of literature (played here by your humble servant, etc. etc), and a friend and Freestyle Spanish instructor, Jennifer, with her own penchant for the magical realism of literature (fancy a cup of Garcia Marquez?) and passion for the language of Cervantes that has taken her to Spain and Costa Rica.

Their experiences during this magical, yet real, festival couldn’t have been more different.


Jennifer fell into the second camp, the Monty Python-esque denizen of Austin who longed to avoid the “nasty, big, pointy teeth” of SXSW.  One night during the festivities, curled up with what I am led to understand was a mighty smooth bottle of Cacique and a some sort of crochet project in hand, she was, as she put it, “coerced out of hibernation.”  The means of coercion are no secret, and I remember her specifically saying “luckily coerced.”  Her roommate Jacob had met the performer in a bike marathon about a year ago, and had never seen her perform.  It only took a little bit of convincing (though I’m not sure if the carrot was financial, fun or a government mandate), and he convinced Jennifer to hop on a bike and pedal to the venue, in typical Austin fashion.  Apparently, participation in bike marathons gives you mad dope bike skills, so Jennifer’s pedaling was wind-like, a hustle to keep up. Jacob, next time give the girl a break!

Off she went to see a show.

As for myself, I usually pitch my tent in the KOA of festival embracing.  If I had the money, and could afford the time off, I would, every year, brave the riot-proportion crowds and obnoxious, steroid-enhanced Austin traffic to see as many films and concerts as my little brain and body could handle. (Yes, there would be bathroom and food breaks, but I’m given to understand one can live off food from a drive-through window or street cart for weeks before any real health risks kick in.  Most movie theatres and concert venues have restrooms, so that would be settled, and Axe commercials have convinced me of the efficacy of their products.  Women, commence flocking!) I had decided on one show in particular to see, weeks in advance.


Jennifer went, (coerced, wink wink nudge nudge) to see an artist new to her, Gina Chavez, a singer-songwriter based here in Austin, whose music shifts between English, Spanish and bilingual iterations.  As if that wasn’t enough internationalness (hooray for neologisms!), Ms. Chavez is also Austin’s music ambassador to its sister city in Japan, Oita.  To hear Jennifer describe her, “Her voice has that deep ethereal swagger that makes one want to sing along and is backed by Latin beats that make it impossible not to move.”  The venue was packed, with no room for the dancing often inspired by Gina’s jams, like “Embrujo,” so the crowd was relegated to clapping and grooving to the music on stage.  Lest you think the audience simply stayed a passive observer, Gina had everyone singing along to “El Sombrero Azul,” a cover song by Ali Primera, written for Salvadorans as a song of lucha [struggle] during the civil war.

As for my show, I went to see Baloji, an emcee originally from the Congo, now living in Belgium.  I’ve been listening to his music for several years now, and the concert did not disappoint.  The crowd was electric.  But the French take-away from the night sprouted from a much more benign incident.  My friend Jaclyn, during one of the sets, met a guy from Africa who had a band of his own.  Then, she told me about him and his group.  He sounded cool, so a quarter of an hour later, crossing him in a doorway, I introduced myself, invoking my friend as our one degree of separation.  After I asked him from where he comes in Africa (“The Ivory coast!”) he told me briefly about his group, Aciable. (From their site, aciable:  pronunciation: ah see ah blay  (language: Bahoulee, an ethnic group of Ivory Coast in  Africa.)  meaning 1. Joy and dance.  2. African-inspired dance band based in Austin, Texas.). I was intrigued, but the brief conversation stopped there.


Just a few (ten? fifteen?) minutes later, I found myself in the men’s room, dutifully staring down the wall from my strategic positioning in front of the urinal.  In the corner of my eye, the door opened, and in steps the Ivoirian–strange that I asked the name of his band, but not his.  As luck would have it, he sidled up to the urinal next to mine.  To heck with time-honored protocol in the men’s room, I will speak again to this man! In French! “La Côte d’Ivoire, hein?” [the Ivory Coast, huh?] The slightly higher pitch of surprise in his voice, “Vous parlez le français alors?” [So you speak French?] My response, as ever in these situations, is, “Bien sûr!” [Of course!]  The conversation continues as we exit les toilettes, and I learn that Aciable is, in fact, an Austin-based band, much like Gina Chavez.  I verify the name of the band (whose site I later find on the googlenets), hand him my card, and tell him I look forward to seeing him again.  In French, of course.  Jean-Claude, if you’re reading this, on se verra bientôt!

Jennifer, on the other hand, was fortunate enough, after the set, to eventually talk to Gina, the Spanish flying off her tongue like Mexican fruit bats taking flight. Their conversation lasted longer than mine, substantive, packed full of vowels and minerals, sprinkled with idioms.  Gina remembered Jacob from the bike marathon (ah the benefits of exercise!), yet Jacob seemed surprised that Gina remembered him and, as if starting a surprise loop,  she seemed surprised that he was surprised by that. And that’s not surprising.  She talked to Jennifer and Jacob about being the music ambassador and how it’s going to be a continual post, with the current ambassador taking the new one to Japan for introductions, passing the mic, so to speak, from one to the next. She was incredibly sweet and wanted a picture of Jacob and Jennifer with her. In a subsequent email after the encounter, Jennifer learned that Gina recently performed a benefit concert for her El Salvador college fund and plans a summer Boat Fiesta to continue to raise money for the cause. It seems that whatever the  Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was that convinced Jennifer to come a’questing during SXSW led her to the Musical Grail that is Gina Chavez. She told me, “I feel fortunate to have met Gina, and it’s wonderful to know a talented artist with such a kind heart.”  She’s definitely a fan now, and she’s hoping to convert you, too.  Here, just see for yourself.  A tune by Gina Chavez via Jennifer’s introduction:

“If you’re just starting out learning Spanish or don’t speak a bit of it, try listening to “Miles de Millas,” a bilingual tune that will amaze you no matter what language you speak!”


Though Jennifer may have had the more glamorous night, I am no less excited about my toilet talk.  Whichever way it happened, it’s just further proof that anywhere, anytime, the super powers of multilingualism can swoop in to carry the day.

For more information on Gina Chavez, visit http://www.ginachavez.com/

For more information on Aciable, visit http://www.aciable.com/Home_Page.html

A Great deal of thanks and credit goes to Jennifer, without whose story I would not have been able to write this post! Merci mille fois! Muchas gracias!

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