James Archer
Author Archives: James Archer

Addressing the Achievement Gap – For teachers and school administrators wanting to help Hispanic parents…

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

~ Nelson Mandela

Allow me to share Chapter 6.4 of Beyond Words – A Radically Simple Solution to Unify Communities, Strengthen Businesses, and Connect Cultures Through Language.

First of all, if you are in education at any level, OMG—You guys ROCK! I wish, I WISH we as a society didn’t make your jobs so hard. But thank YOU for your passion, commitment, and contribution.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the achievement gap—the unconscionable difference in performance between minority students and white students. I know you must tear your hair out when you see the difference in reading, writing, and math scores, and that you are working each school year to close the gap.

Of course, the issue is complicated, and many factors can contribute to the achievement gap.

One contributing factor that has been identified by numerous studies relates to “Parental (or Family) Engagement.” Parents who do not know, or do not understand, the programs and services that schools provide may not be as involved as parents who are informed and engaged.

School districts around the nation are trying hard to address this disparity, and have been doing so for many years (as with school busing). In most schools here in Metro Denver, which includes half a dozen or more different school districts, you will find a “parent liaison” who is tasked with engaging the parents and keeping them up to date with what is happening.

However, when cultural differences combine with a language barrier, the problem can be amplified.

Parents who do not speak English at home (parents who did not learn English as a child and currently speak a non-English language in the home) are less likely than other parents to attend a general school meeting or school event, or to volunteer or serve on a committee, or the PTA.

Parents who do not speak English well may feel less comfortable or less welcome getting involved in their children’s schools.

Fluent communication between parents and teachers can lead to increased academic performance, positive social outcomes for children, and permanence in schools, as well as enable teachers to identify learning problems at an earlier age.

When teachers lack understanding of the cultural context of children and families, it can hinder children’s development.

“When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more,” according to the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.

According to the organization, students with involved parents are more likely to:

·        Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs

·        Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits

·        Attend school regularly

·        Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school

·        Graduate and go on to postsecondary education (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).

·        Improve family income

Working to include parents is particularly important as students grow older and attend schools with high concentrations of poor and minority students (Rutherford et al., 1997).

Some suggestions for fostering parent/family engagement are:

·        Help families with parenting and child-rearing skills

·        Communicate with families about school programs and student progress and needs

·        Work to improve recruitment, training, and schedules to involve families as volunteers in school activities

·        Encourage families to be involved in learning activities at home

·        Include parents as participants in important school decisions

·        Coordinate with businesses and agencies to provide resources and services for families, students, and the community (Epstein, 2001)

Some parent liaisons are bilingual, and they are doing their best. But even bilingual isn’t enough: Denver Public Schools support 83 distinct languages.

Many schools and parent liaisons create welcome events for the parents to come and get to know the school and each other. Potluck dinners are common.

But what happens at a casual gathering like this?

At most of these events, the English speakers go to one side of the gym, and the Spanish speakers go to the other.

Now consider the ShareLingo model, where it can be a “potluck with a purpose”—the purpose being to bring English and Spanish speakers together to practice.

When we bring a group of Spanish-speaking parents into the school to practice with a group of English-speaking teachers, administrators, and other parents, it forms a bond. The conversation topics and language vocabulary focus on the things important to everyone in the room: how to help kids who are struggling, the importance of reading at home, the programs and services available to families, and school safety issues.

ShareLingo support materials are tailored to meet the school and parent needs. Almost any of your school’s bilingual materials can be incorporated. The important thing is to follow the ShareLingo model: capitalize on each participant’s innate desire to understand and to be understood.

This kind of multicultural meeting represents parental engagement at its highest level. The parents are physically coming into the school and engaging, through language learning, with the people they are most afraid of—the teachers and administrators. As the fear and misunderstanding are eliminated, confidence and trust are built. Participants on BOTH sides open up and begin to understand the other’s culture.

For you see, the misunderstandings and fears are not limited to just the immigrants!

In the Montbello neighborhood in North Denver, some schools are over 95 percent Hispanic. The teaching staff, meanwhile, is over 80 percent White. It’s not that the district only hires Whites! The district is trying desperately to hire more diversity—sometimes even marketing to Puerto Rico and other Latin American countries for teachers!

We have another huge problem in our country. We don’t pay our teachers nearly enough. It is a sad reality that it is very difficult to support a family on a teacher’s salary. So this means that many teachers are young, enthusiastic kids, really. Many are fresh out of college. They’re wonderful people who want to make a difference in the world. But many have not been exposed to the realities of the communities they may be teaching in.

Where I’m leading to is the fact that it is not just the immigrants who need to learn about our culture. We need to learn about and understand their culture and realities as well.

It’s easy for a teacher to think, “Why don’t these parents make their kids do their homework?” Well, perhaps the parents themselves aren’t able to help. It could be because of a lack of education on their part. Or it could be that they are working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. And perhaps there isn’t a nice quiet study place for the kids to do their homework. If lots of people are all living in a one- or two-bedroom apartment, it can be difficult to get quiet time. And it can be difficult to set aside time to do the homework.

When we can bring the parents into the school and start real, trusting conversations, these kinds of topics can be raised without fear or judgment. The friendly, collaborative nature of the ShareLingo program leads to real insights in both directions. Parents find out it’s ok to ask questions (something they may NEVER do in their own countries), and educators can find out more about how they can help the parents and families help their kids.

****** Dear Teacher or Administrator. I hope that you agree with the potential of this program for your school. If you would like to implement a ShareLingo style program in your school, please contact me – I want to help – and ShareLingo has a free course that you can put into practice immediately at http://www.isharelingo.com

Thank you for what you do.

Inventor’s language learning program builds communities, aids businesses

DENVER – (Aug. 9, 2017) – All he wants to do is bring people together in the interest of world peace.

Contact: Steve Krizman
Cell: 303-506-1667
Email: steve.krizman@sharelingo.org

James Archer of Aurora, Colorado, parlayed his success in inventing software and kitchen gadgets to spend his “early retirement” designing a way to help people become conversant in another language. After three years of bringing communities and workforces together, using his ShareLingo program, Archer now is taking the idea global.

His new book, Beyond Words, A Radically Simple Solution to Unify Communities, Strengthen Businesses and Connect Cultures Through Language, was released this month on Amazon http://bit.ly/PR170809. It already has become a best-seller in categories such as Sociology of Race Relations.

Archer also has launched an online version of his language learning program – iShareLingo (www.isharelingo.com ) – that makes it easy for English-speakers and Spanish-speakers to link up and teach each other their languages.


“People always tell me they would love to learn another language – usually Spanish,” Archer said. “Often they have taken Spanish in school, or bought a program like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. What they’re missing is the opportunity to practice face to face with a native speaker. Yet immigrants, who are desperate to speak English, face the same problem finding a practice partner. ShareLingo provides the platform for that one-to-one interaction. It brings people motivated to learn together – and by teaching their native tongue to another, they pick up the new language quicker.


“Over three years of doing this, I’ve seen people — who never would have met each other otherwise — become friends,” Archer said. “They develop an understanding of the other person – and that’s as much about cultural discovery as it is about learning new vocabulary words.”


Abram Palmer, a ShareLingo participant, said, “It’s like a club in which everyone grows together.”

Brian Langenfeld, another participant, said, “From my experience ShareLingo is about as close to attending a language school in a foreign country as anything I have experienced in my local community.”


Metco Landscaping, a 600-employee operation along the Colorado Front Range, had English-speaking safety officers and crew chiefs take ShareLingo classes with their Spanish-speaking workforce. Greg Ritcher, the company’s chief of training, said the classes had several benefits: Safety improved, fewer mistakes were made in the field, and turnover was reduced in both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking workforce.


“We were able to get our accident rate from 13 percent higher than the landscaping industry standard to 17 percent below average. That not only means lower worker compensation insurance rates for the company, it means workers suffer fewer injuries – and when they do, they are less severe.”


Ritcher believes the program has helped Metco build loyalty among the H2B visa workers they recruit each year from Mexico. That loyalty translates to a more reliable workforce year after year.


The ShareLingo program has been embraced by groups that are building community and awareness of immigration issues. Claudia Escobedo, a patient navigator for Denver Hospice, meets weekly with Lauren Dorn, who does refugee resettlement for Lutheran Family Services. Escobedo, who picked up English after arriving in the U.S. from Mexico in 1996, said the ShareLingo language learning program has helped her improve her ability to speak to families on a more emotional level. Working with Dorn has speeded up her language learning because, “I feel more free about having a personal teacher. I don’t feel embarrassed when I make a mistake – there is no shame in being corrected as we correct each other.”


Dorn, who minored in Spanish at Colorado State University, said she never achieved fluency because she did not have an opportunity to practice. “ShareLingo makes the learning process more exploratory. It challenges you to figure things out. You’re your own teacher and your partner is your teacher. It has given me more confidence to speak Spanish to native speakers.”


Escobedo noted that ShareLingo is more affordable than any other language learning program she has tried. The cost for face-to-face classes, which meet two hours weekly, breaks down to about $10 an hour.


The new online platform will include pricing that ranges from $100 for a series of classes to $39 for a monthly membership.


Dorn said she has gained more than Spanish fluency. “This has helped Claudia and I to get to know each other on a personal level. It’s really the essence of humanity.”


And that’s Archer’s ultimate goal. “I am committed to breaking down barriers between cultures. ShareLingo’s mission – our WHY — is so people who meet together this way become friends, and are not afraid of each other. We talk a lot these days about the need to open dialogue. Well, here’s a way to do that, that also happens to be fun and personally rewarding.”


ABOUT ShareLingo

ShareLingo ( https://sharelingo.org/ ) helps connect Spanish-speakers who want to learn English with English-speakers who want to learn Spanish. It has helped people who have tried to learn a second language over the last hurdle, by making it easy to practice with a native speaker.


Participants have reported the program has super-charged whatever other language training they have done in the past or are currently doing (for example, following a Rosetta Stone program and using ShareLingo to get more practice time in). Participants have a range of interesting and compelling reasons to learn the other language: to better communicate with family, to get ahead at work, to get more enjoyment out of travel, etc. Some businesses have contracted with ShareLingo to improve communication among employees and with customers, and to develop more cultural awareness.


ShareLingo is a “social enterprise,” meaning it is for-profit, but with a mission — like Tom’s Shoes.


Related Links:

Video: How ShareLingo works in English: http://bit.ly/PR170809B

Video: How ShareLingo works en Espanol: http://bit.ly/PR170809D

Video: Estrella TV interview en Espanol: http://bit.ly/PR170809C

Pew Center research on Spanish language in the U.S.: http://bit.ly/PR170809E



Spanish speakers in the U.S.


  • Most spoken non-English language in U.S.
  • Most popular second language



If I didn’t speak Spanish, I would have missed a great opportunity.

Hola Todos!

I’M IN MEDELLIN COLOMBIA!  The City of Eternal Spring. And no, folks – they don’t speak English everywhere.

Lots of people believe that wherever they go, people will speak English. In the past couple of months, I’ve been to England, France, Italy, and now Colombia.  I can tell you that’s not the case at all (other than England, obviously…Duh)  [The Europe experience is a different story – that was all pleasure, with no “business objectives”.]

This month, I am in Medellin Colombia to check out whether there is potential for The ShareLingo Project* to help the people down here.  So, even though I’m looking forward to the personal side of this trip and getting to know Medellin, I’m here for business.

I arrived on Thursday, and had a great chat with the cab driver on the 40-minute ride from the airport down into town – who, guess what, didn’t speak any English except “Taxi Taxi?” (we worked on that – he’s much better with the “Would you like a taxi?” phrase now…)

But the next day, Friday, I was fortunate to be able to attend a speed networking event hosted by a new co-working space here called Siembra (which means sow, or sowing, as in seeds).

It was an amazing meeting with about 30 participants that ranged from lawyers, to web designers, to Social Entrepreneurs, plus the hosts (Al and Mala), of course. Within that group, there were a few who spoke English – including two or three from the U.K.  But I think I was the only American (though one of the Colombians did grow up in Miami) and most of the people spoke little or no English at all.  But I really wanted to meet them all – because they were young, and passionate, and ready to change the world. It was very exciting.

The thing about speed networking is you change partners every few minutes. So I wouldn’t have had the option of only talking to people who spoke English and just hanging out with them. Thanks to ShareLingo, my Spanish is pretty good. In fact, it was good enough to have great conversations with everyone as we changed partners.

I met a great lawyer that helps startups navigate the Colombian requirements. I met a great accountant that helps startups as well (every business here that isn’t a personal business has to have an accountant.)

And I made some great contacts who we may be able to partner with in one capacity or another down here for web design, creating a mobile app, etc.  I’m also pleased that pretty much everyone in the room was excited about what ShareLingo does and could personally relate to how much it’s needed. Especially the ones that don’t speak English yet and know they need to. Not only was this networking, it was market research!


It would have been a great opportunity lost.

Also on this trip, I’ve managed to find a lot of great restaurants, and places to shop. I picked up some new polo shirts, complete with ShareLingo logos, for about $6 each. I’ve purchased clothes and shoes. And I have found out where to find printing, and stationary, and lots of other services. I looked for apartments. I even went to church. All in Spanish.  And all in just a couple of days. NONE of the shop keepers I worked with spoke English.

So if you are thinking about working with any of the central or south American countries – or, indeed, if you’re thinking about working with the Hispanic community in the U.S. you owe it to yourself to make the effort to learn Spanish before you go. And you can – believe me. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish. I’m a normal white guy, and I was over 50 when I started learning Spanish. So I know that anyone can do it.  Start with Duolingo or another program to learn some vocabulary and get your feet under you, and then find a practice partner.

You will be so glad you did.  And you won’t miss out on lots of great opportunities as you travel!

[If anyone wants information on Colombia or Medellin while I’m here, send me an email or private message.  I’ll do my best to find you an answer.]


*The ShareLingo Project is a Social Enterprise that helps English and Spanish speakers come together and teach each other – face to face – which helps break down cultural barriers.

Celebrate Labor Day without bias. 

Happy Labor Day - Feliz Dia del Trabajo
[Traducción en español abajo]

Labor Day. Do you celebrate, or even know, it’s historical roots? Or is it just the unofficial end of Summer and the last three-day weekend before the kids really get into the new school year?

I have to admit that, even though Autumn is my favorite season, I’m always a little disappointed that Labor Day comes so quickly, and that it signals the end of Summer approaching.  I never get to do enough biking, or hiking, or camping (didn’t make it even one time this year) or anything outdoors (Didn’t get to play any golf either!).

But let’s remember that Labor Day is all about the workers that helped build this country.  It started way back in the 1880s when trade unions proposed that the day be set aside to celebrate labor. It took another several years for it to become a recognized federal holiday (1894), but I think that we can all agree we should recognize and celebrate all the hard work that has been done to build our country.

And let’s not forget that a lot of that work was done by immigrants.  Immigrants have come from China, Italy, Ireland, France, Africa (some, I’m sorry to say, against their own free will), Germany, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and probably every country in the world.  My own roots are mixed, like many. One grandparent was from Czechoslovakia, another from England. Unless you’re Native American, your people came from someplace else. Even people that can trace their roots back to the Mayflower came from somewhere else. Immigrants have built roads, and dams, and railroads, and skyscrapers. They’ve built family farms, and worked on massive corporate farms as well.  They’ve opened the best Deli’s in New York, and the best Mexican restaurants in Denver (yes, in Denver, we have the best green chili in the world – don’t even TRY to argue)

Like many, I am extremely disappointed with how broken our immigration system is.  It’s too complicated, ineffective, and unfair.  Yes, a percentage (from every country) are undocumented. Let’s fix that situation also, but the right way, with compassion.

What I don’t understand is how so many people in our country can be so upset about immigration in general. It’s part of our history. Our LABOR history. And, due in large part to the contributions of immigrant labor, our country will be able to continue growing.

And – remember also that this country was also built by people of every religion, gender, sexual orientation, and race.

Let’s make Labor Day a great celebration for everyone – together – united – without bias.


El Día del Trabajo. ¿Celebras o incluso conoces sus raíces históricas? ¿O para ti es sólo el final oficial del verano y el último fin de semana, de tres días, antes de que los niños realmente inicien el nuevo año escolar?

Tengo que admitir que, a pesar de que el otoño es mi estación favorita, siempre estoy un poco decepcionado con que el Día del Trabajo llegue tan rápidamente, y que nos indica que se acerca el fin del verano. Nunca alcanzo a hacer suficientes salidas en bicicleta o senderismo, o camping (no lo hice ni una sola vez este año) u otras actividades al aire libre (¡Ni siquiera logré jugar golf!).

Recordemos que el Día del Trabajo es acerca de los trabajadores que ayudaron a construir este país. Comenzó allá por la década de 1880, cuando los sindicatos propusieron que el día se reservará para celebrar la mano de obra. Se tardó varios años para que se convierta en un día de fiesta federal reconocida (1894), pero creo que todos estamos de acuerdo en que debemos reconocer y celebrar todo el trabajo duro que se ha necesitado para construir nuestro país.

Y no olvidemos que mucho de este trabajo ha sido hecho por inmigrantes. Los inmigrantes han venido de China, Italia, Irlanda, Francia, África (algunos, lo siento decir, en contra de su propia voluntad), Alemania, América Central y del Sur, el Caribe, y probablemente todos los países del mundo. Mis propias raíces se mezclan, como muchos. Un abuelo era de Checoslovaquia, otro de Inglaterra. A menos que seas hijo de Nativos Americanos, tu gente vino de otro lugar. Incluso las personas que pueden trazar sus raíces en el Mayflower[i] vinieron de otro lugar. Los inmigrantes han construido carreteras, presas, ferrocarriles y rascacielos. Han construido granjas familiares y trabajaban en las granjas corporativas masivas también. Han abierto las mejores delicatesen en Nueva York y los mejores restaurantes de comida mexicana en Denver (sí, en Denver, tenemos el mejor chile verde del mundo – esto no se puede ni siquiera tratar de discutir)

Al igual que muchos, me siento decepcionado con nuestro roto sistema de inmigración es. Es muy complicado, ineficaz e injusto. Sí, un porcentaje (de cada país) son indocumentados. Vamos a arreglar esa situación también, pero de la manera correcta, con compasión.

Lo que no entiendo; es cómo tantas personas en nuestro país pueden estar tan molestos por la inmigración en general. Es parte de nuestra historia. Nuestra historia laboral. Y, gracias en gran parte a los aportes de la mano de obra inmigrante, nuestro país será capaz de seguir creciendo.

Y – recuerda también que este país también fue construido por personas de cada religión, género, orientación sexual, y raza.

Hagamos del Día del Trabajo una gran fiesta para todo el mundo – en conjunto – unidos – sin prejuicios.



[i] El barco en que vinieron los primeros inmigrantes en llegar a este país.


Pronunciación de “ed” en inglés.

Pronunciación de

Para todos nuestros amigos que están practicando pronunciación en inglés.


/id/   Pronounced with the sound “id”.
Verbs English Verbos Español
T –  Wanted



D –  Needed

Ever since I met her, I wanted to go to a party with her.  But when I asked her, she was ashamed to tell me that she needed a new dress. Quise




Desde que la vi quise ir a una fiesta con ella, pero cuando se lo pedí me dijo, apenada, que necesitaba un vestido nuevo.
/t/   Pronounced with the sound “t”.
P – Helped


K – Looked



GH – Laughed

C – Danced


SS – Kissed



X – Fixed


SH – Washed

I helped her find a pretty dress, but not as pretty as her. She looked amazing in the dress.


When she saw her reflection she began to spin with joy. We laughed; She danced like an angel.


I took her home, and I finally kissed her. And she responded!!


With my head in the clouds I came back to the car and I noticed that it needed to be fixed and washed.
How embarrassing!















La ayudé a encontrar uno muy bonito, pero nunca tan bonito como ella. Se veía increíble en el vestido.


Cuando vio su reflejo dio vueltas emocionada, nos reímos; bailaba como un ángel.


La llevé hasta la puerta de su casa y, finalmente, la besé y ella me respondió.


Casi caminando en la nubes regresé hasta mi carro y me percaté de que necesitaba ser arreglado y lavado.
¡Qué vergüenza!

/d/   Pronounced with the sound “d”.
L  – Called



R  – Offered


G –  Damaged


TH – Breathed


V – Loved


S – Used

W – Followed

N – Cleaned

Y – Enjoyed



Z – Amazed


The next day I called a flower shop nearby to place an order.


I went to her workplace and offered her some roses but, one of them was damaged. How embarrassing.


She didn’t mind. She breathed in the fragrance and smiled; I loved watching her.


I got used to giving her roses every day, I followed her on every adventure, I cleaned my car so she would be more comfortable. I enjoyed every second with her.


I’m still amazed how much a person can change your life.





















Al siguiente día llamé a una floristería cercana para hacer un pedido.


Llegué hasta su trabajo y le ofrecí ( o di) algunas rosas, pero, ¡qué vergüenza!, una de ellas estaba dañada.


A ella no le importó, respiró su fragancia mientras esbozaba una sonrisa; amaba verla.


Me acostumbré a darle rosas todos los días, la seguí en todas sus aventuras, limpié mi carro para que ella estuviera más cómoda, disfruté cada segundo con ella.


Todavía estoy asombrado de cómo alguien puede cambiarte la vida.

Be a language Olympian

Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t know the Olympics are on in Rio right now?

[Traducción en español debajo – Gracias a Danny Mejia.]

As I watch the athletes, I can’t help relating so much of ShareLingo’s mission to these amazing people.

Languages, Cultures, and Dedication to a goal.

Many of you know that ShareLingo links people who speak different languages so they can teach each other.  And they share cultural lessons at the same time. We do this for businesses, individuals, and non-profits – so we have seen a lot of people from different cultures connect and become friends.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to go to an event like the Olympics and speak to people in another language, and to have a real understanding of their customs and greetings?

But for me, the thing that resonates most is the dedication that all of these athletes have. I think about the Gold Medal winners, for sure. But even for the people that don’t win gold – the people that win silver, or bronze, or just get to go to the Olympics – and even the people who have trained and didn’t get to go to Rio – I’m super impressed with their dedication.

Learning a language requires a similar dedication.  There isn’t any magic pill you can take to just instantly know a new language. You have to learn it. Work on it. Be focused, and dedicated, and persistent. Little by little, every day, you can get better and better.

The accomplishment makes the time and effort so worth it.

You can be a language Olympian!  Go for the Gold!


¿Hay alguien en el mundo que no sepa acerca de los Juegos Olímpicos de Río en este momento?

A medida que observo los atletas no puedo evitar relacionar, tanto, la misión de ShareLingo con estas increíbles personas.

Idiomas, Culturas, y la Dedicación para alcanzar una meta.

Muchos de ustedes saben que ShareLingo conecta a personas que hablan diferentes idiomas, para que puedan enseñárselos entre sí; al mismo tiempo, comparten enseñanzas culturales. Hacemos esto para empresas, individuos y organizaciones sin fines de lucro; por lo que hemos  sido testigos de cómo una gran cantidad de personas, de diferentes culturas, se conectan y se convierten en amigos.

¿No sería increíble el ir a un evento como las Olimpiadas, hablar con la gente en otro idioma, y tener una comprensión real de sus costumbres y saludos?

Pero para mí, lo que más resuena es la dedicación que todos estos atletas tienen. Pienso en los ganadores de medalla de oro, indudablemente, pero también en las personas que no ganan el oro, las personas que ganan medallas de plata o bronce, o simplemente los que tienen la oportunidad de ir a los Juegos Olímpicos, inclusive en las personas que se entrenaron y no consiguieron ir a Río. Me impresiona de gran manera su dedicación.

Aprender un idioma requiere una dedicación similar. No existe una pastilla mágica que puedas tomar y en solo un instante saber un nuevo idioma. Tienes que aprenderlo, trabajar en ello, mantenerte enfocado, dedicado, y persistente. Poco a poco, cada día, puedes mejorar y mejorar.

Llegar a la meta, hace que el tiempo y el esfuerzo valga la pena.

¡Tú puedes ser un atleta olímpico del idioma! ¡Ve por el oro!

How committed are you to your goals? What would you risk?

By James Archer

Last November, the Denver Post published an article (opinion, really) about Tom Boasberg (Denver Public Schools superintendent) taking a six month unpaid leave to live abroad with his family. Among other thing, the article said: “…it looks bad for the well-to-do superintendent of an urban district — who by the way lives with his family in Boulder — to jet off for six months when nearly 70 percent of Denver’s students are poor enough to qualify for federal meal subsidies. Those families could never dream of such a respite from the daily grind.” And Boasberg says years ago he promised his family they could live abroad. With his children getting older, “the time is now” he says.


Some people felt that, even though he is an excellent superintendent, he should have resigned instead of taking the time off.

Early this week, another article talks about his return after his time away.  In this article, it quotes the superintendent as saying, “For the last six months, our family was in Mendoza, Argentina, which is a small city on the western side of Argentina. My wife Carin and I took intensive Spanish language and literature courses at a local language school … and our children went to the local schools in Mendoza.“  He goes on to discuss what he and his children experienced in such a vastly different school system.


When asked, in Spanish, if he spoke Spanish, he replied “Sí”. When asked What would you want to say to the Spanish-speaking families that DPS serves about what you learned? He replied “Tengo muchas ganas de hablar con ustedes directamente en español. Y es una oportunidad para hablar sin interpretación, sin traducción.[ I’m lucky to speak with you directly in Spanish. It is an opportunity to speak without interpretation, without translation.”

I could not be more in support of this amazing man’s decision to achieve his goals. Not only did he honor his promise to spend time abroad with his children, he made the decision to really dedicate his own resources to doing something that will vastly help our community.   Some Denver schools are not only 70% free lunch; they are well over 80% ELL (English Language Learners).

This blog post is not about immigration, it’s about goals. And I can appreciate those families and individuals who have sacrificed everything for their goals – sometime even travelling, or relocating, to a different country.

Would you do it? Would you risk the backlash, and your career, to follow your goals and do something you think is important?



Engineering Cultural Diversity


by James Archer

Engineers love nothing more than solving difficult problems with simple solutions.

Cultural Divides – What’s the problem?

We’re hearing a lot about our many cultural divides.

There are many problems that contribute to this divide, and speaking different languages is certainly perceived as one contributing factor. How can people understand each other culturally, if they can’t speak to each other?

“You speak Spanish – I speak English – we’re different”

I believe we all know that, fundamentally, the problem is FEAR.

  • FEAR of someone from a different culture
  • FEAR of the unknown
  • FEAR of feeling self-conscious or inadequate.

The thing is – immigrants, almost without exception, want to learn English.
And, I know tons of people that want to improve their Spanish.

As an engineer, it seemed to me that the simplest solution to this diversity problem might be to simply help people talk to each other. 

So, I looked at what would be needed.  I could go through all the notes and ideas that I evaluated, but it all boils down to this:

Create small groups of 5 to 7 English speakers with an equal number of Spanish speakers.  Give them materials and a method to teach each other their languages. Provide a facilitator.

 “You’re learning English? I’m learning Spanish.  We’re the same!
Let me help you, and you can help me.”

What happens is simple, and amazing.

Instead of “language issues” keeping the participants apart, the very process of helping teach a language opens up new avenues for cultural exchange between the participants.

Here’s something interesting – “different culture” doesn’t just refer to people who speak different languages. Culture might be Police/Citizen, Nurse/Patient, Manager/Laborer. It can refer to race, gender, religion, etc.

At The ShareLingo Project, we have worked with hundreds of participants – from many different fields, and circumstances. Without exception, every participant has shown a willingness – even eagerness – to help and share. People come to learn Spanish, but LOVE helping someone else learn English. And vice versa. We’ve had Police becoming friends with Hispanic immigrants. We’ve had school teachers bond with immigrant parents. And we’ve had managers and workers laughing and getting to really know each other on a personal level.

And this is not just with the people that speak a different language, but also with the people who speak the same language.  English speakers are not just bonding with the Spanish speakers that they are helping, but also with each other!  People open up, because the learning/teaching process itself creates trust between the participants.

This communication helps eliminate the fear between the participants – and also their own internal fear of being inadequate.  We are seeing the “cultural divides” being eliminated.

Benefits of this model help the individuals, their employers, and our society.


About ShareLingo
The ShareLingo concept is really simple. Instead of learning from a whiteboard or a computer, we help English learners meet Spanish learners for face-to-face practice together. A bilingual facilitator uses our method and materials to keep things moving so you are never bored. We have language learning solutions for individuals, businesses, non-profits, and schools. Learn more at www.sharelingo.org.

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