Andrea Cano

CSUF Graduate Teaching English in Chile as Fulbright Scholar

Andrea C. Cano is instructing students on the English language at a South American university

December 19, 2006

By Mimi Ko Cruz

Andrea C. Cano, a Cal State Fullerton graduate who last year received her master’s degree in education with a concentration in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), is a Fulbright Scholar teaching English in Chile.

English was not Cano’s first language. With a father of Argentine descent and a mother of Mexican descent, her first words were in Spanish. But, she learned English fast while growing up in Westwood and Seal Beach.

In fact, Cano said, “I quickly forgot all my Spanish skills until I turned 15.”

That’s when she participated in a foreign exchange program that sent her to Argentina to live and attend high school for a year.

“I took all my academic courses in Spanish, even statistics, and it was a fabulous, fabulous experience,” Cano said.

While she was a student at UC Berkeley, she participated in another education abroad program, this time spending eight months in Brazil where she learned Portuguese. She also took classes in Madrid and traveled to Portugal, Italy and Japan. After graduating from Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Portuguese, she enrolled at CSUF.

As a grad student, Cano worked with seniors, improving their language skills and preparing them for naturalization through a program called Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders).

She worked as a graduate assistant with the English Department, serving as a tutor and classroom teacher in developmental writing and English composition classes. She also conducted workshops for university students in the writing center and presented several papers at professional conferences.

“As a teacher, Andrea is insightful about language learning and language teaching, in part because she is able to draw upon her own considerable experience as a second language learner,” said Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures.

“My decision to be an English as a second language [ESL] teacher came as I started thinking about what my strengths are,” Cano said. “It’s so satisfying to me when my students use verbs correctly. I am really looking forward to teaching immigrants English. I really enjoy and admire and respect those who come to this country for a better life and to better themselves and are working very hard to learn English, which is a very hard thing to learn.”

In a congratulatory letter to Cano from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, Steven J. Uhlfelder, chair of the board, wrote: “Fulbrighters enrich the educational, political, economic, social and cultural lives of countries around the world .... As a representative of your country in Chile, you will help fulfill the principal purpose of the program to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of 150 or so countries that currently participate.”

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