Acela (Chela) Gonzalez

Metropolitan Adult Education Program, San Jose,
English as a Second Language Coordinator, Site Coordinator, Instructor, 1976 - Present

California Representative on National Academic Council and
Consultant to Intelecom and Heinle & Heinle, Pasadena and Boston, 1994 - 1996

California Department of Education,
Adult Education Policy and Planning Unit Committee Member,
ESL Model Standards for Adult Education Programs and
ESL Quality Indicators for Adult Education Programs, 1989 - 1994

San Jose City Collge, San Jose,
Instructor, 1979 - 1982

ESL student becomes ESL teacher.

Excerpt from an interview with:
November 30, 1995
San Jose, California

Chela, how has the fact that you started out as an ESL student impacted your own teaching? And do you tell your students about your background?

Yes, I do, I do tell them, and I don't tell them until I know them well, which is pretty soon.ESL students fall in love with their teachers, and once they have fallen in love with me then I tell them.And I am culturally sensitive.I am very honest with them as to what the expectations are in the United States, as far as socially, and they want to know.And I think that certainly has helped in my teaching, in that I know what I wanted to know and what embarrassments I went through when I was an ESL student when I arrived.I certainly don't want them to go through the same things, so I tell them how it is here and I tell them, " How is it in your country?" And then we find out the different ways of … you know, how people deal with it, but at least they know what is done here, what the proper thing is; so that my having been through the same things that they're going through, I think, makes me very culturally aware.When I tell them that I was… When Shirley was around, she's been retired for about three years but when she was around I would bring her in and would say, "This is the boss and this is the supervisor." And they would say, "Oh." Then she would say, "And she was my student." And they don't believe it. And then of course she would leave and they would say, "Teacher, you were a student?" I said, "Yeah, she was my teacher." And they can't believe that. So, boy, I tell them, "See, I didn't think I was going to learn the language." And I tell them that I had the same problems they did, you know, pronunciation, grammar, and all this, and not wanting to go up to the office to ask for something, or not wanting to go up to a counter and exchange something because … yes, as I said, it's an incentive for them to know that I came from the ESL environment, that I had the same problems that they did, and that I think they can sense that if I was able to do it that they can too.