Photo: Jose Luis Orozco Ramos
Jose Luis Orozco Ramos is a musician who is promoting bilingual education in the United States through popular songs and more than 1,000 school districts are using his method to help immigrant students.
“More than ever it involves using the traditions that come from centuries of songs, games, lullabies, tongue-twisters, rhymes,” Orozco told Efe.
“All these are indispensable instruments for educating children. Besides teaching them the language, we’re teaching them the culture,” he said.
Born May 6, 1948, in Mexico City, Orozco joined the Mexican Children’s Choir at 8 and two years later left on an international tour with a group to sing in 34 countries.
Later, he emigrated to the United States to study education at the University of California, Berkeley, and eventually got a master’s degree in Multicultural Education from the University of San Francisco.
The Berkeley Unified School District was the first to adopt Orozco’s program.
“It teaches them the Spanish language, the language that they recognize, that also helps them to feel comfortable in school. That’s good for the self-esteem,” Orozco said.
“If they come to school and don’t speak any English and the kids talk to them in English they’re going to have more difficulty. If they already speak Spanish and have bilingual teachers, the bilingual teachers help them in Spanish and they help them make the transition to English,” he explained.
In 1971 he released his first record of traditional children’s songs and original compositions, and since then he had recorded a total of 15 albums.
His most recent album is entitled “Karamba Kids” and is available on the Internet at iTunes, Amazon and joseluisorozco.com.
“So that the children (can be) successful in this country they have to speak English very well. But with Spanish they’re going to have more work opportunities. So, we have to teach the two languages well to them,” he said.
Patricia Vasquez, a teacher at Garza Elementary School in Los Angeles, told Efe that when she began working in schools she saw how a colleague used Orozco’s music to educate.
“And I liked the idea that with music and the game routine they were happy and since then I use the music of Jose Luis Orozco in my classes,” Vasquez said last weekend when the artist was at Theodore Roosevelt School in East Los Angeles.
Veronica Montes is a mother who told Efe that her 15-year-old daughter Meztli grew up singing Orozco’s bilingual songs.
“I saw how the songs educate, and they also entertain them,” Montes said.
“I taught them the ABCs with his songs and I saw how the children memorize the songs with the rhythm and thus they learn song after song,” she added.
“Something that I observed is that the children who learn with his music grow up having respect and love for their Hispanic culture and they feel better about being Latinos,” Montes said.