Cristina Sanz

Personal Information

I was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, and have sweet memories of my childhood days by the Mediterranean. Barcelona is a bilingual city, and my family a bilingual family, but I didn't start speaking Catalan until I was 15, when my parents decided to transfer me to one of the few schools in Barcelona that implemented a Catalan immersion program, (it happened to be a Jesuit school, like Georgetown).

From 1980 to 1985, I spent many mornings of heated discussion in the famous underground bar of the Universitat de Barcelona, where I graduated with a Licenciatura in Spanish Philology. While learning English in and around London those summers, I decided I wanted to spend an important part of my adult life somewhere abroad. Little did I know. I also spent a summer at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo, in Northern Spain, where I had the best food I've ever had (not very intellectual, but true, nevertheless).

After three years teaching high school my vocal cords gave up and I accepted a grant from the University of Illinois to complete my Master's degree in Spanish Applied Linguistics, but decided to stay for my Ph.D. Life was busy in Shampoo-Banana (Champaign-Urbana), I taught every semester, was a research assistant and coordinated the first year of the Spanish and the Italian programs. Still, I had some time left to make lots of international friends and to attend free vocal training lessons to help my cords recover. I spent the 1993-1994 academic year at Penn State University finishing up my dissertation, and teaching courses in general linguistics, Spanish phonetics, and teacher education.

I am the proud mother of two happy Catalan-Spanish-English trilinguals (one is now learning Chinese). My research and my teaching aim to explain and disseminate a basic idea: That it is possible to create the context in which becoming multilingual gives individuals an edge.