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You must fill out all fields to submit a letter. Thank you for your recent article in the Hechinger Report on the lack of educational resources for native Spanish-speaking children in the US; it was well-written and informative. I apologize in advance for the length of this email--as you will see, I am extremely passionate about this subject. I hope that the Hechinger Report may have time to respond at some point. Latino students still end up being left out, even if they manage to get in to the DL classroom.
Spanish-speaking children have needs as minority language speakers in the US, and Spanish classes must be designed specifically to their abilities as fluent speakers of the language with a strong cultural link to their families in and outside of the US. Importantly, these children need much more support in literacy in Spanish, and their parents also need support to learn how to support their children in the American system.
When classes are mixed with both non-native speakers and native speakers of Spanish, who does the teacher teach to? To put it bluntly, Latino students are typically used in the DL program as good "models" of Spanish for the second-language learning Anglo students, but the Latino heritage language students' needs are not equally supported in those schools. I always find it interesting that no one ever comments on Chinese or Korean, Turkish or Arab students not having access to maintain their heritage languages.
They have their own Saturday schools, and no one can deny that Chinese, Korean, Turkish and Arab students generally have a high degree of academic success in the US system. The real question: do Latinos differ from other immigrant communities in supporting their children through supplementary community programs? If so, why? First of all, there has always been the incorrect perception that compared to Chinese, German or French, Spanish is "easy" and is accessible to everyone. Secondly, of course there is a link between bilingualism and biculturalism, and we know from research that when minority language children's language and culture are not truly represented and valued in their schools, they as well as their Anglo classmates internalize this negative sentiment toward the minority language We are also a multifaceted research program that investigates bilingual language acquisition, heritage language literacy and a range of diverse topics where our unique population of bilingual, bicultural and biliterate children is understudied in U.
We also provide community-based service learning collaborations, internship opportunities and mentoring for area High School and University students. I have heard that DC's dual language programs vary widely when it comes to quality, which is a concern. I have also heard, more generally, the issue you brought up about how Latino students are treated in DL programs.
I have wanted to explore that for a different story and simply haven't had the opportunity to yet. Part of it seems to be about population size. Larger, concentrated immigrant communities represent a riper opportunity for school districts to consider dual language over some other type of ESL program but I haven't explored the community angle at all, or the differences across ethnic groups. That addresses some of these themes. It explores Massachusetts' requirement for English-only instruction of English-learners while making an exception for dual language programs that serve native English-speakers.
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Specifically, whether immigration from Spanish-speaking countries threatens the English language's dominance.
Rising popularity of dual-language education could leave Latinos behind
Language and immigration have long been politically linked in the U. When Farmers Branch, Texas, passed an English-only "requirement" in , then-Mayor Tim O'Hare justified it by saying that "we need address illegal immigration in our city and we need to do it now.
The Farmers Branch city council voted unanimously to drop the controversial ordinance last November, but 31 states and hundreds of towns in the United States still have local English-only or "official English" laws. The perception that Latino immigration has led Spanish to sideline or even overtake English in the U.
After all, Spanish is the second most dominant language in the country, after English. It is spoken by Census data on U. But these figures don't tell the whole story. Far from it: Political fearmongering notwithstanding, Spanish actually holds a rather tenuous position in the country. How can the Latino population be growing rapidly while Spanish-speaking remains stable?
The answer lies in oft-overlooked peculiarities of census data and in the particular linguistic history of the United States. If one looks only at immigration patterns over the past half-century, it is true that the U. From to , roughly half of all immigration has come from Latin American countries. This trend added some 30 million people , most of whom came speaking Spanish, to the American populace. But this is only half the story. While new immigrants bring Spanish with them, research shows that their children tend to become bilinguals who overwhelmingly prefer English.
As a result, the same immigrants' grandchildren likely speak English only. Linguists call this phenomenon " the three-generation pattern. We can see this pattern playing out in data from the Pew Hispanic Center.
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Surveys show that in , 48 percent of Latino adults aged 50 to 68 spoke "only English" or "English very well," and that 73 percent of Latino children aged 5 to 17 did. By , those numbers had jumped to 52 percent and 88 percent, respectively. In other words, the shift from Spanish to English is happening nationwide, both over time and between generations. Language shift is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. Rather, it is a consequence of cultural forces that pressure speakers to give up one language to get another.
These forces include restrictive language laws that formally prohibit the use of Spanish in educational or government settings, as Farmers Branch, Texas, did for 11 years. Schools also drive the three-generation pattern. Even though Latin American parents often speak to their U. There, they learn that academic success is achieved in English. As a result, first-generation children expand their vocabularies and literacy practices in English , not in Spanish.
Trends and Challenges Facing America’s Latino Children
They may also encounter negative attitudes toward Spanish from teachers and peers. For example, in October , a New Jersey high school teacher was caught on video reprimanding three students for speaking Spanish , encouraging them, instead, to speak "American. Social pressure to speak English is so great that Latino immigrant parents may notice resistance to using Spanish at home as early as kindergarten. A generation later, though grandparents may continue to use Spanish in the home, grandchildren will often respond to them in English.
The numerous blogs, websites and guides dedicated to helping Latino parents navigate this bilingual terrain indicate just how common language shift is. Indeed, when I ask my own Latino students about when they speak what to whom, the answer is almost always the same: Spanish with elders, English with everyone else.
This pattern seems to hold in small towns and big cities, on the East Coast and on the West, and in towns with large and small Latino populations. From Chicago to Southern California , children of Spanish-speaking immigrants become English-dominant. The Spanish-to-English shift even occurs in Miami , where over 65 percent of the population is Latino and where speaking Spanish has clear economic benefits.
That's why Miami struggles to find enough Spanish-speaking teachers to staff its public schools. Spanish isn't the only immigrant language that has struggled to keep a foothold in the U. Germans, Italians, Poles and Swedes went through similar language shifts in the 19th and 20th centuries.
These languages, too, were sometimes seen as a threat to American identity in their time. Then as now, American anxiety about the role of English in U. In the roughly ,year history of human language, there has never been a more secure tongue than English. More people worldwide do speak Mandarin and Spanish as their first language.
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But with some million first language speakers and more than million adoptive English speakers , English has a global standing enjoyed by none of the roughly 6, other languages spoken worldwide. It has been that way for about half a century. If Latino immigration declines markedly in the U. English, on the other hand, isn't going anywhere fast.
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