An interesting news item about bilingualism.
Manny Bernal immigrated to El Paso from Chihuahua at the age of 12. He describes school then as “horrible,” because he didn’t speak any English. He says he was an “outcast.” But after his freshman year, he entered the bilingual program at his high school. He says, “It gives me a chance to keep my identity. It’s like a comfort zone. It’s like a place where you know you won’t get harassed. Where you’re just safe.”
I am sure many of us would not have attributed safety and a comfort zone to students when discussing bilingual education but clearly for this student that is what it achieves. I think we all recognise that it helps to preserve self-respect, keep the persons identity and for this reason we promote the use of bilingualism where it is possible and practical.
I would also agree with their teacher when he says …
…bilingual education isn’t just about learning in two languages. “I see that students with a bilingual education have become stronger by learning about two different cultures. It’s a great accumulation of knowledge and understanding. They’re not just learning from one culture, but from two.”
We are often brought into the literacy debate and as this suggests
Critics of dual language programs say that students who speak other languages should focus on English, since English proficiency is the key to academic success.
Yet studies show that when children develop speaking, reading, and writing abilities in their first languages, they’re better able to learn English.
The difficulty we have as non speakers of the other language is how do we achieve this in our school and in our class.
Many teachers no matter where we live in the world experience these things keeping up literacy whilst developing the child and at the other spectrum make sure they pass the expected examinations. It’s all a complicated juggling trick but at the very least we must remember when making policy it is about the child.
Finally as the world gets smaller, languages are getting lost none more so than in the region that this news article came from and if we want to keep languages then they must be used.
New Mexico’s history means bilingual Spanish-English programs appeal to an array of families: Anglo, immigrant, and Hispanic. David Rogers is the executive director of the nonprofit Dual Language Education New Mexico. He says, “there’s an excitement around it, especially for traditional New Mexican families, who have lost their heritage language over the years and want to bring that back.”
And it’s not just Spanish language programs that are growing. Eight Native languages are spoken in New Mexico, and some tribes have turned to bilingual programs as a way to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage.
Read the whole story at http://kunm.org/post/bilingual-education-may-help-shrink-achievement-gap-hispanic-students