Multilinguism and Multiculturalism
Why I kept my kids out of preschool? by Anita Pandey ~ Morgan State University
1. Language is the first primary literacy
Anita, uses the Ten Pillars of a Good Childhood to illustrate the importance of home language maintenance and why it should be a priority in quality preschools to foster multiple languages and not only ENGLISH. "Successful early and lifelong education is contingent upon sustained use of one’s primary language."
As educators, we go through multiple training's to helps us embrace our students abilities and make families part of our learning community. In my five years as an educator, I have never had a training that brought attention to our deficiency in only providing literacy skills in English. We need to denounce the idea of creating only strong English only speaking students. It's time to be global, to leave the idea of behind we have told parents over and over again through the years "you take care of Spanish at home and I'll take care of English at school". How do we know our parents will provide a strong academical Spanish to our students. How is it okay to quickly give off this responsibility?If we want our students to be 100% successful we have to provide them the skills to develop their primary literacy in both English and their home language. Taking on full responsibility for their language development of their languages and cultures.
2. English Dominant World???
Until this had to happen in school...
One of her daughters heard one of the teachers use Hindi at school and her teacher Carrie in third grade had Cultural Pride Day where the students had the opportunity to embrace their culture.
Anita wrote a letter to the teacher on how grateful she was that she understood and embraced differences and ended her letter with this paragraph:
Just so you know, you do have magical powers, including the power to build and affirm in each child confidence and pride in their home languages and in their personal and multicultural identities, and we greatly appreciate your desire and ability to help children embrace that which few teachers frequently talk or talk about . . . . Sahara and her classmates are truly fortunate to have you. No wonder Arushi, like many others, still says “I love Mrs. Lawson! She’s my favorite teacher!"
This helped her daughters develop a deep respect for differences and denounce the negative attitude toward other languages than English.
This is by far the most important point in the article for me since it is something I am currently living at the school, community and classroom I teach in. My student's do not want to speak Spanish, their parent's are unsure of why they should learn in Spanish and in school I am the only bilingual teacher that fluently speaks Spanish and English. It is hard to embrace Spanish at school since about 95% of the staff only speaks English.
3. "ELL's" in bilingual programs "AT RISK"???
I want to end this point with Anita's comment and questions:
We tend to consider students’ abilities and scores in English as the primary gauge of success and often forget that actually growing their home language skills is the fastest and most effective way to attain this objective. If in the process, students learn two or more languages and cultures, and two or more ways of constructing and analyzing their world, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t their love for more than one language likely to make them more creative and globally competitive?
English Only Pedagogy = Achievement Gaps
Anita's statement - Achievement gaps persist when monolingual and monocultural instructional practices are employed. - made me gasp. No wonder why the current school I teach has chosen to adopt a Bilingual Kindergarten Program.
Anita further explains that there is no research out there that states that bilingual education is a waste. She states there is increasingly more research stating the benefits of integrating other languages in classrooms across America. ” Why then is it taking us so long to understand this simple point (i.e., that language that is easily understood = success)? is something she questions.