Whose Language is Legit?

Intersections of Race, Ethnicity & Language

-M. Zisselsberger & K. Collins

Background Information

St. Lucy School


Catholic School

Mid-Atlantic urban center

129 Students

56% Latino

34% African American

8% ofther

traditionally served African American students of low to moderate incomes

continues to decrease in enrollment : "white flight" around the school

Significant demographic change in school's neighborhood of increasing Latino/a families

Prinicipal with Leadership Team implemented a Two - Way Dual Language Program...

Emerson Spanish Dual Immersion School (Minneapolis, MN)

Since the implementation ...

TENSIONS from Teachers and Staff:

*Varieties of Spanish used by different children

*Why African American English (AAE) has not been treated

as an asset as has Spanish?

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Teachers at the school gathered to react to different scenarios about language...

Scenario 1:

Child in playground: "That ball, it's mines."

How would you respond to this situation? Explain your response.

Share with the person next to you....


Research about language acquisition would suggest...

Given the context of being on the playground, we would honor the non-standard use of language and view this statement as an 'emerging' in language proficiency.

Teachers at St. Lucy's also discussed 'incorrect' Spanish and how to address code switching in the dual language classrooms

Scenario 2:

How should teachers react to students' use of: "troca" "lonche" "parquear" ?

Work with a partner to discuss....

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There is a need to constantly examine practices in classrooms for increasing trends of racism and Eurocentrism exacerbated by neoliberal globalization


"As monolingual language ideologies continue to exert their sway, both nationally and internationally, we need bilingual educator to be conscious ADVOCATES for the language rights and resources of language minority students and speakers of endangered, indigenous, immigrant, and ethnic languages, where they may be" (p. 169.)




Calderon, M., & Carreon, A. (2000). A Two-Way Bilingual Program: Promise, Practice, and Precautions.

Cervantes-Soon, C. G. (2014). A critical look at dual language immersion in the new Latin@ diaspora. Bilingual Research Journal, 37(1), 64-82.
Zisselsberger, M. & Collins, K. (2016). Whose Language is Legit? Intersections of race, ethnicity, and language.. Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership Vol. 19(1)51-61.