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Why Is Bilingualism Framed as an Asset for Some Students and a Deficit for Others?

Why Is Bilingualism Framed as an Asset for Some Students and a Deficit for Others?

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  • The article has a bias: that every bilingual student must come from a different social strata.

    This isn’t a socioeconomic issue. Plain and simple, the more languages one speaks, the more one is able to frame thoughts in different perspectives. Just remember Wittgenstein: “the limits of my language

    The article has a bias: that every bilingual student must come from a different social strata.

    This isn’t a socioeconomic issue. Plain and simple, the more languages one speaks, the more one is able to frame thoughts in different perspectives. Just remember Wittgenstein: “the limits of my language are the limits of my world”.

    I happen to speak 5 languages and I find it makes me more attuned to how words are interpreted and intended in English because it helps me see things from other people’s perspective.

    But then again, that’s just my perspective.... I might be one of those for which it’s an asset...

  • When white Americans learn a foreign language it’s enriching. When Americans of color speak English and their cultural tongue it’s “learn English already.”

  • Could learning a second language early on be a sustainable way to promote tolerance and inclusivity, I wonder. Ability to speak another language not only facilitates communication with people who aren't necessarily fluent in English, but it's also a great way to understand other cultures.

    I grew up

    Could learning a second language early on be a sustainable way to promote tolerance and inclusivity, I wonder. Ability to speak another language not only facilitates communication with people who aren't necessarily fluent in English, but it's also a great way to understand other cultures.

    I grew up with three languages and I consider them to be an integral part of my identity. Reading English and French books and later moving to different countries and conversing in those languages have contributed, still are, to real cultural immersions. And these shape the person I am today.

    The more bi- or multi-linguals, the better the world will be.

  • You only really learn the second language when you surround yourself with its culture. Taking a class three hours a week doesn’t count as really having learned it. Duolingo doesn’t count either.

    Surrounding yourself with people of cultures different than your own is 100% an asset.

  • “Increasingly becoming a tool of enrichment”

    Of course they are. Dual language is enrichment by definition. If the goal were, exclusively, integration into English, then we would still be pushing transitional English programs, which have been shown to be less effective than dual language, even with

    “Increasingly becoming a tool of enrichment”

    Of course they are. Dual language is enrichment by definition. If the goal were, exclusively, integration into English, then we would still be pushing transitional English programs, which have been shown to be less effective than dual language, even with the singular goal of transitioning ELLs.

    The draw of dual language is that it transitions non-English L1s to English while giving them the advantage of literacy in their first language. All this while offering L1 English a second language. In this way it can also be an effective tool of cultural transformation: the new value of bilingualism and diversity.

    Three of my own children are in dual-language, and if anything, I have observed that they (L1 English, L2 Spanish) are disadvantaged in Spanish while the L1 Spanish peers master English.

    Some studies for perusal:

    Hipfner-Boucher, K., Milburn, T., Weitzman, E., Greenberg, J., Pelletier, J., & Girolametto, L. (2015). Narrative abilities in subgroups of English language learners and monolingual peers. International Journal of Bilingualism, 19( 6), 677-692.

    Potowski K. (2004). Student Spanish Use and Investment in a Dual ImmersionClassroom: Implications for Second Language Acquisition and Heritage Language Maintenance. Modern Language Journal. 88(1):75-101. doi:10.1111/j.0026-7902.2004.00219.x

    Collier, V. P., & Thomas, W. P. (2004). The astounding effectiveness of dual language education for all. NABE Journal of Research and practice, 2(1), 1-20. https://www.berkeleyschools.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/TWIAstounding_Eff ectiveness_Dual_Language_Ed.pdf

  • Unfortunately, these program's effectiveness (and weather they are implemented or not in the first place) will depend on local school districts. Their funding depends on property tax, an inherently inequitable system that will disadvantage poor students by denying them access to these bilingual programs.

  • If you speak three languages you’re trilingual, if you speak two you’re bilingual, if you speak one...you’re an American.