Extended Comments: Heidi's Blog
Richard Rodriquez and Virginia Collier are both supporters of bilingual education and argue that teaching students in their native language is the best way to educate students whose first language is not English. In "Teaching Multicultural Children" Collier very clearly presents a case for bilingual education. In "Aria" Rodriguez talks about his personal experiences and suggests that if he had been offered a bilingual education he may have adjusted better to school. I found both articles very interesting and especially liked the fact that the article written by Rodriquez was a personal experience which allows readers an opportunity to better understand the personal struggles one faced as he tried to learn the English Language. Unfortunately, his experience had a negative impact on his view of school which also affected his home life. As teachers, it will hopefully be a reminder of what to take into consideration and what not to do/suggest. Collier, presented an excellent assortment of options for teaching students who are bilingual or ESL learners. Her guidelines, can be easily implemented, "to better understand how teaching English to second-language learners can become an enriching experience when appreciating students' different languages and life situations."
After reading Heidi's blog I decided to do extended comments because I thought she did a nice job explaining the authors argument and relating Collier to Delpit. I liked the example she used in relation to Collier's guideline number three, that the goal should not be to eliminate or eradicate the home language and replace it with English, it should be to support the development of both languages simultaneously. Delpit talked about learning how to communicate in the dominant culture, the "culture of power". Collier seems to say that English is the language used in the "culture of power" and that in order to be successful children need to learn English. Collier is in favor of teaching children the importance of learning English, which is the dominate language, " the culture of power" while supporting their retention of their home language. Collier teaches us the guidelines for teaching students whose first language is not English, however, she feels strongly about each student continuing to use his/her native language. Perhaps, Rodriquez's experience would have been different if on his journey to learn English he was still able to engage in dialog in his native tongue which was a part of who he is, his identity and heritage.
As Heidi states, "as the number of children who speak a language other than English at home continues to increase in many classrooms across the country it becomes increasingly important that teachers know how best to provide these English language learners with the best education possible". I agree that teachers need to approach each student individually and take into consideration his/her learning style and comfort level as well as best practices and effective guidelines when education students who are learning English as their second language. It is important to support them and make them feel secure in an environment where they struggle to understand and or communicate.
In my district, we have a small ESL population and the students are taught in their grade level classroom where English is the only language spoken. Theses students are pulled out of their classroom environment and receive 1-1 or small group instruction with other ESL learners thirty minutes per day. What I found most interesting is that the ESL teachers do not know how to speak, read, or understand the native language of their students."Is this enough? Collier would say no, that full day bilingual education is what is truly needed. Is this a realistic goal? In the current climate of budget cuts and increasing class sizes it seems unlikely that the availability of bilingual education is going to increase". In response to the question Heidi posed I would have to say no based on the two articles I read. When I read this, I was reminded of Kozol and his example of the "baby Ives" when he talks about unfair advantages that some students have, this means that all of those children who enter school with limited English proficiency, or with no English at all, they will struggle to catch up to the native-English speaking peers and may never really get there. Yet, all children are held to the same standards and have the same expectations placed on them in regards to state assessments. I agree when Heidi said, Collier presents bilingual education as the solution but she does not address the practical issues of how to implement it on a large scale. As a Special Educator I had very little knowledge of whats best for ESl learners. Actually prior to reading these articles, I thought it would be best for students to be fully emerged in the culture and language. Apparently, I was incorrect and appreciate my new knowledge in this area.