Monday, September 28, 2009

Talking Points 2: Teaching Multilingual Children

1. "People untrained in linguistics, particularly politicians, tend to believe that if limited English proficient students can converse with their monolingual English-speaking peers, then these English-language learners can compete with them on an equal footing."

This quote is a perfect example of the miscommunication between people on different social and cultural levels. Politicians are often the ideal model of people in power; they are usually white, heterosexual, men. These men have no idea how many difficulties and challenges English language learners face. They assume that just because a person can speak with others that all of their basic skills are on the same level. However, this is not true. Instead, they must think about it as if they were an immigrant and how they would feel having to compete against their peers when their skills are nowhere near as proficient.

2. "English and all other 'spoken languages are constantly in a process of change,' and that they 'change when they come in contact with other languages'. So when children come to class with their non-standard varieties of English and home language, teachers must look at the benefits of having multipls ways of talking in the classroom."

This quote is trying to get teachers to understand that they must encourage different varieties of English. Although they will teach them the correct version, children who speak incorrectly or in different dialects must not be reprimanded. As a teacher, I would try to incorporate the different varieties to help students learn from one another. I think that this quote is important because a teacher must know that this situation would be beneficial.

3. "Teaching is complicated, but it is also rewarding in ways that many other jobs can never be. You have the chance to interact daily with live, growing, maturing human beings, and that time is special, despite the complications of managing a bureaucratized, overcrowded classroom of overtested, underchallenged students"

Although this quote does not relate to the idea of multilingual children that we are reading about, this quote stuck out to me. It gave me reason to want to continue my career path as a teacher. It demonstrates the importance of teachers and how they themselves can grow from working with children. The quote explains that although it may be difficult at times, it is all worth it. This sums up exactly how I feel about teaching; it is rewarding.

Teaching Multilingual Children explains to anyone working in a school setting how to work with children learning English as their second language. It gives well thought out reasons, some having to do with respect for other cultures. A person who can teach English to someone of a different language needs to be able to step out of the box that they are in. They need to think outside of their culture. This can prove to be very difficult since most of what we know was taught to us by others of the same basic culture and social class for the most part. These teachers must take the time to learn about how to teach these children, which is exactly what this reading does.

This reading was much different than the others we have been doing in class. I found it to be a little more difficult. At times I felt myself getting lost in repetition and having to reread in order to understand. However, Virginia Collier was able to get her points across very clearly. This text can relate to Lisa Delpit's The Silenced Dialogue. Collier wrote that people teaching second language students should think about the speech that mothers and fathers use with their children: caregiver talk. Delpit explains that different cultures communicate differently so there are many misunderstandings between cultures. Also, Collier emphasizes the importance of regarding the child's first language as important. Instead of eliminating it, the teacher should work with it, such as if the child was learning literacy skills they should learn it in their first language before in English. Many people don't understand the importance of this, and this especially pertains to the culture of power, which of course relates back to Johnston.

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