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La escuéla de Inglés y Espanol está abiertá

Georgia's first bilingual public school is open for business.


Bilingual education has arrived in Georgia, as the Associated Press noted in an article ("Mom, I'm a niño!") on Georgia's first bilingual public (charter) school.

Clayton County's Unidos Dual Language Charter School, which had a five-year charter approved by the state Board of Education back in April, opened its doors on August 8. The school's website says that Unidos is "the first Dual Language Immersion Charter School in the state of Georgia," as well as "the first school to embrace the values of bilingualism, biliteracy, and multiculturalism."

The 132 students at Unidos get about 70 percent of their reading, writing, social sciences and math in Spanish, and 30 percent in English, according to the AP article, which continues:
Contrary to the perception that bilingual education is for immigrants who don't want to assimilate, two-thirds of Unidos students are English-speakers. They include some immigrants' children who are likely to forget their heritage tongue unless they keep studying it and others whose parents want them to learn Spanish because "it's sort of where things are going," Perry said.

The seven teachers, all of whom have at least a basic knowledge of both languages, use only one language in the classroom and rely on hand gestures, miming and lots of repetition to keep the children's attention.

During the first two weeks of school, they've been learning about colors, numbers, the month of August and the letters A and E - as well as about making friends with children from vastly different backgrounds.

"Kids who've never seen Hispanics before - they want to eat beside each other, they fight to sit beside each other," said Lynda Quinones, who teaches English at Unidos. "If it wasn't this environment, they'd probably be attacking each other."

One parent, who speaks English "more or less," said she "hopes [her son] will teach her because she was a teacher in Mexico and dreams of becoming one at Unidos. She wants [her son] to be a "well-educated child" and have a job that's 'not too hard'."

The pros and cons of bilingual education have been debated for quite some time; as this AP article points out, there are more than 300 dual-language schools in the US, the "first of which opened in 1962 in Florida." As someone who has worked internationally, I recognize the great value of multilingualism. Knowledge of multiple languages can not only make a person more marketable when seeking a vocation, but can be beneficial in one's personal life, as well.

The idea of a bi- or multi-lingual education becomes a bit less rosy when it is considered in the context of (a) ongoing attempts to strip Americans of their national pride and common language, and to enforce postmodern "one world" multiculturalism, which teaches that all other cultures are as good as or better than one's own, or (b) when it is used as a preventive measure against immigrant assimilation.

As the article points out, a "vast majority of Hispanics at all educational levels believe that immigrants' children need to be taught English, according to...the Pew Hispanic Center." Despite what the anti-immigrant fringe may want to believe, this has always been a nation of immigrants; our history as a "melting pot" is a large part of what has made us the great nation we are today. However, that "melting pot" only exists - and is only successful - because a large part of that "melting" is assimilation: learning and respecting the language, customs, traditions, and culture ofan adopted homeland. If a bilingual education can (a) assist in the assimilation process by helping students continuously increasing their proficiency in English, while compensating enough with ESL students' native tongue to prevent their falling behind academically due to linguistic deficiency, as well as (b) provide native students with expert, pseudo-immersion second language instruction, while not forcing self-immolating, anti-patriotic multiculturalism on them, then it is allowable that the practice may lead to positive results.

However, in this increasingly multiculturalistic, one-world, kumbayah-ic climate, there appears to be less and less hope that the guidelines of effective and acceptible multilingual eduation will be adhered to, or even paid lip service. The AP article about Unidos speaks volumes about the direction that multilingual education is very intentionally heading:

Two-thirds of Unidos students are English-speakers...whose parents want them to learn Spanish because "it's sort of where things are going," [school founder Della] Perry said.

Yolanda Hood enrolled her 5-year-old son, Thaddeus, in Unidos with the hope he's young enough to learn Spanish effortlessly. She said that will help him thrive in a country that's increasingly diverse.

"We'd be really arrogant to expect everybody to speak English," she said.

Arrogant? To expect immigrants to this nation to learn the national language? Sigh...Only in America.

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1 Comments:

At 1:05 AM, Anonymous Shay Frendt said...

(Primero, lo siento si no uso todo los accentos espanolas a resulta de tenido un teclado ingles)

I also see the multi-faceted nature of this educational environment as being complex and difficult to analize. Will teaching both English and Spanish influence the students in such a way that they learn that both are acceptable means of communication? Will one language be perceived as "correct" in the America that is to come?

He oido de muchos profesores y anuncios que hoy en dia, los trabajadores y estudiantes que estan tratando obtener trabajos serĂ¡ considerado en frente de otros candidatos a resulta de tenido la capacidad de hablar dos lenguas.

The fact that some of you (maybe including students of Unidos) can read the previous paragraph stands as evidence of a country - or even an internet atmosphere - that is changing.

For me, I didn't begin learning Spanish by immersing myself in a Spanish-speaking country. Although doing that was entirely more effective than learning the language in a classroom...I can't imagine the HUGE advantage that native Spanish-speaking children are going to have when they are tought English in a classroom and then use it around Georgia.

Although I can't decide to give a thumbs up or down to this approach to deconstructing the language barrier, I will say:

Keep an eye on Unidos. Your future boss might have been enrolled there as a child.

 

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