“Teaching Multilingual Children” by Virginia Collier and “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez are both very interesting texts. All of my classmates in FNED 346 will come across students who do not speak much if any English at all. Teaching English as ones primary language has its advantages and disadvantages in the school system. On one hand, teaching all children English at an early age will prepare them for today’s society. For someone getting a job in the US, it is imperative that they can speak the primary language of English. Thus our school systems are preparing the youth with a bilingual education.
On the other hand I have a problem with what the family portrayed did. They allowed the school to dictate what culture they would be or conform to. Yes, it is beneficial for a young student who does not speak English to learn it. But it is also important to not strip the family of their native language. Schools help mold a bilingual student and enable them to have a better chance of employment later in life.
These readings reminded me of the displacement of the Native Americans that were stripped of their language, appearance, and culture as a whole by the white man. Native American children were put in boarding schools to learn the white man’s language. After schooling was completed they were released into the world. Most of them tried to go back to their families that were left behind but now they realized that it was harder because they had been transformed into “Good Indians.” In reality, there was nothing good about going back to their tribe and not being able to communicate. They had been stripped of their native language and couldn’t understand it anymore. Being stripped of your language to conform to a society is never right. Bilingual education is a very rewarding system if every language is embraced.
The two main questions that I have in teaching to a multilingual class are probably common for most educators. How do you teach English in a way that respects and affirms the multiple home languages and dialects represented among students in class? How do you affirm the cultural values of both the home and school? “Teaching Multilingual Children” by Virginia Collier is a great answer key. “Language is enchanting, powerful, magical, useful, personal, natural, and all-important” (181). She further goes on to explain that the reason to use a whole bunch of activities in the classroom is to eliminate the boredom, raise awareness, and to make language teaching as well as learning as culturally relevant as possible for all students.