Monday, May 9, 2011

A Bilingual Future...

By Leslie Tapia

Bilingualism is one of the greatest challenges our children face today. Most of the children here in the United States have come from an immigrant family or are second or third generation people born in this country. The issue then lies in whether or not bilingualism should be a priority in the school system or if it should even be taught in schools. I don’t believe that people understand the importance about learning a second language or even becoming aware of other languages. Communication is very important to any human being on this planet and the only means to do that is through language. We have discussed in class the importance of foreign language and the priority levels it holds in a public and private institution. I for one noticed that even within my own school, foreign language was not a huge deal as it is in other privately owned schools. The public school system does offer foreign language and offers services such as ESL (English as a Second Language) and separate courses in French, Spanish, or the very least Latin to help spread the knowledge that other languages do exist and it is possible to learn them. Bilinguals have much more power in this world as well. To have a bilingual speaker in your workplace is suiting and welcoming to different types of clientele. A bilingual speaker can be used anywhere and the communication between people can rely on that one person who can fluently interact amongst languages.

So then, why are our children limited to keeping their bilingualism? Why are they being challenged to choose only one language? Parents today are concerned for the future of their children. As I have mentioned before, that language that you have obtained is your identity. Immigrant parents influence their children today to continually practice the language they speak for them not to lose that identity handed down to them. Although at times the school system your child is involved in puts low emphasis on the practicing of another language other than English, at least the language is allowed to be taught. ESL classes have become such a huge asset to education, especially for the young. It is hard to try and become accustomed to a new language you have never heard of but these courses help facilitate that pathway. Immigrant parents have much disappointment to look on to with the budget cuts put on such programs in other states. According to a recent article in New America Media, “The World Journal reports that 1.2 million immigrants living in the city have limited English language skills, but the two major English learning services in the city –Immigrant Opportunities Initiative and Adult Literacy Initiative--will both be canceled because of budget cuts” (New America Media). So it is not only the children who will be limited to this access to learning the much-needed English Language but also it is also going to affect adults also. In attempts to communicate with second and third generation children, families have made the attempt to learn English but also to keep their native languages alive.

Univision is one of the highly watched channels in Hispanic television. In the following clip, a mother was severely concerned for the well being of her child and his success. The mother asked President Obama what he felt is being done in order to maintain Bilingual programs that are so crucial to today’s young. Here is what he had to say…

President Obama himself agreed that a priority needs to be placed on Bilingual education. The current statistics show that only one out of eight students in high school go to college and from those numbers only 1 out of 7 finish college. These are frightening numbers to be considering but the sad thing about it is that these numbers either remain steady or they increase. Most of the time it is the language barrier that does not allow students to try and reach success. With budget cuts on programs that can help them learn the language, it creates more discouragement. How then can we tell our students to continue on the right path if that path is filled with obstacles they have no help overcoming?

One thing that has many frightened is that children in Bilingual systems will develop an accent as they commence their learning stages of a new language aside from the one they were accustomed to at home. Here is a clip of the influence Bilingualism has had on early childhood education…

Parents clearly believe in the positive aspect of a bilingual education. Children need to be influenced to believe the same. An issue we talked about in class is the importance Bilingualism should be put even in an education setting. For example, in public schools, should foreign language classes be taken as just “that stupid class” or could it be put a greater importance upon?  Even inside the home, children refrain from speaking their inherited language. I know I have been a victim of such since I am so accustomed to speaking to my siblings in English. What one begins to notice is that younger generations who do not know how to speak the language clear enough then lose that language and their identity when trying to pass it down to their own. This kind of cycle needs to be stopped before a language becomes non-existent.

The Spanish language at least does not have that case since more immigrants come into the United States each year and help keep the language alive. Other immigrants who come as well continually stress on that their language must be kept alive in order to preserve the last sense of culture they obtained. It is hard to say whether or not children will ever fully understand the severity of losing that language but it is safe to say that at least the language can be kept alive with the help of others. Bilingual education is a key program here in the United States not only to teach those who need to learn English but also to teach others that there is another language aside from English that they should not ever lose when becoming successful.

1 comment:

  1. Learning Spanish language is not so hard because there are many different ways available to help you out. You just need to get serious and concentrate to learn to speak Spanish. There are many internet courses available for Spanish language. You can also sign up for the internet courses to learn Spanish without having to step out of your house.