Americans have this strange aversion to speaking more than one language. Seriously, try visiting Europe where everyone speaks at least three. While this practice is obviously rooted in prejudice, it’s also just plain stupid. The more languages our students speak, the more opportunities that will be available to them in the future. Finally, it seems like people are starting to catch up. But after years of English only policies – is it too little, too late? From EdSource:
“After years of prioritizing English-only classes for students who spoke other languages at home, California is now pushing to expand bilingual programs for all students. But the state has a huge hurdle: It needs more bilingual teachers. In part, the low number of bilingual teachers is a lingering legacy of Proposition 227, which voters passed in 1998 and then repealed in 2016. Proposition 227 required English learners to be taught in English-only classrooms unless their parents signed a waiver.
‘As soon as Prop. 227 passed, a lot of higher education programs stopped offering bilingual credentials, especially in public institutions,’ said Magaly Lavadenz, professor of English learner research and executive director of the Center for Equity for English Learners at Loyola Marymount University.
Today, only 42 of 80 teacher preparation programs in the state offer bilingual authorizations – a specialization in addition to the general teaching credential. ‘We are looking for teachers in the wrong places. We’re not going to find the number of teachers that we need at universities. We need to find these folks in our communities,’ said Guillermo Castillo, director of Future Educator Support, a program of the Butte County Office of Education.”
Hopefully, California can catch up and let go of the stigma of speaking Spanish while investing more in the talent in our communities. If we want to keep American students competitive, we need to think less provincially, and more globally.
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