Sunday, June 12, 2011

Talking Points #5: EXTENDED COMMENTS; Rodriguez "Aria" and Collier "Teaching Multilingual Children"

I wanted to do an extended comment for this blog.  I think that its funny that as I read Bridgette's blog (who completed this first) then Francesca's (who completed it second) that I couldn't help but laugh because we had similar connections to several of the themes and authors we have discussed so far in this course. 

Bridgette, I like how you tell the audience up front that Rodriguez's article is a personal story about being bilingual and the effects it had on him, while Collier's article speaks about teaching children that are multilingual; she says that "the key is the true appreciation of the different linguistic and cultural values that students bring into the classroom." (223)  Collier offers educators insight into how best to navigate multilingual students to continue teaching their native language along side learning a second language.

The article called "Aria" is described by Bridgette as English being Rodriguez's public language, while Spanish is his private home language. It is an interesting point of view to understand this perspective from a child.  I too noted in the reading, the feelings that Rodriguez had when his private home dialect was encouraged to change by the nuns, to English, which would foster a better understanding in school.  Of course, Rodriguez's parents wanted what was best so they took the comforting language of Spanish, which was full of sounds  (almost like a blankie or something he had been around since he was born) so that he could learn the "codes of power" better.  Bridgette makes the strong point, that regardless of the struggles that he had to go through, Rodriguez felt more confident and "assimilated" into mainstream culture for learning the English language, despite the lack of communication he had with his parents when he was younger.  This article was interesting to read because it was told from the first-hand point of view from a child's experience.  I have had a few students who traveled abroad or transferred from other parts of the country and learning and becoming orientated to a new language does seem quite stressful- as one never wants to loose their roots or identity, but it is always interesting to see them connect with the language and make conversation with me.  I like to see their wheels turn and how they respond to me.

The article by Collier called "Teaching Multilingual Children" accompanied the first article "Aria."  I agree with Bridgette that the author stresses the importance of appreciating the differences of language and culture in the classroom.  Collier states that it is "critical to be aware of the social and emotional factors which affect the second language learner." (224)  Bridgette goes on to note the author's "guidelines" to follow that are best geared towards students learning the second language of English. I will add that Collier feels it is important to note that the success of these students is dependant on examining the needs the community such as the: "sociological, economic, political, religious, cultural, geographical, demographic, historical, and linguistic makeup"..."each school would then operate its program based on the needs of the total population attending that school." (228)

I was happy to connect with Bridgette on her connections with Lisa Delpit's "culture of power."  I agree with Bridgette when she says that "Ultimately students are learning English because it is the language of those in power."  To be successful in our society that is English dominant, people must learn the language spoken.  Being aware of each persons differences that make us culturally unique is something that should not be taken away.  It needs to remain valued, in this melting pot country we live in.  I agree with Bridgette's choice of Delpit's quote that, “To imply to children or adults…that it doesn’t matter how you talk or how you write is to ensure their ultimate failure. I prefer to be honest with my students. I tell them that their language and cultural style is unique and wonderful but there is a political power game being played, and if they want to be in on that game there are certain games they too must play” (The Silenced Dialogue, 40).    I will go on to note that when reading Collier's article, that I couldn't help but get pulled back to Deplit's example of the Alaskan classroom; the students learned to value and be proud of their "Heritage English", but to be aware of the "formal English."

Even though, I did not read Finn's article, I can make the literacy connection to these 2 articles.  I agree with Bridgette that both authors make the point that 'literacy equals power.'


  1. nice blog! thanks for choosing my blog to do extended comments. Looks like we all had a lot of the same thoughts!

  2. Micaela, It is funny that we all came to the same conclusions after reading these two articles! We gotta stop drinking the Kool-Aid!!

  3. Micaela, it seems that many of us made the connection between Collier and Delpit. Nice job extending on Brigette's comments with some of your own.