El reciente reportaje del periodista de la Agencia EFE, Emilio López, ha sido publicado en numerosas publicaciones, entre ellas:
Actualidad Radio, Miami
El reciente reportaje del periodista de la Agencia EFE, Emilio López, ha sido publicado en numerosas publicaciones, entre ellas:
Actualidad Radio, Miami
El Nuevo Herald, 06-07-2015
Hace algunos años, durante una plática en la redacción de el Nuevo Herald, un colega se ufanaba de la integración de sus hijos al melting pot. “Se sienten tan americanos, ¡que no saben hablar español!”, concluía con una enorme sonrisa. Lamentablemente, este no es un caso aislado de torpeza mental.
Muchas familias hispanas sufren el síndrome del inmigrante vergonzante; asocian el idioma español con los pesares que dejaron en sus países de origen. Hablar inglés —y acaso olvidarse del español— es signo de progreso, movilidad social, mejoramiento de estatus. Más allá de la comida típica, no les interesa mantener viva su cultura. Cuando se dirigen a sus hijos, estos le contestan en inglés. No habría que esperar a la tercera generación para ver desaparecer el idioma autóctono: en la segunda ya es un hecho.
Así pues, allí donde exista, se trata de varios niveles de bilingüismo. Ahora bien, con independencia del interés o desinterés de los padres, es responsabilidad del sistema escolar garantizar, mediante programas bilingües, un nivel básico de suficiencia en el que el estudiante sea capaz de manejarse en otra lengua. Digamos, sostener una conversación sencilla, entender lo que escucha y lee, y eventualmente poder escribir, al menos, una carta.
Sin embargo, mientras la enseñanza de idiomas siga relegada en Estados Unidos nuestros profesionales no podrán competir con los de otros países. Un reciente artículo publicado en la revista The Atlantic se quejaba de la subestimación hacia los idiomas y refería que menos de un 1 por ciento de los adultos estadounidenses son competentes en una lengua extranjera impartida en la escuela. (Amelia Friedman, America’s Lacking Language Skills, 12 de mayo de 2015).
A pesar de las apariencias, la Florida no es una excepción. Ello se manifiesta no solo en la escasez de fondos sino también en las erradas decisiones administrativas a escala local. No hay que asombrarse, por tanto, de que los programas bilingües no funcionen. Y con la insistencia del distrito en imponer el programa Idioma Extranjero Extendido (EFL), que hace aguas por todos lados, tampoco se aprovechan los recursos asignados ($13 millones anuales, según el superintendente Alberto Carvalho).
Ultimamente ponderar el bilingüismo se ha hecho un lugar común entre funcionarios escolares, empresarios, académicos y periodistas. Pero seamos francos: si de verdad fuera importante, eso se reflejaría en el currículo de enseñanza. Si los maestros no necesitan calificación para enseñar un idioma (y se les suministra un milagroso waiver), no lo es; si los estudiantes afroamericanos quedan excluidos, no lo es; si alumnos de Secundaria y High School deben conformarse con computadoras en vez de docentes, no lo es. Y, por favor, basta de repetir que hay falta de maestros bilingües para tapar las deficiencias: no es cierto y, además, resulta ofensivo en un condado con tantos profesionales capaces.
En otros estados han decidido buscar maestros en el extranjero. Hasta ahora no he visto ningún anuncio en este diario solicitando profesionales bilingües que deseen convertirse en maestros con un salario de $40 mil anuales. Estoy seguro de que se presentarían miles de candidatos.
Periodista, exprofesor universitario.
El reportaje de Christina Veiga, EL FUTURO INCIERTO DEL ESPAÑOL EN LAS ESCUELAS DE MIAMI (El Nuevo Herald, 05-25-2015), ha sido reproducido en más de 15 publicaciones de Estados Unidos.
We asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: How important is it for children to learn a language in school? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
Jessica Knopf, Miami
First, classes are too short in length. Learning a language means consistency is necessary. Instead of 30 minutes three times a week, 45 minutes every day is better. Second, stop trying to teach kids social studies and math in another language. This really impairs the ability to master English, especially for those whose first language isn’t English. Keep the second language being learned, but don’t incorporate it into other subjects because it confuses them. Third, make sure students are able to make presentations and complete projects in the second language. … In other words, take it to the next level and not just rudimentary understanding.
Lulu Parker, Miami
I believe that children who live in a household that speaks another language other than English, be it Spanish, French (which was the first language in my family), Creole, etc., should be encouraged to continue to study in that language, including reading as well as speech. Like many Hispanics, Canadian French are predominately Catholic. I grew up at a time when the Mass was celebrated in Latin and the homily in French, exposing me to foreign languages very young. However, it was a rather colloquial, fractured French. Nonetheless, once one has been exposed and has acquired a new language, it’s easier to learn another, particularly a Romance language. One also gains confidence and is less self-conscious articulating and exploring different sounds. Thus bilingualism should be encouraged.
Rachel Lebon, Miami
Vital. Especially if you live in a hub for other international markets like Miami, New York or Los Angeles. Besides, the world is now multicultural, connected, global. It’s not only important to have another language, but also know other cultures and idiosyncrasies. Our daughter is lucky to attend an excellent multicultural and bilingual school like Sunset Elementary (Spanish Magnet Program). They are doing a fantastic job at it. The key is working together as a team. They do their part, we do ours at home. It’s a very demanding program that works only if parents are actively involved.
Adela Gondelels-Sardinas, Miami
Very important! It is the best time for them to learn it because it is less difficult than in adulthood. We all know that. I think in Miami, where so many Spanish-speaking people live here from different Spanish-speaking countries, schools have to be careful in choosing who teaches Spanish.
Mercedes Bianchi, Miami Beach
It is very important especially living here in South Florida. We need to teach a second language to young kids. The younger the better. I’m not surprised that Dade county is having a difficult time finding Spanish teachers. Just because someone grows up in Dade county does not mean they speak Spanish well. Spanglish is nothing to be proud of. It is embarrassing that even newscasters mess up the Spanish language. I think Spanish needs to be taught to both non-Spanish speakers and those who come from Spanish households because they also need formal instruction.
Patty De Biase, Weston
It is critical to the economy of South Florida. The old joke about “what do you call a person who only speaks one language — an American” unfortunately applies in this case. How can we be called the “Gateway to the Americas” when our workforce cannot read and write in Spanish? This shouldn’t even be getting press because the school system should be requiring and funding classes in some foreign language (there are others of value besides Spanish).
Mario Coryell, Miami Beach
Addressing this question in Miami is slightly different than applying it to the country as a whole. It is essential in the 21st century to learn a foreign language, probably even more than one. There is no substitute for the formal learning that school courses and certified teachers of a language provide. … Technically in Miami one can learn Spanish through various out-of-school means. Pretty much any business, Hispanic family or local TV and radio show uses at least some Spanish. And conversation is essential. But the rest of the country does not have such a strong emphasis on Spanish so if a foreign language requirement isn’t in place, students will be hard pressed to learn a second language well.
Mark Elman, Miami
Vitally important. The world is shrinking fast and Miami is becoming a very important global business and recreation center. Our children must learn to communicate with people from all over the world. I have seen the children in Europe and China learning English, but they are not learning conversational English. Our children need to learn conversational skills to be able to conduct business as well as be comfortable in an increasingly global community.
Christopher Zoller, Coral Gables
Miami’s primary strength is as the hub of the Hispanic world, and I think that it is unavoidable that young people know how to speak Spanish if they want to live and work here. Having said that, I don’t think that the grade school or high school classroom is the best place to learn it. Language learning requires much more immersion than an hour a few times a week. I went through that with German and Spanish when I was young and got nowhere. I learned French through immersion courses where we would interact with other young people and a coach for prolonged periods. How about language camp in addition to soccer and art?
John Des Jardins, Sunny Isles Beach
(Clarification: Making clear how Karin Davenport of U.S. English views government-funded support for multiple languages.)
The Washington Post, 10-24-2015
If you follow the public debate about bilingual education, you know that there are two basic opposing views. As Claire Bowern, the author of the following post, writes,
To put it bluntly, bilingualism is often seen as “good” when it’s rich English speakers adding a language as a hobby or another international language, but “bad when it involves poor, minority, or indigenous groups adding English to their first language, even when the same two languages are involved.
Here is a piece about the value of bilingualism for all students. Bowern is an associate professor of linguistics at Yale University and a fellow in The OpEd Project’s Public Voices project who has been researching topics s related to language and society, including bilingualism, for 15 years. She also works as an advisor to Native American and Australian indigenous groups on language reclamation, maintenance, and bilingual education issues.
Two languages, two sets of opinion about bilingualism. On the one side is the research that consistently shows that bilingualism is good for you. It leads to an enriched set of experiences, a new way of seeing the world, and more prosaically but no less importantly, is associated with reduced rates of dementia. People who are multilingual are perceived as more intelligent and educated, and they have better international contacts and resources in their careers.
On the other side, we also hear about the perniciousness of bilingualism among immigrants, the uselessness of supporting and preserving minority and indigenous languages, and the educational and economic harm that comes from ‘wasting’ valuable resources on bilingual education initiatives. Some even see maintaining another language as seditious, a compromise to national security, or at the very least, evidence of conflicted loyalties or identities, or that a person cannot be fully trusted.
These opposing views tells us more about stereotypes and social pigeonholing than about language. To put it bluntly, bilingualism is often seen as “good” when it’s rich English speakers adding a language as a hobby or another international language, but “bad” when it involves poor, minority, or indigenous groups adding English to their first language, even when the same two languages are involved.
You may have heard the joke: “What do you call someone who speaks two languages? (Bilingual) Someone who speaks three languages? (Trilingual) Someone who speaks one language? American.” But America is a multilingual national, with 55 million Americans speaking another language at home, and nearly 400 languages represented. And far from being unusual outside the United States, multilingualism is the norm with 163 of the world’s 195 countries officially bi- or multilingual. More than half the world’s population uses more than one language.
Let’s look in more detail at the evidence that bilingualism is “good.” The evidence comes from several sources. One is Erika Hoff’s work on second language exposure. She compared Spanish-speaking immigrants to the USA who spoke Spanish to their children with those who spoken mostly English to them. The children who had mostly English at home did worse in standardized tests, while the children whose parents spoke to them mostly in Spanish benefited from a “bilingual boost” by being proficient in two languages.
Research in Australia among Aboriginal groups shows that bilingual education programs have higher school attendance and better outcomes on standardized tests. The same is true for the elite bilingual schools at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum. Bilingual education benefits all, not just the rich.
The “bilingual boost” extends beyond the classroom and into later life. Ellen Bialystok’s research, for example, shows that bilingual adults, as they get older, stay sharper for longer than monolingual adults do. The effect is about four years’ difference on average, which can make a considerable difference to quality of life in retirement. In research by the same team, bilingual adults also showed the delays in the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. They still got the disease, but they were able to maintain active lifestyles for longer – 5 to 6 years longer on average.
Not everyone thinks that bilingualism is a good idea, however. A common argument confuses promoting bilingualism with promoting lack of fluency in English. Karin Davenport, of U.S. English, for example, calls government-funded support for multiple languages a “crutch” that allows people to remain “linguistically isolated.” But again, research is clear. All research on this topic, from multilingualism to the causes of language endangerment, has shown that immigrant kids will most likely pick up the major language within a generation, whatever the policies are. In the United States, second-generation fluency in English is around 80 percent, while third generation fluency is well over 90 percent.
English-only won’t get more people speaking English; they’ll learn English no matter what. But will they have access to good literacy, education, and all the other prerequisites for success that go along with that? Only if they’re well supported in school. And research is again clear that the best way to do that is to teach students in their first languages, to maintain school attendance by making school relevant to their experience, and by employing teachers who are role models.
The tide is slowly changing, at least at the legislative level. Legislators in California recently voted to allow consideration of overturning the 1998 English-only instruction laws in that state. And there is national legislation currently under consideration in congress, with bipartisan support (particularly HR.4214/S.1948). Both these bills recognize that beginning the “bilingual boost” needs to start early, and that government support through state education is critical.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language.” But Roosevelt himself was trilingual, and America has never been home to just a single language, from the several hundred indigenous languages that were here before European settlement to the early colonists from Britain, Germany, France and elsewhere in Europe, from the slaves brought here from the coasts of Africa, to more recent immigration from Central and South America, Oceania, Asia and the Middle East. It’s time to change the monolingual mindset and to recognize the benefits of bilingualism for all who want it.
Corie Geballe teaches first graders in Spanish at White Center Heights Elementary in West Seattle. (Credit KUOW Photo/Liz Jones)
KUOW.ORG, 05-31- 2015
Americans get a bad rap for speaking only English.
But increasingly, public schools are immersing students in a second language, usually Spanish or Chinese. The Highline school district, south of Seattle, has even set an ambitious goal for the class of 2026 to graduate fully bilingual and biliterate.
Those are today’s first-graders, and they’re already under the microscope. In Corie Geballe’s first-grade class at White Center Heights Elementary, the students are either English or Spanish native speakers.
In her classroom, Geballe points to a picture of a snail. And la cola, the tail. Her students gather on the rug in front of her.
“Repite esa palabra,” she says. Repeat the word. “Estanque.”
“Estanque,” they say, using the Spanish word for pond.
The students split their school day between English and Spanish instruction. Often, Spanglish slips through.
“Es como un river?” a student asks.
Other students answer in English, or tell the teacher they don’t understand. Señora Geballe reminds them, “En español, en español.” In Spanish, she says, as she encourages the kids to help each other with the lesson.
So far, Highline offers Spanish or Vietnamese immersion programs at some neighborhood schools throughout the district.
Bernard Koontz, who directs the language learning program for Highline public schools, says the classes will expand every year, to more grades and more students. But it’s limited to select schools and languages.
“We know that if we do a good job with dual language implementation, we might hit three or four languages,” he says. “But our students speak over 100 different languages.”
Highline hopes to eventually tap into that language diversity. The district wants students to gain more literacy in their native language, whether it’s Somali or Ukrainian.
Koontz says the district has started offering programs for smaller groups of families, and is exploring more options with community partners or online.
Families could opt out of the whole bilingual program, he says. But few have chosen to leave.
One of the biggest challenges for dual language programs at Highline, and elsewhere, is to find more teachers.
“Recruiting bilingual teachers is a major effort of our HR department,” Koontz says. “We recruit early and work a lot with candidates to get them here to Highline.”
Demand is high. And this year, the district even turned to the federal J-1 visa program to temporarily bring in some teachers from Spain. Schools around the country have also increasingly turned to this exchange program to find bilingual instructors.
About a dozen school districts out of nearly 300 in Washington state offer a dual language program, some much smaller than others. A bill in the Washington legislature this year aimed to provide funding to expand these programs and teacher training, but it failed reach a floor vote among lawmakers grid-locked in budget negotiations.
In the Spanish classroom at White Center Heights Elementary, the first graders work on an aquarium project with their language buddies. They’re paired up so a native Spanish speaker can help out a native English speaker, and vice versa.
Teacher Erin Saffold, who has taught here for eight years, says it creates a great classroom dynamic.
“We’re teaching things about their world at home, which I think is making them so proud and want to share more than ever in past,” Saffold says.
But will this class of 2026 will succeed in graduating bilingual?
As long as there’s consistency, yes, Saffold says. But she also worries about teacher shortage.
“I think for incoming teachers they’re like, ‘No, thank you,’” she says.
“We have had many, in the past two years, student teachers who have taught in the dual language program who really don’t want any part of it.”
When asked why Saffold wants to be a part of this effort, her emotion seems to catch her off guard.
“For me … I don’t know why I’m tearing up,” she says.
Many of Highline’s students come from low-income families where another language is spoken in the home. Saffold already sees how this bilingual focus helps her students engage in class and to see their language ability as something special.
“You see it with Amani, and you see it with Josiah, and you see these kids that are just given an opportunity that they haven’t been given before,” she says, wiping away tears. “To have them be given something that will help them later on just blows me away. So, I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Early results with these first graders are impressive – even according to them.
“This is Lucas,” says a first-grader, introducing his friend. “A long time ago in kindergarten, he used to not know Spanish.”
“Yeah, I learned a lot more,” Lucas says.
Another student agrees that Lucas has improved: “Yeah, he’s saying a lot of words and compound words in Spanish.”
The kids are all smiles and giggles. If it’s more work to become bilingual, they don’t seem to notice.
Stephen Hunter Johnson
The Miami Times, 05-27- 2015
Below is a letter — edited for space — written by Stephen Hunter Johnson, chair of the Black Affairs Advisory Board, sent to Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
Dear Superintendent Carvalho:
The Miami-Dade County Black Affairs Advisory Board is very interested in discussing the development and implementation of a bilingual educational curriculum for all students.
By way of background, on Saturday, January 31, 2015, the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board sponsored a “Village Dialogue: An Invitation from the Afro-Cuban Community.” As a result of that meeting, and further discussions, it has become increasingly clear that the ability to speak more than one language — particularly fluency in Spanish and English — is an economic advantage in South Florida as a region, but particularly in Miami-Dade County, the aptly named gateway to the Americas.
Miami-Dade County’s 2.5 million residents represent a spectrum of cultural, ethnic and racial identities. Our diversity means that Miami-Dade County is one of a few emerging global economic centers. Businesses and business people from around the world travel here for work and for play. Because Miami-Dade County is truly an international destination, it is imperative that our children — all of our children — are provided with the proper tools to succeed and thrive.
It is with this in mind that we ask Miami-Dade County Public Schools to develop and implement a true bilingual curriculum so that all of our children are fully fluent and truly bilingual by graduation. To accomplish this, it is necessary that children be exposed to bilingual education as early as possible, but absolutely in grades K-4. It is our belief that students who graduate without second-language skills are at a distinct disadvantage which places them in the precarious position of not being able to qualify for even menial positions here in Miami-Dade.
We believe that this forces many of our children to abandon their home in search of opportunities in other areas, depriving us of the talents of some of our best and brightest. We also believe that this requirement — especially in view of the recent developments aimed at restoring diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, along with Miami’s emergence as the epicenter of Latin American business and investments — sends a strong message about the viability and survival skills of our students. Without these skills, some of our students are disadvantaged, destined for failure and, more importantly, unable to compete on a global level.
We therefore ask for a formal meeting as soon as possible with you to discuss Miami-Dade Public School’s institution of bilingual education as part of the curriculum taught in our district.
Stephen Hunter Johnson, chair
Black Affairs Advisory Board
Estudiantes de la Booker T. Washington Senior High School.
The May 26 article The uncertain future of español in class, succinctly lays out the travails of several parents who believe their children aren’t being properly prepared to compete in the job market after graduation.
That said, the need to make minority students — especially African-American students — bilingual is of the utmost importance. Educators should make every effort to find a cost-effective way to teach our students the skills necessary for their success.
It has become increasingly clear in this age of computer literacy and our dependence on the Internet that methods of teaching a second language could be linked so that all students have access to becoming bi-literate and bilingual.