"It is easy to forget a language we choose not to speak

<b> Forum for the discussion of all aspects of bilingual education </b>

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"It is easy to forget a language we choose not to speak

Post by satter06 » Tue Nov 29, 2011 8:26 pm

I once saw a video of a young man explaining the importance of his primary language. He explains how his family has migrated through various countries and finally ends up in the US, where they are not wanted or able to feel at home. This lack of belonging causes him and his family to hold on to thier L1 because as he says it, "We don't have our own country so our language is the only thing we have to ourselves."
L1s are important, and it cannot be denied that they do not have an impact on a person, especially if that is all that they have to hold onto from thier past. So it is disheartening when many places discourage the use of L1s in schools and stress English Only. It is doing the students a disservice because if they then decide to abandon their L1, they could end up regretting it later.
Also, it seems illogical that knowing a foreign language from birth is discouraged and not capitalized on in schools, since many careers are calling for bilingual workers as the job market is becoming more and more international.

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Post by teachnj » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:52 am

As you well mention, in today’s society everyone must look for an advantage in order to succeed. ELLs are poised to do just that if educational systems provide quality opportunities. Said opportunities begin and end with full recognition and respect for the language, culture, and other assets that these students bring to the table. When one’s language is not acknowledged we tend to isolate ourselves from the mainstream. “No man is an island” therefore isolation is not productive or conducive to success. Schools have a duty to capitalize, as you stated, on the language skills that students already possess in order to build bridges into the new language.

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Post by inperez » Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:36 pm

Well said, I have seen this too many times. Their language seems to be the only thing that they hold on to because they are pushed to be like others in our society. The language seems like a comfort blanket and the only thing that makes them feel themselves. English language is pushed strongly on them while in school and everywhere else they turn to. I strongly agree that this is a disservice when the L1 is abandon.

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