There is some ground-breaking work to be done in the field of bilingual education. This work involves the development of instructional strategies that has the heritage language learner in mind. The following are a few terms (used by various researchers) who are starting to do work in naming and developing those strategies:
Instructional Applied Linguistics
Critical Additive/Bicultural Pedagogy
Multilingual Pedagogic & Curriculum Research
Unfortunately, unless researchers from competing fields come together to develop these strategies we will continue to keep language minorities marginalized. In other words, the field of Second Language Acquisition, Bilingual Education, and (Socio)linguistics need to merge and get passed their paradigmatic tensions so that we can begin to create a pedagogy that benefits various models of bilingual education (e.g., dual language, transitional, ESL) where many of heritage language learners are placed to either learn another language or develop their native one.
Has this crossed your mind? Are you in the process of trying to find a foreign language school for your child? This topic is one I have been thinking a lot about for several years. As a former teacher I often times sought out the ideal settings to teach Spanish or English in and what I have come to realize are many things that make a great way to learn another language. I am in the process of drafting an e-book about the characteristics that make a foreign language school/experience the best for YOUR child. In other words, just like many parents spend time and money scoping out schools, in general, the parent who has learning a second or third language a priority for their child also has special interests and important decisions to consider and make.
In my opinion, there are so many things to consider, but the problem the parent who has learning another language as top priority also has the added challenge of being limited by the number of schools to choose from in any city they may live in. It is, unfortunately, a situation very common in the US.
I am writing this post to get an idea about the specific interests parents have when looking into foreign language schools in their community. I’d like to offer my unique perspective, not only as a parent who shares the same interest in finding the perfect foreign language school, but as a doctoral student who knows about some of the most optimal methodologies to teach/learn another language.
Please share some of your specific interests/concerns when looking into foreign language schools.
There are various routes one can take to become bilingual. Since I have made an effort to raise my daughter with at least 2 languages I have learned mine is just one way, and really, there are multiple ways to becoming bilingual. I consider myself a “crib bilingual” in that my parents native language is Spanish. Spanish filled our home, our lives effortlessly. I, on the other hand, find myself stumbling over some Spanish words when speaking with my daughter. Like the other day, I realized that I did not know the words for earlobe or nostril!
As I mentioned earlier, there are various avenues one can take to becoming bilinugual. The difference, though, is to what extent will my daughter be able to speak Spanish in various contexts. This is where I like to think that though she is a crib bilingual, she will also become (which I did not have the opportunity to do) a school bilingual. She will have experienced both Spanish and English day in, and day out. She will be considered a simultaneous bilingual. That being said, no matter which route you happen to be one, I think individuals that speak more than one language (despite the level of “proficiency”) also develop two language systems…that my friends a whole other realm of language acquisition!