An Update About Raising 3rd Generation Multilingual Daughters.

Just read an article about “Bilingualism and Age,” which got me thinking about my daughter’s language exposure and development:

Sabrina was born into a home where both parents spoke in Spanish to her (direct input), but we spoke (and continue to do so) in mostly English to each other with some Spanish. Her daycare was a Spanish immersion one (so more direct Spanish spoken to her), BUT that is where she learned the most English because her peers spoke in English to her. Socially, she spoke in Spanish to us and any other little kid her age (1-2 1/2 years old). At 2 1/2 she entered an English-speaking school and in 3 months her English was (arguably) as strong as her Spanish. English became a tidal wave for us that we continue to deal with.

Siena was born into a home where both parents spoke in Spanish to her (direct input), but we spoke (and continue to do so) in mostly English to each other with some Spanish. Sabrina initially spoke in Spanish to her little sister because she believed Siena only knew Spanish. This worked really well for some time, but as time went (Siena learning to speak) by, English took over like a huge tidal wave between their relationship. Siena heard English and Spanish directed at her way more than Sabrina ever did. At 2 1/2 she entered a Spanish immersion school and at 3 years old she started a new school which was Chinese immersion. Two years later, Siena is what I would call a full blown simultaneous bilingual.

Sabrina and Siena’s language experiences have been so different even though we have lived in the same home. They both lived in Ecuador, but even that experience was distinct for both of them, Siena heard more Spanish and Sabrina heard and used both seamlessly. Although both girls would be considered simultaneous bilinguals, they are both such different users of their languages. I think Sabrina leans more toward a sequential bilingual because she learned English later, but it is definitely a fine line.

Either way, both girls function, live, and breathe with their 2-3 languages. I cannot imagine how their identity would change if they were asked to ONLY speak English. It would be like asking them to hold their breathe or to hide who they really are. Sadly, this experience happens to many young children in the U.S.

Their development as multilingual individuals has truly been one of the most amazing experiences in my life. I don’t think we could have come this far had I not had a Ph.D. in bilingual education because people like me, 2nd generation Mexican immigrant, use of Spanish, bilingualism has been so stigmatized in this country. This is one of the reasons why I am determined to hone in on strategies that support bilingualism in the 3rd generation. It is our time to reclaim what was always ours, the Spanish language,  and very much a part of who we are.

#multilingualVIDA #bilingualism #languagewarriors #raisingbilingualkids

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Bilingual Instructional Strategies

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:

Cross-language Transfer

Translanguaging Pedagogy

Border-Crossing Pedagogy

Instructional Applied Linguistics

Hybrid Literacies

Multilingual Pedagogy

Multilitericies

Critical Additive/Bicultural Pedagogy

Flexible Bilingualism

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.

A glimpse into my academic life…..

This semester I am learning about language policy and discourse analysis. I am utterly reading pages and pages of material that are of utmost interest to me. I feel as if I have found my niche…or as I explained recently to a friend how my desire to become an anthropologist when I was a child is finally coming true. I am not becoming an anthropologist, but I am using research methods grounded in anthropology to study/research the way people use language. So below I offer a glimpse of how my thinking about language is evolving as I read pages and pages of salivating information about discourse analysis and language policy. Enjoy!

When speaking, researching, studying language-in-use it is impossible to leave out the political, economic, and social factors that influence language because language is a social construct. Yes, from a Chomskyan point of view all languages are inherently equal when it comes to structure and how they are acquired, BUT what is different is how the perception of each language is constructed as a result of political, economical, even religious factors SO how do we study or speak about language-in-use without considering our subjective views as they are influenced by our social, economical, and political ties. Is it in how we frame our research question and/or in how we analyze the data?

Where is the controversy in Franglais, Singlish, or Spanglish?

Where is it? Why does it exist? How can the problem be solved? Is there a problem? The answers to all of these questions really just depends on who you are speaking to and, in my opinion, where they stand.

I will just be frank about my perspective. There are economic, political, and social implications when discussing, in both the positive and negative light, how terms, such as Spanglish, are addressed in regard to people. At least as the term(s) continue to evolve from having a negative connotation to a positive one.

The above is a post I started seven months, but never finished. I remember having just watched a debate between academics about the use of Spanglish. I was inspired. I was many things…angry, curious, intrigued, and again, inspired. I continue to be all of those the further I explore how people use language in everyday speech. For those of you, who actually read my blog, I have to admit that I have neglected to spend more time exploring these issues about language in my life, and those of others on my blog. I have been swamped by all of the demands my doctoral program requires of me, along with mommy-hood, and a part-time job.

So, for now, I turn the question to the readers, or those who happen to run into this blog: where is the controversy in Franglais, Singlish, or Spanglish?