Which means that their teachers are gold, too! We must grow our own bilingual/bicultural/multilingual/multicultural teachers. No need to import them from other countries. Let's "outsource" from within.
Along these lines, teachers need to know about the Adelante! Conference (3rd annual) that is teacher-organized and run. Our teachers here in Central Texas are totally on fire. This year's lineup will be wonderful! Dr. Salinas will be presenting, alongside others. You can get the info you need from this website.
If you're a teacher, don't miss this opportunity for professional development and an opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow bilingual education/dual language teachers, too!
Rebecca Callahan, For the Express-News : January 31, 2015
Photo By LM Otero /Associated PressBilingual students, if their native languages are nurtured instead of squelched, become high-functioning employees in the 21st Century economy. Kindergarden students Gael Alvarado, left, Perla Ortiz, center, and Yahir Perez do school work in a bilingual English-Spanish class at Hanby Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas, in 2011.
Teachers frequently emphasize the importance of English above all else when they speak with immigrant parents. Even worse, many non-native English-speaking parents are told not to speak to their children in the language they know best, depriving them of their richest source of social, emotional and linguistic support.
The reality is that these parents who sign up their kids for dual-language kindergarten are onto something. They recognize what many teachers, principals and policymakers do not: Knowing two or more languages puts you at an advantage.
There are certainly significant social, psychological and cognitive benefits to being bilingual: higher test scores, better problem-solving skills, sharper mental acuity and greater empathy. Good for the individual, good for society.
But despite all we know, in the age of accountability and English-only laws, school districts across Texas continue to cut bilingual education. It’s almost as if educators and policymakers are blind to the advantages of bilingualism.
Economists, using census data, find little, if any, benefit to bilinguals’ earning power. However, census data is too blunt and too broad to understand the nuanced relationship between bilingualism and the economy.
We now have better measures of bilingualism and individuals’ ability to read and write in non-English languages. We also have measures of employers’ preferences as they enter the Information Age. In this era of global communications, companies rely more frequently on bilingual and biliterate employees to serve as liaisons with clients both local and global.
Currently, more than 20 percent of the U.S. population and 35 percent of Texans speak a non-English language, and many of these speakers are children. Our schools have the opportunity to ensure that potential bilinguals grow into bilingual, biliterate adults who are able to contribute to and participate in a stronger American economic base.
Following the horrible events of 9/11, the U.S. government found itself lacking in reliable Pashtun, Farsi and Arabic translators. Even though many U.S.-born children of immigrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran are educated in our schools, by young adulthood, they will lose their native languages. Until we change how schools approach languages other than English, the State Department will lose the potential of children of immigrants to translate and broker the two worlds for them.
Being bilingual doesn’t just benefit the individual; it benefits the community, the nation and ultimately, the economy. Not only are bilingual young adults more likely to graduate high school and go to college, they are also more likely to get a job once they interview and remain employed during layoffs.
Many of us intuitively grasp the cognitive, social and psychological benefits of knowing two languages. As a nation, we now need to recognize bilingualism’s economic benefits if we expect to remain a global leader into the next century.
Texas schools should help students maintain the home language — whether via bilingual instruction or encouraging the parents to develop their children’s home language skills.
As a K-12 educator, and now as a teacher of teachers, I assure you that immigrant children will learn English. Where we fail these children is in maintaining their greatest resource: their home language. It’s something we should cherish, not eradicate.
Rebecca Callahan is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin.