BH&H (Language in the Classroom)

Language is important for communication, learning, and understanding. In BH&H there are a few sections that discuss which languages should be used inside of a classroom and what to do with those students that have a different primary language.

The language that should be established as primary use for a classroom should be which language is most important to the country. In the United States, schools should teach English. In Mexican schools they would teach spanish.

In schools that have a high concentration of students that come from a different background and have a different first language, the students need an option to be able to speak their own language, but be able to learn the one they need to learn. BH&H made the point, when a student’s first language is not the same as the language that the school speaks, they take classes that submerge the students into the desired language. They are taught english and practice, but if they are stuck on diction they are allowed to ask for help in their main language. That is only in cases of emergency.

My thoughts are, if we are teaching students to speak english, shouldn’t we be encouraging them to teach us their language in return? I imagine a school where english is THE language and a new student only speaks spanish. He will be taught to speak english, but I feel that might be a little insensitive. In the act of asking them to speak a different language, there is hope of that becoming the primary language. It is difficult to lose a language that has been with a student since birth, but if they rarely speak in their primary language for the rest of their lives, that takes a piece of their culture away from them.

On a different section of the same chapter in BH&H, there is a discussion where children openly accept new students, but that only happens if the students believe that the new member can conform into the social norm. Children are unaware of this, but they will accept new people in hopes of fitting them into the norms. They will befriend the student and unknowingly use the power of social conformity to change the new students dress-code, eating habits, language, and eventually the culture.

I find that interesting because it is something that we, as humans, are do when we are unaware. However, when we are aware of our acceptingness, we need to help the newcomer uphold their heritage and culture.

4 thoughts on “BH&H (Language in the Classroom)”

  1. Thank you for mentioning that we should be learning their language as well. I have been wondering if anyone else thought that and if it was ok…I’m all about learning new things and I strongly believe everyone can learn something from anyone. Great points and thank you for validating some things I have been thinking about!

  2. I think it might be a little unrealistic to believe that students actually learn a new language if only a handful of other students speak it. However, if it is a minority language that many other students at a school speak, then maybe we can talk about going in that direction.

    However, I definitely believe we can focus on letting minority cultures uphold their cultural selves as much as they wish to. Forced conformity, whether overt or subtle, should always be pointed out and discouraged.

  3. Mason,
    As a teacher, I would really welcome the idea that ELLs would teach us their language in return for us teaching them. I feel like that would not only be a good opportunity for the teacher to learn a language that they may not know, but also an opportunity for the student to feel important. They are having the opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge with someone who may not know. It kind of empowers the student in a way. I also feel that it may increase the strength of the bond with the student and the teacher.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Joe

  4. Yo, i liked your thoughts on language – I’ve heard a few stories now of schools that have tried something closer to what you explained. It seems more sensitive, and probably more likely to succeed, if you give students opportunities to express themselves in their native tongue instead of forcing them to cope. I always remember all the students of different backgrounds never being in certain classes because they had ELL – but the rest of us who spoke English were not required to learn an ounce of language until high school. I actually like the idea of supporting the local languages, if they exist, as a language to teach. They may be locally isolated, but learning a language of the land you live in seems really valuable to me.

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