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.