During my undergraduate career, a few of my classes addressed how bilingualism can be supported in the classroom and the unique challenges that bilingual education has faced in the US. The passing of the Bilingual Education Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968, 2015) intended to champion the cause of providing educational opportunities to emergent bilingual students that not only supported academic success in English but also the maintenance of the home language of the student. This was faced by opposition from people who believed that teaching languages other than English went against American values of assimilation, and as a result many students continued to go without English education resources. Now schools are required by U.S. law to ensure that children have access to English education that allows them a meaningful school experience (Lau v Nichols, 1974), and bilingual education remains a hotly-debated solution to the issue of providing meaningful English education to emergent bilingual students. Translanguaging takes an approach that would have made opponents of the Bilingual Education Act curl their toes; the idea of Translanguaging is to utilize a student’s entire range of linguistic resources in order to help them grow as scholars, languagers, and in their own identities.
Recently I watched two really exciting TED talks about education, so I thought I'd share them here for you all!
Mainstream math has a lot to do with language.
Many people believe that math and language don't have much in common - that math should be easy for an Emergent Bilingual student because it's some kind of "universal language". Contrary to what Cady Heron would have you believe, the language we use to do mathematics varies greatly across languages and cultures, and that language is key to understanding and being able to create links between concepts in mathematics (Schleppegrell, 2007). While emergent bilingual students do face a variety of unique challenges in a mainstream math classroom, there are several things that a teacher (even one untrained in ESL practices) can do to make the learning experience better for the whole class.