Educators, parents, and other community members around our state are thinking beyond monolingualism. On February 4, a group of us will convene at the University of Missouri to discuss what we need to move forward. “Like” us on FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/moduallanguage – and post your ideas: How can we support and develop the multiple languages and cultures of our communities and our kids? Updates will be posted on Twitter, too, for those who prefer that social media forum – https://twitter.com/lisamdorner!
There is a lot of research that demonstrates English-only and anti-immigrant rhetoric negatively affects the development of bilingual education programs for children from U.S. immigrant families. We know relatively less, though, about the development of language education programs that strive to develop bilingualism in mixed groups of students (including those from U.S.-born, English-dominant homes), so I designed a study on the creation of Spanish, French, and Mandarin language immersion schools in the Midwest. At one of these schools, I found that community members, parents, and educators alike valued bilingualism and global access as rights and resources for all students — a surprising find in a rather ‘English-only’ context! However, parents also chose specialized language programs for reasons that had little to do with multilingualism or future international interactions; they chose their schools because they wanted safe, socializing spaces for their young children. In a new project, I’m exploring similar questions about the rhetoric and reasons behind new language education policies in Japan. Stay tuned!