Edu-Wednesday: The Language of Love

Guest post by Reynaldo Macias (@ReynaldoMacias)

Todos los padres que yo conozco aman a sus hijos. Quieren que sus hijos vuelen con alas de oro, hasta vistas y montañas previamente no conocidas. And the best way to do that is bilingual education. Around the world, children are being educated in multiple languages, opening doors for them that they have yet to imagine.

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For immigrant parents in the United States, they most obviously want their young ones to learn English, in order to navigate the majority culture and access the corridors of opportunity, power and success. For wealthy or economically advantaged parents in these same United States, school visits and decisions often hinge upon which “foreign languages” their child will have exposure to, or the opportunity to learn.

Los Latinos, entonces, debemos aprovechar la oportunidad que tenemos, y demandar educación bilingüe para nuestros hijos. No estoy hablando de “spanglish”. In this instance, we are talking about re-enforcing literacy in the native language of Spanish, and in the language of power, English. We’re also not speaking of the segregation which has reemerged, in both Arizona and California, that places English Language Learners (predominantly Latinos in both cases), in separate and unequal classrooms where they fall further and further behind until they drop out.

A bilingual education is one that teaches both languages explicitly, and ensures literacy in both. While this may be a challenging notion, the purpose of education is to equip students with the tools necessary to succeed outside of the classroom. The mental agility necessary to learn both languages is a skill to be developed and practiced at school. The use of both languages consistently reinforces knowledge that will help them to navigate lives beyond campus. This inclusion and instruction of two languages is the norm in independent schools across the country.

Education in more than one language is a basic tenet of quality education that we need to adopt and demand of all our schools to set Latino children on the path to greater academic and future success. While some parents might be hesitant to confront this issue with the school administrators, it is imperative que los padres step up and speak up.

Bilingualism isn’t simply a benefit to be reserved to students fortunate enough to attend elite educational institutions. Being able to communicate in more than one language is becoming a gateway skill for success in the twenty-first century.

Standing up for our children and their learning, though, does teach them yet another language. Que mantengan el idioma de su familia, de su hogar, y que aprendan el idioma del poder en los Estados Unidos. Es un mensaje en el idioma más universal del mundo: el idioma del amor.

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