Promoting Expansive Learning through Two Languages: What Bilingual Children Teach Us
Dr. Carmen Martínez-Roldán
In this presentation, Dr. Martínez-Roldán will share findings from her work with primary-grade bilingual children as they learn science through two languages in an inquiry- and multimodal-based curriculum in two bilingual classrooms. Examples of bilingual children’s work and interactions in Spanish, English and Mandarin around the topic of ecosystems will be presented. The analysis of these interactions show how language learning can be promoted as emergent bilingual students engage in science practices while, at the same time, content learning can be supported through the use of more than one language, through multimodal literacies, and through horizontal learning.
Shifting the Discourse from Deficit to Difference
Dr. Gigi Luk
In many schools across the U.S., children who speak a minority language are tasked with learning new knowledge in English, which is their second, developing language. These children's learning outcome, when compared with their English proficient peers, is often described as inferior. Furthermore, children from linguistically diverse backgrounds were also disproportionately represented in special education. The academic achievement gap between children with different levels of English proficiency is complex. Critically, what are the considerations to identify atypical learning mechanisms for children from diverse language backgrounds? In this talk, I will explore education, psychology, and neuroscience research on language diversity, academic achievement, and special education consideration. Taking an interdisciplinary approach in this discussion is necessary to shift the emphasis on performance deficits by recognizing and harnessing children’s strength to enrich learning. Going beyond recognizing language diversity in schools, this shift in emphasis is necessary to embrace language diversity in U.S. schools by providing equitable access to academic knowledge for children who speak a minority language and designing linguistically sensitive pedagogy for all children.
No Child Left Monolingual: Why and How the U.S. Should Become More Linguistically Diverse
Dr. Kim Potowski
The U.S. has always been a linguistically diverse nation, but the overall climate usually discourages and sometimes outright discriminates against the use of non-English languages. The grandchildren of immigrants often don’t speak their grandparents’ language anymore, which squanders the wonderful resource of hundreds of non-English languages spoken in communities across the U.S. In addition, overall we don’t do a great job teaching foreign languages to monolingual English-speakers. This talk explores several myths about languages in the U.S. and presents arguments and strategies that favor promoting multilingualism among our population.