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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Teaching Multilingual Children

Similar to how many previous readings have done for me, I found myself seeing a situation in a completely different light from someone else's perspective when reading Aria, Richard Rodriguez.  I have dealt with many similar situations in my own classroom, with young children having difficulties learning to speak English because their family only speaks in their native language at home.  As a teacher, it can be frustrating to have a parent come in multiple times a week asking why their child is not excelling as quickly as others in learning English, when all they do is speak to the child in another language.  I had tried to explain to this parent that it is confusing and extremely hard for a young child who still simply learning their own language, to then learn to translate in their head to learn to speak and understand a new language.  However, while reading this article, I began to see it in a totally different way for the child and family.  The author made this situation feel so sad.  While they all seemed to learn and become more confident in the English language after speaking it at home, they were also not as happy and felt their family had changed, and it sounded heartbreaking.  I don't believe families should ever "abandon" their own language to the point where it is lost, but I can see the troubles with finding the balance with learning a new language, as well.

I actually wish I had waited to do my summaries and interview until after this week, because these readings would have been so perfect with who I interviewed, since she is teaching English to Spanish speakers in Spain and Costa Rica. 

The second reading, Teaching Multilingual Children, is a great reading for teachers who may be having the challenges I just mentioned above.  While the authors present many strategies and implementations for teachers, they also present two concepts: that teachers should be aware of the special kind of speech that mothers and fathers are automatically with their children, and try to emulate this, and that it is critical to be aware of the social and emotional factors which affect the second language learner.  This article presents many guidelines for teaching English to non-English speakers, and it really covers all of the topic that educators may need.  I actually ended up also sharing this with my friend who is teaching those children, because I know it will be very helpful for her as well, as experienced as she is now.  In addition, I printed a copy for my assistant who is still working in my previous classroom, because I know she also had a tough time understanding from the family's point of view when it came to teaching those children English.  This was a very important and helpful read for me. 

After speaking with my friend whom I am interviewing for this class, she sent me a link to her friend's blog that she is teaching with currently, that is unrelated this week, but I thought it was very interesting and really went along with a lot of what we talk about in this class.  Hence, I wanted to share it on my blog. It is all about how she is treated and perceived as a multiracial woman throughout all of her travels. Give it a read if you get a minute!


  1. Thanks for sharing Amanda! It must be hard to have conversations with parents of young emerging bilingual kids about learning and language, especially when parents only speak the native language. Sounds like a fine line to walk between making helpful suggestions and placing unfair pressure on the parent.

  2. I liked the blog that your friend put up and found it true about what she had said about racism even in Spain where I had seen it also. The Moroccans who were darker skinned and sold goods on the street like it was New York's Canal Street area. I also saw that they were looked down on by the way people would not even look their way while walking right by them. It is sad the way that some people treat others as your friend says, but not everyone is like that fortunately.

  3. I agree that after reading the article it opened my eyes to viewing the situation differently. We always have on our teacher hat that we somehow forget our "human" hat. Having the language conversation with families is difficult and finding a balance is so hard. I also agree that after reading it I felt sad for Richard and his family and how learning the language had changed them.

  4. Hi Amanda! Thanks for sharing about this article. It sounds interesting and I am intrigued enough to pick it up myself. Having taught English in Spain and now teaching ELLs in Brooklyn, it would be great to read further into it. Also, thank you for stopping by my site and sharing my post about traveling as a multiracial woman. I'm glad you enjoyed it!