Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Theory Connection #2

“Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language...teachers should be aware of the special kind of speech that mothers and fathers use automatically with their children” (223-224).

In "Teaching Multilingual Children," Virginia Collier says that educators need to encourage and embrace diversity in the classroom rather than forcing one language (English) and one culture. By using a child's first language, they slowly find ways of learning cultural appropriate patterns, this is why Collier says a teacher should not eliminate the first language in a classroom.

Practice Example
Cris, a five year old student whose first language is Spanish, has a hard time understanding demands in English. The teachers were struggling trying to figure out what would help him actively engage him to pay attention. When he misbehaved, the teachers would explicitly tell him not to do what he was not supposed to do but he would not listen. A couple weeks into school, the teachers discovered that Cris focuses when he is told, “Papao” after misbehaving in the classroom. “Papao” is a discipline Hispanic parents use when a child misbehaves. This is said with a gentle smack on the hand or on the bum. This gesture is a reminder of any wrongdoing that they do. The teachers use this discipline to keep Cris focused. 

So what?
Collier would also be excited to see that Mrs. Santaniello and the other teacher assistants in her classroom for using this child's first language to help the children learn a second language. Since Cris is still learning English, he does not know what is right and wrong in the classroom and most definitely does not understand. When he was once rolling around the rug and avoiding to do his assignment, Grandma said "papao!" and he stopped, looked at her and touched his bum! Using Cris's first language will help him correct his own mistakes over time. 

Other connections
In "Aria", Richard Rodriguez says, "it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom" (34). Richard did not have a professor who accepted his first language in his classroom. Luckily in my service learning classroom, Mrs. Santaniello allows it which is what Richard wish he had.

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