Are Non-Native Speakers Supported in Schools and in the Communities? (by Jaimie Scroggins)

 

I am the first one to go to college in my family. What I have learned is that nothing is more important than one’s education and being able to be well rounded and informed. When I think of the word “discrimination,” I think of the word “foolishness.” Discrimination can come in all shapes and sizes. A trend here in America, is language discrimination. I am an advocator of all of the things that make people who they are: ethnicity, religion, political party, and their language; I believe everyone is unique and they have the right to make their own choices.

Language discrimination has been going on since the beginning of time here in the U.S. Early settlers wanted the Native Americans and Mexicans to assimilate and speak English. In the article, Teaching practices for ESL students, Ellen Curtin informs us that, “In United States, up until the early 1970s, was one of ‘sink or swim’ policy with students having to assimilate as quickly as possible with no language support or transitional period in their own native language.” This only created very difficult times for non-native speakers.

In the article, “Stimulating and Enhancing Student Learning Through Positive Emotion,” it explains how research has demonstrated that the experiencing positive emotions frequently can help in with one’s well-being.  “The findings indicate that the experience of positive emotions in the classroom is positively related to student motivation as well as behaviors that are likely to lead to academic success, such as studying, attending class, participating in classroom discussions, and performing additional activities outside of class to enhance understanding (Williams).”Having a positive learning experience will help the ESL students feel supportive and thrive in their studies.

In 1974 the Lau vs. Nichols court case was the landmark case that initiated the beginnings of English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms as well as bilingual education as it is today. Now, immigrant and non-English-speaking students are able to go to classrooms and have teachers that can help them immerse into the English speaking classes (Curtin, Ellen). ESL classes and teachers are very supportive of the ESL students. But we need the whole community to be supportive, not only a few people who they can trust.

The past few months I was able to volunteer for an elementary school. I helped in the classrooms focusing my attention with the ESL students. I was able to accomplish a lot with these students. I even helped translate a little. It is obvious that a lot of these students need a little extra help. Speaking Spanish or another language in the house then going to an English speaking school can be tough and stressful.

In the article, “An ESL child’s emergent literacy development,” Luisa Arujla observed an ESL student named Melissa. “Melissa’s insufficient knowledge of oral language did not preclude her from advancing her reading and writing knowledge. Indeed, knowledge of the features of print helped Melissa to revise her hypothesis about how oral language works.” Although, Melissa pronounced some words wrong, when she started to read she was able to start learning how to pronounce the words correctly. She also was able to piece everything together in her head to make sense, using flashcards, studying, etc. The main point is that she was doing well in school, even though she was a non-native English speaker.

This past term in college I took a Chicano/Latino Studies class. Though, I had some idea about what I was getting myself into, I had no idea about the depth of what I would be learning. I dislike hearing “foolish” people say how the Spanish language is taking over our nation. After taking this class my thoughts were only confirmed with facts. There were Natives and Mexicans in this country before any settlers set foot here. Mexico used to claim California, New Mexico, Arizona, part of Texas, etc. But after fighting the U.S. won and claimed these territories. Considering this was non-English speaking land before the U.S. took it over, we should support the language and cultural decisions of Latino’s, Chicano’s, Hispanics, immigrants, etc.

America is made up of many different people, with all sorts of backgrounds, who are from all over the world. ESL students should be supported through all of their learnings. They should never be looked down upon. They go to school where they are supposed to speak English, but they are still only learning it. Non-natives speakers should be encouraged to remain bilingual, especially in public schools. We need to raise awareness about the value of staying close with one’s background and culture. Raising awareness would help the communities understand these children are people and should not be discriminated but instead, applauded. After raising awareness ESL students would feel supported by their schools and their communities.

 

 

 

Work Cited

 

Araujo, Luisa. “An ESL child’s emergent literacy development.” Academic Exchange Quarterly Summer

2002: 167+. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=

GALE%7CA89970456&v=2.1&u=pcc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=d0298c29fb424f4b945d8441b72d780d>.

 

 

Curtin, Ellen. “Teaching practices for ESL students.” Multicultural Education 12.3 (2005): 22. Academic

OneFile. Web. 12 June 2014. <http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA13

0276337&v=2.1&u=pcc&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=46418cfbc2d9351d536aede51d0dae7c>.

 

 

Williams, Kim H., Carla Childers, and Elyria Kemp. “Stimulating And Enhancing Student Learning Through

Positive Emotions.” Journal Of Teaching In Travel & Tourism 13.3 (2013): 209-227. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 June 2014.<http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.pcc.edu/ehost/

detail?vid=5&sid=4b38df3e-ca9c-4d33-b53e-c626798dfaa7%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4107&b

data=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=89552205>.

 

 

 

 

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