What languages other than English do you speak?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Languages and Dialects

It is clear that world history of colonialism, segregation/integration have influenced the languages spoken throughout the world. Language is one of the deepest legacies of colonialism.

Creole, for example, is a language of contact— Caribbean Creoles emerged mainly in the context of European colonization around the seventeenth century when millions of Africans were captured in Africa and transported to the Americas to work as slaves on Caribbean plantations.

Consider the possibility that the current low literacy rates in Haiti may be in part due to the fact that children in Haiti do not find a culturally relevant connection in their own schools, where the dominant perception is that French holds higher status and will be better used in the world. Imagine being expected to assimilate in your own home country!

The same power issues are prevalent in the US with regard to languages and dialects not STANDARD. Even those programs that attempt to teach children to speak English while respecting the child's own heritage, culture, and language are being slowly outlawed. After Prop 203 or UNZ initiative (called English for Children) in 2000, in which 63% of voters agreed that English immersion programs replaced bilingual education, academic achievement dropped. One of my students who taught in AZ during the time after the UNZ initiative reported that her students could not concentrate and talked about their fear of being stopped by police officers or having their parents deported.

Colonialism is still alive...

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