Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, August 18th, 2011

LANGUAGE BARRIERS

Too many revel in blockheaded prejudice: It's embarrassing that people all over Europe know at least two languages, while ignorant Americans thump their chests about how great English is to the exclusion of learning anything else ("Spanish Dip," Amy Silverman, August 4).

Adults who know more than one language have definite advantages, particularly in business. You'd think that alone would overcome this blockheaded prejudice, but, unfortunately, far too many Americans revel in it.

The reason for targeting language-immersion programs to the very young is that the younger kids are, the easier they acquire language. Hello!
Lydia Jane Cypher, Phoenix

Programs a step in the right direction: My two children attended a full-day Spanish-immersion program at their previous elementary school in another state.

My son, now in fifth grade, speaks fluent Spanish without an accent, and his language-arts skills in English are excellent. Learning a second language early in life enhances children's metalinguistic skills, expands their worldviews.

We can't turn back the clock; the reality is that Spanish-speakers, including many educated people who entered the United States legally, are soon going to be a majority in this country, and we need to address the implications from a practical, non-defensive standpoint.

Spanish-immersion programs are a great step in this direction.
Anne Hickling, Phoenix

Prop 203 was a disaster: As the parent of an Anglo child who spent seven years in a fantastic dual-language school in the Creighton district from 1998 through 2005, I can attest to the success of this type of learning.

There was a majority minority population in the school, and the children learned English at a much higher rate than kids in immersion programs. Also, by sixth grade, test scores were equal for native and non-native English speakers.

Proposition 203 did more to undo successful English learning for second-language students than anything else in this state.

At the time, people thought we were crazy to put our daughter through a dual-language program, but all the credible education research proves it's the best way to learn and promote brain development. Today, our daughter, in college now, is fluent in three languages and relates to her peers from other cultures in a way that ambassadors would envy.

All children deserve a good education. Unfortunately, Arizona has decided that only white kids are worthy.
Amy Carlisle, Phoenix

What's there to lose by learning Spanish?: Despite comments made [in this] article, Spanish isn't and shouldn't be about race. It is the most-spoken Indo-European language after English, and I think the logical second language of any English speaker.

There is a lot to gain from learning Spanish — and I don't see what [there is] to lose. I wish I had been taught it at a young age.

People all over the world speak English. Most Europeans speak it. Most countries in the world will try to speak English to accommodate you. You can refuse to speak Spanish all you like, but don't pretend you're gaining something by doing so.
Zach Henry, Phoenix

Steve loves tacos!!: I disagree with your headline stating that Arizona is a "Mexican-bashing" state. We are bashers of illegal aliens, and that's a big difference.

Now, it's true that most [Latinos] living in Arizona came here illegally — and should be deported immediately, whether or not they have cheated their way into green cards or citizenship — but this doesn't mean we don't love Mexican culture (including the food). You liberals just don't get it!
Steve Parker, Peoria

If it walks like a duck, Jeffrey: My question is, why perpetuate [Arizona's reputation as anti-Mexican]? Would you not want to change that?

The article would have been just fine without adding anything else to it. Let the reader make a judgment as to whether citizens of Arizona are against immigrants.

[Was your] whole point to instill or perpetuate that stigma of racist Arizona?
Jeffrey Eckendorf, Tempe

Bet Robert lives in a gated community: Illegal-immigrant-"bashing" actually is the correct term. Arizona has nothing against Arizona citizens who happen to be [native] Spanish [speakers].
Robert Williams, Phoenix

 
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3 comments
David Alvarado
David Alvarado

I was intrigued by the article. A lot of great information, yet , I felt it was missing the point. The approach to teaching children a second or third language should not be reserved for only the priviledged- it should be for everyone. The one area in the article about how the school "tests" kids in their English skills to be selected into the program is actually discriminatory in practice. It is again- segregating those that don't have fluency in English from entering the program, but isn't it contradicting what public education is attempting to correct? That being- equality in learning. The best approach would have been to allow 50% "Spanish Experts" (those children who do not have English fluency yet) to integrate them with 50% "English Experts " (those children who do not have Spanish fluency yet) at a mix of close to 50/50 in the classroom. This way the teacher is not only the role model for proper Spanish pronunciation and vocabulary, but the "Spanish Experts" also feel valued for their expertise. As they (Spanish Experts) progress through the grade levels- the intensity and gradual introduction of English curriculum at the upper levels will allow the Spanish Experts to pick up on their English skills and there will be the "English Experts" to also aide with proper pronunciation of English and vocabulary. Of course, I am assuming the teachers are also modeling that if they only teach in Spanish - they cannot be heard speaking English (unless of course they are the English-only expert teaching at the higher levels; similar to teachers who teach at the high school level- they all have their respective classes they are trained to teach and that is what they teach in all day). Lastly, this also brings up the issue of using tax-payer dollars in a more efficient way- utilize teachers that have Spanish degrees at the elementary instead of wasting tax dollars in the high school where most students will ever become fluent in Spanish- let alone remember what they learned in Spanish in high school other than grammar that is from Spain and is rarely used in the states among Spanish-Speakers (similar to US Citizens speaking American English instead of English from England). Thanks for listening.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot

Steve Parker complains about most "latinos living in Arizona came here illegally". WTF?!?! Do you know that most latinos actually living in Arizona WERE HERE BEFORE YOU AND YOUR ILK GOT HERE! STFU!

 
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