As I read these articles, all I can think about is the missed opportunities of enrichment the system has forced our culture to trade for conformity.
Firstly, I’d like to begin by stating that the United States of America does not have a national language. English wasn’t declared as a national language until February 2017…no coincidence there.
These two articles had very similar takes on the issue of diversity in learning. While one article, “Teaching Writing in the Multilingual World” discusses the evolution of English as a second language courses and its development over the eras, the article “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” takes a look at the overall impact and value of multiliteracies in the social environment. This article argues that multiliteracies equips students with the skills to understand the broader spectrum of concepts and to achieve the following goals in their own lives: to gain access to the evolving language of work, power, and community as well as harness the engagement necessary to design their own futures and achieve success through fulfilling employment. This can be related to the goal of English as a Second Language programs, which is the same goal of education for all students, is to integrate and equip those who do not have English as a primary language with the “benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life.”
Growing up, my parents raised my sister and I to know Haitian Creole first. When I went to school, “yon pom” became an apple and suddenly Hawitian Creole became secondary to me. Now, this is no way to say that I suffered as an English language learner; my parents taught me both languages. It’s just that I learned Haitian Creole first and then English, but English was the only language I utilized most and Haitian Creole wasn’t valued. As a result, I lost a good chunk of what I could understand and speak in Haitian Creole…This makes me think of about a line in the article “Teaching Writing in a Multilingual World” : “it can allow second language writers to tap into the knowledge base they have already developed in another language.”
In schools, there is a lack of value for diversity. Sure, schools go the extra mile to include cultural books and diverse learning, but there is always an underlying tone that alludes to the idea of English being the superior language. In a sense, English has become a superior language but only in the respect that it’s a language taught and offered in almost every 1st world country, but it is not the only language. This issue is especially highlighted in books written by people who have learned English as a secondary language. The stark difference between an English language learner and an only English speaking person is their world view and relations of current events. We miss a major opportunity in expanding literacy when it comes to this field. As young children, we have an easier time learning languages (which is probably why my Aunt forced my baby cousin to watch Rosetta stone growing up…he can, however, speak Spanish and Chinese fluently); however, most language courses aren’t easily accessible to the public (meanwhile, learning English is free) which is faulty in the fact that by adulthood, it’s gets more difficult to learn new skills. It’s like trying to teach someone who has always written with their right hand how to write with their left hand. Though the experience is enriching either way, how much an individual can receive and interpret the concepts taught is still a matter of concern.
Just because you teach someone how to write with their left hand doesn’t mean they’ll know how to.