May 16, 2012

Dual Language Education

Earth boy

On May 15th, 2012, the Valley Morning Star’s front page featured an article by Travis M. Whitehead titled Schools adopt dual language program. The article is about the implementation of what is known as the Gomez and Gomez Dual Language Enrichment Model at a couple of Harlingen’s elementary schools. The joy I felt after reading the article motivated me to answer the online survey asking to vote YES or NO if you think this is a good idea. Once I submitted my YES vote, the results came up, and much to my surprise the NO’s had the lead; I was appalled.

The Spanish language ranks at number three in the list of top languages spoken around the world; preceded by Mandarin Chinese at number one and English at number two. Also, Spanish is one of only six official languages of the United Nations; the others are Arabic, Chinese, English, French and Russian.

Some may argue that most school-aged children of the Rio Grande Valley already speak Spanish; unfortunately, the Spanish spoken around the valley has developed more into what is known as Spanglish. Spanglish is slang and it is fine if spoken among friends and family, but Spanglish is NOT the language of business and trade.

Michelle Everett, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, was quoted by Reagan stating; “we have to make sure that students are prepared to compete in a global economy.” She also said that the school district is still trying to work out the details for introducing a third language. That is wonderful, I believe the sky is the limit; once the learning spark ignites, our kids are capable of reaching new heights.

Europeans develop multi language skills at an early age, why shouldn’t our children have the opportunity to do the same? The knowledge of different languages opens the door to a world of possibilities, not only at the professional level, but also at the cultural, and sociological level.  Why must the Mexican- American children of the Rio Grande Valley be confused, and possibly ashamed, when hearing comments about their native language being “the language of the ghettos,”? as stated by a well-known politician. Instead, they must know that Spanish is a member of the romance languages which derived from Latin; the language of the Roman Empire.  Why must the valley’s non-Spanish-speaking children limit their ability to reach out to millions of people?  Not to mention stripping both groups  from reading literary masterpieces by Cervantes, Quevedo, Garcia Lorca, Octavio Paz, and many, many more.

The Harlingen school district is not the first, nor is it the only one implementing this curriculum, which I must add, is optional and not required.  The Austin, Texas ISD has implemented this system in 11 elementary schools, while the Dallas ISD has 143 elementary schools enrolled. In the Valley, the Hidalgo and Pharr, San Juan, Alamo ISD’s have also implemented the Gomez and Gomez model to elementary, and middle schools’ curriculums.  I have included a link with all the interesting details, and the list of all the State’s participating ISD’s for those who are interested in finding out more about this program. Thankfully, and according to Shane Strubhart, Communications, KHGN, and Web Services Director for the HCISD, contrary to the results of the poll conducted by the Valley Morning Star,  a large number of people have expressed their support and appreciation for this project.

Congratulations to Dr. Steve Flores, Harlingen’s HCISD’s Superintendent, his staff, and the Board of Directors, for bestowing this great opportunity on the children of Harlingen, Texas. Hopefully, all Rio Grande Valley public schools will consider dual language, and multi-language education programs in the near future.  Everybody will come out a winner.

What do you think?

Link to the Gomez and Gomez site http://dlti.us/3.html

The featured photograph came from the following link  http://blogs.furman.edu/com121_02fall2010/tag/foreign-language/

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About the Author

Nydia O
A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.-Maya Angelou. La Vida Valle is where I write about "la vida" my life in the Rio Grande Valley. From this bi-cultural corner on the tip of Texas, I share my poems and my spiritual and travel experiences. I also blog about the arts, nature and my passion for historic preservation and architecture. But most importantly, let's talk about "la vida" - living our lives - in a vacation state of mind. Contributions and comments are always welcome .

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