Tag: bilingual education


I was in the first generation of kids who grew up with Sesame Street. Even at a young age, I recognized how rare it was to see fellow Latinos on television, much less a happily married, well-adjusted couple like Maria and Luis.

I wasn’t even traumatized when Grover would get all quiet, lean in to whisper to a little Hispanic child, and then start shouting and waving his spindly arms around. Seriously, he did that a lot.

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Think Different

According to many sources, Dr. Carlos do Amaral Freire can speak more languages — 115 — than anyone alive. But before you feel too intimidated, keep in mind that the professor is fluent in a mere 30 or so.

One has to wonder how balancing all those verb tenses and irregular conjugations has affected his mind (although as we know, people who speak multiple languages have more agile brains). In fact, there is some evidence that the languages we speak influence the very way we think.

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Flunking Out

Certain concepts are so ingrained in the American character that we rarely question them. Among them is the idea that we’re tops in everything. We’re “the greatest country in the world.”

But the truth is that, in many ways, we’re far from the greatest. When it comes to education, for example, we’re average at best.

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Great News for Your Brain

It’s good to be bi.

Wait, let’s try that intro again. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m not sufficiently bilingual to be dazzling all the time and avoid slip-ups, malapropisms, and brain freezes. In fact, if I spoke Spanish better, I would be a lot more confident of fighting off Alzheimer’s as I get older.

At least that’s the conclusion of “neuroscience researchers [who] are increasingly coming to a consensus that bilingualism has many positive consequences for the brain.”

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A Paradox

Recently, I wrote about the smoldering embers of the bilingual education debate. For decades, conservatives and progressives have been arguing about the best way to educate immigrant children.

The debate means little, however, to those Americans who are convinced that all those tiny Juans and Marias have dragged down public education. Immigrant kids, many people claim, are perpetual underachievers and a drain on the system.

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A Forgotten Issue?

Whatever happened to the controversy over bilingual education? I don’t mean that the topic has gone away or been resolved.

However, with all the hysteria over immigration and assimilation and undocumented Latinos stealing our jobs… well, it just seems like the debate over the best way to educate immigrant children with poor English skills has been rendered quaint.

Perhaps this is because English-immersion appears to be the de facto winner. Teaching immigrant kids in their native language seems to be a 1970s concept — like gun control and no-nuke rallies — that failed to accomplish much.

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