Sure, I’m Dick Tucker, Tucker, I’m a in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Melan University in Pittsburgh.
Applied linguistics, from my standpoint, um, has a great deal to do with education. Um, I came to applied linguistics as someone who was interested in solving problems. And I think applied linguistics is relevant, in that it asks us to bring the techniques, a, the methods, the approaches, the lines of inquiry, that we learn from our interest in language and how language works, to trying to solve problems of a social equity, problems of educational development and so on. Um, so in many parts of the world a, applied linguistics and applied linguists make a, direct contributions to the improvement of education, and educational opportunity for youngsters. Um, I think it’s directly relevant um, many people work in other areas. But a, applied linguistics, at least in North America, got its origin about fifty years ago, um, with a concern for improving the quality of language learning and language teaching.
I think the field is much broader now, a, the field of applied linguistics is much broader than it was a, fifty years ago, it’s probably much broader than it was even twenty years ago, um and you can see that in terms of participation in national organizations like: The American Association for Applied Linguistics. We a, began as an organization in 1978, we had about sixty members, possibly one hundred members, a, we held our first conference in Boston together with the Linguistic Society of America, and in one sense there were a group of people who were interested in applied issues, interested in application, interested in improving language learning, language teaching, interested in understanding language learning, language teaching, um, and they found that some of the discussions with in the linguistic society were a bit too theoretical, um, not enough concerned with solving real, you know, problems, and so we broke off and formed um, a separate association um, and from those beginnings in 1978 um, you see today, a, at a conference in Saint Lewis, Missouri, for example, which is the most recent conference of the organization. There are about a thousand participants attending the conference, and the total membership of the organization is about fourteen hundred. So we’ve grown in number, we’ve grown in diversity. If you look at the program you see the program ranging all the way from issues of language learning, language teaching, to language assessment, to discourse analysis, to language policy, to um, many things in between. Um, the other good thing, from my perspective, that one looks at the growth of the field of applied linguistics, is that of the fourteen hundred, plus or minus, current members of The American Association for Applied Linguistics, um, slightly more than four hundred of them are student members. And I think that’s a wonderful development.
When we think about the situation with respect to language education, bilingual education, particularly around the world, and try to examine the situation in other places in relationship to our own circumstances here in the United States, um, a couple of things come immediately to mind. Um, the first is that, when one looks world wide um, something that we in the United States often times lose sight of is the fact that there are many, many, many more individuals world wide who are bilingual or multi-lingual than are monolingual. A, secondly, there are many, many, many more individuals around the world who go to school for some or all of their education, um, in an second or later acquired language or some mixture of bilingual or multi-lingual education. Um, we live in a somewhat um, obscure corner of the world, if you will, where we have come to believe that monolingualism or monolingual education is normative a, when in fact, it’s really quite exceptional and bilingual education or multi-lingual education is really normative. When one looks at experiences around the world and tries to bring them to bear on the United States a, again, what I think one sees in many places is that innovative approaches to language education, when carefully and thoughtfully implemented, produce children who have a world of opportunities opened to them because they have the language facility and the language flexibility to be able to draw on diverse repertoires, to be able to engage in diverse worlds of work, to be able to communicate with different peoples in the language of their choices and so on. Um, when we look at the report that was done by David Gradall(?), a for the British Council a few years ago, um, whether you believe the specific details or not, the general message of the report is clear. And that is um, that anywhere from thirty to fifty years from now um, you’re going to, of necessity, to be able to be a full and functioning and participating a, member of society need to have facility in your own language, you-your first language, and in at least one of, and preferably more than one of, a, five other languages: English, Hindi, Spanish, um, a, Chinese or Arabic. Um, and so when one looks world wide, policies in countries other than the United States, really seem to be bent on encouraging the development of bilingual, if not multi-lingual, skills in their citizens, and a, in our situation, a seems to be really quite the opposite. We don’t seem to value language as either a natural or a national resource, a, and it would seem that over the long run, a, with the increasing globalization, with the increasing communication, with diverse others, with the change in the workplace from an agricultural to a manufacturing to a service economy, that literacy, innumeracy, problem solving, decision making skills become critically important, and one has to have the ability to communicate in more than one language. (Metal clinking sound) And I think we need to learn from the experiences of other communities.
It’s really interesting to speculate about why we seem too different in other countries in our a, increasing focus on mono-lingualism and a, as opposed to embracing bilinguality and bilingualism. Um, when we go back and we think about the roots, the origins, of the country, um, it’s interesting to me to think about the fact that; at the time of Confederation, the population of the um-a-the a percentage of a, the German speaking population, was approximately equal to the pop-a-the percentage of today’s Spanish speaking population. So anywhere between nine and ten percent of the population was German speaking. Um, if you look at the founding fathers, um, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, other people, a fluent bilinguals, a, individuals who were, in fact, committed to, not only English, but to languages other than English. Um, Thomas Jefferson, one of the strongest proponents of teaching other languages affectively, and of course the work that he did in the state of Virginia in founding a, the university there, um, led to the establishment of a first, rigorous, modern languages curriculum in which the teaching of European languages were encouraged in addition to Latin and Greek. So if we look at the origins we see an emphasis on um, foreign language study, bilingualism, and so on. If you trace the early days of public education in the United States you see an interest in innovative language teaching, you see bilingual schooling as a part of the normal pattern of public education for youngsters. Um, our American Association for Applied Linguistics annual meeting was held in St. Louis a, in a, February of 2001, interesting to know that St. Louis um, used to be a hot bed of teaching German and German bilingual schools and so on. My own sense, when one looks at patterns of demography and changes, is that there was a, a profound change around the time of World War I, and if we look at patterns of enrollment in foreign languages we notice that languages, such as German, but not exclusively a, restricted to German, plunged from anywhere to twenty to thirty to forty percent of all elementary schools students, or secondary school students, studying languages in addition to English, down to a miniscule four percent, five percent and so on. And I think that there was probably some type of xenophobia associated with the First World War um, and I think we never recovered from that, in some sense. Um, we went through a very dark period um, in which states, such as Nebraska for example, um, explicitly banned the teaching of foreign languages as a part of the public education system. And there was a-um-a landmark Supreme Court decision, Myers versus um a, Nebraska, in which the Supreme Court intervened and said no, no, no. Um, schools have got to be allowed to teach foreign languages as part of the curriculum. Um, but in a sense, we never really recovered um, and so we then went through a period from the 1920’s into the 1950’s when foreign languages really declined, a, foreign language teaching declined in the U.S., a, there was a brief resurgence associated, ironically, with the launching of Sputnik and Congress enacted the National Defense Education Act which was intended to stimulate the teaching of mathematics and science in the United States, but indeed, um, some of the a, legislatures tacked on provisions um, by which the a-a, the a legislation could be used to enhance the training of teachers of foreign languages, the expansion of foreign language programs, and so for a brief period in the fif-late ‘50’s, 1960’s, again there was attention to um, innovative language teaching. Um, but the programs didn’t seem to work, they didn’t seem to be very well implemented, the results weren’t very good and people became disillusioned. Um, probably a lot more complicated than that, but um, it’s, it’s something a, from which we never really recovered. Um, I think the perhaps xenophobia um, also played a roll in terms of reactions of people in the United States, to the large scale waves of immigration in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s, when we were faced with literally millions of newcomers, very different from us, in terms of a, race, in terms of ethnic origin, in terms of language, in terms of um, racial composition and a, a variety of factors, and, and I think people were afraid a, for their jobs, they were afraid economically. Um, for some reason, rather than seeing these waves of immigration as opportunities, um, there was a bit of resistance, and I think that led as well to a, a decline in the interest of teaching or learning languages, and we’ve, we’ve just never recovered.
When one looks at the various kinds of educational alternatives that are available, um, for youngsters from diverse backgrounds, one sees things that range all the way from um, a, an ESL program, which might be a pull-out program, where a teacher brings children out of a mainstream class to work with her during a period of the day a, to some type of content based ESL, to a bilingual program, to a submersion program, there are a variety of models available. Um, and in, and in one sense, um, I think it’s fair to say that separate modals might best be thought of as being used appropriately but differentially depending upon the sociolinguistic makeup of, and composition of the school or of the classroom and so on. Um, so, for example, while I myself happen to be a proponent of bilingual education, and particularly if one can think in today’s parlance of two-way bilingual programs, or dual immersion programs where you have um, bilingual opportunities that bring together children from diverse backgrounds in the same classroom, let’s say Spanish and English, um, it’s the case in many schools in North America-in many schools in the United States, um, that a teacher at a particular grade level might be faced with a class of twenty-seven youngsters who speak fourteen different languages. And in a setting like that it’s really not feasible to think about um, effectively mounting a bilingual education program. Um, my, my own daughter um, is an ESL teacher in a public school in the state of Maryland and she’s um, works, happens to work in the local educational agency um, in which, um, a, approaches that involve ESL as opposed to bilingual education um, are, a, appropriate, desirable, pedagogically effective, um, in certain of the schools because of the multiplicity of language backgrounds from which youngsters come. On the other hand, if one has a concentration of youngsters who share a common mother tongue other than English, then it certainly makes sense to think about trying to implement some type of bilingual program, because one can take advantage of the values of introducing children to literacy, of introducing them to content instruction in their own language and gradually adding English to their repertoire. Um, so it really, I think from my perspective, what type of model one would choose, whether a so called traditional ESL program, or some type of bilingual program, or two-way bilingual program, in large measure depends upon the socio-linguistic con-context or the makeup of the community in which a, in which the children live. Um, not always that easy because in some cases where the socio-linguistic makeup would say; well it’s possible to do ‘x’, policy makers don’t necessarily agree that it would be desirable to do that.
OK. Um that’s a little bit complex um, when one thinks about the variety of educational options that are available, because people, on some occasions, talk about immersion education, some cases they talk about bilingual education, and so on. Some people tend to use the terms interchangeably um, and some make distinctions, but it gets a little confusing. Um, I had the good fortune, about twenty-five years, I had the good fortune about thirty-five years ago now, to a, work with a Professor Wallace Lambert in um, Montreal, Canada, where we, um, were associated with the implementation and evaluation of a so called French Immersion Program. Um, that program has been often times referred to as an immersion program or a French Immersion program, the parents and the school board refer to as-it as a bilingual education program. Um, but in one sense, the parlance got picked up in the United States, um, in that particular case there were a group of parents um who were determined that their children should have an opportunity to add the second official Canadian language, French. A group of English parents who decided that their student a, the-their children should have an opportunity to add the second language, French, to their repertoire. They were dissatisfied that children could to through the traditional educational system and graduate and not be functionally bilingual in both English and French, and they thought there might be a better way to do it. And that ‘better way’, in quotation marks, turned out to be what essentially became, um, a bilingual education program over a number of years in which children had an opportunity to study French language arts, English language arts, content material in French, content material in English, a, and to do so for a long and extended sequence of time, and ultimately develop facility in both languages. Um, in the United States um, a distinction is sometimes made between bilingual education programs and immersion programs. In some of the early literature, at least, bilingual education programs in the United States have been talked about in terms of traditional bilingual education programs in which children who speak a language other than English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, would come to school, would receive their early training, literacy, content material, in the native language, in the indigenous language, and then have English gradually added to the repertoire, but then at a certain point, make a transition away from the mother tongue and be an-educated exclusively in English. In some cases, um, which are referred to as maintenance bilingual programs, the use of the moth-the native language would be sustained and would continue. Not just for three years and then a transition, but would be sustained throughout the elementary years or even into the secondary years. Um, the term ‘immersion’ is sometimes used in two ways. Sometimes the term immersion, in the United States, is used in a way that we might onl-almost think of as submersion. So, Spanish speaking children or Korean speaking children or Philippino speaking children would be ‘immersed’ or would be ‘submerged’ in a sink or swim type approach in which, from day one, they would be instructed completely in English in , from my perspective, worse possible scenario, with no instruction in the mother tongue what-so-ever, and no ESL instruction. They would just be thrown in with English counterparts and the wish would be expressed that they do well. Um, and I think that it’s this situation that one really worries about, particularly given the political context today in which um, there are a lot of pressures a, in states like California, or Arizona, perhaps in a, Utah, um, a, increasing pressures in New York, Massachusetts, and other places, to eliminate bilingual education and to move into so called English immersion programs, but they’re not the types of immersion programs that we worki-that we were working with in Canada, because those programs were really what, in the United States, would be referred to as bilingual education programs. Long answer, um, probably the nuggets related to that would be that a distinction is really made between some type of program which takes a child who’s not an English speaker and thrusts her into a one hundred percent English instructional program and provides her with no support what-so-ever. Worse possible case, she would neither get support in her mother tongue, nor would she get support in ESL. Um, called immersion, sometimes called submersion, um, I think that everything that we know about a child’s educational, social, cognitive development suggests that this would be the least desirable way to educate her. Um, but there are a variety of options, if we have um, opportunities, if we have trained teachers and resources um, different from submersion, that should be explored.
The mim-a-a-the-a distinction, I think, should be made with respect to going back to the so-called immersion programs in Canada. A, it’s important to understand that the immersion programs in Canada, are really programs that we in the United States would refer to as: maintenance bilingual programs. That is, they’re programs that do provide support, that provide um, instruction, that provide sustenance, that provide opportunities for the children to study, to develop literacy skills, to develop cont-to acquire content material, in both of their languages, English and French, in this particular case.
When we think about some of the common threads of successful bilingual programs and then think about some of the things that mainstream teachers should have in mind, seems to me that there’s one common misconception um, that everyone should have in mind. And that is that; based upon the research, based upon what we know about how children learn, how children acquire information and so on, that when children spend time developing literacy skills, when children spend time acquiring content, so to speak, learning mathematical concepts, developing science concepts, in the native language, that time isn’t wasted. And there’s been a lot of research that’s been done on so-called ‘transfer of training,’ and we know that transfer occurs. And so if children learn to read, for example, in Spanish, their mother tongue, they don’t, as it were, have to go back and learn to read all over again. It’s simply, they know how to read now and they’re mapping a new code onto new symbols and so on. If they acquire basic mathematical skills, computational skills, in terms of adding and subtracting and dividing and multiplying and so, they don’t have to learn basic skills all over again, if they’ve acquired them in one language, as they move into another language, that information transfers. If we as adults read material in our second language or our third language, if we’re traveling someplace and we um, read about the history of St. Louis, as I was reading when we went to St. Louis for the American Association for Applied Linguistics, a, one could pick up a pamphlet and read that information in French, on in Spanish, or in German, um, and we wouldn’t have to go back and read that information all over again in English in order to know how St. Louis was founded, to know facts about the westward expansion, and so on. So the concept of transfer is really an important one, and a good bilingual education program takes, as it’s starting point, the fact that children will learn best and will make initial progress most rapidly, when they’re confronted with a language with which they’re familiar. So, if we introduce children to schooling in a language that they understand, the process of helping them to acquire literacy skills, innumeracy skills, will be facilitated. That’s, I think, really the crux of the matter. Second thing that one has to think about, however, in terms of characteristics of good programs, is that there’s gotta be community support for the programs, there’s gotta be parental support. Um, the good programs that we see in the United States, the good programs that we see around the world, have this ground swell of community involvement, of parental support, people believe in the program, and that seems important. A third feature that seems important is that; it’s important to have teachers associated with the program who are not only fluent, or proficient, speakers of either of the target languages that are involved, but who are also trained teachers. There’s a feeling in some circles that if you can speak language ‘x’ you can teach via language ‘x’, and that’s not necessarily always the case. A, in fact, it’s rarely the case. Um, we take seriously, in the United States, our programs in teacher education, teacher development, we try to equip teachers with the knowledge base, with the skill base that they need for good reason. Um, and so, it’s not enough, we’ve found in bilingual programs, for a person simply to be a fluent speaker of the target language, but he or she must also have um, a, be proficient in terms of a, teacher education, teacher development, and, and so on. Um, we’ve also learned, I think, that the principal is an important gatekeeper, and in one sense that goes along with parental involvement, community support, and so on and so forth. But in many schools, particularly as we go to site based management, or to local management, local choice in schools, the principal and then the board that supports the actions of the principal um, really become key change agents. And they’ve got to be a, invested in the program. Um, so there are a number of threads that we see a, in various places, um, that, that seem to be important. I guess it’s also important um, to keep in mind that um, sort of goes without saying, but, that students have to have access to materials as well, and if they’re going to be studying via language ‘x’, then they need to have resource materials in language ‘x’. There need to be materials available, not only for their immediate use in the classroom when studying geography or when studying whatever, but there need to be resource materials in the library that they can read for pleasure. There need to be materials that they can take home and share with their parents, and so on. So again, the availability of materials seems to be an important criterion for implementation of successful programs.
Well, the um, a, in, in some situations, of course, um, bilingual education is not feasible because one finds in many a, urban areas, particularly of the United States, um, given demographic changes, given movement of peoples um, immigrant flow, um, a, and so on and so forth. It may well be that in a particular school one will have thirty, forty, fifty, sixty different languages represented a, and so on. And there um, one really needs um, to think about the implementation of some time of ESL program, um, and we have lots of extraordinarily good models of successful ESL programs across the country, um, and it seems to me that, again, um, (pause) there cri-the criteria a, for implementation of successful programs in many ways are similar um, again, we’d like to have some community investment, community involvement, parental support for the program, and there usually is. Um, secondly um, we would want to have um, a trained um, ESL a, teacher, practitioner, a, involved with that program um, in a, um, practical terms. This means that we’d like to have someone who, in fact, has specialized and um, to, um, be, um, post-baccalaureate level um, and in one of the very fine um, a, many a, MA programs across the country, if not beyond that, or with a specialization in teaching English as a second language. A, it would be a person who would be both um, trained in the techniques of teaching English as a second language, but who herself would also be a culturally aware and culturally sensitive person working with children from diverse language backgrounds. And in a sense, the job of that teacher is, in the best of all possible worlds, to work as closely as she possibly can with the other teachers in the so called mainstream program of the school so that they can jointly plan, so that they can develop um, a framework, develop a curriculum for assuring that the ESL teacher is providing the youngsters with the building blocks that they’ll need to be able to participate effectively in the mainstream classroom. And what this really necessitates is time for collaborative planning, it involves time for the teachers, or the people in the particular department working together to examine the objectives, to examine the materials, to look at how one can spiral linguistic objectives together with content objectives so that the children will have the academic language building blocks that they need in order to participate effectively in science, math, whatever. Um, seems to me, that where one finds programs that perhaps are less successful a, than others, it’s not at all the fault of a well trained ESL professional working in the context, but it oftentimes happens perhaps in a sequence in which, for one reason or another, um, the principal or whoever else is working out the schedule, hasn’t provided the opportunity for joint planning, hasn’t the opportunity for the ESL teacher to share with um, the other, a, so-called mainstream teachers in ways that they can be jointly examining the curriculum, examining the materials, to make sure that the pair are working in a similar way um, to help the child to add the building blocks that he or she needs in order to be able to develop the cognitive academic language proficiency that the child will need to be able to participate effectively in the mainstream program. We now that this is not going to happen overnight, and that’s the other characteristic. We know that it may take, for some children, two or three years to be able to acquire the building blocks that they need. So time is a requisite, in fact, some of the research suggests it may take as long six or seven years to develop the cognitive academic language skills. And that means that there’s a sustained period of time in which the ESL professional has got to be working collaboratively and collegially with, so-called, mainstream teachers to make sure that they’re moving in the same direction. To make sure that she’s helping to prepare the children a, to develop the foundation or building blocks that they need. Takes a big commitment, um, and it’s the kind of thing that often times it is easily done away with um, there’s a school play going on, there’s some particular social activity, there’s a, an interruption for a performance, well, where do we get the half an hour that we need, well we’ll cut the ESL program out of the calendar a, today, or the week after, and so on. Um, my own feeling is that, in some cases, the ESL teacher, who is an extremely important component in the terms of the child’s educational development, um, is marginalized in the same way that the foreign language teacher is for mainstream youngsters. A, so somehow it’s just not seen as important , but.
When one thinks about um, ESL teachers and um, the kinds of concerns um, that they have in terms of a, and that a, mainstream teachers have in terms of well, whether there exists som-um-a standard curriculum to follow and so on and so forth. Seems to me, no better start that one again.
Often time, um, questions a, arise, particularly from mainstream teachers, or content area teachers, um, as to what the role of the ESL teacher is. Um, is there a curriculum from which they’re working. Are there standard materials that they use, and so on and so forth. And, and one of the things that’s been very heartening, I think, in terms of the profession, is that: beginning about ten years ago, maybe twelve years ago now, the um,
TESOL Organization, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, has worked very, very diligently, starting with a small task force to bring together people um, who have been considering um, TESOL’s need to develop a set of core standards and then to develop a set of teaching principles and practices. To develop a set of exemplary um, lesson plans or materials or curricula to accompany the standards. And I think that TESOL has been very successful in this regard. So that teachers now do have tools that um, they can use in helping them to flesh out or to develop a curriculum that might be specific to the needs of their particular kids. They’re not starting from scratch, that is, there is a framework in terms of the materials that have been developed by the professional association, TESOL, that has been promulgated to the various other states, a, through the state supervisors of ESL and so on. And so there are now a set of frameworks, there are a set of curriculum guides, there are a set of materials that are available that are widely disseminated by the professional organization, that are available on the web, that really have influenced the development of specific lessons and specific plans, that have provided exemplary activities for the integration of English as a second language with the teaching of mathematics. Or integrating the teaching of English as a second language with the teaching of social studies and so on. And so one thinks um, for example, that um, the K to 12 level of the work that’s been done by a task force in which Debra Short, um, at the Center for Applied Linguistics, has been very effective in developing materials for TESOL um, and so I think that one of the things that a teacher or a person involved in curriculum development at a local level um, could immediately turn to, a, would be the website of the International TESOL Organization a, or the Center for Applied Linguistics, to look at the resource frameworks that are available for teachers now. Because they’re there, one wouldn’t have made that same statement ten years ago. Um, but now, um, I think one can, with confidence, make that statement.
The um, a, the-the-the question of um, focus on um, focus on meaning versus focus on form, um, is one that has been um, bedeviling the profession for years and years. Um, and um, I would a-a-I-I-I-I would lead a, lead um, lead us astray if I said that there’s a simple answer a, to the dichotomy of, of focus on meaning and focus on form. Um, the debate rages and the research a, the debate rages in a teacher development programs. Um, at the recent conference um, on a, (sniffs) for the American Association for Applied Linguistics um, there were sessions that a, dealt with this very topic. Um, it’s, it’s, it’s a question um, it’s not sa-the answer that additional research is needed is not a satisfied answer, and I, I-I-I understand that full well. Um, never the less a, it seems to me, um, that this is a topic in which we do need um, additional research. Um, it seems to me that we- when one looks at examples of good practice, that what we find, more often than not, in so-called exemplary classrooms, is that more and more often teachers are really focusing on the communication of meaning about authentic materials that are of high interest and high transfer value to the students. But, the teacher, never the less, takes opportunities to ensure that he or she make available and models and helps the child to move toward use of and attention to form. So I guess the distinction that one might draw would be; back in the so-called dark ages when I was studying um, French or Russian or languages like that, there was an exclusive focus on form to the extent that it was hard for me um, to really communicate about anything at all because every utterance that I produced would then be the object of a, of, of correction and repetition and so on, um, to the exclusion, and often times, um, really, um, to the detriment of an-of sustaining any motivation in acquiring or learning a language. Um, the balance a-er-the-the counter side of that, of course, um, is a, a situation in which um, anything goes, um, and there’s no attention to that. But I think in many classrooms now, that fall into the category of so-called exemplary practice, one sees an emphasis on communication but never the less with a careful and patient um, and continual modeling, rephrasing, um, by the teacher, of the teacher causing the child to reflect on what he or she has produced. So there’s an attention to form, but it’s, perhaps, not as blunt as it used to be in the old days. Um, but clearly this is a debatable topic in the research-a, research area right now. (sniffs)
When one’s thinking about a, bilingualism and bilingual education, um, I mean, the question really is wh---, the question becomes why, why should we encourage um, the development of bilinguality, does it make any difference? And um, I think from my perspective, I always come back to the fact that as I look at the situation world-wide, there really are a set of cognitive, social, personal and economic benefits that accrue to the individual who has an opportunity to develop a, bilinguality or bilingual skills. Um, when one looks at the cognitive side, um, the evidence seems pretty clear to me that I’m operating and sitting, perhaps, in a, in a, in a position of –of-of some bias in this regard, but when I look at the literature that’s been accumulated over the years, it seem to me that the evidence is fairly clear that children, young adults, who have an opportunity to develop bilingual skills become, to the extent that IQ tests measure anything or that we believe in the construct that kids are significantly more creative, that kids a, who are bilingual are signif-have significantly enhanced divergent thinking abilities as opposed to convergent thinking abilities, they’re significantly more flexible in their approach to problem solving, and so on. When we look at such induces as traditional, a, non-verbal measures of IQ, best guess is; that bilingual individuals compared to carefully controlled monolingual counterparts are at least a standard deviation higher in terms of the skills. So what bilinguality seems to do is give individuals a more upen(?), a more diverse repertoire for examining, for solving problems, different ways of approaching the world, different ways of looking at the world. So on the cognitive side, there seem to be benefits, on the social side, again the evidence seems pretty clear that when one looks at carefully controlled groups of youngsters, some of whom have an opportunity to develop bilinguality, others of whom don’t, that the child who has an opportunity to develop bilingual skills becomes more open minded, more tolerant, more positively predisposed to diverse others, to different ways of life, and so on. Um, on the economic side the evidence um, that’s been accumulated perhaps um, most systematically in Europe um, seems to indicate, a Peter Nelda, (?) who works at the Center for Multilingualism in Belgium, um, has done a large scale, multi-European country study in which he demonstrates, at least to my satisfaction, that there are significant financial um, advantages that accrue to individuals um, with bilingual proficiency as opposed to those who do not have bilingual proficiency. So I see it as a win win situation. Um, cognitive advantages, social advantages, economic advantages, and it really doesn’t cost you a thing. Um, acquiring another language can be as natural as breathing and growing.
When one thinks about um, phenomenon referred to as, as code switching, um, the-be- the notion to lists it’s different kinds of reactions and, and, and so on, um, code switching, um, occurs, a, takes many different forms in many different situations. Um, children in particular who are in language contact situations where they’re adding another language to their repertoire, where they speak a language at home, they frequently find themselves in situations where they will interchange, they’ll insert segments of language ‘x’ in ano-in an otherwise continuous stream of language ‘y’. Um, wh-why do they do that? Well, some cases they do that for emotional reasons, in some cases they’ll do that because they want to emphasis a particular point, in some cases they’ll do that because of lack of lexical access, they happen to know a term in language ‘x’, but they don’t know a term in language ‘y’. Um, for the most part, what we know is that code switching, sometimes called language mixing, some ca-times called language switching, typically occurs for principles reasons. Um, it’s usually not random behavior, when you actually examine the typescripts or the transcripts um, from children who have been speaking spontaneously and you notice that there’s a flow a, of information in English and then there’s a switch into Spanish then going back into English. Um, one of the things that we know is that these points of transition don’t seem to be random, they appear to be principled, and um, as I said, sometimes the research suggests that children will do this certainly because of a lack of lexical access. They don’t happen to know the word for a concept um, in English that they’ve used in Spanish, or vice versa. In some cases they’ll do it to signal solidarity in group membership um, and so on, so it’s a, it’s a complicated phenomenon, it’s not a, a bad phenomenon, it’s a natural occurrence. Um, it’s something that’s important in terms of a child’s identity, it’s something that’s important a, in terms of the a, expressive-, the persons ability to express himself or herself, often times misunderstood and there’s sometimes a feeling that a child who code switches at some point will never develop control of , so called, standard English, or so called standard Spanish. Not necessarily true at all, um, there are very principled reasons um, for which children do that, um, in the same way there are principled reasons for which adults do that. Um, and um, (interrupts himself) don’t know……
No, it, it, it, it’s um, people, people worry a lot about code switching um, my own, since it’s off, I guess it’s off the record now, is that to the extent possible um, it’s helpful, all be it, I guess the first maxim would be for the teacher to speak and to use the language in a way which is most comfortable for him or her, but to the extent that she could model English on the one hand, or Spanish on the other hand, and not model um, a mixture of the two. That probably would be pedagogically helpful. But that’s a controversial topic too. Um, real controversial, um, and there’s been some work by Rodolfo Jacobson, the University of Texas, San Antonio, and I’m suggesting that um, language mixing and code switching should normative, and that’s what should be the norm in the classroom and should be modeled by the teachers. Hard to say.
When I think about what I hope that educators, parents, administrators will understand when thinking about the process of second language acquisition, that what we know on the basis of research and how this relates to um, good planning in terms of program planning, program implementation, and so on. Seems to me there are four things that I’d like teachers and administrators and parents to think about, depending on the social circumstances and the situation in which you find yourself, seems to me that one: children learn best, most easily, most effectively, and initially in a language that they understand. And so, to the extent that it makes-that it’s pedagogically and socially possible, that one can initiate literacy training, that one can initiate early content instruction in the native language, that it’s pedagogically desirable to do so. Second thing that it seems to me that it makes-th-that-the, the people need to think a little bit about, is the so-called transfer of training. That time spent studying material in the native language isn’t wasted time. If the child develops a set of building blocks, a set of tools, those tools can transfer. That material will be available for later use in L2 and L3 and L4 and L5, so it’s not time wasted. But I think that I-an understanding of the notion of the transfer a, effect is important. Third thing that I think is important is to understand that; if ultimately a goal is-particularly if a child who enters from um, a so-called language minority background, and we want to help that child to develop to his or her full academic potential, and to add English to her repertoire as affectively as possible so that she can maximize the opportunity for participating fully in educational, social, and occupational opportunity, i.e. she’s gonna have to add English to her tr-it’s gonna take time. Um, this is not something that’s gonna happen in six weeks or nine weeks or one semester, a, but it’s something that’s gonna take time. It’s going to take several years for that child to develop the so-called cognitive academic language proficiency in a second language. That she’ll need to participate effectively um, in the acquisition of other material. Um, it seems to me that that’s important, a---time, um, is a characteristic that’s important. The fourth and final um, characteristic that that I think it’s important to mention, is that; there’s no panacea. There’s no (sound) program that you can say; this is the optimal solution and, you know, don’t worry about what the mix, what the demographic profile of teach-a-of children in the community is, um, don’t worry about whether you have trained teachers on material or don’t have trained teachers, here’s the model that you should implement. In fact, if we know anything, it is that we really have to very carefully understand the socio-linguistic context. We have to understand the community resources. We have to understand whether there are trained, well-qualified, proficient teachers available. We have to understand whether there are materials available, and then we can recommend a program that involves content-based ESL, or a program that involves mult-a-a-maintenance bilingual education, or a program that involves two way bilingual education. But one can’t do that in the absence of knowing what kinds of community resources are available, that is, there’s not a panacea that you can simply say; this is the best solution, doesn’t matter what the conditions are.
A teacher in the United States today um, is really um, faced with a set of very, very difficult tasks. Um, when we look at the changing demography of education in the United States um, we don’t have data um, from the 2000 census yet, in any detail, but we know from 199-a, from 1980 to 1990 the percentage of Latino students, a, the percentage of Latinos in the U.S., a, increased by fifty percent. The percentage of Asian Americans increased by a hundred percent, a, we know that those figures will go up in the 2000 census. We know, based upon estimates from the Department of Education, that more than um, fifty out of every one hundred teachers has students in their classroom who are um, non-mainstream students who come from cultural and linguistic diverse backgrounds. Um, we know that those numbers are going to increase, we know that within thirty years or so fifty percent of all children in American public a, a, schools um, K to 12, a-are going to be minority students. Um, that teachers, teachers have a tough job because that simultaneously the proportion of minority individuals who are being attracted to the de-to the teaching profession is decreasing relatively sharply rather than increasing. So what we’re seeing increasingly, is a situation in which wonderful, caring teachers, who themselves are not necessarily bilingual, bicultural, who themselves have not necessarily been trained to deal with, or to teach effectively, children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, are now faced with classrooms in which these children, um, perhaps today a small minority, but perhaps tomorrow will increasingly become a majority, the teachers have to be prepared to understand who these students are. What are their needs, how do we help them to develop to their full potential? And so, what this really means is that organizations like the National Education Association, like the American Federation of Teachers, need to develop innovative (snap sound) and collaborative ways for working with organizations like the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, like the National Association for Bilingual Education, to both inform as well as to help to develop in-service or preservice materials so that we can better prepare teachers for the changing classrooms that they’re gonna be facing tomorrow. These are well meaning, well intentioned young men and women um, teaching, who are doing the best job they possibly can but, the complexities of the tasks that they face, the complexities of the assignments that they face, are gonna change enorma-enormously with the changing demography, the population. It’s a large problem and I think that we all, from the state superintendents to state coordinators of ESL or bilingual education, to the professional associations, to the union organizations, are gonna have to band together. Both to raise awareness about the changing a, demography, of the population of schools, the changing needs that those students have. But, more importantly, of the work that’s now being done by professional associations to address the needs, but to make sure that that good work, or that knowledge of that good work, actually gets into the hands of the classroom teacher.
Th-a, th-a, the one um, area about which I feel most passionate, I think, um, if there’s a message that, that I’d like to get to people, it’s that; as we look at the demands of full and effective participation in the increasingly global economy, global society of the twenty-first century, um, I just don’t understand why we don’t value, as highly as we should, the role of language as a national and natural resource. And it seems to me that we have here this treasure, like oil, like gold, like um---um minerals that are, that are um, available a, for a, development and so on. A, we’ve got, we’ve got this natural resource which is language, and that people come to us with a variety of languages, a variety of world views and so on and so forth. And we have this funny policy in the United States where we do two things: we take monolingual English speaking Americans and, for the most part, our national educational policies seem to encourage the maintenance of the status quo. That is, that they can go through education from K to 16, and they can emerge monolingual English speaking Americans. Simultaneously we have this very rich diverse array of newcomers to the United States, peoples born in the United States who speak languages other than English, and our national educational policies seem, for the most part, to be constructive in such a way to discourage them from maintaining the languages that they bring with them to the classroom initially. And so the net result is: we have young men and women graduating from high school, graduating from university who, effectively, are monolingual English speakers but who are now forced to compete in an increasingly global society where a knowledge of Spanish, a knowledge of Chinese, a knowledge of Arabic, a knowledge of French, is really indispensable to being able to effectively communicate with other people, to do business with other people and so on. Doesn’t seem to make any sense at all when I look at the fact that nation-wide, best estimate that we have now, from K to 6, forty-five million, plus of minus several million, children are in school, fewer than five percent study a foreign language. Grades 7 to 12, fewer than forty percent of the youngsters enrolled in pu-public or private secondary education study a foreign language. I teach at the university, even worse. Eight percent, eight out of one hundred youngsters studies a foreign language, i.e., ninety-two out of one hundred students don’t study a foreign language. Interestingly, in a survey that was just a, conducted (sniffs) and released oh, a couple a weeks ago, um, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, there was a report a, that’s um, detailed students at that transition period between secondary school and going to university. Sixty percent of them aspire to study a foreign language when they go to university, fewer than ten percent do so. Fifty to sixty percent of them, in going to college or university, aspire to study abroad, three percent of them study abroad, and so on and so forth. So, what do I get passionate about, well, it seems to me that if I could (sniffs) a, if, if there was one topic um, that I could really have um, some influence on it’s one, I-I’d like to help us think through the ways that we can move toward developing what I’ve sometimes referred to as a language competent American society in which individuals like myself, who are English speaking, have an opportunity to add another language to their repertoire, and a situation in which students who come from a background culturally and linguistically diverse, have the opportunity to develop the fullest possible proficiency in English, but to nurture and sustain their mother tongue as well.