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Cultural Diversity and Language Education

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Spnish cme very esily to me becuse of ll the French I hd tken nd my strong desire to lern the lnguge. fter college, I trveled for yer in South meric, where I both reinforced my Spnish nd lso picked up Portuguese while visiting Brzil. When I returned from South meric I ws unsure wht I wnted to do, so I enrolled in bilingul techer eduction progrm sponsored by Title VII. yer of student teching nd bilingul methods courses certified me s bilingul techer. I becme bilingul techer out of my love for Spnish. I see the process of becoming bilingul s lifelong journey, one in which I m still involved.
When I strted teching, I hd no ide tht bilingul teching ws so controversil, stigmtized, nd complex. For 6 yers, I struggled s Spnish-English bilingul elementry school techer in Oklnd, Cliforni. Prt of this struggle ws cused by lck of support from my principl nd collegues, who did not understnd the purposes of wht is needed to develop bilingulism. During tht time, I obtined mster’s degree in curriculum nd bilingul eduction.
t the clssroom level, despite my techer trining nd mster’s degree, I still fced dily dilemms such s, "Wht should I do with 30 kids whose lnguge dominnce vries from Spnish to English nd ll the shdes in between" "Wht kind of curriculum should I use for Omr, who hs just come from Mexico to my fourth-grde clss nd doesn’t know how to hold pencil becuse he hs never gone to school before" "How do I work with Guillermo, who is very bright, fully bilingul, finishes his work in 2 minutes, nd strts to red the encyclopedi becuse he’s bored" "How do I tech my clss with inferior nd inpproprite Spnish mterils nd books" Somehow, I lerned to survive by creting my own mterils nd developing meningful lerning opportunities for students. by individulizing instruction. by hving students help one nother. nd by tking students out into the community nd bringing the community into the clss through trips, projects, nd guests. The effort to do this in n unsupportive environment ws t gret psychic expense tht cused me to burn out. I found myself becoming imptient with the children. I needed chnge. When the chnce cme to move to New York to pursue doctorte in curriculum nd bilingul eduction t Techers College Columbi University, I looked t it s n opportunity to begin to find nswers to these teching questions.
From my teaching experience, I can say that second lnguge cquisition cn begin t ny ge nd hence t different levels of brin mturity nd cognitive development. It cn tke plce predominntly in forml lerning or during informl dy-to-dy communiction (depending on socil fctors, the level of cognitive development, nd previous eduction). The ge fctor is closely relted to the method of lnguge lerning due to the difference in the cognitive orgniztion of children’s nd dults’ lnguge cquisition.
In orgnized lerning, for exmple, different types of prctice mteril nd lerning ids exploit different input nd processing modlities (visul, uditory, nd motor). First lnguge cquisition goes "hnd in hnd" with the development of cognitive bilities nd the construction