English 101 - Dr. Mandy Suhr-Sytsma
BLOGGING ABOUT MULTILINGUALISM
For my fifth blog post, I thought to discuss a very interesting blog post I found about how the International Baccalaureate (IB) program supports multilingualism in the classroom. I completed in high school the IB diploma program, so I was able to relate to this blog post and I found it intriguing.
The article talks about an international school in Germany that was faced with a range of students coming from very different families that spoke different languages. The school wanted to implement a multilingualism supporting curriculum and successful completed it implementing the IB program. For example, the IB curriculum supports everyone's native language while still pursuing other languages at the same time. The blog post discusses the positive effects of this and how the IB's curriculum has aided cross-cultural collaboration. Personally I can relate to this experience with the IB. My cultural differences from Finland were appreciated in class and I had much room to contribute my knowledge to class material and examinations. I felt like my opinions mattered while still being able to study Finnish through independent study of texts through IB.
Furthermore, this blog post ties into the topic I was doing for Project 2: ESL teaching in classrooms. The IB presents a way that multitude of different languages can be taught in school and cultural appreciation can be implemented. Through my project, I concluded that cultural appreciation is needed and all students need to feel important. The IB curriculum supports this, and I would agree that it should be more widely spread to not only international schools, but also to regional schools across the world.
For my fourth blog post, I thought to discuss a Coca-Cola commercial in the 2014 Super Bowl that sparked controversy on social media. This arose over the fact that the song, 'American the Beautiful', was sung in different languages, not only in English. I find it very thought provoking to think that controversy could arise from the idea that a patriotic song wasn't sung purely in English. I don't think that these people are being considerate for the matter that the United States is considered a melting point, with people coming from all over the world to find opportunity in this country. For that matter, I am Finnish and an immigrant. The idea that English language brings identity to the people of the United States is appropriate, but still people's heritages should be take into consideration. That is exactly what Coca-Cola is trying to do: count for the fact that people come from different backgrounds with English not always being spoken. Furthermore, there is no officially declared language in the United States.
Tying this information to what we have covered in class, I think that the controversy that arose over this commercial represents really well the complexity of languages and identity. The people who found this commercial offensive want to make it clear that in the United States, we speak English and this is what brings us our identity; to be truly American, one has to speak English. I would argue that this brings comfort for a person as they can identify with a specific mode of communication. But to truly to be considerate, we have to account for the fact that United States unlike other countries is very a heterogeneous population. Like Deborah Miranda would argue, we have to appreciate and preserve minority languages.
Article relating to the commercial:
Youngjoo Yi follows in his research paper "ESOL Teachers As Writing Teachers" two students who become certified teachers and receive Master's degrees for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for Pre-K-12. His goal was to identify the current state of second language writing teacher education in the United States. Through group interviews, collection of exit portfolios, assignments, and teaching materials of the two students, Yi collected data to come to a conclusion of the state of ESOL writing teacher education. He found out that writing in ESOL classes is focusing on assessments and comprehension of material, rather than writing to learn about writing. Furthermore, both of the students hadn't developed writing teacher identities, as they didn't learn how to teach writing. Overall, there exists a huge gap between academic demands for writing assessments and actual writing instruction and practice in the classroom. This presents a huge disparity between adequate teaching of writing pedagogy for ESOL students and English as first language students. Yi states that there has been a huge amount of focus on writing pedagogy for English as first language students lately, and this does not fare to the education that ESOL students receive currently. This serves as a gatekeeper for immigrants, as many states - such as Georgia - require students to pass a standardized writing test to graduate. Clearly, ESOL students are at a disadvantage educationally compared to native English language speakers.
Yi, Youngjoo. "ESOL Teachers As Writing Teachers." L2 Writing in Secondary Classrooms. New York: Routledge, 2013. 133-48. Ebook Library. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
As I wrote in my first blog post about moving to the United States and learning English while in high school, I thought to discuss about being a bilingual and the benefits of being able to speak multiple languages. In-class, we have several students who can speak multiple languages and we touched on the topic of how the ability to speak multiple languages allows for increased understanding of translingual orientation. Not only does this idea of translingual orientation increase with the ability to speak many languages, but so do biological cognitive and executive functions of the brain.
I found a very interesting article on the New York Times from 2012 that talks about the several benefits of being a bilingual. The article outlines recent research that has shown that the bilingual experiences improves attention processes that people use for "planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks." As a result of this, students can stay focused longer on tasks and short-term memory capacity increases.
I thought that it's very interesting to think that just the ability to comprehend and understand another language can have such drastic benefits on people's brain. I guess that I have now better cognitive and executive functions than when I was monolingual and couldn't speak English. Maybe even all that time students spend in Spanish and French class - for example - isn't used on just learning to speak and write in a different dialect, but also at the same time on improving the health and capacity of the brain.
Bhattacharjee, Yudhijit. "Why Bilinguals Are Smarter." The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Mar. 2012. Web. 28 Jan. 2015.
For my first blog post, I thought I could discuss about my personal experiences with multilingualism. I was born and raised in Helsinki, Finland but moved to the United States just a little over four years ago. In my family, we only spoke Finnish, but I was learning English in middle school since age 12. Then at age 14, I moved to the United States and began high school in English. I was completely overwhelmed with being exposed to a brand new language and culture. My freshman year of high school was mostly spent on trying to assimilate to a new culture while learning English at the same time.
During my first year of high school, I was quickly able to become fluent in English. All of my teachers were surprised by how quickly this occurred. Within just few months, my grades dramatically improved as I was able to think in English and not translate anymore from Finnish to English in my head. I think this has to a great extent to do with this idea of translingual orientation and how languages connect in several different fashions.
I think this idea of translingual orientation that Suresh Canagarajah in his piece Translingual Practice discusses, relates to the experience that I have gone through with learning English at such a dramatic rate. Canagarajah speaks of how monolinguals have the ability to be translingual, because many languages interconnect. I found several parallels between English and Finnish grammar that helped me to translate and understand English, and then truly absorb the English language while only 14. I think that English and Finnish aren't that distant as languages, compared to let's say Mandarin Chinese and Finnish. I think that these parallels aided my English language learning substantially.
Canagarajah, A. Suresh. Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013. Print.