Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Multilingualism or English Only?

Lately, I have encountered schools of thought which advocate for an “English only classroom” when teaching English language learning populations like refugees. For example, some ESL classes allow only English in the classrooms, no use of native language allowed. I am uncomfortable with this idea. I don’t believe retaining their native language inhibits their abilities to learn English. I don’t think this would work in our classroom, for practical reasons and because I would prefer to create an environment where the students are comfortable, rather than one where learning is awkward or uncomfortable. I understand the logic behind immersion practices, and I want my students to practice and converse in English while they are in class, but I don’t think having a class rule that disallows their language is necessarily beneficial.

-Kellan Smith, HCET Intern

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