Dual Language Lesson Planning Via a Sociocultural Lens

Dual Language Teachers, Administrators, and District Leaders:

I hope that you are well and that you are continuing to thrive in a time of remote teaching and learning in crisis. With COVID-19 restrictions, more than ever, it has become evident that we need to continue to specifically embed and plan for dual language lessons that focus on sociocultural competence and critical consciousness. Being kind to one another, empathizing with those who are in need, and actively working to be of service to others is work that all of us, including students, need to engage in.

As a reminder, the most important goal of dual language is sociocultural competence. It is the foundation for all that happens in the dual language program. Sociocultural competence, seeing the similarities and differences in each other, but seeing the differences as opportunities to connect rather than obstacles to overcome, is something that is never fully achieved. However, students must understand that it is our responsibility to engage in this daily work as we collaboratively strive to dismantle systems of oppression that marginalize certain student and family communities.

It is this transparency in PK-12 dual language classrooms, that will ensure that our students are better equipped to positively interact and serve one another. Culture learning targets are the means through which this can be achieved, as part of the C6 Biliteracy Framework lesson planning process. Please review prior articles and videos on duallanguageschools.org for further information on the C6 Biliteracy Framework; it is a tool that allows dual language educators to lesson plan through an equity and social justice lens.

The following are four ways to create culture learning targets in the PK-12 dual language classroom as a means to embed sociocultural competence and critical consciousness into all that we do:

Amplify the voices of marginalized communities.
As we lesson plan, we must ask ourselves if we are engaging in courageous sociocultural competence work as a means to elevate communities who have actively been silenced. These include, but are not limited to, LGBTQ+, religious, immigrant rights, legal status, gender inequity, socioeconomic status, educational access, and mental health conversations that will further our never-ending journey towards sociocultural competence.

Connect the learning to the students’ lives and/or real-world situations.
As dual language teachers, we can plan lessons that are grounded in real issues and that also, connect and value our students’ entire cultural repertoires. By fully embracing all that students bring into the space, we can actively eradicate the monolingual and monocultural perspective of teaching and learning that has been perpetuated in U.S. schooling systems.

Focus on cross-linguistic work and leveraging students’ translanguaging capabilities.
Students have often been asked to silence language that is not aligned with a racialized schooling view of instruction. The privilege of monolingual English-speaking ideologies is still prevalent, even in dual language programming. By lesson planning through an understanding that cross-linguistic connections and translanguaging are important and a matter of equity and social justice, we can fully allow our students to leverage their entire linguistic repertoires.

Embrace the idea that both academic and social language are equally important.
Dismantling the idea of linguistic elitism is imperative in the dual language classroom. Students must understand, via the lessons we plan, that there is no such thing as “proper” English or “pure” any language. Language is alive and ever-changing and thus, our instruction should reflect the idea that it is all about mobilizing linguistic features that are appropriate based on context.

I am so very humbled by the opportunity to collaborate with the dual language community. Know that I am a big mess… the biggest mess of all… but I am actively working on being a better person who is of service to others by engaging in sociocultural competence and critical consciousness work on a daily basis. It is my hope that you will join me on this important journey, today and always.

Su compadre,
Dr. José Luis Medina Hernández Franco López Jr. Díaz-Cruz

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