By: Dr. José Medina, Founder and Chief Educational Advocate
Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions
Most of us in dual language education entered the profession because we wanted to actively create educational access for students who have traditionally been marginalized and oppressed in U.S. schools. We come to this dual language educational space with open hearts and are ready to make a difference in the lives of the students we serve. But, this does not mean that we stop reflecting, at all times, on our biases and how they might play a role in the educational service we provide and via the lessons we plan.
In my February 2019 article, I wrote about the C6 Biliteracy Framework and how it was conceived as a way to effectively lesson plan for the dual language classroom. Rather than using lesson planning frameworks intended to be used in a monolingual setting, the tool aligns fully with the three goals of dual language education: bilingualism & biliteracy, grade level academic achievement in both program languages, and sociocultural competence. Additionally, the C6 Biliteracy Framework fully embraces the research and recommendations provided in the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education: Third Edition (GP3). The March 2019 article targeted the first of the six Cs – Create.
In this article, we will move on to the second C – Connect:
- Connect learning experiences to students’ lives and linguistic repertoires.
- Activating and valuing students’ schemas and linguistic repertoires
- Development of social and academic language (as part of one linguistic repertoire)
- Cross-linguistic connections
So, let’s return to the idea that most of us as dual language educators are good people. I don’t have the research to actually support this statement, but we are going to assume that it is true!
From the time that we were preparing to enter the classroom, university professors trained us to connect content to the students’ lives in order to build background and be able to make connections as a way to build academic language.
This idea comes from a good place, but for many of us, including myself, this created a space where I could assume that somehow students were at a deficit as they entered the classroom and it was my duty to fill in the gaps.
The C6 Biliteracy Framework lesson planning cycle strives to go deeper by acknowledging the fact that our job as dual language educators is to value ALL that a child brings in to the classroom, but not as a way to transition the child to success through a pre-determined, mostly White middle-income ideology.
As an example, mi papá José Luis, used to sell lemons, oranges, and Chicklet gum on the bridge between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, from the time he was eight years old. He was able to sell these items to people crossing the bridge in both directions, whether they needed them or not. That’s not a soft skill – that’s a global citizenship skill! Additionally, he was able to change the peso to the dollar and vice versa, depending on a fluctuating exchange rate. That is amazing! But, I often wonder, what if I were a third or fourth grade teacher at the time. Would I have valued all the wonderful gifts and skills that my father would have brought into the classroom or would I have immediately thought of an intervention to get him to quickly access the “needed skills” to function in my U.S. classroom? Would I have valued his full linguistic repertoire?
Continue reading to learn more about José’s insights...