In the GP3 (2018), there is a focus on establishing dual language programs that foster the development of sociocultural competence and promote both linguistically and cultural equity. This is integral to the idea that as we plan for lessons to serve emerging bilingual students, we must not only connect to students’ experiences with a deficit view, but rather, to celebrate all that a child brings into the dual language classroom. This includes, at times, reflecting on practices that specifically focus on getting students “to fix” whatever linguistic gaps we perceive were created in the home, and instead, embrace all language that is a part of a student’s linguistic repertoire. As one of the co-authors of the GP3, I am proud of the fact that included in the resource, is specific language regarding our duty to embrace, discuss and advocate for language varieties.
Specifically, we should consider moving away from statements that may diminish students’ lived experiences and/or seek to eradicate language that is valuable and a part of their linguistic repertoire. Recently, during a keynote address, I specifically offered an example that I often use – “pos” instead of “pues.” For many teachers facilitating instruction in Spanish as part of a dual language program, the use of the more socially acceptable variety would be enough to send them into a frenzy. But, I would argue that in my home, my parents, my tíos and tías, my whole familia, use the word “pos” and therefore, it is beautiful!
Instead, as we lesson plan, we should anticipate this intersection among linguistic features and be clear that our duty is to add “pues” to the student’s linguistic repertoire so that she/they/he are able to mobilize the linguistic features based on context. The difference here, is that this would not happen at the expense and destruction of “pos.”
The same is true for regionalisms in the dual language classroom. Rather than telling a student that we don’t say “carpeta” for carpet, we could instead, add carpeta to a regionalism anchor chart and have students identify other words for rug.
One of the questions that I am asked most often, entails discussion regarding the separation of languages vs. the use of cross-linguistic connections. This too, is addressed as part of the C6 Biliteracy Framework. Although we must align with research regarding fidelity to the language allocation plan, this is not in opposition to the idea that we must also cherish every part of a child’s linguistic and cultural repertoire. As dual language educators, we can create spaces where students practice each of the two program languages independently of one another, while also strategically ensuring that students understand and value the importance of making cross-linguistic connections between the two program languages.
Several months ago, I had an opportunity to facilitate a dual language professional development session. In attendance was Dr. Susana Ibarra-Johnson, an esteemed friend and colleague, as well as one of the co-authors of the important resource title The Translanguaging Classroom. At one point, we stood side by side, she as one of the co-authors of the The Translanguaging Classroom and yours truly, as one of the authors of the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education.
I believe that it was an important moment for the participants…to see the two of us, bringing together the worlds of language allocation plans and translanguaging – not as opposing ideas in the dual language classroom, but instead, as mutually beneficial and needed.
I know that for me, it was an honor to stand alongside la Doctora, first, because she is awesome – but also, because both of us want the same thing: to serve students as we acknowledge the privilege of learning alongside them. The C6 Biliteracy Framework, and the Connect piece in particular, was alive and breathing at that moment!