Dual Language SchoolsDual Language Advocacy: No Place for Neutrality

Author Photo: Dr. José L. Medina

By: Dr. José L. Medina

Founder and Chief Educational Advocate at Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions
Main Image for Article: Dual Language Advocacy: No Place for Neutrality

By: Dr. José Medina, Founder and Chief Educational Advocate, Dr. José Medina: Educational Solutions

As I serve dual language programs around the United States, I often state that dual language is not for the weak of heart. I stand by that statement.

To serve on behalf of emergent bilingual students in this country takes determination, grit, flexibility, a growth mindset, patience, and above all, courage.

Dual language educators/advocates are different. We must be willing to stand up and declare that we are defenders of equity and social justice. This is a difficult task, especially when facing an educational system that has often marginalized entire student communities. Making matters more difficult, is the anti-immigrant, anti-foreign language sentiment that is present in today's political climate. In fact, once again, we are moving closer to the flawed notion that somehow English monolingualism, equals American patriotism.

Paulo Freire, Brazilian educator and philosopher, as well as author of the seminal work Pedagogy of the Oppressed, stated that, "washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." When posed with these words, many dual language educators begin to realize instantly, that we must be a constant voice in search of truth and equity. We must not remain silent, if we are to create change that will better allow us to serve all students. But, what does this advocacy look like in practice, as we engage in the daily work of dual language implementation?

To get to the core of what the question poses, we must first revisit the fact that dual language programming must create educational access for student populations that have not readily had this type of opportunity. Moreover, we must fight against the idea that somehow bilingualism & biliteracy, high academic achievement in both program languages, and working to become more socioculturally competent – is somehow more appealing when we see these goals embodied by students that are already linguistically privileged. That is, we must stop seeing dual language programming as a way to have minority-language students learn English, while for native-English speaking students, the goal is to create citizens that are ready for a global community.

Photo with Jose Medina

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