From the Huffington Post: "11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures". Some I hadn't seen before. These always make me think about linguistic relativity. Does the structure of language influence and constrain thought? The words here certainly suggest that culture may have something to do with it. The illustrations that accompany the words are for the most part good, however, the illustration attached to #3 - 'iktsuarpok' from the Inuit - is painfully stereotypic and spoils an otherwise excellent word.
New report on Pre-K - 3rd grade dual language learners identifies and dispels common myths on bilingual development
Linda Espinosa, in collaboration with the Foundation for Child Development, has authored an update to the "seminal" 2008 report on bilingual language development among children from pre-K through third grade. The policy to action brief is intended to identify and dispel common myths about how language develops among dual-language learners with the goal helping policymakers understand bilingualism and its unique effect on language development. Myths identified: 1) learning 2 languages is confusing; 2) language development looks the same for bilinguals and monolinguals; 3) full English immersion from pre-K - 3rd grade is the best route for English language acquisition; 4) English immersion is necessary because we can't provide bilingual instruction for speakers of all languages; 5) Latino children show social and academic delays entering kindergarten; 6) native English speakers will show delays when enrolled in dual-language programs; 7) first language development is irrelevant is instruction is in English-only. Great report that is worth a read and worth distributing.
It's not reported in any of the media/newspaper sites, but Tuscon USD will again be offering culturally-relevant literature classes, linking with the previous banning of the Mexican-American studies program (see the documentary Precious Knowledge for details). I found the announcement at the TUSD website. Per the TUSD site - "The literature curriculum was the first portion of culturally relevant curriculum to come before the governing board for approval. Culturally relevant curriculum for course studies in history and government is currently being reviewed by the Arizona Department of Education and will be made available for public review and comments before being submitted to the board for approval". I am curious what Curtis Acosta and José González, critical educators intimately involved in this struggle, think of this.
Study by Brookings Institution describes data on undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children
The New York Times reports on a new study by the Brookings Institution that "presents what the group calls 'an emerging portrait' of young immigrants who have sought a temporary reprieve from deportation under a year-old program that is one of President Obama’s signature immigration initiatives". Brookings used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to data from the government's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to create the report. Notable points: More than half a million people have applied in the year that the program has been in effect; 72 percent have been approved and 1 percent denied; Most are of Mexican origin; One-third of the applicants arrived in the US before turning 5 years old (the mode of the age of arrival distribution is 8 years). Very important and interesting work.
Interesting interactive map from Census department shows population clusters for linguistic diversity
A really interesting map from the U.S. Census shows where speakers of different languages tend to reside in the U.S. Amazing to click on Spanish to see the distribution across the country. A good deal of other languages are represented, and it's interesting to see where there are consistencies of language diversity as well as novel areas for a given language group. They leave out English as a clickable language. I wonder what that would look like.
EdWeek reports today that the two federally-funded initiatives to build assessment systems for the Common Core, PARCC and Smarter Balanced (sounds like the butter substitute), have largely ignored the possibility of creating parallel versions of their tests in languages other than English - notably Spanish. One issue is that PARCC and Smarter Balanced "have member states with vastly different approaches to testing English-language learners. Arizona, for example, is an "English-only" member state in PARCC, while a fellow member, New York, requires that assessments be made available in multiple languages for students still learning English". Now the League of United Latin American Citizens is calling on the PARCC system to have a parallel Spanish version. There's plenty of states where bilingual education is alive and well, and two-way immersion programs have been gaining popularity as well. Assessment in two languages, when instruction in both is delivered, is a massive issue that should be discussed by these assessment mega-groups.