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Hallway Spanish December 11, 2005

Posted by Michael McVey in Students.
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Language   Teachers on several of my discussion lists have been discussing the Principal in Kansas City who suspended a student for speaking Spanish. Sometimes news stories scream into discussions framed in language that reminds everyone of unresolved historical inequity. It was not so long ago, in Arizona, that students were punished for speaking Spanish. In fact, from 1919 to 1967, a program known as 1C forced students to speak English in school. Now, English Language Learners (ELL) numbering over 150,000 are in programs called Structured English Immersion (SEI).

This relates to my work at the College because I have been asked to lend a hand in the development of online courses for SEI training. There will soon be many teachers seeking recertification who will need training in SEI strategies. Online courses with rolling enrollment seem to be a good solution to the administration at the university. I came across a great overview of Arizona’s English Immersion Law.

When I came to Tucson from Canada and began teaching in a local high school, I expressed great respect for students who could speak in either language. I know many of my students simply did not believe me when I told them that. I had to explain the importance for me to learn French in Canada and how I struggled with the language throughout high school and into adulthood. Those of my peers who had the linguistic facility to communicate in two languages were honored and respected. Many went on to government positions and the better universities in my province.

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