INTRODUCTION: Linguistic & Cultural Diversity

Article excerpt

Despite significant electoral changes at the national and state levels in recent years, American schools remain both challenged and burdened when it comes to issues of linguistic and cultural diversity. The goal of this special issue of Multicultural Education is to explore the critical connections between language, culture, schools, and families, with a specific focus on English language learners (ELLs) and their families.

There are many children in our schools who face the daunting challenge to not only understand the content that they are learning, but also to simply understand what their teacher is saying. These ELLs are challenged by the demands of becoming experts in the curriculum they are being taught at the very same time they are attempting to become fluent in English. Also consider the many parents who are English learners, who often must rely on their own children to assist them in navigating the U.S. school system, since they do not take part in the daily exercises learning English that their children experience.

These educational realities in the area of language are further complicated by the many diverse cultures and ethnicities represented among the student population of schools across the United States, further challenging the abilities of teachers, parents, and communities to work together to achieve the best education for all students.

This special issue offers a collection of articles by authors from the United States and Canada who are interested in and look at such topics as bilingualism, teaching language learners, family literacy, and issues of cultural bias. They provide case studies, practical practices, examples of school-family partnerships, and research.

We open with Martin Scanlan's "Inclusión: How School Leaders Can Accent Inclusion for Bilingual Students, Families, and Communities." This article introduces a conceptual framework and set of strategies for use by schools that are intended to involve and serve language diverse populations.

Shartriya Collier and Susan Auerbach examine California's experience since the passage of Proposition 227 in "'It's Difficult Because of the Language': A Case Study of the Families Promoting Success Program in the Los Angeles Unified School District." Proposition 227 essentially eliminated bilingual education in the state. In that climate Collier and Auerbach discuss what happens when schools offer family education programs for immigrant parents that mirror the English immersion efforts in California schools and the mandated Open Court Reading curriculum.

Hye Yeong Kim, in "Parents' Perceptions, Decisions, and Influences: Korean Immigrant Parents Look at Language Learning and Their Children's Identities," investigates parents' views toward L1 (primary language) education and describes home language literacy education practices. Kim then links parents' beliefs and L1 practices to the development of children's identities and language skills in a variety of households.

"Increasing Academic Oral Language Development: Using English Language Learner Shadowing in Classrooms" by Ivannia Soto-Hinman introduces the concept of "shadowing" ELL students and the ways in which this instructional strategy can lead to success for students as they learn both English and the academic curriculum.

Claire Silbold's article "Building English Language Learners' Academic Vocabulary: Strategies and Tips" presents concrete and practical steps involved in a three-tier model of vocabulary instruction. Sibold describes procedures for teaching both elementary and secondary ELL students and for partnering with parents.

In the article "Schools Reading Parents' Worlds: Mexican Immigrant Mothers Building Family Literacy Networks," Alice Miano observes that programs of parent involvement within schools tend to be based on the needs of the specific school. …