Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century

Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century

Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century

Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century

Synopsis

Tremendous cultural and linguistic diversity is evident in our schools today. This text by one of today's best-known and most highly respected multicultural educators presents examples of real-life dilemmas about diversity that teachers will face in their own classrooms; ideas about how language, culture, and teaching are linked; and ways to engage with these ideas through reflection and collaborative inquiry. A thoughtful integration of articles and book chapters published by Dr. Nieto along with creative pedagogical features, Language, Culture, and Teaching: Critical Perspectives for a New Century: *explores how language and culture are connected to teaching and learning in educational contexts; *examines the sociocultural and sociopolitical contexts of language and culture to understand how they may affect student learning and achievement; *analyzes the implications of linguistic and cultural diversity for school reform and educational equity; *encourages critical reflection on classroom practices related to linguistic and cultural diversity; and * offers in each chapter critical questions to help readers build on the knowledge they have gained by analyzing the concepts further; classroom activities that provide suggestions for applying what they have learned to their own teaching context; and community activities suggesting projects beyond the classroom context, in settings ranging from the school or district to the state or national level. New times deserve new textbooks that engage teachers in viewing students' cultural and linguistic differences in a more hopeful and critical way, and in changing classroom practices and school policies to promote the learning of all students. Although no easy answers are available to fix the problems and uncertainties teachers encounter every day, there are thoughtful ways to address them that respect teachers' and other educators' professionalism, honor the identities of students and their families, and validate the nation's claim to educate students of all backgrounds. The aim of this text is to help practicing and preservice teachers accomplish these goals.

Excerpt

The United States is becoming more ethnically, racially, and linguistically diverse than it ever has been before. Between 1970 and 1990, a period of intense immigration, more newcomers came to our country than at almost any other time in our history. From 1981 to 1990 alone, more than 7.3 million people entered the United States legally, increasing immigration by 63% over the previous decade (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1994). Unlike previous immigrants who were principally from Europe, approximately one third of the newest immigrants are now from Asia and another third from Latin America (U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1995), changing both the complexion and the complexity of our society. Moreover, approximately 32 million people speak a language other than English at home, with almost half of those people speaking Spanish. Put another way, the percentage of those who speak languages other than English as their native language increased in just 10 years from 11% to 14% of our total population (Portes & Rumbaut, 1996).

The impact of this growing cultural and linguistic diversity is nowhere more visible than in our schools. For instance, by 1992, 50 of the largest 99 school districts in the United States had more than 50% enrollment of what were classified as “minority” students, that is, students of African American, Native American, Latino/a, and Asian backgrounds (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 1994). In addition, at present almost 20% of elementary and high school students have at least one foreign-born parent, and nearly 5% of students are themselves foreign born (U. S. Bureau of the Census, 1999). Related to the increase in immigration . . .

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