Aria- Richard Rodriguez & Teaching Multilingual Children- Virginia Collier
When I first read Aria, I was sad. I was sad for the loss of closeness that Richard felt from his family, a separation from their closeness. As he went on to discuss how the conversations at the dinner table diminished and how "never-mind" (pg. 37) became a common saying from the children to the parents, I grew even sadder. I was sad for the loss he felt, his culture and attention to detail of language drifting away as he assimilated to the "public language of los gringos" (pg. 34). "We remained a loving family, but one greatly changed. No longer so close, no longer bound tight by the pleasing and troubling knowledge of our public separateness." (pg. 36).
*I do wonder if all children/parents feel this bond breaking as children grow older and become their own "public individual." (pg. 39).
As I read Collier's article I thought back to the multilingual programs in the schools I have worked in and the schools I went to. Most programs were taught the transitional method, noted by Collier to be the one of the least affective models. "To dismiss the home language in literacy development instantly places immigrant children at risk" (pg. 233). "Research states that first language literacy favorably influences subsequent second language literacy. Once a child becomes literate in the home language, literacy skills swiftly transfer to second language settings" (pg. 233). There seems to be enough concrete research out there that proves that it is just as important for ESL students to be proficient in their first language, as it is for them to be proficient in English. We need to give students the opportunity to become proficient in their first language (speaking and writing), and we can only do this by having teachers that are proficient in the language of their student. Often ESL students are in a classroom with a teacher who is not proficient in the students first language, and may not even speak the language at all. We call upon parents to help us with literacy of the first language, but often parents are not proficient either.
I was not an ESL student, though I struggled greatly with learning english. I am dyslexic and I understand how hard language/literacy learning is. I also know that a strong foundation for learning is important, I tell my math students everyday. When students come into 8th grade math but still have little understanding of what number sense is we cannot move on. A foundation for learning is important. If students are being taught a second language without being literate in their first language we are trying to build a high-rise building on a foundation of straw.