ERIC Number: ED143216
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Apr
Passive and Covert Bilinguals--A Hidden Asset for a Pluralistic Society.
Sawyer, Janet B.
The belief that bilinguals are an asset to their country is not held by most bilinguals today, much less the general public. This paper describes on-going research into the discovery that many bilinguals conceal their linguistic skill in the home language when in an English-speaking environment, passing as English-speaking monolinguals. Data are presented on a number of covert bilinguals (bilinguals who conceal knowledge of the minority language when in a dominant-language setting), showing that they have native skill in the home language, having mastered its phonological and grammatical patterns as children. In addition, passive bilinguals (bilinguals who admit to understanding the minority language but maintain that they cannot speak it) were studied to prove they are equally competent in the home language. Various patterns of behavior occur within these two general categories. Researchers in bilingualism in the Southwest, where suppression of minority cultures and languages is commonplace, must not base data on self-reports by possible bilingual informants, since denial of competence is a common strategy among them. Bilingual teachers are needed for the emerging bilingual education programs and might prevent the creation of new generations of crippled bilinguals who regard their bilingualism as a liability rather than an asset. (Author/AM)
Descriptors: Bilingual Education, Bilingual Teachers, Bilingualism, Cultural Pluralism, English (Second Language), Language Attitudes, Language Proficiency, Language Research, Minority Groups, Multilingualism, Native Speakers, Sociolinguistics, Spanish Speaking
Janet B. Sawyer, English Department, California State University, Long Beach, California 90840 (as part of the SWALLOW VI publication)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the SWALLOW Conference (Sixth, Long Beach, California, April 1977)