ERIC Number: ED415059
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997
Reference Count: N/A
Keeping Minority Languages Alive: The School's Responsibility.
Cantoni, Gina P.
This paper discusses the need for systematic school-wide support of the use of indigenous languages among those who learn them at home and of approrpriate instruction in the same languages for those who do not. The school's role in keeping indigenous languages alive must go beyond native language instruction to encompass dissemination of information, attitudinal change, and sustained action. In the past, school practices and assimilationist policies contributed to the decline of home languages, while some Native families promoted English usage at home to ensure their children's academic success. A negative view of bilingualism persists among many educators and members of the public. Although bilingualism results in various cognitive advantages, these are seldom measured by standardized school tests. In addition to misconceptions about bilingualism, the maintenance of home languages suffers from the lower prestige and status of minority languages compared to English. To counter such negative attitudes, educators must show respect and appreciation for the cultures of their students' parents, avoid criticizing native language usage in school, and avoid transmitting perceptions that English is better than the local language. Educators should also try to learn the students' home language to convey a certain degree of interest and respect. Together, school personnel and community members can create opportunities for local language use in the school and community. Contains 17 references. (SV)
Descriptors: Acculturation, American Indian Education, American Indian Languages, Bilingualism, Educational Responsibility, Elementary Secondary Education, Language Attitudes, Language Maintenance, Language Minorities, Language Usage, Misconceptions, Native Language Instruction, Negative Attitudes, School Community Relationship, School Responsibility, School Role
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A