NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1026546
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0094-0771
Habla Con Ellos--Talk to Them: Latinas/os, Achievement, and the Middle Grades
Salas, Spencer; Jones, Jeanneine P.; Perez, Theresa; Fitchett, Paul G.; Kissau, Scott
Middle School Journal (J3), v45 n1 p18-23 Sep 2013
Culture plays a critical role in the most effective middle schools (NMSA, 2010), and the Education Department at University of North Carolina at Charlotte considers transnational children of immigration to be a great wealth, a rich blessing. This Department works tirelessly to equip today's middle grades teachers to serve this group of children better than they were served 20 years ago. Teacher educators within UNC Charlotte's large, urban college of education, now regularly receive requests for assistance from middle and high school teachers and administrators who are interested in establishing a better school environment for their increasingly diverse adolescent populations. Although professionals across many fields need to consider the multiple and overlapping domains at play in the educational development of children of immigration, the focus of UNC Charlotte's Department of Education is specific to the sociocultural processes at work in classrooms and schools. These processes include "the social and psychological distance between first and second language speakers, perceptions of each group in interethnic relations, cultural stereotyping, intergroup hostility, subordinate status of a minority group in a given region, and patterns of assimilation" (Collier, 1998, p. 21). The authors explain that the most powerful tool middle grades educators can employ is direct conversation with their students; for example: "Who are you as a Latino?" "What does that mean to you?" "How is your culture different from the cultures of other adolescents in our class?" "In what ways is it the same?" In other words, rather than talking generally about Latinos, who they are, and what distinguishes them from other adolescents, teachers should ask their students directly how schools might work better for them and their families, in particular. Begin that association in an authentic and meaningful way through simple conversation: "Habla con ellos." It is through talking to their students that teachers help them form healthy personal identities and positive relationships with peers and adults (Strahan, et al., 2009). The following three initial questions, discussed herein, work well to open the conversation and are guaranteed to grow meaningful and strategic discussion in middle grades classrooms: "Tell me about your family," "I love that we are different, but how are we the same?" and "What do you do best, and what brings out the best in you?" The authors indicate that these topics (who students are, where they come from, what they already know and know how to do, and who they are in the process of becoming) can and should serve as starting points for dialogue and community growth in each middle grades classroom. This is doubly important for Latino newcomers, who have so much to offer beyond the stereotypes with which they are often labeled.
Association for Middle Level Education. 4151 Executive Parkway Suite 300, Westerville, OH 43081. Tel: 800-528-6672; Tel: 800-528-6672; Fax: 614-895-4750; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A