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Posted on November 21, 2012 3:53 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 616
English Only!
We recently finished reading and discussing The House on Mango Street in my 7th grade English class. Students had mixed reactions to the book, but they were really into discussing the issues in the book. Last Tuesday, I assigned my students to small groups to discuss Esperanza’s (the main character in the book) experiences in her new school. Two of my Hispanic students in one of the groups started speaking Spanish to each other, but it was obvious that they were talking about Esperanza’s experiences. So, I did not mind this. However, some of my other students started staring at these students and two of them said “English, please! You are in America.” I told my students that it was okay for them to speak Spanish because they were on task. Then, some of my other students protested my position and said “if all international students speak their native languages, then how are we English-only speaking students going to understand anything?” How should I respond to this situation because it seems like I will have this issue again? Should I not allow any other language in the classroom?
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted December 4, 2012 7:31 am

Jessica DeLaigle
Jessica DeLaigle
Reps: 110
I feel you did the exact same thing I would have done. Your student is right, you are in America and the English-only speaking students aren't going to understand them but I would remind that student how the international students may feel when they don't always understand the lingo/slang that Americans use. Also, by allowing them to speak Spanish, you're introducing it to your English-only students which is enriching their lives. I don't think you did anything wrong at all. Great teaching moment!
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Kathy Allen
Kathy Allen
Reps: 100
Explaining to students that people speak different languages and that's okay is important. It is good to include different cultures in the classroom.
  Posted on: February 23, 2018 9:19 pm

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Solution 2
Posted December 7, 2012 12:35 pm

Selena W Farmer
Selena W Farmer
Reps: 121
I always try to put myself in the other persons shoes. So I would try explain to the students that if you were in another country where your native language was not the language spoken, how would you feel? and would you want to continue speaking English to a friend? I also think it would be an opportunity to suggest to students to learn more about each other's native languages so we all can have a better understanding and communicate better with one another. So I would let the students speak Spanish to each other, but also maybe ask them to translate what they said and share their ideas with others.
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Solution 3
Posted December 8, 2012 6:37 pm

Linda Swinson
Linda Swinson
Reps: 107
It's fine for student to speak in their native language, but it may good to advise the whole class that when in groups to speak in a way that all group members can socialize with each other because its a group discussion.
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Solution 4
Posted December 9, 2012 5:26 pm

John Buxton
John Buxton
Reps: 114
Allowing other languages is not only acceptable, it's a great thing. The other students will just have to deal with not understanding. I would encourage the Spanish speaking students to translate what they are saying to the other students when asked. This allows the other students to understand as well as be exposed to a second language. At first glance this seems like a problem, but with the right motivation from the teacher, it can be a great learning experience.
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Solution 5
Posted February 11, 2013 1:50 pm

Michelle Plumer
Michelle Plumer
Reps: 80
If the students make comments and remarks about how students should only speak English in the classroom, I would remind the the class that we accept students who speak all languages in the classroom. I would remind the students that the classroom is full of diverse students and we can learn a lot from each other. I would support students to speak their native language in classroom, but remind them to please tell the class what they said in English, so the other students can understand what they said and thus, respond to their comment. That way, the English speaking students can understand what the non-English speaking students are saying. It is important to make non-English speaking students feel comfortable in the classroom. One way to do so is to let them speak in the language they feel most comfortable in. When the students say something in their native language and then translate it into English for the class, the other students receive knowledge about their fellow student's language. It is important to mix up the groups of students for each group activity. The students who speak different languages should be placed with different classmates throughout each group activity. The students would receive a different perspective from a student with a different cultural background. This will help the students to become more accepting, as well as enhance their knowledge about different cultures.
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Solution 6
Posted December 7, 2012 2:30 pm

Jessica Oglesby
Jessica Oglesby
Reps: 110
Wow, another tough issue. I do not see anything wrong with allowing studetnst to speak their cultural language, as long as the teacher can understand them and ensure that they are on task and talking about appropriate issues. When it comes to the other students, I would explain that their comments are rude and offensive. I would however group students together that speak the same language and move them to certain spots in the classroom, this would allow all groups to work together and not interfere with other small groups that may be speaking another language. I think it is great that you are so accepting of your students cultural and language preferences, this allows others to see that you have a multicultural classroom that is open and accepting to cultural differences.
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Solution 7
Posted November 28, 2012 10:39 am

Adam Vandenhouten
Adam Vandenhouten
Reps: 97
I feel that you did the right thing by allowing the students to speak in their native language...especially if it was apparent that they were on task and talking about the book. This would be a good time to teach/explain the way an immigrant student feels coming into an English only speaking classroom. Also, how would the English speaking student feel if he or she went to another country and were told they couldn't preserve their own culture by speaking to each other in English. I believe English speaking students feel that their culture is "the culture" in America and what they need to realize is that we are a country made up of many cultures and languages. Yes, English is our primary way of communicating but why shouldn't other cultures be allowed to still speak in their own language when it is appropriate, especially if they are speaking to their friends.
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Solution 8
Posted December 6, 2012 9:13 pm

Jill Graff
Jill Graff
Reps: 104
As long as they are on task it is perfectly fine for them to be speaking their own language. As for the students who didn't think it was fair, tell them to try and learn and new language or learn Spanish so they can speak with them. I always think it is funny when I give directions in Spanish and the kids look at me like huh and the kids that know Spanish follow the directions.(We all laugh at that because I speak terrible Spanish! I never have the words in the right order.) But, you are exposing the other students to another language which now a days you almost need to be able to speak two languages to get a great job only because we are becoming mobile society.
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Solution 9
Posted December 7, 2012 11:56 am

BreAnna Sinclair
BreAnna Sinclair
Reps: 118
I believe allowing the students to speak in their native language is fine. To avoid this problem, it may be better to have these students in a separte small group with only the two of them. However, if the small groups were to share their thoughts with the class, I would have those students present in English.I would explain to the other students that in the same way we can't understand their language, sometimes they don't understand English as well as Spanish. Being fair in a classroom does not mean forcing all students to behave in the same way, but rather providing all students with the same opportunity to learn.
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Solution 10
Posted December 8, 2012 2:42 pm

areli saucedo
areli saucedo
Reps: 119
I totally understand your situation. I remember speaking spanish in the lunchroom and the teacher telling me that I was in America and that I should speak English. I told her that maybe she should learn Spanish so she could be able to understand. This can cause many problems not only in a school setting but also in a social atmosphere. Many people fear what they don't know. If I were you, I would tell those girls that the USA does not have an official language. Also, I would inform them about the many many diverse cultures that live in America. Next, I would show the class a statistics chart showing how important Spanish is in the USA. Lastly, you should not impede the use of Spanish in your classroom. This would be discrimination, according to the school's policy.
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Solution 11
Posted December 9, 2012 12:30 am

Suzi Hancock
Suzi Hancock
Reps: 134
I would have done the same thing you did by allowing the students to speak their native language in class. Maybe you could find a way to find a happy medium with everyone and get the students to speak their native language only at certain times, like small group times for instance. The other students need the exposure to other cultures to broaden their horizons and help them be more culturally aware.
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Solution 12
Posted December 9, 2012 4:34 pm

Wendie Sikes
Wendie Sikes
Reps: 57
This is a difficult issue. I am guilty of asking my Spanish speaking students to speak English. This is mostly when they are mad at me and speaking Spanish which is being disrespectful. As far as group work I think they should be allowed to speak Spanish if their whole group can understand. I would ask the students who complain to put themselves in their shoes. I would also ask the Spanish group to consider how the students who do not understand feel. This way everyone considers all points of view and let them take i from there.
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Solution 13
Posted February 17, 2013 8:47 pm

Rodnecia Walker
Rodnecia Walker
Reps: 22
I agree with the approach you decided to use within your classroom. Students should be allowed to use their native language when having discussions. This allows students to keep their identity. The students who made the rude statement should have been reprimanded. Students should feel comfortable speaking their native language among others. When having a discussion the Spanish speaking students should translate to the other students, this would satisfy everyone.
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Solution 14
Posted October 19, 2014 12:38 am

BuqeNu
BuqeNu
Reps: 100
English only is a sensitive issue. I see both sides; however, I feel the discussion should take place in a language everyone in the group can understand unless there is someone interpreting the conversation. A student with very limited English language may need a person to speak in their native language to better understand and contribute to the task. If a teacher knows the language, they are able to monitor the conversation. If they do not know the language then there may be a question about the content of the discussion. Even ESOL teachers may not know the native language of a student they are assisting. All state tests are in English; students are expected to show proficiency in English. It is great for students to know how to speak other languages; I often applaud them for successfully being able to communicate in two or more languages. When students present their task to the class, this could be a wonderful opportunity to share the information in both languages. Essentially, the teacher has to know her students and do what is best for the student and the class as a whole.
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Solution 15
Posted February 16, 2013 5:07 pm

Melissa Moore
Melissa Moore
Reps: 32
A rule could be made that when the comments made are addressed to the whole class, standard English must be used. However, when the conversation is private, other languages are welcome in the classroom.
Diverse languages enrich the classroom environment.
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