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Linguistic adaptation, English instruction, and the second generation Latino immigrant

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  1. Defining in particular who Hispanics are.
  2. The debate on bilingual education and the assumption on acculturation in today's immigrants.
  3. Advancing the quest for a better understanding.
  4. The importance of understanding of English.
  5. Arguments of critics of additive bilingualism.
  6. Contest between additive and subtractive programs revolving around questions of social and cultural unity.

Since colonial times, the U.S. has been a nation both divided and united by its ethnic and linguistic diversity. Benjamin Franklin himself regarded the German minority of Pennsylvania as linguistically and racially inferior, yet also printed the first German newspaper in Philadelphia (Baron, 1990). Today, our country prides itself in being a so-called ?melting pot? of world cultures, and in fact has no official language (Adams, 1990). Yet, somehow the broad, unwritten consensus has always been that English is the language necessary to succeed, and indeed, immigrants from all over the globe have often been motivated to quickly learn English for their own survival here. Social scientists and policymakers are more attuned to needs of linguistic minorities than ever before, and have implemented various strategies to encourage a shift towards the English language for the sake of economic incorporation. The relatively recent rise in bilingual education programs is just one example that reflects the new trend towards pluralism, a model for ethnic relations in which different groups maintain separate cultures and identities, but share equally in rights, liberties, and economic opportunities. Today's Hispanic immigrant youth are the largest test subjects of such pluralist experimentation, and are widely enrolled in bilingual education programs that have been hotly debated. Before explaining why and how Hispanic immigrant youth learn English though, this essay will discuss precisely who Hispanics are, what unique conditions they face today, how language fits into a pertinent model of assimilation, and the salience of language in ethnic identity. With this framework in place, I will argue that today's pluralist, or ?additive bilingualism,? approaches to encouraging English comprehension among Hispanic immigrant youth are far better than monolinguistic, ?subtractive bilingualism,? or English ?immersion? programs that aim to promote English use at the expense of the Hispanic mother-tongue.

[...] Introduction to Sociology, Edition Four. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Glazer, N. (1977). Public Education and American Pluralism. In J. Coleman (ed.) Parents, Teachers, and Children: Prospects for Choice in American Education (pp. 85-109). San Fransisco: University of South California Press. Greene, J. (1998) A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Bilingual Education. Austin, TX: The Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. Retrieved April from Massey, D. S. (1995). The New Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States. Population and Development Review 21, 631-649. [...]

[...] For instance, in percent of all Latinos were foreign born, and 25.6 of all Latino households contained 5 or more people (versus only 10.8 percent among non-Hispanic Whites) (US Bureau of the Census, 2002a). Hispanics also take up an unprecedented portion of immigration. In total, they make up 52.2 percent of the immigrant population (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2002b). Also noteworthy is the fact that today's immigrants are the most linguistically monolithic of all time, as 40 percent of today's immigrants speak Spanish, in contrast to the diverse distribution of European languages used by immigrants of the classic era (Massey 646). [...]

[...] For instance, one new and sophisticated approach to the bilingual classroom brings LEP and native English-speaking students together in a program that teaches both groups a second language, and usually switches the primary language of instruction at midday (Donegan, 1996). Bilingual schools that do mostly separate fluent English speakers and LEP Latino students, however, contribute to their shared futures by encouraging high educational attainment and thus alleviating future segregation due to income inequality and racial/ethnic stratification. Even then, most Hispanic immigrants live in segregated, concentrated co-ethnic enclaves, and their elementary schools tend to reflect this homogeny as well (US Bureau of the Census, 2002a). [...]

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