which serve as vehicles for the main concepts in our culture. By the time the child comes to the first grade he has mastered the essentials of his mother tongue. He has a complete command of its patterns within the conceptual framework of his cultural environment. His lexical knowledge is extensive, estimated by various authorities as ranging from 5,099 to 24,000 lexical items. The child entering school at six or seven years of age is at the optimum age to begin the study of a second language, in this case English. Dr. Wilder Penfield, Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute, writes: “There is an age when the child has a remarkable capacity to use these areas \(of a time when several languages can be learned simultaneously, as easily as one language. Later with the appearance of the capacity for reason and abstract thinking this early ability is largely lost.” Auditory comprehension and speech are inextricably intertwined in any meaningful foreign language program. One of the principal implications of this statement is that maximum results can only be obtained if the teacher is fluent in both the pupil’s mother tongue and in the target language of the teacher two problem areas can be readily avoided: First, as Nelson Brooks recommends, problems of comprehension can be readily thereby insuring that the new sound patterns which the pupil is required to imitate and memorize always have real meaning to him. The so-called “direct method” which has been recommended for generations is wasteful of time and often leads to the student’s incorrect interpretation of the meaning of the patterns which he is required to learn. Second, the person who is competent in both languages can readily identify those areas of phonology, morphology, and syntax which will cause difficulties for pupils of a specific linguistic background. The content of the Mexican-American’s reader must be a story which contains characters and animals with which a Mexican-American child can identify. The pictures illustrating the story should be culturally oriented to the Mexican-American child. The characters and situation should be realistic and not mirror an idealistic Texas-Anglo never-never land. Inherent in these points is the proposition that all school activities need not be subordinated to the learning of English. Such a curricular philosophy would be a negation of all sound educational principles. The example of Miami in assimilating the exiled Cuban population shows what can be done by imaginative leadership and might well be copied by Texas school districts. Bi-lingual Spanish-speaking teachers need to be assigned to the primary grades to provide the linguistic key for the educational development of the Mexican 4 The Texas Observer American child. In those communities where duly certified or certifiable bilingual teachers are not available, qualified bi-lingual teacher aides should be hired at an appropriately professional salary to teach the English language portion of the school program. Teacher allotment formulas should be revised on the basis of Miami’s experience : For each 60 elementary grade MexicanAmerican pupils, one teacher, two teacher aides. Concurrent with the Mexican-American child’s learning of English, his Anglo classmates should be developing the ability to use the Spanish language through a Spanish language program in each elementary school. Spanish language programs should accentuate the important and desirable historical and cultural attributes of the The writer of the article above is by no means the only professional in the field of education for Mexican-Americans who is concerned with the problem the dominance of the English language in public school instruction causes Mexican-American students. For instance, a conference of Mexican-American educators and leaders in Los Angeles, as reported in The New York Times Aug. 11, urged what the Times called “a fundamental reorientation of public education in the Southwest.” Reported the Times: “. .. the efforts of adults and children alike to become assimilated are thwarted by aneducational system built on ‘AngloSaxon middle-class values,’ with curricula, tests, and general criteria designed by monocultural, monolingual Anglo-Saxons.’ “. . . Mexican-American community leaders have concluded that the major barrier is language, inadequately met by a school system designed for an Anglo-Saxon majority. “The result, it was submitted at the conference, is that Mexican-American children become imbued with feelings of ‘inferiority, futility, and frustration’ that impel 75% of them to end their education by the time they reach high school, perpetuating the problem. . . . “Outlining ‘compensatory’ steps, Hilario Pena, a secondary school supervisor of foreign lanuages, urged: . . . More classroom emphasis on Mexican-American history and cultural contributions. . . . Teaching of English to Mexican-American children ‘as a second language, not as a substitute for SpaniSh.’ ” The traditional Latin-Americans’ position in Texas has been opposition to the use of Spanish in school on grounds that often seemed to associate the English language and patriotism. As a germane example of this approach we cite the resolu Mexican-American group and bring recognition and status to the members of the group, not only in school but in the community as well. The foreign language programs in the classroom will complement each other and motivate the pupils in other areas by providing a discipline whose skills can be pleasurably learned. The Texas Education Agency, in cooperation with one of the state universities and the U.S. Office of Education, should establish a summer institute to train teachers in the development and use of linguistically oriented language teaching materials. THE FUTURE is already here. Texas can no longer ignore the legitimate aspirations of the Mexican-Americans nor deny them the opportunity of equal achievement in their communities. What is needed is vision and the courage to act now. tion of the Corpus Christi League of UnitAug. 8 to encourage Latin-Americans not to speak Spanish, except in their homes. Carlos Truan, president, was quoted by the Caller-Times: “We will do all we can -in encouraging our people to speak English in all public places. We are not discouraging the speaking of Spanish. We are proud of our heritage, and we believe the people will be better people and better citizens if they know two languages. But we believe that Spanish should be spoken in the home, not in public in our country where English is the national language.” Corpus LULAC plans to send members to schools to encourage Latin-American students to speak only English on the playgrounds. The Observer has received a communication bearing on this general subject froin George I. Sanchez, the educator. A Communication Growing concern over school dropouts has been much in the news recently. Governor Connally and others have made public their alarm over the situation in Texas, and properly so. However, pious expressions of concern and bombastic warnings of the dire consequences of the dropout problem become completely empty and meaningless verbalizations unless the fundamental causes for dropouts are recognized and positive steps are taken towards remedying this deplorable phase of our educational operation. I could write at great length on this question, and define and document numerous failings in Texas public education which Other Approaches
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