"My Three Sons"

"My Three Sons"



Monday, June 13, 2011

Rodriguez and Collier – Connections


In Virginia Collier’s, “Teaching Multilingual Children” she begins by expressing how fulfilling teaching is but  also acknowledges the challenges and complexities teachers  face when teaching multilingual students.  She wants to help teachers feel confidence in teaching and also allow parents to know what the expectations of their children will be.  In order to better understand how to make teaching English to second-language learners an enriching experience and appreciating students’ different languages and life situations, Collier outlines seven guidelines that can help educators.  The guidelines are as follows:
1. Be aware that children use first language acquisition strategies for learning or acquiring a second language.
2. Do not think of yourself as a remedial teacher expected to correct so called “deficiencies” of your students.
3. Don’t teach a second language in any way that challenges or seeks to eliminate the first language.
4. Teach the standard form of English and students’ home language together with and appreciation of dialect differences to create an environment of language recognition in the classroom.
5. Do not forbid students from code-switching in the classroom. Understand the functions code-switching serves.
6. Provide literacy development curriculum that is specifically designed for ELL.
7. Provide a balanced and integrated approach to the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Collier states that the reason to use all of these activities in the classroom is to make language learning as relevant as possible, eliminate boredom, and raise awareness.  She wants not only the student to be enriched but also the teachers.

In "Aria" Richard Rodriguez shares his personal and  emotional experiences as a Spanish speaking child attending an English only school.  He talks about, how as a  socially disadvantaged child  he thought Spanish was a “private language” as opposed to the “public language” of English.  Rodriguez said, “What I needed to learn in school was that I had the right and the obligation to speak the public language.”  He didn’t feel like he had a public identity until he learned the language.  Rodriguez struggled to learn English and even said he didn’t feel like it was his language to use.  It wasn’t until the nuns came to his house to encourage Richard to practice English that the change began.   The more his family spoke English the angrier Rich-heard got.  Weeks later he began to speak English and finally believed for the first time he belonged.  By seven years old he finally believed what had actually been true the whole time, “that he was an American citizen.  Rodriguez felt proud to belong and even his parents grew more publically confident with English but he definitely felt a loss at the same time.  He discusses how he felt losing the closeness with his family as they became more confident in his English. He talks about how as the children became more fluent in English, the dialogue between parents and children lessened.  The closeness at home was diminishing but that was the price the family had to pay in order to be a part of public society.  Through Rodriguez’s personal account of how he acquired the English language it gave me as a teacher a deeper look inside what some of my students must go through as individuals and as a family.
Rodriguez makes a strong statement to the bilingualists who say assimilating causes students to lose a degree of individuality.  He states, “While one suffers a dimimished sense of individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes it possible the achievement of public individuality.”

 During my readings of Collier and Rodriguez I discovered there were many connections I could make to previous articles I read.  In Finn’s, Literacy with an Attitude he discusses the importance of literacy in order to become successful.  In Collier’s article she to emphasizes the importance of literacy to be able to be successful in society.  When reflecting upon Finn’s empowering education vs domesticating education which I agree with I thought to myself that Rodriguez got what Finn would say was a domesticating education but for him it was quite “empowering.”  It enabled him to achieve success and public individuality.  I also feel that Collier is emphasizing ways for students to receive relevant and empowering literacy which is exactly what Finn argues is important.  He says, “..literacy and school knowledge could be a potent weapon in the working class’ struggle for a better deal…” (Literacy with an Attitude, xii).

In “Other People’s Children”, Delpit argues you should hold onto your culture but in order for you to be successful you must learn the rules of the power of culture.  In both Collier and Rodriguez’s articles they discuss the importance of holding onto one’s language which directly reflects their culture.  However, just as Rodriguez needed to learn English in order to have and feel successful he had to learn the “language” that the  “power of culture” uses.  Delpit believes strongly that in order for minorities to stand a chance they have to know the rules and learn the dominant language in order to compete and be successful. 
I also feel that Delpit would be able to agree with and relate to both articles.  Collier emphasizes specific explicit ways to teach English to second language learners and with Rodriguez I feel she too would agree that it was a necessity for him to learn English in order to be accepted, feel successful and as if he was finally a part of “society”. 

The last comment I have about connections is that while reading Rodriguez’s story especially how his father became quiet and almost silenced I couldn’t help but think of Delpit’s, “Silenced Dialogue.”  Though the premise was different it made me think of all the ways minorities are silenced and how the power of culture takes over.


  1. Nina, I enjoyed reading your connections to Finn because I did not read Finn. I find the concept of "empowering education" and "domesticating education" intriguing. Don't we really want our children to have both?

  2. Hi Nina, I too made the connection between Collier and Delpit but since I had not read Finn that connection eluded me. I agree though that it seems from his description that the education Rodriguez received was probably more domesticating then empowering in nature.

  3. Great blog, I used it for extended comments. We have some similiar connections! Thanks and see you Wednesday!! :0)

  4. Nina, I also liked hearing about the connections to Finn because I did not read that piece. I commented about the father in Rodriguez's piece as well...I thought that was so profound that he was "silenced" when English was being spoken but his speech came alive when he spoke his native language of Spanish.