Bilingual Basics

Bilingual Basics News, Volume 9:1 (May 2007)

by User Not Found | 11/03/2011
In This Issue...
  • Leadership Updates
    • Note From the Editor and Coeditor
    • Information
  • Articles and Information
    • "Common Factors in High-Achieving Immigrant Elementary School Students’ Success" by Hongfang Yu
    • "California Bilingual Credential Reauthorization: Political Process and Update" by Dr. Karen Cadiero-Kaplan
    • "Developing American Sign Language Identity Texts: A Case Study" by Kristin Snoddon
    • "Biculturalism: Perspectives From the Field of Intercultural Communication" by Piper McNulty
    • "Indigenous Anonymous Bilingual People: Implications for Teachers" by Mario E. López-Gopar
    • "Project Nueva Generación: Community-Based Teacher Education in Chicago" by Dr. Elizabeth Skinner
    • "An Overview of the BEIS 2006–07 Special Project" by Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Dr. Shelley K. Taylor, Dr. Madeline Millian, Dr. Mayra Daniel & Dr. David Schwarzer

Leadership Updates Note From the Editor and Coeditor

Dr. Shelley K. Taylor, Faculty of Education, The University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada,, and
Sarah Cohen, ABD, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, ON, Canada,

There are seven articles in this issue of Bilingual Basics. They outstandingly meet the BEIS Newsletter goal of providing a forum for discussing educational and sociopolitical issues in pre-K through postsecondary bilingual educational settings around the world. Topics raised involve K-16 issues in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that have broad implications for bilingual learners worldwide: The articles deal with assumptions about Indigenous bilinguals that deny their ethnolinguistic uniqueness, assumptions about bilingual learners being underachievers when they may in fact be high achievers, Deaf students' ties to their own linguistic community and literacies; and bilingual learners' intercultural identity challenges. The articles also deal with current trends in bilingual teacher education, innovative cases of "Grow Your Own" bilingual teachers, and efforts to reauthorize bilingual credentials in California today.

We were struck by the high quality of each of the submissions, and stirred by the common threads of care and concern that ran through all of the articles: Each article describes or is underpinned by the desire to improve conditions for bilingual learners, and many provide practical suggestions for how that may be achieved. These are articles to share with students, practitioners, colleagues, parents, the media, and decision makers. They put a face to, or contextualize, the bilingual debate. It is our hope that BEIS members will draw from these articles in their efforts to advocate for bilingual education and bilingual learners.
Please note that articles that appear in the BEIS e-newsletter with bylines are not copyrighted by TESOL or the interest section. Authors retain copyright of their own work. Although TESOL encourages readers to share the contents of the newsletter with interested colleagues and students, articles may not be reprinted or posted online without the express written permission of the author.

With sincere thanks,
Shelley and Sarah


1. BEIS Newsletter Mission Statement


The goal of the BEIS Newsletter is to provide a forum for the discussion of educational and sociopolitical issues in pre-K through postsecondary bilingual educational settings around the world.


The BEIS Newsletter is oriented to practitioners and teacher educators working in bilingual education programs around the world.


The BEIS Newsletter serves as a vehicle for the expression of ideas and scholarship related to teaching and learning in bilingual classroom settings. The newsletter also takes an advocacy position with respect to bilingual education. It includes articles, research summaries, book reviews, convention information, and general commentary.
Approved at the 2004 annual business meeting on March 31, 2004.

2. TESOL 2008: BEIS Academic Session and InterSections

Academic Session

Title: Imagining Multilingual TESOL
Presenters: TBA


Current plans include for BEIS to sponsor an InterSection session with the Elementary Education IS, and to take part in an InterSection session sponsored by the Intercultural Communication IS.

3. 2007-08 BEIS Slate of Officers

Chair: Linda Evans
Chair-Elect: Shelley Taylor
Past Chair: David Schwarzer
Secretary: Nancy Dubetz
Newsletter Editor, Regular: Sarah Cohen
Newsletter Editor, Special Topic: Alcione Ostorga
Newsletter Editor, Regular & Special Topic: Deoksoon Kim
Secretary: Nancy Dubetz
Member at Large: Maria Coady
Member at Large: Mayra Daniel
Member at Large: Jane Freiberg
Member at Large: Madeline Milian
Member at Large: Francisco Ramos
Member at Large: Cheryl Serrano
Member at Large: Patrick Smith
TEDS Rep to the Steering Committee: Jane Nickerson
Webmaster: Darcy Christianson
Governing Rules Committee: Sybil Ishman

4. BEIS Discussion E-List

Visit to sign up for BEIS-L, the discussion list for members of this community, or visit if already a subscriber.

5. Call for Manuscripts: BILINGUAL BASICS, 9 (2)

Special Topic Issue: Language Policies and Their Impact on English Language Learners

The audience of this newsletter is bilingual teachers and teacher educators in TESOL. Manuscripts for the Summer 2007 issue of the newsletter should address the impact of language and academic policies that affect English language learners. Below are a set of questions related to this topic; however, any manuscript focusing on the impact of language policy is welcome.

o What policies are having the most impact on bilingual learners in K-16 educational settings in different national contexts?

o How do language policies affect curriculum development? Materials development? Assessment and evaluation practices?

o In the U.S. context, how is No Child Left Behind or other policies relevant to the education of bilingual learners affecting the day-to-day work of teachers of bilingual children? The preparation or professional development of teachers of bilingual children?

The deadline for submission is June 15, 2007. Manuscripts should be approximately 1,200 words in length and must be formatted according to the guidelines of the American Psychological Association Publication Manual, Fifth Edition. Manuscripts must be submitted electronically Manuscripts in languages other than English are welcome.

Articles and Information "Common Factors in High-Achieving Immigrant Elementary School Students’ Success" by Hongfang Yu

Hongfang Yu, The University of Western Ontario,

What makes high-achieving immigrant students successful? Prior schooling experiences in the home country, teachers' and parents' scaffolding of language development and academic learning, and learning strategies that students employ in their studies all play a vital role in how English language learners do at school. Furthermore, these factors are commonly identified as crucial for English language learners to become high academic achievers. In this article, I briefly present how I structured my investigation into the factors involved in high-achieving immigrant elementary school students' success. I then present the findings I drew from this research and conclude with several recommendations.

Watt and Roessingh (2001) reported a 74% dropout rate among English language learner high school students. This figure is 2.5 times the average dropout rate for high school students in Canada. More alarming still, as many as 93% of all English language learners who arrived in Canada as rank beginners in English are likely to drop out of high school. Many regular classroom teachers are unaware of the time required for English language learners to develop communicative and academic competence in their second language (L2), English. Jim Cummins's (1981) work suggested that it may take English language learners 2 years to develop communicative competence in their L2, but 5 to 7 years to master academic English. More troubling still, once English language learners develop communicative competence and can communicate fluently with teachers and English-speaking peers, their teachers often do not distinguish between English language learners and Canadian-born native speakers of English. This complicates the teachers' assessment of English language learners' academic achievement. Though, to some, such equal treatment may appear to create an equitable "level playing field" for assessment, it fails to account for the considerable challenges English language learners must face in meeting academic expectations. They must be proficient enough in academic English to deal with a second language and academic content simultaneously. The difficulties these linguistic discrepancies cause can result in English language learners being identified as "learning disabled."

Clearly, not all English language learners fall under the negative designation of learning disabled. There are also English language learners who stand out as high academic achievers. My investigation involved four such learners in grade 6: Bo, Wen, Carlos, and Yuan.¹ Bo, Wen, and Yuan were of Chinese origin, and Carlos came from Latin America. Their teachers, Ms. Johnson (a regular classroom teacher) and Mr. Smith (an ESL teacher), were also participants. I based my study on teachers' perceptions of high achievement among immigrant students, and these students' perceptions of how they adapted to their new academic setting and achieved success in their studies. Data were collected from classroom observation and through semi-structured interviews with teachers and students. Findings suggest that even when students are motivated and high achieving, cultural discontinuities may still remain. These may or may not cause difficulties for students in their learning. However, these findings point to the critical need for educators to heighten their awareness of these issues.

My purpose in this study was to look at what made these English language learners successful. I framed my investigation into this overarching question around the following questions:

  • What learning strategies do the students employ in their studies?
  • In which subjects are the students particularly successful?
  • How does second language proficiency affect the students' success?
  • What study skills do the students use to help them when they do not understand something in class?
  • How do the students' first languages (L1) contribute to their success?
  • How does their academic achievement in Canada compare to that in their home country?
  • How do their teachers support and encourage them?
  • What role(s) do their parents play in their school success?
  • What additional factors may contribute to the students' success (e.g., parents' education levels, tutoring, and community support)?

I elaborate on my findings below.

Factors That Contribute to High-Achieving Immigrant Elementary School Students' Success

Students' Previous Educational Experiences
The knowledge that the students in this study had acquired from their previous school experiences helped them make a successful transition to their new school context. This success seemed to be assisted by the fact that the students took the same or similar subjects, such as science and math. However, in contrast to their academic subjects, I did not find that the previous experiences the students had with English as a foreign language (EFL) played any significant role in their adaptation to schooling in Canada. Although Bo and Wen had studied English from kindergarten in China (i.e., EFL), their English skills were weaker than those of Carlos and Yuan, who had come to Canada with no prior experience in EFL. According to their teachers, Carlos and Yuan had very good English. In fact, Carlos got the best grades in English in the whole class, which was composed of both English language learners and native speakers.

Prior L1 Literacy Development in Students' Home Countries
The fact that students were very proficient in their L1s facilitated their L2 development. It also proved important in their ongoing communication with family members back home.

Positive Attitudes Toward Education
The students' positive attitudes toward education made learning exciting for them. In fact, their love of learning appeared to be a determining factor in the high degree of effort they put forth in their studies. The three Chinese students described their schooling experiences in China as "no fun," "a lot of homework," "long hours of study," and "having to go to school on the weekend." In contrast, they described their Canadian educational experience as "a lot of fun" and "interesting." These positive attitudes promoted active study habits.

Student Awareness of Personal Weaknesses
The students always held high expectations of themselves and were never satisfied with their progress. According to the teachers, these students were happy when they did well and upset when they did less well. Still, their cognizance of their weaknesses motivated them to work harder to do even better in the future.

Self-Confidence Developed Through Academic Excellence
The joy the students experienced from excelling at school further aroused their interest in schoolwork and helped build their self-confidence. In turn, this confidence led them to work even harder on the subjects they excelled in.

Students' Practice of School Subjects
Students' determination to practice their skills originated from their positive attitude related to schoolwork. They wanted to do better in their school studies, so they practiced a great deal and spent quite a bit of time on school subjects. They never handed their homework in late. Furthermore, they did extra homework under their parents' guidance.

Teacher Support and Supportive Learning Environment
Both teachers in my study created comfortable learning environments for their students, and cared about needs particular to English language learner students. Also, both were ESL specialists who understood these needs. For example, they provided many opportunities for English language learners to answer questions in class. These teachers gave the English language learners a lot of encouragement; they believed that building up the English language learners' self-confidence was what counted most when they encountered different linguistic and cultural norms and expectations in Canadian classrooms.

Parental Support at Home
Parental support for English learning, L1 maintenance, and school subjects such as mathematics improved the English language learners' school performance. In Carlos's case, his parents engaged him in English conversation every day at home; in fact, a certain amount of time at home was reserved for Carlos and his siblings to practice speaking English. The rest of the time, they spoke Spanish, watched Spanish TV programs, and read Spanish books to maintain the children's Spanish proficiency. The Chinese students' parents focused more on mathematics. They assigned extra math homework to their children to build up their mathematical skills.

Parents' High Educational Backgrounds
Parents' high educational backgrounds set positive examples for their children and helped shape their positive attitudes toward studying. The parents of all four high-achieving immigrant students held at least a master's degree. Although I did not interview the parents, on the basis of what they did to help their children in their studies, I inferred that they placed a high value on education and doing well in school. This value was likely linked to their own positive educational experiences.

Strategies Students Employed in Academic Studies and Language Learning
The students used various strategies to solve problems they encountered in their studies. Their strategy usage helped ensure effective linguistic and academic learning. Referring to Oxford's (1990) standards for language learning strategies, I determined that the second language learning strategies employed the most by the child participants in my study were

  • practicing,
  • receiving and sending messages,
  • analyzing and reasoning,
  • creating structures for input and output, and
  • arranging and planning their learning.

Students also used strategies such as guessing, overcoming limitations, and evaluating their learning, though not as frequently as they used the first group of strategies.

In relation to general learning strategies, Nisbet and Shucksmith (1986) identified the following as strategies commonly used by students: asking questions, planning, monitoring, checking, revising, and self-testing. The students in my study drew on all of the above-mentioned strategies with the exception of revising and self-testing.

Friendly Competition Between Peers
A certain amount of friendly competition between peers encouraged the students to improve their studies and strengthen friendships. Bo and Wen sat at the same table in the classroom. When one of them completed an assignment, he would make some noise to indicate to the other child that he had finished. The other child then worked harder to solve the problem as soon as possible.

Extensive Reading
The reading the students did in their L2 (English) greatly contributed to their English literacy development. Their English writing skills also benefited from reading that they undertook in English. All of the students agreed that it was important to read in their L2 to improve their knowledge of it. For example, Carlos said that when he was writing, he could remember the words or phrases he read, and use them in his writing later.

Students' Background Culture
Some aspects of the students' background cultures (e.g., valuing education) were linked to their school success. On the other hand, certain cultural aspects could be seen as potential obstacles to school progress. For example, Bo and Wen were afraid of answering questions because they worried about "losing face" if they gave a wrong answer.

Suggestions for Helping English Language Learners Succeed Academically

Educators must communicate with English language learners, understand their students' needs, reflect on teaching practices, and learn from experience. Only then will the English language learners' practice improve and their educational goals be met. I offer the following suggestions for English language learners, their parents, and their teachers:

  • It is important that teachers create a supportive classroom environment.
  • It is important that parents create a supportive home environment in which their children can communicate with them about their school life.
  • Teachers and parents should gain basic knowledge of second language acquisition and English language learners' social and emotional needs (including an awareness of cultural differences regarding participation).
  • It is useful for teachers to encourage friendly competition among English language learners.
  • English language learners must engage in active study practices. When they encounter obstacles, they should try a variety of strategies to overcome their difficulties.

In short, joint home, school, and student efforts are needed for English language learners to meet with success in their studies. This study strongly suggests that all who wish to take part in the education of English language learners should consider their social context of schooling. It is crucial to take this information into account before making pedagogical decisions on behalf of English language learners.

Cummins, J. (1981). The role of primary language development in promoting educational success for language minority students. In California State Department of Education (Ed.), Schooling and language minority students: A theoretical framework (pp. 3-49). Los Angeles: National Dissemination and Assessment Center.

Nisbet, J., & Shucksmith, J. (1986). Learning strategies. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Oxford, R. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. New York: Newbury House.

Watt, D., & Roessingh, H. (2001). The dynamics of ESL drop-out: Plus ça change.... Canadian Modern Language Review, 58(2), 203-223.

¹ All names used in this article are pseudonyms.

"California Bilingual Credential Reauthorization: Political Process and Update" by Dr. Karen Cadiero-Kaplan

Dr. Karen Cadiero-Kaplan, San Diego State University,

Context and Background
One of the accomplishments of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) was the development of the Cross-Cultural, Language and Academic Development (CLAD) and Bilingual CLAD (BCLAD) certifications. The CLAD and BCLAD emphasis programs commenced in 1992. The purpose of these certifications was to ensure that every graduate of a credential/licensure program in California was prepared to provide for the educational needs of English learners, whether in an English language development program (via CLAD) or in a bilingual program (via BCLAD). The CLAD and BCLAD authorizations changed in 1998 when the state of California passed Senate Bill 2042 (SB 2042). This bill required CCTC to restructure the CLAD emphasis certification that authorized teachers to provide instruction to English learners. The passage of SB 2042 led to greater emphasis on English acquisition and less on biliteracy and bilingual development. Though not intentional, the passage of SB 2042 coincided with the passage of Proposition 227, which required that English learners be taught in English unless families specifically requested that their children be in a bilingual program. Proposition 227 aimed to teach children English in 1 year and led to the dismantling of many bilingual programs in K-12 schools. An underlying current with the reauthorization of CLAD and SB 2042 was that there would be less demand for bilingual teachers, since programs were beginning to disappear. That is, Proposition 227 implied English only instruction as the norm, and bilingual education as an alternative model. This led to the assumption that there would be a decrease in bilingual programs; therefore, less demand or need for bilingually certified teachers. In reality, however, the demand for bilingual teachers did not change. In fact, BCLAD certified teachers remain in high demand to teach in classrooms and schools with high English learner populations.

The restructuring of CLAD initiated by SB 2042 did not take the bilingual component of CLAD into consideration. In 2001 the new certification for Multiple Subject and Single Subject teacher candidates in California, now known as 2042, replaced CLAD. The new certification process embeds key curriculum in culture, language development, and critical areas of diverse learning into mainstream teacher certification programs. However, those individuals interested in pursing bilingual certification need to complete the 2042 requirements plus the original bilingual emphasis certificate (BCLAD). Programs offering the B/CLAD option need to meet both 2042's and BCLAD's standards.

In order to address the inequity of teacher preparation for bilingual candidates, the CCTC convened a Bilingual Work Group. The group was composed of 15 experts in the area of English language development and biliteracy. They represented K-12 public education, higher education, and professional development organizations. I was the member representing CATESOL. The Bilingual Work Group's task was to address four key policy questions that were designed to determine the need and processes for reauthorizing bilingual certification under 2042's guidelines.

The proposals were developed based on public input gathered via three sources:

  • focus groups held across the state,
  • an online bilingual survey sent to teachers and administrators, and
  • Online forum questionnaires were made available to those who could not attend public forums.

Input was gathered from more than 900 people. On the basis of the data gathered, our group made specific recommendations that addressed each policy question. Our recommendations were unanimously approved by the CCTC in May 2006. To view a summary of the data and the full report, go to the Bilingual Certification web page at

Below, I outline each of the four policy questions, and offer a brief background of the issue. I end with a summary of the core recommendations as approved by the CCTC in May 2006. Beginning in November 2006, the original Bilingual Work Group reconvened as the Bilingual Design Team. The additional members who joined the team at that time represented the California Teachers Association, the California Association of Bilingual Education, the Association of California School Administrators, and the California Federation of Teachers. The team's task was to write updated standards for bilingual certification. These standards are expected to align with the mandates of SB 2042. They are also expected to incorporate key knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) for biliteracy development based on recent research and our recommendations.

Policy Question #1: Alternative routes for currently credentialed teachers
Should the Commission explore alternatives to the current route to bilingual certification for already-credentialed teachers?

Background: Teachers who hold a credential that does not authorize them to teach in a bilingual classroom can currently add a bilingual teaching authorization by passing the BCLAD examination. The work group considered whether an examination route should be the only route to earn a bilingual authorization for those teachers already credentialed (as is the current policy). We also considered whether there should be additional routes to bilingual certification, such as completion of a program of coursework, or a combination of both coursework and passage of an examination.

Recommendations for Policy Question #1:
It is recommended that the CCTC provide multiple pathways for currently credentialed teachers to obtain bilingual authorization. Options will include exams, coursework, and professional development. In order to establish multiple pathways, the commission appointed design team must complete the following activities:

A: Revalidate the six domains currently specified in the BCLAD examinations and authorizations including

  1. First- and second-language development and the structure of language,
  2. Methodology of English language development and specially designed content instruction in English
  3. Culture and cultural diversity
  4. Methodology of content instruction in the pupil's primary language
  5. Knowledge of the culture associated with a specific language group
  6. Competence in a language other than English that is spoken by limited-English-proficient pupils in California.

All candidates wishing to pursue bilingual certification in California would satisfy these domains. Once revalidated, bilingual certification should include alternative professional development or coursework options as an alternative to the examination route.

B: Meet the requirements for "competence in a language other than English that is spoken by limited-English-proficient pupils in California." It is recommended that such competency be demonstrated via any of the following:

  1. Passing a CCTC-approved examination (e.g., Test 6 of the current BCLAD examination).
  2. Holding a California Single Subject or Standard Secondary Teaching Credential with a major in the language to be authorized.
  3. Having an earned degree in higher education from a foreign institution in which the instruction is delivered in the language to be authorized.
  4. Passing the language portion of the California Subject Emphasis Tests Language Other Than English examination.

Policy Question 2: Structure for initial bilingual certification
How shall the Commission maintain a structure for bilingual certification for those candidates who are in the process of earning a credential?

Background: Bilingual teacher candidates must have strong speaking and writing skills in the language of instruction, awareness of second-language acquisition issues, and familiarity with English language development and specially designed academic instruction in English strategies. They must have student teaching experience in a classroom in which the language of instruction is in a language other than English. Competencies and assessments for bilingual teacher candidates are currently offered within the Multiple/Single Subject Teaching Credential Bilingual emphasis programs.

Recommendations for Policy Question #2:

A: Develop bilingual teacher preparation programs that meet SB2042 standards and adopt rigorous standards in the domains of language, culture, and teaching methodology.

B: Update bilingual teacher certification standards to include KSAs in

  1. Current research and best practices related to pedagogy, first and second language development, linguistics, and biliteracy.
  2. Current legislation and related policy pertaining to second language learners, to include SB2042 structure.
  3. Bilingual program models (e.g., transitional, two-way/dual language immersion, foreign language, maintenance).
  4. Other instructional program settings for English learners.
  5. Social, economic, and cultural context of the target community.
  6. Student teaching or internship in bilingual instructional settings with English learners in K-12 public schools.

C: Maintain existing multiple pathways to earn a bilingual credential that include program coursework (e.g., university, blended, internships) as well as CCTC-approved language, culture, and pedagogy examinations.

D: Ensure that induction support is provided for bilingual teachers in local school districts, including professional support from the time they receive their preliminary credentials, through induction, to the professional "clear" credential. In CA, holders of a preliminary credential are authorized to teach with the understanding that they will complete induction professional development within five years. After completing the induction period, candidates receive aclear credential that is renewed every five years thereafter. Presently, all new teachers must have a support provider to mentor them through the induction process; however, bilingual teachers are not required to have a bilingual support provider. It is thus recommended that, when available or possible, support providers for new bilingual teachers should have BCLAD certification. In addition, it is recommended that new teachers have the opportunity, when possible, to meet competencies of SB2042 induction standard 19, English Learner Development; these competencies should take place in a bilingual educational context when available.

Policy Question #3: Bilingual Certification—Less Commonly Taught Languages
Given the increased number of languages spoken by students in California classrooms, how can the Commission provide bilingual certification for more languages?

Background: BCLAD examinations are offered for 10 languages, and emphasis programs are offered for 14 languages. Yet over 50 languages are spoken by English learners in California classrooms. Four languages other than English account for 90 percent of all English learners: Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, and Cantonese. Candidates for the less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) must satisfy the requirements for the three existing domains: methodology, culture, and target language. Refer to recommendations for Policy Questions #1 & 2 above.

Recommendations for Policy Question #3:

A: Recommend that CCTC maintain language competency examinations in those languages that are currently offered in the BCLAD examinations. Rigor must also be maintained in target language competency in accordance with CCTC-approved standards. Exams should measure listening, speaking, reading, writing, and translation ability, as well as communicative and academic language skills.

B: Administer language competency examinations for LCTLs at least twice a year. BCLAD examinations are currently offered in LCTLs only once a year.

C: Further recommendations: For language examinations not currently available through the CCTC-approved testing contractor and/or not administered at least twice a year,

  1. The CCTC should consider the establishment of language panels for the development of assessment criteria and test specifications for the LCTL competencies, and
  2. Outside agencies (e.g., county offices of education, institutions of higher education) should be allowed to develop one examination per target language, to be approved by CCTC for each of the less commonly taught languages, with the following considerations:
    o The CCTC would be responsible for initial and ongoing review and revalidation of these examinations.
    o CCTC-approved language exams would be accepted by all institutions that offer teacher preparation programs as meeting the language proficiency requirement for bilingual certification.

Policy Question #4: Newer Models of Bilingual Instruction
How should newer models of bilingual instruction be considered in the development of updated requirements for bilingual certification? Specifically, how should these two-way models of bilingual immersion be considered in the development of updated certification requirements for bilingual teachers?

Background: The KSAs required for the current BCLAD have not been updated since 1994. Since that time, two-way or dual-immersion models of bilingual education instruction have become more predominant in California bilingual education classrooms. Some experts report that higher degrees of language proficiency are required for teachers in these instructional models, and that other KSAs are required besides those needed for traditional bilingual instruction models. The work group members considered whether two-way immersion models of instruction should require a different kind of authorization and whether a specialist credential would be more appropriate for teaching in two-way immersion classrooms.

Recommendations for Policy Question #4:

A: Bilingual certification should continue to authorize teachers to deliver instruction in all bilingual program models.

B: Review and revalidate guidelines and standards for the current Specialist Instruction Credential in Bilingual Cross-Cultural Education. This review will be based on a current job analysis as well as changes in policies, program models, and methodologies in bilingual education. In addition, guidelines for the new authorization could consider including an emphasis on biliteracy in Reading Certificate and the Reading Specialist Credential.

Final Recommendations and Conclusion
In the process of gathering public input from teachers, administrators, and program providers across the state, other recommendations emerged that were outside the direct concerns of the policy questions. Nevertheless, because they were consistently raised, the following recommendations have been included in the overall work plan.

A: Develop a credential that would meet the need for teachers of English language development in a departmentalized setting, particularly at the secondary level. Such certification would be expressed as an English as a second language, or English language development specialist, in order to meet the needs of specific language acquisition and literacy development in English. Presently this certification does not exist in California.

B: Develop a bilingual/biliteracy emphasis certificate for other service and teaching credentials. This would include proposing certification for K-12 school administrators, school psychologists, special education administrators, and/or teachers.

Though the above recommendations were not assigned to the task of the work group per se, they are aligned with the present goals for the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA). The need for greater certification and development of teachers in the area of English language acquisition was discussed at OELA's most recent summit. Additionally, OELA as well as those who were surveyed from the field, strongly recommend that administrators also need to become more knowledgeable in the processes of language development.

Overall, these recommendations are positive. They were adopted by the CCTC unanimously. However, I am still cautious as we work toward outcomes for this current year. The process is, as always, a political one-one that does not always value the ideology and pedagogy of biliteracy and multiculturalism.

As the work continues, the work group will proceed with cautious optimism to ensure that quality teacher preparation programs continue for bilingual teacher candidates and to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the 1.6 million English language learners in California. The proceedings of this work will continue to be updated on the CCTC website at Through this newsletter I will continue to update BEIS members on our progress toward recertification.

"Developing American Sign Language Identity Texts: A Case Study" by Kristin Snoddon

Kristin Snoddon, University of Toronto,

Overview of Study
This article summarizes an exploratory study at the Ernest C. Drury School for the Deaf in Milton, Ontario (Canada). The study was part of Early, Willinsky, and Cummins' (2002) Multiliteracies Project ( The format and objectives of the larger Multiliteracies Project were adapted to feature the ASL curriculum for first-language learners as the basis of this study. The ASL curriculum is intended to foster ASL literacy across all grade levels at the three bilingual (ASL and English) provincial schools for Deaf students in Ontario.

The Multiliteracies Project
The concept of multiliteracies was first introduced by the New London Group (1996). This concept defines a new approach to literacy pedagogy that takes into account the cultural and linguistic diversity that is part of our schools and society. It also incorporates a range of information and multimedia technologies that create new text forms and integrate new ways of communicating into the classroom.

Minority-language students' development of identity texts is a central part of the Multiliteracies Project. Students from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds invest their identities and demonstrate their multilingual proficiency in the production of these texts, which can take a variety of forms, including written, oral, musical, or dramatic (Cummins, 2004).

In the E. C. Drury project, the focus was on the cultivation of students' ASL identities and ASL literacy abilities. A video camera was used to record the draft and final versions of students' ASL stories. Students then had the opportunity to review and enjoy their identity texts on a monitor.

Another important feature of this classroom project was the involvement of visitors from the Deaf community. When inviting ASL storytellers to their classrooms, the teachers chose individual Deaf adults who could expose students to classic Ontario ASL. This is the dialect of ASL used by students at the former Ontario School for the Deaf in Belleville (now known as the Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf). This dialect has largely been lost or displaced, especially among younger generations of Deaf Ontarians who often lack exposure to adult ASL models. These older Deaf adult storytellers could also convey a sense of the heritage handed down from one Deaf generation to the next.

The ASL Curriculum
Academic language learning of ASL—as supported by the ASL curriculum for first-language learners—is arguably the most powerful tool for activating prior knowledge, cognitive engagement, and identity investment (as described in Cummins, 2001) on the part of Deaf students. With some support from the Ontario Ministry of Education, a team of Deaf teachers from the three provincial schools have developed and field-tested this curriculum. Overall expectations are in place for each grade relating to students' use of ASL grammar, ASL text and literature construction and analysis, ASL media arts, and technology. In addition, the ASL curriculum's focus on supporting Deaf students' identities by incorporating their language, culture, and experiences in course content makes it a vehicle for empowering education.

Cummins (2001) argued for the centrality of identity investment on the part of students in their developing academic expertise. The E. C. Drury project focused on the creation of ASL stories relating to traditional facets of Deaf culture: name signs, life in residence, and sports. Sports have traditionally formed an important part of the Deaf student's identity, as described by Lane, Hoffmeister, and Bahan (1996):

Sports are one of the powerful bonding forces in the DEAF-WORLD. The love of individual and team sports is nurtured in the residential schools and whetted by rivalry among schools. Sports rapidly become a vehicle of acculturation for the Deaf child, a shared experience, a source of Deaf pride, and an avenue for understanding customs and values in the DEAF-WORLD. (p.131)

Due to the prevalence of mainstreaming and the monolingual approach to educating Deaf students, ASL literacy and literature and Deaf culture and heritage are seldom encountered in the school environment. The E. C. Drury project created a space where these elements were brought to the forefront of the classroom.

Several conditions created by this project served to foster students' identity investment and cognitive engagement in creating their own stories:

  • The presence of older Deaf adult storytellers in the classroom,
  • Teacher-facilitated discussions of Deaf culture and language identity, and
  • Teachers' guidance of students through the ASL storytelling process.

The enthusiasm and interest that the students displayed for the storytellers serve as a reminder to educators that Deaf adults' presence in the classroom can be an invaluable tool. These adults can serve as first-language models and share their life experiences and histories as Deaf people. They can also inspire the production of students' own ASL literature. In this way, this project promotes the utilization of the Deaf community—typically excluded from the classroom—as an educational resource for Deaf students.

The teachers' explicit instruction regarding identity was also a powerful influence. They emphasized the students' and storytellers' shared identity, and sought to build the students' sense of their own identities. In so doing, the teachers revealed a certain way of looking at the concept of being Deaf members of an ASL community. Gee's (2001) discussion of perspectives on identity is illuminating in this regard. In this project, the state of being Deaf-what has historically been viewed as a stigmatized identity or shaped by institutional forces-becomes membership in an affinity group (Gee, 2001).

The students' creation of their identity texts revealed them to be confident, articulate storytellers in their own right. In their stories and during teacher-facilitated discussions, these students were shown to be capable of discerning and analyzing past and present inequities in their social environment. This project can serve as a model for other classrooms of Deaf students. It promotes literacy through the development of ASL or bilingual ASL/English identity texts, and through the collaborative critical inquiry that is fostered when Deaf students are encouraged to express their experiences and identities.

Deaf students are no different from any other group of minority-language students who are at high risk for academic failure; they too have experienced inappropriate categorization and lack of accommodation by the school system. That the language and culture of the Deaf community are not routinely included in the standard curriculum for Deaf students reflects this systemic bias. This project highlights some ways in which identity promotion and investment can be incorporated into a bilingual bicultural education for Deaf students.

Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society (2nd ed.). Ontario, CA: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Cummins, J. (2004). Multiliteracies pedagogy and the role of identity texts. In K. Leithwood, P. McAdie, N. Bascia, & A. Rodrigue (Eds.), Teaching for deep understanding: Towards the Ontario Curriculum that we need. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.

Early, M., Willinsky, J., & Cummins, J. (2002). From literacy to multiliteracies: Designing learning environments for knowledge generation within the new economy. Proposal funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Gee, J. (2001). Identity as an analytic lens for research in education. Review of Research in Education, 25, 99-126.

Lane, H., Hoffmeister, R., & Bahan, B. (1996). A journey into the Deaf-World. San Diego, CA: Dawn Sign Press.

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66, 60-92.

"Biculturalism: Perspectives From the Field of Intercultural Communication" by Piper McNulty

Piper McNulty, De Anza College,

This article is adapted from a speech that the author gave as part of the BEIS/ICIS InterSection on Negotiating Multicultural Identities at the 2006 TESOL Convention in Tampa, Florida.

Bicultural, or Biculturally Skilled?
"Through migration, sojourning, marriage, adoption or birth, a wide range of people are . . . carrying within themselves the frame of reference of two or more cultures" (Bennett, 1993, p. 110). Such individuals may find their self-concept and identity challenged simply because they belong to, or are claimed by, more than one culture. However, we should not assume that just because someone is biracial, or a member of a minority group, or living outside their own first culture, they are "fluent" in two cultures. The very title of a paper by Bennett (1993), entitled "Cultural marginality: Identity issues in intercultural training," implies a distinction between bicultural and culturally marginal individuals. For purposes of this article, I have substituted the term biculturally skilled for culturally marginal. Bennett's (1993) implication is that a person may be labeled, or may self-describe as bicultural, but unless he or she actually demonstrates the ability to communicate appropriately and effectively in two cultures, he or she should not be considered biculturally skilled.

My two daughters are a good example. My husband, a Chinese from Hong Kong, came to the United States as an adult and speaks English as his second language. Our children are biracial Eurasians. About 40% of their high school classmates were the sons and daughters of Taiwanese immigrants, so my daughters had extensive exposure to Chinese and Chinese American communication norms. However, neither of them speaks more than a few words of Cantonese and neither opted to study Mandarin in school (Cantonese was not offered). Though both demonstrate some accommodation to their father and his parents' behavior expectations, they often chafe at his indirectness, his strong aversion to even the mildest disagreement, and his low-profile self-presentation. According to Bennett's (1993) model, then, my daughters are bicultural, because their parents are from two cultures. However, they are not biculturally skilled.

On the one hand, a bicultural person may have the potential to operate fluently in two cultures, but may in fact be fluent in only one. On the other hand, a biculturally skilled person has a foot on each side of the border that separates two cultures (or, in Bennett's [1993] terms, on each side of the "margin"); this same person demonstrates values and behaviors from both cultures. How such individuals cope with their bicultural fluency, and how their bicultural identity is negotiated and contested by others, become critical considerations.

Challenges Facing Biculturally Skilled Individuals
"An individual who has internalized two or more cultural frames of reference frequently faces an internal culture shock" (Bennett, 1993, p. 112). Conflicts between the two cultures' expectations of the person (what behaviors to demonstrate, which language to speak, which group to belong to) are "voices competing for attention within the individual" (Bennett, 1993, p. 112). The pressure not only to align oneself with only one group but to conform to only one culture's behavioral expectations can lead to internalized prejudice against one's own first culture and feelings of frustration, anger, guilt, and even stress-related illness (Bennett, 1993, p. 112). The Filipino American college student cited below has struggled with these conflicting pressures. This student grew up in East Africa as part of a very international community, with classmates from a dozen different countries:

I feel very comfortable talking to Africans, Europeans, Asians. I know how to behave with people of many backgrounds.

We moved to East San Jose, California, when I was 14. It was the first time I'd been around other Filipino kids since I'd been a preschooler. They accepted me, but on one condition. I had to hang out with them, and only with them. If I tried to talk to international students, or to anyone who wasn't Filipino, my Filipino friends gave me a bad time. They would tell me not to associate with "those people," that they didn't understand us; that they didn't like us. I felt as though I was giving up a part of myself to be accepted by my Filipino friends. McNulty, 2000/2007)

This student's avowed identity as a multicultural individual was contested by his peers, whose ascribed identity for him was strictly "Filipino." He described facing pressures to enact his ascribed identity through allegiance to a single in-group.

Bennett's Theory of Biculturalism: The Encapsulated Bicultural and the Constructive Bicultural
Managing conflicting behavioral expectations can be exhausting. For example, when my elderly Chinese in-laws visit for the weekend, my husband is expected to plan all our family activities and then simply tell his parents what we will be doing. However, he must also remember to first ask his U.S.-acculturated wife and daughters for our input (or so we feel!). By Sunday evening he finds himself talking to Ah Ma and Ah Ba in English, to me and our daughters in Cantonese, and he goes to bed at 8 p.m.—with a headache! Bennett (1993) used the term encapsulated to describe people who feel trapped between two cultures, with little control over the identity they enact. The following description of a former colleague's Japanese boss illustrates encapsulated biculturalism. The boss, whom I will call Ueda-san, demonstrates what Bennett (1993) refers to as "loose boundary control," in that his enacted bicultural identity is inconsistent and confusing:

I would try to show Ueda-san respect and deference as a subordinate should show a Japanese manager, but he would act annoyed and tell me not to be so formal and reserved. The next day I would approach him in a more relaxed, informal way, and he would admonish me harshly and insist that I talk to him more respectfully. It got so that we, his subordinates, would check with each other before approaching him. "Which Ueda-san has come to work today, the Japanese one, or the American one?" (McNulty, 2000/2007)

This is a clear example of confusingly inconsistent behavioral expectations. Encapsulated biculturals may feel that no one else can relate to their experience. Their captive state can seem unresolvable and neverending, a sort of "terminal uniqueness" (Bennett, 1993, p. 115). Encapsulated biculturals may try to assimilate to the dominant culture, only to discover that assimilation is both impossible and undesirable. They may also report feeling "unreal," insincere, or inauthentic most of the time, always acting a role, never "themselves," at home nowhere. To establish a balance, to come to feel at home everywhere, especially if the two cultures have different, even opposing, expectations, requires time, patience, and support.

Ideally the individual is eventually able to choose how to behave, interaction by interaction. In other words, he or she becomes a constructive bicultural. A constructive bicultural leads an examined life, choosing behaviors that are both contextually appropriate and personally comfortable. This person understands and lives with the consequences of his or her choices. Gustavo Yep, a well-known communications professor at San Francisco State University, is a self-described "asianlatinoamerican." Comfortable in three cultures, Chinese, Peruvian, and American, he is an example of a constructive bicultural. Yep (1998) wrote:

One cannot get a complete sense of my multicultural identity by simply adding my Chinese, Latino, and American parts. I am more than the sum of these three. I am my "multicultural self." This can be observed when I speak to my family over the telephone. We usually start our conversation in one language (usually Chinese), then I will start speaking English and Spanish, and in a few minutes we have a phone conversation using all three languages. Typically, when I speak Chinese with my parents, I feel more like a child and will often behave differently than an independent and free-thinking adult. I switch to English when I have something serious to discuss and to Spanish when I have strong emotions to express. (p. 79)

Yep's avowed identity is multicultural. However, because of the combination of his physical appearance and accent, his ascribed identity is sometimes something along the lines of "odd Chinese immigrant."

Saltzman's Model of Biculturalism
Saltzman's (1986) model of the 150% person (Figure 1) is a useful visual for the discussion of biculturalism.

The model is intended to illustrate that one can remain 100% effective in one's primary culture while adding a new repertoire of behaviors for, say, 50% effectiveness in a second culture. This additive theory asserts that accommodating a second culture need not result in a loss of skills in one's first culture. Like an American who goes to England and must master driving on the left, and finally must relearn old habits upon returning to the United States, the 150% person may not always make a smooth transition from one culture to another and back again. Still, though first culture behaviors may become rusty from lack of use, they are not lost.

Applying Theories of Biculturalism to the Classroom
Saltzman's (1986) additive model is an appealing take on biculturalism. However I find that the model does not address the complexities of my students' bicultural identities. Most ESL students who study English outside their own cultures gradually pick up a repertoire of host culture behaviors, including the behaviors of nondominant groups. They also report that family and friends back home comment that they have changed. In particular, Generation 1.5 students, who may appear to be native speakers until we listen carefully or examine their L2 writing, tend not to demonstrate distinct first and second culture identities. Instead, they may present a single set of communication behaviors in all contexts, an idiosyncratic amalgam of their two cultures, embodying a state of "dynamic in-betweenness" (Bennett, 1993, p. 118). I therefore present students in my Intercultural Communication course with this modified version of Saltzman's (1986) "150% person" model (Figure 2).

I then ask them to tell me whether the shaded area represents

  • the commonalties shared by the two cultures, where no behavior change is required, or
  • a third, idiosyncratic C3, a set of communication behaviors also demonstrated by others with the same two cultural backgrounds, or any two cultures.

There is no right or wrong answer, but the ensuing discussion is a good introduction to the complexities of biculturalism.

I also encourage my students to design their own bicultural identity graphics and explain them to the class. Students can also respond to examples such as Karmali's. A South Asian Indian Muslim raised in Africa who has lived in Canada most of her adult life, Karmali (2002) rejected the simplistic tendency to dichotomize East and West. This author has adopted the C3 option for biculturally fluent individuals:

When did this splitting apart take place? If we accept a divided world, then we must also consider a divided self. It is here that I find difficulty, that I find myself rejecting the division of East and West. . . . I know that I am whole, integrated. The outer world is confined, prescribed even, but my inner world is free for me to invent as I wish. Perhaps each world lives inside of us, and we draw it out according to our nature, our affinity, our constitution. I have tried the East on for size, but it did not fit. It left me confined. I returned to the West, and tried to become Western again, but that too did not wholly fit. Choosing for myself a little East here and a little West there, integrating them into a union, that is my being. There can be no East without West and no West without East. They are soul mates, seeking each other out. (p. 92).

Karmali's avowed identity is her own, unique, C3 self, but her ascribed identities are either South Asian Indian or Canadian.

Discussing Saltzman's (1986) 150% model, a Vietnamese American student wrote:

Sometimes I feel as if I'm stuck between the Vietnamese culture my parents have tried to instill in me, and the American culture I see all around me. Some people at school say that I am a typical Vietnamese girl because I study hard, but my parents say that I am very Americanized because I talk back to them when I get really frustrated. All my life I have tried to avoid being "too Vietnamese." I used to try to dye my hair so it wouldn't look so black and I'd look more American, even though my parents disapproved. I live in America. so I should act American. But I've learned that I can't avoid my Vietnamese self, because that's who I am. Those values have made me who I am today. I hope my children will be hard working and obedient, values I learned from my parents. But I also hope they will be outgoing and self reliant, as I learned from American culture. (McNulty, 2000/2007)

This Vietnamese American student's avowed identity is her own unique amalgam of Vietnamese and American values and behaviors. However, the identity ascribed to her by her parents is something along the lines of "Vietnamese daughter who is unfortunately enacting an American identity."

I also ask for students to volunteer to share their own experiences of encapsulated biculturalism. I pose questions such as

  • Do you sometimes feel like an encapsulated bicultural person?
  • Have you had an experience in which you felt caught between two cultures, unsure of how to behave, and not "at home" in either? If so, describe it.
  • If you feel you are in between cultures, fully fluent in neither, do you perceive yourself as incomplete in some way?
  • Do others seem to perceive you as incomplete?
  • What do they say or do that gives you this impression?
  • How do you respond?

I also encourage students to consider the ways in which global and local hierarchies of culture impact biculturally skilled individuals. After a discussion of colonial legacies and linguistic and cultural hierarchies, I ask students to describe how perceptions of language hierarchies influence their decision to use, or not use, their first language, in different contexts. For example, if Spanish speakers are generally looked down upon in California, how does this influence the language negotiation strategies of bilingual Spanish/English speakers outside of Spanish-speaking enclaves?

Some of us who teach ESL have not ourselves lived and worked in a culture in which few people spoke our first language, respected our first culture's values, or understood the intentions behind our communication behaviors. This makes it even more important that we listen carefully to our bicultural students. We must consider the challenges and advantages of being a constructive bicultural. Our role as educators is to equip emerging bicultural students to recognize, describe, and leverage their bicultural skills. By emphasizing the value of these skills, we can help our students gain the confidence to continue practicing not only their first languages, but also their first cultures. At the same time, we can help them learn to communicate effectively in the English-speaking culture they have chosen for their acquisition of English.

Bennett, J. (1993). Cultural marginality: Identity issues in intercultural training. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Education for the intercultural experience (pp. 1-17). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Karmali, S. (2002, Fall). Unraveling the East-West myth. Utne Reader 115, 92.

McNulty, P. (2000, revised 2007). Marginality: Belonging to two cultures. In P. McNulty (Ed.), Course materials for intercultural communication. De Anza College, Cupertino, CA. Retrieved from (password-protected Web site).

Saltzman , C. (1986). One hundred and fifty percent persons: Models for orienting international students. In R. M. Paige (Ed.), Cross cultural orientation: New conceptualizations and applications (pp. 247-278). Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Yep, G. (1998). My three cultures: Navigating the multicultural identity landscape. In J. Martin, T. Nakayama, & L. Flores (Eds.), Readings in cultural contexts(pp. 79-84). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.

"Indigenous Anonymous Bilingual People: Implications for Teachers" by Mario E. López-Gopar

Mario E. López-Gopar, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto / Facultad de Idiomas, Universidad Autónoma "Benito Juárez" de Oaxaca,

Juan was sobbing, and sitting with his head on the table. He was tired after wrestling with the principal, who had held the door closed for several minutes so he could not escape. I was in the reading corner, reading a book to the rest of the class. As I turned the page, Elizabeth asked me: "Mr. López, ¿qué le pasa a Juan? Ya son dos semanas y sigue llorando." [What's the matter with Juan? It's been 2 weeks and he is still crying.] "No sé. Ignóralo." [I don't know. Ignore him.]

North American policymakers, researchers, and teachers among other professionals frequently use the terms Latin, Hispanic, Mexican-American, Chicanos, and/or Mexican to encapsulate the group that has become the largest minority group in the United States (Stephen, 2002). The belief that underlies the use of these labels is that all people described by them speak Spanish. I argue that these terms in general, and in particular the referent Mexican,

  • conceal cultural and linguistic complexities, and
  • ignore the fact that the American continent has been inhabited by a variety of groups of Indigenous people for thousands of years.

These Indigenous people do not speak Spanish as their first language, and they are not represented by a uniform culture. I use the term Indigenous to refer to people from Mexico who

  • descended from a pre-Columbian group,
  • speak a pre-Columbian language, and/or
  • identify strongly with their home community (López-Gopar, in press).

The purpose of this article is to unveil the presence of Indigenous peoples in the United States and Canada. This recognition provides the basis for a discussion of issues that teachers need to bear in mind while teaching Indigenous children.

Juan is an Indigenous child who was an involuntary immigrant. He and his family came to Oregon in the United States from Michoacan, Mexico. I met him several years ago when he was placed in my grade 2 classroom. At that time the bilingual coordinator and I assumed that because Juan was from Mexico, he spoke Spanish, and that Juan and I shared the "same" culture. This was a mistaken assumption. In a meeting with his parents, we learned that Juan was Tarasco (an Indigenous group located in the south-central part of Mexico), and that his first language was Tarasco.

For more than 500 years, mainstream or mestizo people have discriminated against Indigenous groups in Mexico; they call them indios and make fun of their "broken" Spanish and "weird" traditions. In spite of this discrimination and the ongoing loss of more than 100 Indigenous languages, six million Indigenous people and their more than 50 languages have resisted domination and survived in Mexico (INEGI, 2006). Every year, thousands of elementary-school-age Mexican students immigrate to the United States and Canada (Lopez & Gunderson, 2006). Many of them are part of Indigenous groups from states such as Oaxaca, Puebla, and Michoacan, among others (Montemayor, 2000). Huizar Murillo and Cerda (2002) reported that there are more than 400,000 Hispano American Indigenous people in the United States (visit to see where these peoples are located).

In light of these figures, it is important for teachers in the United States and Canada to understand that many anonymous bilinguals fall under the Mexican umbrella (López-Gopar, Stakhnevich, León García, & Morales Santiago, 2006). This term refers to Indigenous children who speak Spanish and an Indigenous language, but deny this fact or simply do not talk about it. In this article, I use a critical "multi" approach (multiculturalism, multilingualism, and multiliteracies) to reflect about and critique my previous teaching practices: I was a bilingual elementary school teacher in a small agricultural community in the United States for 4 years. As Luke (2004) stated, "to be critical is to call up for scrutiny . . . . [that] requires an analytic move to self-position oneself as Other" (p. 26). I raise questions and offer suggestions, so that current educators working with immigrant students, especially Indigenous children, might be more critical, reflective, and caring than I was.

Below I briefly address five areas to be considered in order to better serve these students and treat them equitably. The first three relate to parental involvement and the last two refer to children's literature and multilingualism.

Parental Involvement
Alphabetic Literacy and Parents
Typically, literacy has been strongly connected to the alphabet and the sum of skills that need to be acquired to decode print. For some time, I held this narrow view. Later, I realized that it creates a narrow understanding of literacy. How we conceive of literacy affects our view of families. For example, the above definition places Indigenous parents in a deficit model because they are considered illiterate.

In the past decade, New Literacy Studies (Street, 2005) and the Multiliteracies Framework proposed by the New London Group (Cazden et al., 1996) have attempted to expand the definitions of literacy: Texts may include print, but not necessarily; they may also include different modalities (e.g., photos, images, sounds, sign language, and video).

It is noteworthy that, before the Spaniards invaded America, Indigenous peoples had already developed multimodal texts and, hence, literacy. Their texts were represented in codices, a collective term given to texts produced in Mexico before and after the conquest.¹ Unfortunately, the Spanish conquistadors destroyed most of the codices.

The conquest also meant that alphabetic literacy gained prominence over the Indigenous form of literacy. It also led to the view that the alphabet was the only valid modality to create meaning. If we, as teachers, adopt a broader view of literacy, Indigenous parents need not be seen as illiterates with nothing to contribute to their children's education. Many Indigenous peoples are great artists/authors who create texts on their clothing, ceramic, and flower decorations (Jiménez, 2005). They also possess and adapt oral literature, which they portray in legends, songs, and poems. By drawing on a multiliteracies framework, teachers can acknowledge and bring families' multiliterate and multilingual traditions into the classroom. In so doing several things are accomplished:

  • We project an image of Indigenous parents as multiliterate and multilingual;
  • Parents are not viewed as incompetent and illiterate but as contributors of valuable resources to their children's education; and
  • Opportunities for teaching literacy become broadened.

"Error" Correction and Parents
It is also necessary to rethink such teacher practices as "error" correction of students' vernacular Spanish. Though frequently well-meaning, this practice can alienate Indigenous parents and grandparents from schools. A case in point was Susana, a student in my grade 2 classroom who was originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. Susana would say ansina [instead of así; "like this"], medecina [instead of medicina; "medicine"], and truje [instead of traje; "I brought"] among other nonstandard expressions in Spanish. I felt it was my job to correct Susana's nonstandard Spanish. "Susana, no se dice ansina, se dice así" (Susana, we don't say ansina, we say así). I never realized that these acts of correction went beyond linguistics until I connected language with identity construction.

Norton (2000) argued that it is through language that we define who we are and who we are not. Susana had clearly learned this vocabulary from her mother and father. She had probably heard her grandparents speak this way as well. By correcting her speech, was I implicitly communicating to Susana that there was a problem with her family? Would this message cause Susana to look down on her parents for not speaking "correctly," and consequently look down on herself?

I wondered what effects my interventions would have. I also wondered what was the right measure of direction to give my students in regard to their speech patterns. I also began to question the notion of "correctness." This led me to a historical consideration of language norms.

Correct language or correct times, contexts and places for language?
In the 1500s, Spanish friars or priests were considered the most educated people in America. In many documents written at this time, the friars used the words medecina and truje, and most likely taught them to Indigenous people. Yet today, we correct children for using those "incorrect" versions of what is now the standard of these words: medicina and traje. This is but one example of the fluid and changing nature of language.

Similarly, language variation is an issue for children of Mexican, Central, and South American origin growing up in the United States. Children are stigmatized for saying puchar (a Spanishized version of the English word for 'push') instead of empujar (push) or oprimir (press); however, the children's language usage reflects their bicultural and bilingual status in the United States.

To correct or not to correct?
What is our role as educators? I argue that by taking a critical analytic stance toward language with our students we can resist a notion of language as fixed, unchanging, and untouched by sociopolitical realities. In other words, we need to make explicit the fact that languages change over time. And we need to teach that there are times, contexts, and places when it is better to use certain vocabulary and/or grammatical structures than others in order to achieve our goals. We need to model academic language and emphasize that if we want to have access to power, we need to make wise language choices (Delpit, 1988). Most important, we need to communicate that our students' parents (and extended family members) are correct: There are simply a variety of ways to say the same thing.

Encouraging Messages, Working Indigenous Children, and Parents
Whereas error correction sends implicit messages to Indigenous students, well-intentioned teachers may also send explicit "encouraging" messages (Escamilla, 2006). They may encourage Indigenous people not to send their children out to work at an early age (i.e., teachers criticize Indigenous peoples for "abusing" their children). My colleagues and I would often say things to our students like: "Andale ["go on"]; study hard so you don't end up flipping hamburgers at McDonalds or picking grapes." What images of success and failure do teacher comments such as this create in children's minds? Do they make children feel proud or ashamed of their parents, who may have jobs flipping burgers or picking crops?

Clearly, we do not want our students to end up with dead-end jobs. At the same time, we teachers and our students need to valorize the work parents do so their children can go to school. Furthermore, it is important to understand the role that children's jobs can play in Indigenous society.

Julian Caballero (2002) explains that in the Mixtec culture, parents want their children to start working at a young age to instill values in them (e.g., responsibility and independence). This does not in any way mean that Indigenous parents will choose jobs over their children's schooling. It does signal the fact that, as educators, we need to take into account the different cultural expectations parents have of their children. We also need to question the hard and fast notion that for Indigenous children to work at an early age goes against their human rights. I call on teachers to be mindful of student realities when assigning "home" work during harvesting seasons. This is especially true in agricultural areas, as students may need to be working with their parents after school.

Shifting our image of these children's lives to images that value their experiences allows us to implement curriculum that builds on rather than excludes their lives. Educators across the world are developing projects around children's working lives. (Visit to learn about the Fresaand other projects, in which class assignments involve parents and children's working lives.) If we believe that children's education is the role of both teachers and parents, it follows that educators should be respectful of Indigenous parents' ways of educating their children. This respect can be reflected through a number of strategies:

  • take the time to learn about the community in which we are teaching,
  • ask children to share stories about their lives and their families as part of literacy development in the classroom, and
  • find other ways to build on students' life knowledge in developing the curriculum.

Children's Literature and Multilingualism
Books and Indigenous Children
Another area that needs to be addressed is what books are used and how we communicate about them with our diverse students and their families. Typically, educators recommend that parents read to their children, create a reading corner, and visit the library in order to promote students' literacy development (Lopez & Gunderson, 2006). Although these are perfectly sound suggestions, they derive from a mainstream perspective. I argue that it is important to examine them in relation to an Indigenous population:

  • First, only a very small percentage of children's books reflect the lives of underrepresented groups in the United States (Botelho, 2004).
  • Furthermore, the number of books available in Indigenous languages is very limited. Some examples are available at
  • Moreover, many of the books that are available in Spanish and other minority languages are direct translations of books in English.
  • Of the books originally written in Spanish, many portray the lives of children and families in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries: Rarely do these books resonate with the experiences of Indigenous children and minority groups in the United States and Canada.

From the perspective of Indigenous children's realities, many of the books listed above may lack relevance. This raises the challenge of finding appropriate children's literature reading material for Indigenous children.

An excellent way to meet this challenge is to ask students to create their own texts. Students have different realities depending on where they live, who they are, and where their parents come from. Creating multilingual and multimodal texts (books, paintings, plays, songs, poems, web pages, etc.) with children is a powerful way to include their faces and voices in texts (Ada & Campoy, 2004; Cohen & Leoni, 2006; Cummins et al., 2005).

Parents can also be brought into the writing process. Indigenous parents can help children with a written or oral version of their texts in their Indigenous languages. These texts would provide the antithesis to the notion that Indigenous children have no schema or prior knowledge. They do. It simply differs from that of the mainstream. The role of educators is to find ways to bring that schema into the classroom in order to affirm students' identities and their capacities for literacy in all its modalities.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that interacting with mainstream books is still one of the most powerful ways to develop literacy. However, this does not have to mean that these books should be read without considering the images they project. I suggest that we adopt a reflective, critically analytic stance with our students in reading books. As early as kindergarten, children can be engaged in discussions of stereotypical portrayals of "Mexicans" or "Hispanic" people. Questions they can explore include the following:

  • Do all Mexicans wear sombreros?
  • Do all Mexican people speak Spanish?
  • Are all people who speak Spanish Mexican?

By asking these types of questions, teachers can help students to break down essentialized cultural views. Learning to read critically also empowers students to take a critical stance in other areas as well.

Multilingualism and Indigenous Children
Indigenous people have long hidden their bilingualism because of covertly discriminatory messages (López-Gopar et al., 2006). Juan arrived in my classroom as an anonymous bilingual. Once he overcame the traumatic experience of immigrating to a foreign land and leaving his grandparents behind, his Spanish competence improved. He even became the "King of Rhymes" in our classroom.

Once I learned about Juan's bilingual background, I was more able to help him negotiate his linguistic identity and learning. All the children wanted to befriend Juan so they could learn his funny rhymes. He would say to me: "Mr. López, diga pasas. Mañana te casas" [Say raisins. You will get married tomorrow], and everybody would laugh. Then, I would explicitly compliment Juan for being bilingual. A few months later, Juan started saying sentences such as: "Cesar Chavez is an intelligent person" in English. Then, I complimented Juan for going from a bilingual to a multilingual speaker.

Juan's multilingualism started positively affecting other Indigenous children. Guadalupe, another student in our classroom, mentioned one day, "Mr. López, my mom speaks Mixteco and Spanish. I will ask her to teach me, so that I can be multilingual also." How does this example and Juan's case inform us? They tell us that

  • It is time for educators to start conveying messages that overtly validate all types of bilingualism and multilingualism, and
  • It is time for Indigenous children's linguistic identities to change from a sense of shame to a sense of pride.

Because of static and stereotypical notions of culture, Indigenous peoples have long been ignored and placed in categories that hide their cultural and historical uniqueness. It is our job, as educators, to learn about the language(s), knowledge, and skills that all students bring into the classroom. Cummins (2001) maintained that "if teachers [do not] learn much from their students, it is probable that their students [will] not learn much from them" (p. 4). If teachers know their students, they can better apply the most important principle of cognitive theory: Learning happens most effectively when transfer is made between what is already known and what is being learned (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000). It is crucial to structure our teaching with this principle in mind if we are to meet the needs of all children in our diverse societies.

Ada, A. F., & Campoy, I. (2004). Authors in the classroom: A transformative education process. New York: Pearson.

Botelho, M. J. (2004). Reading class: Disrupting power in children's literature. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Cazden, C., Cope, B., Cook, J., Fairclough, N., Gee, J., Kalantzis, M., et al. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.

Cifuentes, B. (1998). Letras sobre voces: Multilingüismo a través de la historia [Print over voices: Multilingualism throughout history]. México: CIESAS, INI.

Cohen, S., & Leoni, L. (2006). Dual language literacy practices in the mainstream and ESL classroom. Retrieved April 24, 2006, from

Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating identities: Education for empowerment in a diverse society (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Cummins, J., Bismilla, V., Chow, P., Cohen, S., Giampapa, F., Leoni, L., et al. (2005). Affirming identity in multilingual classrooms. Educational Leadership, 63(1), 38-43.

Delpit, L. D. (1988). The silenced dialogue: Power and pedagogy in educating other people's children. Harvard Educational Review, 58, 280-298.

Escamilla, K. (2006, April). Second language acquisition: Beyond linguistics and cognition. Paper presented at Celebrating Linguistic Diversity, OISE-UT, Toronto, Canada.

Huizar Murillo, J., & Cerda, I. (2002, October 11-12). La población de "indígenas hispanoamericanos," según el Censo 2000—un viaje visual usando mapas [The population of "Indigenous Hispanic Americans" according to the 2000 census: A visual tour using maps]. Paper presented at the Indigenous Mexican Immigrants in California Conference: Building Bridges Between Researchers and Community Leaders, University of California, Santa Cruz.

INEGI. (2006). Sistemas naciones estadístico y de información geográfica, México. [National system of statistics and geographical information]. Retrieved August 1, 2006, from

Jiménez, R. (2005, May 17-20). Lecto-escritura Indígenas: Sistemas alternativos y nuevas posibilidades [Indigenous reading and writing: Alternative systems and new possibilites]. Paper presented at the meeting of the Asociación Mexicana de Lingüística Aplicada [Mexican Association of Applied Linguistics], Puebla, México.

Julian Caballero, J. (2002). Educación y cultura: Formación comunitaria en Tlazoyaltepec y Huitepec, Oaxaca. [Education and culture: Community formation in Tlazoyaltepec and Huitepec, Oaxaca]. México: CIESAS.

Lopez, M., & Gunderson, L. (2006). Oaxacan parents' perception of literacy. In V. Pang & R. Jimenez (Eds.), Race, ethnicity and education: Language, literacy and schooling (pp. 95-113). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing.

López-Gopar, M. E. (in press). Beyond the alienating alphabetic literacy: Multiliteracies in Indigenous education in Mexico. Diaspora, Indigenous and Minority Education: An International Journal.

López-Gopar, M. E., Stakhnevich, J., León García, H., & Morales Santiago, A. (2006). Teacher educators and pre-service English teachers creating and sharing power through critical dialogue in a multilingual setting. MEXTESOL Journal Special Issue: Critical Pedagogies, 30(2), 83-104.

Luke, A. (2004). Two takes on the critical. In B. Norton & K. Toohey (Eds.), Critical pedagogies and language learning (pp. 21-29). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Montemayor, C. (2000). Los pueblos indios de México hoy [The Indians of Puebla in Mexico today]. México: Editorial Planeta.

Norton, B. (2000). Identity and language learning: Gender, ethnicity and educational change. Harlow, England: Longman/Pearson Education.

Restall, M., Sousa, L., & Terraciano, K. (2005). Mesoamerican voices. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Stephen, L. (2002, October 11-12). Mixtec farmworkers in Oregon: Linking labor and ethnicity through farm worker unions and hometown associations. Paper presented at the Indigenous Mexican Immigrants in California Conference: Building Bridges between Researchers and Community Leaders, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Street, B. (2005). New literacies studies: Next stages. Orbit, 36(1), 37-39.

¹ Codices were colorful texts that were usually recorded on amate, a paper made out of cotton or animal skin (Cifuentes, 1998). Restall et al. (2005:11) explained that they "combined pictorial representation (direct depiction by images) with a numerical and calendrical system, logograms or images (which conveyed a word or idea), and phonetic representation of individual syllables or roots of words. The possibilities of phonetic expression were expanded by the use of homonyms or 'tone puns.'" Codices could be read by people who did not share the same Indigenous language (Cifuentes, 1998).

"Project Nueva Generación: Community-Based Teacher Education in Chicago" by Dr. Elizabeth Skinner

Dr. Elizabeth Skinner, Chicago State University,

In the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, a group of teacher assistants, school volunteers, and community leaders is participating in a unique teacher education program. The program is designed to meet the needs of the local schools, which face a shortage of qualified bilingual teachers. ProjectNueva Generación evolved from a mentoring program developed by a local community-based organization and was initially funded in 2000 as a federal Title VII grant.

The project is part of the "Grow Your Own" Illinois initiative, backed by state law with a $3 million appropriation in fiscal year 2007 alone. These initiatives involve partnerships between community organizations, higher education institutions, and school districts. These partnerships support the efforts of parents, community members, and paraprofessionals in low-income communities to become highly qualified teachers. Specifically, the goals of Grow Your Own initiatives are to create a pipeline of highly qualified teachers of color, improve teacher retention, and recruit for hard-to-fill positions such as bilingual teacher positions, which is why a Grow Your Own program was initiated in Logan Square.

During the fall of 2003 I began dissertation research based on the experiences of the students in Project Nueva Generación. Working from a framework of educational resilience and social capital, I interviewed 10 of the women in the project. The purpose of my research was to better understand what had contributed to the success of the women:

  • earlier educational experiences?
  • personal characteristics?
  • institutional factors?
  • some combination of events?

I used data gathered in the interviews to identify contributing factors in their success and ways schools and universities can increase the academic trajectory of Latinas.

In this article, I first expand on the context for the project. Next, I discuss the ways in which the community-based organization, the university, and the women are negotiating the pathway to academic success and the teaching profession. I conclude with the implications and lessons to be learned from Project Nueva Generación and its participants.

Context for the Project

The Logan Square Neighborhood
Logan Square is a community on the northwest side of Chicago and is one of a few Chicago neighborhoods that are multiclass and multiracial. In Chicago, Logan Square is commonly recognized as a largely Hispanic neighborhood. Data from the 2000 census show that 65% of the residents of Logan Square are of Hispanic origin. However, there is a fair amount of diversity within this Hispanic population. Nearly 50% of the Hispanics are Mexican and the next largest group is Puerto Ricans at 34.6%. Central Americans, South Americans, Cubans, and Dominicans are also represented in the neighborhood.

At the six Logan Square elementary schools, where the cohort members will eventually teach, the percentage of Hispanic students is between 88% and 93%. The percentage of low-income students is between 87% and 98% for each school (Chicago Public Schools). In the entire Chicago Public School system, 38% of the student population is Latino while only 12.6% of teachers are Latino (Aviles, Capeheart, Davila, & Pérez Miller, 2004). The Logan Square elementary schools reflect a similar disproportion of Latino teachers and students. An additional goal of Project Nueva Generación is to increase the number of Latino teachers in the neighborhood schools.

The 10 women who participated in the research reflect the diverse population of their neighborhood: Five are Puerto Ricans: two were born in mainland United States, and three others were born in Puerto Rico. Three other women were born in Mexico, and of the remaining two, one came from Panama and one from Cuba. Their educational levels also varied. Only three of the women had high school diplomas. The rest had GED certificates. At the time the interviews were conducted, most of the women were comfortable bilinguals although four had needed ESL support upon admittance to the university.

The Community-Based Organization
One of the most active agents in the endeavor to improve the elementary schools in Logan Square is The Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA). One of LSNA's most visible efforts in the schools is the Parent Mentor Program, which began in 1995. Each year, LSNA hires and trains about 120 parents to tutor for 2 hours a day in the schools. The mentors are paid $600 each semester and attend weekly workshops. Many of the students in Project Nueva Generación worked as parent mentors and that experience inspired them to continue their education. LSNA recognized the parent mentors' interest and potential and, in partnership with Chicago State University, created Project Nueva Generación.

The University
LSNA created the foundation for the women's return to school. Once the women were admitted to the university, institutional support became critical for their success. Financial support was provided in full through a federal Title VII grant, which covered all expenses including tuition, books and child care.

In addition to financial assistance, Chicago State University and LSNA designed the program with the students' lives in mind. During the first 2 years of the program, all courses were offered in the community center at James Madison elementary school in the Logan Square neighborhood. They were held in the evening and child care was available onsite. University professors commuted to Logan Square to teach. During the first 2 years of the program, the students had very little contact with the bureaucracy of the university. The program coordinator was onsite in Logan Square, teaching a course each semester and traveling to the university to take care of administrative tasks. The initial, very high level of support meant that the students could adjust to being in college in the comfort of their community.

Gradually, the students increased their on-campus activity and the level of direct support was reduced. All of the students now attend courses on campus. The institutional support remains in the form of academic advising. It continues to be a critical factor in the women's network, but the students are now demonstrating self-efficacy in the decisions they make and their more independent approach to their education. McGinty (1999) believed that the construction of "self as agent" contributes to resiliency, particularly if the women view themselves as active participants in their success. The following sections describe how the women have adapted in order to manage the role of student. Women who participated in the study discussed their work habits, family life, and the peer network that keeps them going.


Upon returning to school, many of the women felt apprehensive about their academic abilities and the difficulty of the coursework. Although they still feel apprehensive, particularly at the beginning of each new semester, that apprehension is more about time than their abilities. For many of them, the only time to study is when the rest of the family is sleeping. This is an example of the women's ability to adapt and cope with their new responsibilities as students.

One participant, Zoila¹ , who used to work in her husband's popular Puerto Rican restaurant, had more time after the business was sold. Still, it was hard to find time to study:

I study during the night a lot. I find it more easy to study in the night. I find silence in the house and I want to be alone.

Another participant, Luisa, is resigned to her schedule that includes a full-time job, caring for two children, and attending evening classes at least two nights a week. Part of her routine is to study late into the night:

I usually start about 10:30 and finish by 2:00 in the morning. I think I'm used to it now.

While several of the women study at night, Edith has a different strategy:

For me the best way is to get up early in the morning and try to accomplish as much as possible in the morning before my kids awake.

The women have adapted and manage their school and home schedules, but they have not been able to do that without the help of family and friends. In many cases, husbands started out unsupportive but became more supportive as their wives progressed in school. In some ways, the families have become less traditional as the mothers have taken on the role of student. According to Ginorio and Huston (2001), this transition bodes well for the women in the program because they are more likely to persist to graduation than are their more traditional counterparts. The family dynamic is not a factor that the structure of the program can manipulate. As a component of the program, family counseling was made available but ultimately the women must work out family issues.

Some of the women worked with their husbands to overcome their negative feelings toward their wives being in school. Typically, gender relations within Mexican and other Latino homes are perceived as patriarchal (Hondagneu-Sotelo, 1994). Out of necessity, that has changed in some households. According to Ybarra (1999), education plays an important role in reducing "machismo." When their wives began university coursework, many of the men had to become involved in household and child-rearing chores for the first time in their lives.

Elena and her husband struggled in the first year of the program:

There came a moment when he said: "Fine, is it your school or your family?"

However, eventually Elena was able to involve him with the care of their son and get his support: In her fifth year of school, Elena described her changed situation as follows:

Now that I'm going to the University and I arrive after 9:30 p.m. Claudio [her son] is bathed, in his pajamas waiting for Mama to kiss him goodnight. He does everything. So he's changing.

Edith feels that now her husband is not only supportive but proud of her accomplishments:

He is very proud of me. If it wouldn't be for his support, I would have quit long ago.

Luisa used to be responsible for all of the work at home. Since returning to school she has delegated some household tasks to her husband and she feels it has been a learning experience for the whole family:

My children are seeing that their father doesn't only go to work, the head of the family providing money. He has other roles in the house and that's important for my son to see. I want him growing up in a house where there aren't differences between the sexes.

Sol's husband has grown less supportive during the 5 years that she has been in college. As she takes more classes and is on campus during the week, she remains extremely motivated but sometimes asks at what cost:

He says that since I started school I've changed because I feel more confident. I don't stay quiet. It's the fear that he has that I'm moving forward. I ask myself is it worth the sacrifice to study and lose my marriage?

Instigating the change in family dynamics and then dealing with the problems that arise is perhaps the most difficult challenge facing the women when they return to school. In some cases the struggles have paid off. Some husbands now fully participate in family life and have taken on responsibilities traditionally left to the female, such as laundry and cooking. Sol questioned whether it has been worth it to sacrifice her marriage in order to return to school. She answered this in part by having taken almost a full course load the past two semesters. Regardless of their situation, the women have all sought support from family and friends. For many of the women, though, the best support comes from the other students within the cohort.

Feminist Leanings
Despite the rewards, some of the women do struggle with feelings of guilt because of the amount of time they must commit to their studies. They leave their children in the evenings to attend class and then need additional time to study. However, some of the women feel it is particularly important that they serve as role models for the young girls in their families.

Isela struggles with constant family problems but perseveres because she values education:

In the society we're living today, I don't want to get into the sexist kind of conversation, but it's part of it. I want to raise women that can take care of themselves.

Edith feels guilty but rationalizes her time away from her children by recognizing the fact that she was unhappy before returning to school:

My body was there, but my spirit wasn't because I was not happy the way things were going. I was not educated. I was not going to give them a future that they deserved. I felt guilty then for not being educated, for not giving the children what they deserved and then I feel guilty now.

Edith has two daughters but sees her influence as possibly reaching into her community:

I could say: "I was there, I was born, I was raised in Mexico; I know what it is. I know how men can brain-wash you: not to go to school, not to be educated because it's not good for a woman to be smart." Men are selfish, when it comes to a woman getting an education and being smart.

In regards to her daughters she hopes that

They're learning that it is not okay to stay in the house and wait for the father to bring the food.

Many of the women feel guilty because they are not spending enough time with their families. However, the guilt they feel is assuaged by the truth that what they are doing is good for their families and children. Of particular importance is the impact they are having on their daughters and other females in the family. As expressed in the narratives, the women want girls to recognize the value in education and be liberated from needing to rely on men.

Peer Support Network
Within the cohort model and in addition to the institutional support, the women have created their own support network (Hondagneu-Sotelo, 1994). The community-based organization and the institution have become less active in their direct support of the women. As a result, they have come to rely heavily on each other for academic and social support. As they venture onto campus for more classes, the women go in groups and share transportation and parking expenses. Moral support on campus and outside of classes is also important. For example, Edith has relied on her fellow students for emotional support as well as transportation. She understands the importance of this support mechanism:

We are like a huge family that if one falls down, we all help them to get up. I have learned so much from all of them. We all have one thing in common, wanting to be educated, we all have children, we all have problems, and we are so similar and then again, we are so different.

The support network that surrounds the women is critical to their success. The combined resources help to alleviate the anxiety and pressure the women feel. As first generation college students, they are learning to work within the university system together, starting in their own community.

As the community-based organization becomes a less utilized resource for the women and as they take on more responsibility at the university, the peer group network increases in importance. The women offer each other emotional support and academic support as well as friendship. This support, in the presence of personal hardships and family crises that could potentially be barriers for the women, improves the women's chances of persisting to graduation.

Implications and Lessons to Be Learned From Project Nueva Generación and Project Participants

Project Nueva Generación has become the model Grow Your Own teacher program in the state of Illinois. Although Grow Your Own programs may not be feasible or even desirable at other colleges and universities, there are implications and lessons to be learned from the program design and from the participants:

  • The roles of the community-based organization, the university, and the students are each significant and contribute to the success of the program;
  • Ultimately, the women's individual adaptations and peer group network become the most significant support mechanism;
  • In addition to financial support, universities and academic departments should help to create and foster peer group networks. These networks provide academic and moral support among students as well as between students, faculty, and staff.
  • For teacher education programs, additional attention to the needs of nontraditional students (e.g., peer group networks) diversifies not only the university but ultimately the public schools where the students will work.

Aviles, A., Capeheart, L., Davila, E., & Pérez Miller, A. (2004). Dando un paso ¿pa'lante o pa'tras? [A step forward or back?]: Latinos in the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago: 2nd Legislative Education Advisory Committee, Senator Miguel del Valle.

Chicago Public Schools. (n.d.). School test scores and demographic reports. Retrieved October 4, 2004, from

Ginorio, A., & Huston, M. (2001). Si, se puede! Yes, we can! Latinas in school. Washington, DC: American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

Hondagneu-Sotelo, P. (1994). Gendered transition: Mexican experiences of immigration. Berkeley: University of California Press.

McGinty, S. (1999). Resilience and success at school. New York: Peter Lang.

Ybarra, L. (1999). Marital decision-making and the role of machismo in the Chicano family. In A. Sedillo Lopez (Ed.), Latina issues: Fragments of historia (ella)(herstory) (pp. 252-267). New York: Garland.

¹ All names used for purposes of this article are pseudonyms.

"An Overview of the BEIS 2006–07 Special Project" by Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Dr. Shelley K. Taylor, Dr. Madeline Millian, Dr. Mayra Daniel & Dr. David Schwarzer

Dr. Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, Colorado State University,; Dr. Shelley K. Taylor, the University of Western Ontario,; Dr. Madeline Millian, University of Northern Colorado,; Dr. Mayra Daniel, Northern Illinois University,; and Dr. David Schwarzer, the University of Alabama at Birmingham,

Project Rationale
What do TESOL members involved in higher education feel are their greatest needs in preparing teachers to work with English language learners? How can institutions involved in teacher education be improved to better meet the needs of instructors involved in higher education and, in turn, meet the needs of English language learners? How would it even be possible to gain a handle on these needs, given the number of TESOL members involved in higher education and their geographic range? In spring 2006, a group of BEIS members set out to respond to these questions.

Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, past chair of BEIS, spearheaded a group that prepared a proposal for TESOL Special Project funding to tackle these questions. Other BEIS members involved in the project were Mayra Daniel and Madeline Millian, who are both BEIS steering committee members; David Schwarzer (past chair); and Shelley Taylor (chair-elect). Our solution to the fact-finding problem was to administer a large-scale survey to generate responses.

The rationale for the timing and need for the project was the upcoming reauthorization of No Child Left Behind legislation (i.e., federal legislation that replaced the Bilingual Education Act in 2001).¹ We deemed the survey necessary to find out the extent to which TESOL members working in the area of higher education were involved in actually preparing ESL/bilingual teachers to work with English language learners in the K–12 system. This subject was of interest as, historically, there has been greater emphasis on meeting other learners' (e.g., international students, adult learners) needs than school-aged English language learners' needs. A further purpose of the project was to establish a national picture of the preparation of ESL/bilingual teachers. That picture can provide a basis to inform teacher certification programs about the sorts of knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to ensure that graduates excel as ESL/bilingual teachers.

Project Design
The blueprint for the project called for survey item development, wide-scale administration of the survey, data analysis, a presentation of initial project results at TESOL 2007, and follow-up policy recommendations. With our presentation of the project on March 21 at TESOL 2007 we are right on schedule with our proposed activities.

The BEIS Special Project Team developed a survey to address our key research questions. TESOL assisted our team in turning the survey into an online survey using Survey Monkey software, and distributed the survey to TESOL members who had indicated their affiliation with institutions of higher education in the United States. TESOL administered the survey to approximately 1,000 individuals in February 2007. Of these, 196 responded.

The survey consisted of 23 items, divided into two sections. Sample items included in the two sections are listed below:

1. The history of the TESOL program at your institution

  • For what level was your TESOL program conceived;
  • Please tell us about the primary goal(s) of your TESOL program at your institution, as originally conceived;
  • Regardless of the original goal of your TESOL program, do any of your current faculty members in the TESOL program have previous ESL teaching experience in K-12 settings in U.S. schools?;
  • Are there any foundation courses on bilingual education or bilingualism that TESOL majors can take at your institution for credit towards their TESOL program if they wish to further their knowledge of bilingualism and how to work with bilingual learners?

2. Recent and future trends in your TESOL program

  • Assuming that you have made curricular changes in the past decade, can you tell us what motivated those changes?
  • Are there any TESOL courses that are specifically geared towards meeting the needs of K–12 mainstream teachers?
  • Are there any TESOL courses that are specifically geared towards meeting the needs of ESL and/or bilingual specialists who work (or plan to work) in K–12 settings?

Next Steps
Following our presentation at TESOL 2007 and subsequent extensive data analysis, we plan to present our findings to TESOL board members and other TESOL interest sections, and at annual meetings of sister organizations (e.g., NABE, IRA, AAAL, AERA). Results of the study will also be posted on the BEIS website and disseminated to BEIS members in a future issue of Bilingual Basics. We are confident that the information we have gathered will serve as a springboard for future research—that is, we hope our findings will form the basis of other research questions that BEIS members can pursue in years to come.


Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (4th ed). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

Hornberger, N. (2006). Nichols to NCLB: Local and global perspectives on US language education policy. In O. García, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, & M. E. Torres-Guzmán (Eds.), Imagining multilingual schools: Languages in education and glocalization (pp. 223-237). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

McCarty, T. L., Romero, M. E., & Zepeda, O. (2006). Reimagining multilingual America: Lessons from Native American youth. In O. García, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, & M. E. Torres-Guzmán (Eds.), Imagining multilingual schools: Languages in education and glocalization (pp. 91-110). Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.

¹ Baker (2006) observes that, in essence, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation "makes states, districts, and schools accountable for the performance of LEP students" (p. 198). (See Baker, 2006, pp. 198-199, for a summary of NCLB requirements and, as of 2004, reading assessment exemptions and some flexibility in including former LEP students for Adequate Yearly Progress calculations).

Hornberger (2006) views NCLB as "euphemistically" and "misleadingly" titled (p. 225), a view shared by McCarty, Romero, and Zepeda (2006). These authors do not view NCLB legislation as enabling "at risk" children to not be "left behind." Rather, they view NCLB legislation "as a gate-keeping device, enabling or curtailing educational opportunity as never before," and as a means to withhold funds from schools that are already underresourced (p. 102).