Salomone presents at Université Catholique de l’Ouest in France

On May 27th, Professor Rosemary Salomone presented a paper on “Heritage Languages and Educational Equality in the Global Knowledge Economy” at an international symposium on “Politiques Linguistiques Familiales et Processus de Transmissions Intergénérationnelles en Contexte Migratoire” hosted by the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France. The following is an abstract:

salomone[1]

Rosemary Salomone

This paper examines the wavering history of language rights in the United States for students whose home language is other than English. It gives particular attention to the Supreme Court’s decision in Lau v. Nichols (1974) and related federal laws and regulations. It looks specifically at students from immigrant or refugee families who are English dominant but have limited conversational skills in their “heritage” language. It maintains that while families with sufficient economic means and/or community support preserve their language and culture by enrolling their children in after-school and weekend language and culture classes or through dual language immersion programs in the public schools, the same advantages are not available to many less privileged students whose potential for bilingualism and biculturalism remains unrealized. It presents data on the increasing demand for multilingual skills in the job market as well as empirical findings on the cognitive and social benefits of bilingualism, which further underscore the resulting inequities. For these students developing academic proficiency and literacy in their “mother” tongue is not a mere enrichment activity that schools can set aside in the face of competing demands for accountability as measured by standardized test scores in English. It is rather critical in the global knowledge economy to providing a “meaningful,” “effective,” and “appropriate” education as guaranteed in federal law. The paper closes with a brief discussion of current developments, including state “Seals of Biliteracy” and a congressionally supported Commission on Language Learning, that suggest national recognition of the country’s language deficit and a hopeful commitment to addressing the rights of heritage language learners.

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