By Sheila Gardner,2014-07-04 08:39
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    Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages

    Why language study is important.

    Language study

    ; helps learners see that they are part of a global community

    ; connects learners to other cultures in meaningful ways (from inside, rather than from the

    outside looking in)

; helps learners evaluate their own culture and language in deeper ways

; is especially effective for improving English language skills

    ; opens the mind to learning the way music does, it strengthens the mind for improved work in

    all academic areas

    ; is a format for connecting to other disciplines, through history, geography, science, art,

    technology, etc.

    ; creates a means to connect to target cultures through economy: advertising, marketing,

    service, etc.

    ; provides a vehicle to advance causes into target language communities to engage them in

    advocating for a wide variety of social/economic/political/ environmental/health issues, etc.,

    to bring about greater change

    ; fosters possibilities for discussion and exploration of any subject in the world through the

    target language

    SPECIAL NOTE: African Americans students can make even deeper connections to many target cultures because of a common heritage. Many cultures have a large segment of citizens who were established in the culture through the slave trade. These individuals have significantly impacted these cultures and African Americans can recognize the contributions their heritage culture has made in these regions:music, traditions, history, etc., plus native speakers who are not only of African heritage, but may even be related to African Americans in an ancestral relationship.

    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 1

    Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages

    1. What barriers to foreign language learning for African Americans and other underrepresented groups currently exist?

     Theories exist citing a lack of vision for learning foreign languages “viewed as a practice

    unrelated to their interest, experience, belonging to other communities/culture groups.”

     Possible lack of resources in support of language learning in schools

     Research has indicated that there are no reasons that African Americans struggle to

    any greater degree in learning a new language; it is simply a matter of developing

    interest to encourage them to pursue it.

    2. Why is the percentage of minority foreign language teachers so low?

     Likely for the same reasons the percentage of students of foreign languages are low. 3. How can language learning be fostered among minorities?

     Advocate language learning among African American students.

     Develop programs that target language learning at early ages and recruit African

    American studentseven if it needs to be in online afterschool programs

     Introduce languages to African American students by highlighting the commonalities

    that exist in these cultures and the contributions made to cultures where other

    languages are spoken by African heritage community members

     Inspire a vision among African Americans to learn languages by informing them of the

    beneficial effects of language learning as highlighted in the first segment of this


     Consider developing a foundation(s) that will serve to fund and provide resources

    through creative means to African American learners who are interested in language

    learning and to foster interest among African American students

     Develop incentives for African American students to consider becoming language

    teachers. This modeling should assist in recruiting further interest in foreign language

    study for African American students (recognition, awards, personal visits/interaction,

    event attendance, etc.)

     Develop new standards geared to recruit African American students to learn foreign


    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 2

    Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages

    4. What changes can be made to foreign language learning and study abroad programs to encourage minorities to participate?

     Develop study abroad opportunities that are designed to highlight the connections

    African Americans have through heritage to other cultures where their historical

    products, practices, and perspectives have significantly had an impact

     Countries (languages) where there are significant black populations of native speakers:

    Brazil (Portuguese), Venezuela (Spanish), Dominican Republic (Spanish), Cuba (Spanish),

    Colombia (Spanish), Panama (Spanish), Puerto Rico (Spanish), Peru, Mexico/Vera Cruz

    (Spanish), Haiti (French), Morocco (Arabic) use these connections to explore, visit the

    countries, encourage African Americans to study abroad and research culture, service,


     In some cases, African Americans could advocate for people who are still oppressed in

    other countries. Civil rights could be a strong issue for them if they are motivated to

    help people who suffer with equality within their societies. This varies widely among

    culturessome black communities have strong respected positions in their society.

    Others are severely oppressed. In the very oppressed societies, perhaps students

    would not study abroad, but be informed and make connections through service

    projects or other ways.

    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 3

Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages



    African American Linguists - Promoting World Languages in the African American Community

    Comprehensive website promoting foreign language learning and teaching as well as collaboration within

    existing community.

    Zena Moore has developed a set of links highlighting connections to native speakers in Cuba by showing important contributions of Afro-Hispanic individuals in that culture.

    Afro-Hispanics can provide interactions that demonstrate the diversity that exists among cultures where foreign languages are spoken. This is often hidden as it has historically been hidden in American culture. Eventually we can come to understand that the world is diverse and common links to diversity exist that add value to our human experience.

    Moore traces historical and current achievements contributed by Afro-Cuban individuals in addition to many other aspects of life and experience.

    Caribbean Cultural Center: Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Culture Center/

    African Diaspora Institute was founded in 1976 by Marta Moreno Vega with the intent of promoting and

    linking communities of African descendants. Through multidisciplinary programs such as art exhibitions, concerts, lectures and educational workshops the Caribbean Culture Center seeks to inform, educate and entertain the public about the rich cultural and aesthetic history of the Caribbean, while simultaneously reflecting the diversity of the African Diaspora.

    Illustration of types of events that can be sponsored during Black History month that highlight global

    communities featuring African-heritage individuals

    Study Abroad

    Blog discussing current issues in foreign language teaching and learning…


    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 4

Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages


    Dissertation: The Attitudes of African American Students towards the Study of Foreign Languages and

    Cultures, Katrina Watterson

Research Compilation: the Benefits of Second Language Study: Research Findings with Citations, in

    Regarding World Language Education - NEA Research, December 2007

    JBHE Journal: Discussion of positive performance in language learning of African-Americans compared

    to whites based on AP exam results

    The BC Online-Online journal discussing the need for African-American teachers

    Article: Whose Language Is It Anyway? Minority Participation within Our Reach,” Alfred J. Guillaume,


    Article: Edutopia. Teacher travel grants discussion/resources, suggestions for creating new grants.

    Article: Motivation, race, and foreign language instruction: The need for culturally responsive teaching

    Article Current Issues in Education

    Among Fulbright Scholars

    Book: African-American Teens Discuss their Schooling Experiences





    Hispanics with African Heritage

PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 5

Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages

    Achievement Gap

    Research article


    Percentages and very insightful discussion of challenges currently at issue in teaching in the multicultural

    world that exists in the U.S. today.

    KEY QUOTE: “Our schools urgently need teachers who serve as cultural translators and cultural brokers

    (Gentemann & Whitehead, 1983). Cultural brokers and cultural translators mediate between the majority

    and minority cultures. They help minority students understand, adapt, and thrive in the academic and

    majority culture. At the same time, the teacher as cultural broker helps the school understand, adapt to,

    and serve all students. In other words, the teacher as cultural broker bridges the cultural chasm and

    smooths the cultural mismatch, thereby empowering students to succeed both academically and socially in

    the larger society.

    Book: Developing TeachersWhile this book does not address the issue of African-American individuals in

    teaching specifically, it does suggest ways in which students could be motivated to teach and supported

    through education and early teaching to be successful teachers. These principles could be used to assist

    African-Americans in preparing and beginning to teach as well.

    Excerpt from Developing Teachers:




    To obtain book Developing Teachers:

    Article: African-American Students’ Opinions About Foreign Language Study: An Exploratory Study of

    Low Enrollments at the College Level Zena Moore-University of Texas at Austin

    Research regarding African-American participation in foreign language learning and implications. In

    Moore’s study, it could be inferred that some issues she raised could be overcome by African-American

    teachers (or teachers who closely relate to their African-American students as evidenced by the

    testimonies gleaned in preparation from this workshop).


Complete list of references available online…

    Link to PowerPoint presentation online:

    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 6

Fostering Connections through Foreign Languages

    Gillespie, Paula, and Neal Lerner. The Allyn and Bacon Guide to Peer

    Tutoring. Boston: Allyn, 2000. Print.

    Author(s). "Title of Article." Title of Periodical Day Month Year: pages.

    Medium of publication.

    Remember to use n.p. if no publisher name is available and n.d. if no publishing date is given.

    Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number. Name of

    institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available). Medium of publication. Date of access.

    The Purdue OWL Family of Sites. The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and

    Purdue U, 2008. Web. 23 Apr. 2008.

    Cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print as you would a scholarly journal in print,

    including the page range of the article. Provide the medium of publication that you used (in this case, Web)

    and the date of access.

    Wheelis, Mark. "Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention." Emerging Infectious Diseases 6.6 (2000): 595-600. Web. 8 Feb. 2009.


    Chisholm, Ines Marquez. The Journal of Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, v14 p. 43-68, Winter

    1994. Web. 1 Feb. 2012.

    Kissau, Scott, Lan Quach Kolano, and Chuang Wang. “Motivation, Race, and Foreign Language Instruction: The

    Need for Culturally Responsive Teaching.” The NECTFL Review 68. September 2011. Web.

    Milner, Joseph O., Roy Edelfelt, and Peter T. Wilbur, eds. Developing Teachers: Fifth Year Programs for

    Outstanding Students. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2001. Moore, Zena. African-American Students’ Opinions about Foreign Language Study:

    An Exploratory Study of Low Enrollments at the College Level.” Foreign Language Annals, V38,

    2. Summer 2005. Web. 1 Feb. 2012.

    PBCOHE 2012 Eduardo M. Valerio, Ph.D. 7

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