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code switching between Bronx slang, kid Spanish, academic English and more.

Cathy's picture

I I like to write my posts in a cute little teal journal, accurately labled "thoughts." I wondered what the destiny of this book would be and I'm happy it's this. My entry started with three stick figure photos; the first was me being talked at by a teacher. The second was me talking to an adult and the third was me talking with a peer. The story then described an interaction I had with an older person in youth group. He asked me why I talked like a white person. At the time, that really bothered me, because it made me feel uncool and out of place. So then I would try to use more slang, but it didn't really help my "cool" cause becuase I sounded very off. This led me to think about the different languages I have to negotiate on any given day when I was little. With my mother I would have to speak Spanish, but my Spanish was never really eloquent, and then with friends I would have to use slang becuase my academic English freaked them out, and then with teachers I would have to use academic English. With language, I never really felt proficient with any of the three, but I'm starting to accept that all three of these are very much a part of the person I am today.  


Sara712's picture

Code-Switching in a Dual Language School

I think the subject of code-switching is fascinating. I got to witness the
difficulties that children can have with this issue just like you, Cathy.
When I was going to school at Connecticut College, I volunteered at a middle
school called the Dual Language Arts Academy (grades 6-8). The students were
primarily Puerto Rican, so clearly they spoke Spanish fluently and some
spoke English fluently (other's weren't quite as eloquent with English). The
teachers would teach the classes in English one week, and then switch to
Spanish the following week, and continue going back and fourth all year.
This allowed the students to more easily transition to learning in English.
I would notice that when some of the students spoke to one another
peer-to-peer in casual/non-academic contexts, they spoke in Spanish to more
easily communicate. However, when it was an English week, they were
encouraged only to use Spanish when absolutely necessary in class (if the
student could not express him/herself in English) and were then immediately
taught how to translate their thought to English. I think this is a very
interesting and pretty effective way of teaching language and literacy, as
it accommodates for students' cultural backgrounds.

ckeifer's picture

This story relates very much

This story relates very much to what my group was talking about in class on Thursday. We talked about fluency not as mastery but rather as the ability to flow easily between different forms of language. I don't think that it is every really possible to master a language or to be perfectly literate. Instead I think it is important to understand how each of one's different forms of language play a necessary and important role in life and are a part of who they are. I am happy that you are accepting of how each of these languages factor in to who you are.