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Language Diversity Reflection

allisonletts's picture

I was in the group that presented on language diversity in Ghana. I was talking specifically about language within the school system, and how English is currently the accepted language of Ghanaian education. It isn't until Senior Secondary School that Ghanaian students are explicitly taught Ghanaian language. This policy makes me feel sad and a little angry, the same way that it does in American schools. Last semester in Empowering Learners, I defined agency as "the learner’s decision to take ownership of the world in which he/she lives and to apply his/her skills to shape that world." This definition was very much attached to language. I see literacy as a crucial skill for shaping the world. When a school system denies a student access to literacy in their native language, the system is taking away some of that student's agency. Waiting to provide this fundamental access to students who make it into schools that have stringent academic requirements is completely in opposition to what I think needs to happen. Language skils should be built upon, not limited. It's sad that this can be influenced by politics or ideology. 

I think this is one of the most important pieces of my time at Haverford--recognizing just how valuable language is. This has threaded throughout Literacies, Empowering Learners, Special Ed, Language Minority Ed, and American Sign Language. Every child needs access to language, especially as it helps them to form an identity or part of an identity. Literacy is important because it connects people, and literacy in one's native language is an excellent start.

I'm wondering: what advantages are there to providing everyone with only one common literacy?

Action steps: I should do more research on language policy in the US.


alesnick's picture

language and agency

I love the way you integrate and build on your agency definition from last term.  Wonderful!  Your questions are great and your goals are, too.  Do you think you might want to explore this in connection with your final course project?