The old type of language teacher mostly only taught in ways that allowed privileged kids, usually white ones, to get into their AP classes. You know the type of teacher I mean. Other kids who “weren’t that smart” weren’t allowed into their upper level classes.
But the research shows clearly that all students, regardless of their race or socio-economic status, can master a language. That fact is born out by another fact – that many of our students have already mastered one language – English.
Some, for example the Latino students, have mastered two! Is there anything in the research that indicates that learning a third language is not as easy as learning the first two?
So what was keeping those young experts at language learning a language out of those teachers’ upper level classes? Could it have been unconscious bias? Hmmm….
Could it have been due to a form of bias that has finally been exposed in enough areas of American life to change things? Like the kind of exposure that happened in the press when the Asian guy who used chalk to write down the words Black Lives Matter on the curb in front of his own home in San Francisco and was confronted by a white couple about it, who couldn’t believe that such a person would live in their neighborhood?
Oh hell, this is getting tiresome. But we do have to know and accept – now in the post George Floyd world – that now everything in all areas of our lives, including in our jobs in language education, will never be the same. It’s about time, right?
Time to retool our teaching, ain’t it?
Let’s put it this way. My mission now is not about helping teachers get better at what they do. I’ve done that for twenty years. Now my focus has shifted to the way we teach kids languages in terms of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Yeah. I like that. I like that sentence. I think I’ll write it again, but in caps:
NOW MY FOCUS HAS SHIFTED TO THE WAY WE TEACH LANGUAGES IN TERMS OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT.
Want to join me? You’re invited. All you have to do is look inside at what you consider best practices in our field, and make some changes that go beyond best practices in teaching, changes that reach out with outstretched arms to every soul in our classes, big embracing arms that reach out further than they ever have, because of George Floyd and all those who have been crushed not just by police but also by teachers.
Need additional information? Go read everything that MLK ever said.