The authors of the book Restructuring Schools for Linguistic Diversity, Miramontes, Nadau, and Commins, emphasize the necessity of the creation and orientation of teaching approaches for the linguistically diverse student population that has proved to be a constantly growing and expanding layer of students in the USA. Reconstructing schools being guided by linguistic diversity as the focus of the whole process of reformation will promise nontrivial and productive results as suggested by the authors of the book. The subject for the present pared is the set of assumptions suggested by the scientists, which offers innovative learning based on the interaction and interrelation of languages, culture, and context. Detailed analysis of these assumptions will enable us to see the essence of learning based on linguistic diversity.
In the first of the nine assumptions, it was evident that the authors treat learning as continuing and enduring process that may be characterized by significant changes that concern its essence and content. Since learning is such a complex and multidimensional process, individual motivation and the skill of self-analysis also play an important role in the process of successful learning. The authors stated,
“The importance of learning rests on individuals’ ability to derive meaning from their experiences” (Miramontes, et al., 1997 p.16). This statement suggests the importance of self-analysis and the application of experience to present problematic learning situations.
Assumptions 2-4 cover the connection of the primary language and the secondary language explaining that in the complex they create the mechanism for successful learning that should be based on the primary language and the student’s skill of the application of the primary language to the learning of the secondary language. The first language is fundamental for the development of the individual since it creates the cognitive basis of a student; it means that the primary language is always applied in the formation of thoughts and ideas of a person. The interaction of the first and second language of a student may be illustrated by the assistance of the first language in the cases when the notions or concepts suggested by the second language are unclear. The two languages may be applied together in the framework of specific exercises that include their interaction, such as the task to find the equivalent in the primary language to denote the notion that is characteristic of the second language. Bilingualism should be treated as a complex phenomenon, which should be regarded as a cognitive, i.e. information-providing, basis. Besides, the social or cultural as well as economical sphere may be enriched and enlarged due to bilingualism.
Assumptions five through nine focused on the great need for the ability to function in a multicultural society. The importance of this ability can be explained by the changes that occur in contemporary American society and human society on the whole that may be characterized by developing cultural, political, and economical relations, and the increasing interrelations of cultures and languages. Students need to be given new knowledge of the culture around them and also be allowed to dig deeper into their heritage. The sociopolitical context makes a direct influence on the decisions of the teachers about education because the whole process of teaching and instruction should be directed at the application of acquired knowledge in real situations, and the correspondence of educational approaches to the sociopolitical context will prove their urgency.
I learned that when schools step up to make a positive difference for their students, educators are being held accountable for the much-needed interaction of the first and the second language of their students. Also, this ties in the school-wide decision-making for more effective programs for linguistically diverse students. Educators need to be just and unbiased to all of their students and to make everything possible to bridge the gap that may be created by limited knowledge of the second language that prevents the students from learning and showing progress in all academic areas.
Each of the assumptions seems to show careful considerations and connect to focus on change for schools. These underlying assumptions represent some reflections on the approach to the education of linguistically diverse students.
Miramontes, O., Nadeau, A., & Commins, N. (1997). Reconstructing schools for linguistic diversity. New York: Teachers College Press.