Sunday, October 16, 2005
multilingual education vs English language tyranny



This is pretty sad.

This past week, the NW Asian Weekly ran a cover story about a Chinese American woman named Joyce Shui being ordered by a court arbitrator to remove her daughter from a preschool with a Japanese language immersion program (click here for the story). Though the Japanese school (Megumi Pre-School) is an established school and meets state requirements, the court ruled against her because of litigation taken by the woman's white ex-husband, Shawn Rose. From the article:

Shui, whose parents grew up in Japanese-ruled China, says she wants her two daughters to be aware of their Japanese and Chinese backgrounds.

�We are multilingual. That�s our heritage,� said Shui, who requested that the names of the children not be printed. �We need a judge who understands. The court sees (multilingual education) as ancillary. To me it is not ancillary. To me it is integral to my role as a parent. As an Asian parent, for me this is how I want to raise my daughters..."

...Shui claims her ex-husband does not want their daughter to finish the Japanese program because the girl would be developmentally delayed and her English skills would be stunted. Shui also said her ex-husband fears that their daughter would grow up confused and that learning another language would put too much pressure on the child. Shui added that he would feel distanced from his daughter because he does not speak any languages other than English.

�He�s exploiting the fear of the American public to his favor,� Shui claims. �He knows what mainstream America is willing to accept. There�s a fear that a multi-language education will stunt a child�s growth. That�s simply not true."


Shui is appealing the case, but as she noted, the US legal system hasn't always done what's best for families in cases of culture and ethnicity - since much of family law is subjective in judgement, case rulings can end up extrememly biased (anyone else remember the horrible case of the He family?)

Personally speaking, I think it's sad that popular American culture still frowns upon people being multilingual, especially in regards to non-European languages. Even today, our country has vastly failed to recruit enough fluent speakers of Arabic, Mandarin, Persian-Farsi, Korean, etc. to serve in government and military positions. History has shown that language is a powerful tool in both warfare and diplomacy (Nisei in the MIS during WW2 being a great example), but is it any surprise that the efforts have been largely ineffective, given the ill treatment most Americans inflict on people who are multilingual?

People need to speak out against the stupidity and racism of the American "English-only" mindset.

Another excellent quote from the article:

Shui points to recommendations from the children�s pediatrician, Dr. Ruth Ann Parish, that an early multilingual education is beneficial to a child�s development.

In a letter to King County Domestic Court, Parish referenced the book The Language Instinct by Dr. Robert Pinker. She pointed out that �while it is true that a child can learn a new language beginning at age 10 or 11, it is much easier for that child to be learning a second or third language at the ages of 4, 5 and 6.�

Parish said both daughters would benefit from a multilingual and multicultural education because of their mixed ethnic background.

�I feel that it is important for them to have the ability to communicate effectively with extended family members in both Chinese and Japanese,� Parish noted. �To rob a child of his or her language heritage is to rob that child of part of his or her identity, and to separate him or her from the culture and stories of his or her people.�


I couldn't have said it any better... it bears merit in repeating, I think. "To rob a child of his or her language is to rob that child of part of his or her identity, and to separate him or her from the culture and stories of his or her people."


.:.


rock on

In happier news, I just got back home from watching my friend's band, The Audiobiography, rock the house at the EMP Liquid Lounge. Even though they didn't take the stage until midnight, it was a packed house and a great performance. The band's popularity continues to grow.

The only downer of the night: the computer network malfunctioned and rendered the cash registers lifeless, making the bar unable to sell anymore drinks... ouch. Apple lovers will probably take delight in the fact that yes, ex-Microsoft founder and millionaire Paul Allen runs and owns EMP: all the computers are Windows-running PCs.

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Comments:
good articles to share! i've been meaning to post about the recent decision in Japan to start compulsatory English education in Japan, as early as 2007, for 3rd grade elementary students (& up). NHK had the stupidity to interview this guy (some prof) who was "against" the idea since HE didn't think that children benefitted learning a new language earlier in life than junior high. grr, obviously he's part of the problem of english education thus far in Japan...
 
freak!...i wrote a long response, but i hit the preview button instead!...grrr....anyways. my point was that the guy seems fearful of her daughter alienating him because he's not japanese. someone should tell him that being a good father will take care of any risk of alienation and being bi-lingual is advantageous. this is pure speculation though.
 
Wow, I thought that the thinking that denied me my Chinese language was at least waning in the face of real science.

Guess not, is it just me or is our whole criminal justice system completely uninterested in the realities unearthed by scientific inquiry? Basically, it's just a bunch of old white people making shit up...
 
Angela- I think I remember reading about the prof. you're talking about back when I was in Japan. He's written some books on the subject, right?

Yung- word.

Xian- scary, huh?
 
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in?scrip?tion (n-skrip-shun)n.
1. The act or an instance of inscribing.
2. Something, such as the wording on a coin, medal, monument, or seal, that is inscribed.
3. A short, signed message in a book or on a photograph given as a gift.
4. The usually informal dedication of an artistic work.
5. Jeremiah 31:33

the facts.
name. Gar AKA "that Chinese guy" "Sleepy.McSleeping"
ethnicity/nationality. Chinese/American, 4th gen.
location. Sea-Town, WA, USA Kawanishi, JAPAN
occupation. less-cynical poor grad student
age. younger than you think, older than you know

 



 

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