Speaking Up for Native Languages
Published in TC Today - Volume 31, No. 2
In Imagining Multilingual Schools: Languages in Education and Globalization, TC Professor Ofelia Garc-a, TC Associate Professor Maria Torres-Guzman, and Tove Skutnabb-Kangas of University of Roskilde, Denmark, and Abo Akademi University, Finland, assemble a series of articles on multilingual teaching programs and outreach efforts that are successfully counteracting the effects of linguistic hegemony. The articles include a look at Navajo language loss in the U.S. and indigenous efforts to counteract it; a report on chil-dren's feelings about language learning at three different kinds of bilingual schools in Spain's Basque Autonomous Commun- ity; modern marketing methods used in Wales to promote the benefits of bilingualism to parents and prospective parents; and a language awareness project in Alsace, France, in which children ages six through nine are introduced to 18 languages and the cultures associated with them. Some of the articles end with a section written in the language the article is concerned with, including a passage in Navajo and one in Euskara (the Basque language).
The danger of linguistic hegemony is pressing, the editors agree. They quote experts in the field who tie free trade and open capital markets to a "present day imperialism" that is dispossessing people of their native languages worldwide, abetted by majority language schools. The editors say they hope "people become angry at this dispossession that schools are involved with daily and that this anger is then used to start not only demanding but finally implementing the multilingual imaginings that this book also describes." The beneficiaries would be not only those who are aware of what they have lost, but also those "who do not know that monolingualism has dispossessed them."