Multi-Lingualism as an Asset not a Deficit

Multi-Lingualism as an Asset not a Deficit


>>NIETO: Well first, to have a deficit view, is to think of students as, you know, what I talked about once– or wrote about once– as walking sets of deficiencies. You know, that they are deficient in so many different ways— that is, you know, they don’t have fathers at home. They don’t have books at home. They don’t have– you know– they don’t go to the library. They don’t go to the museum. They’ve never seen a play, and so on. And those things may be true, but they do have mothers at home, and they do have– they do have stories at home, and they do speak other languages at home, and that’s what it means to have an asset view. What do kids have instead of what they don’t have. I often would tell my students about how– when my very first teaching job, I was in an intermediate school, and they had never seen a Puerto Rican teacher. First of all, they didn’t know what that was like– that was in New York City, and– and you would think, you know, because we had lots of Puerto Rican kids in the classrooms, but–but this was a long time ago– this was 1966. And they asked me to be the NE teacher. I didn’t know what NE was, and I found out that NE meant “non-English” because I was to teach the “non-English” students. And my English is perfectly good, but I was labeled along with my students because, you know, people saw us as what we– well I already had English– but what kids don’t have rather than think of them– and at that time it was almost all Puerto Rican kids who I was teaching– as being Spanish-speaking kids. That’s quite a difference. That’s an asset view. Oh look, these kids are Spanish-speaking rather than they don’t have language, which is something that actually my– the– the teacher at the daycare said when my daughter started daycare. She said “oh, I see she doesn’t have language.” I said, “she has language. She doesn’t have the English language, but she has the Spanish language.” And of course she learned English like that. You know, immediately– really quickly, and luckily to this day, she speaks Spanish. So you know that’s an asset view, where we think about what students do have and rather than think about, you know, everything that they don’t have that we can’t do anything about. You know, there are things that we can’t do anything about. We cannot give them fathers. We cannot, you know, give them more money. That would be nice. That would be fair. But we can’t do that. And so what we can do is take advantage of all the talents and strengths that they do have and build on those.

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