Annotated Bibliography: The Impact of Nonverbal Communication on Bilingual Education

Bilingual education is a notable, yet controversial program that attempts to provide better academic opportunities for non-English-speaking students living in the U.S. While many schools, including those in California, opt for an English immersion program, more and more schools across the country are realizing the value of bilingualism with programs designed to promote the acquisition of English without sacrificing native languages.

While some schools implement programs based in traditional methods of second language acquisition including drills and repetition, others are using techniques like situational autobiographies and two-way bilingual program. It is also important for schools to deal with processing disorders and mislabeled students as a result of second language acquisition. Technology plays a role in the ever-evolving world of bilingual education, as teachers must stay up-to-date with new ideas to help achieve their classroom goals.

Nonverbal communication is crucial in a bilingual setting. The commitment to teaching students’ native language is a strong nonverbal statement to the community, boldly showing the school’s appreciation and support of the culture in the community. Teachers also have to have efficient nonverbal skills, as they will be dealing with multiple cultures with different expectations for nonverbal communication. The language barrier can be crossed with more ease by using gestures, as well as changes in pitch and tone.

In today’s ethnocentric society state governments including California and Massachusetts are stepping in and essentially outlawing children learning their native languages in public schools. The studies and essays included all contain information vital to the importance of native language maintenance as well as the struggle for evaluations and advancement of existing bilingual programs. Andrews, Jean F., et al. “What’s up, Billy Jo?: Deaf children and bilingual-bicultural instruction in East-Central Texas.” American Annals of the Deaf 142.1 (1997): 16 – 25.

The standardized test scores of seven deaf students who attended a bilingual-bicultural (bi-bi) school in east-central Texas are examined in light of “theories of first and second language acquisition and the feasibility of establishing bi-bi programs in areas where no large deaf community exists. Upon the time of publication 70% of deaf student in the U.S. go to public schools where they are “mainstreamed into inclusive settings without a bi-bi approach, thus this examination could prove crucial in the struggle for more programs to be established. This study also looks at a community without a high Deaf population, which would help convince even stubborn opposition.

All children involved in the bi-bi program improved on the Bracken Test of Basic Concepts from fall of 1994 to fall of 1995. The Test of Auditory Comprehension was given to get baselines after first grade, and ASL instruction did not decrease auditory skills as determined by the TAC. Two children had increases in their scores, while the other children’s scores remained constant. All improved on the Carolina Picture Vocabulary Test, as well as the Grammatical Analysis of Elicited Language-Simple Sentence Level exam. All tested age-appropriately on the SAT-9 text, and even used a diagnostician unfamiliar with the bi-bi program as an administrator on the Woodcock Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery to eliminate tester bias.

This work is very important in the conflict surrounding bi-bi education, and the authors did everything conceivable to rise above the opponents, choosing the most difficult setting, proving all schools have a chance to be successful with this approach.

Ariza, Eileen N. “Resurrecting “old” language leaning methods to reduce anxiety for new language learners: Community language learning to the rescue.” Bilingual Research Journal 26.3 (2002): 717 – 728.

Ariza acknowledges traditional methods of teaching a second language which include drills and repetitions with minimal emphasis on communication. In her paper, Ariza examines the difficulties she encountered while attempting to teach four English speaking Puerto Rican boys who recently relocated to Puerto Rico. Teaching in the traditional method may reduce anxiety, hypothesizes Ariza. Recently, the Communicative Approach has gained popularity, focusing on communication with the use of meaningful, authentic language, in lieu of rehearsal and repetitive practice.

Ariza used many gestures and tone of voice changes to aid in translation, even opting to have her students translate humorous sentences to peak their interest. Many times what a teacher asks a student to do for an assignment tells a lot about the instructor. By choosing funny assignments, she was able to let her students know she was easy going and wanted learning to be fun, not a chore. Ariza believed it was clear that these boys were untouchable until their anxiety was reduced to a workable level. CLL was used as an invaluable “introduction” to listening and speaking, but it was also an opportunity for use as a natural scaffold to develop reading and writing. By implementing CLL strategies, Ariza was able to help the language learners conquer their fears of making mistakes, thus gaining greater self-confidence, and bonding with the teacher in a non-threatening classroom, thus promoting language acquisition.

Balluerka, Nekane, et al. “The age and context of acquisition of Euskera and Castilian: A matter of the bilingual education and politics of the Basque language.” Bilingual Research Journal 20.3/4 (1996): 465 – 483.

This article is near to my heart as it discusses the area in Spain where I lived. Many people there are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and Basque. All street signs are in both languages, and the separation of culture is similar to French/English areas of Quebec. Balluerka et al report on the acquisition and use of Euskera, which is the native way of saying Basque. Included are assessment of family and other people, level of exposure to Euskera during different stages of language acquisition and the use of mass media presented in Basque. The authors make it clear that “there are no monolingual speakers of Euskera,” which is one of the only languages to always be combined with another language – be it French in the northern areas or Spanish in the south of the Basque Country. The implications of this are the infiltration of other cultures and languages have left no true stand-alone culture that can be described as truly Basque. Nonverbal gestures and norms concerning gaze in Basque society have mixed with Spanish and French culture to such a point that separating them is nearly impossible. The reason for the assimilation, state the authors, is the thirty-six year dictatorship of Francisco Franco, whose official governmental policy was to actively discourage the use of Basque and other “minority languages.”

Baptista, Luis F. “What the white-crowned sparrow’s song can teach us about human language.” Chronicle of Higher Education 46.44 (2000): B8.

Baptista challenges that “whether or not birds have language, studying what sounds they make and how they learn to make them, can shed light on the development of human speech.” He believes that both humans and birds can become bilingual, developing “hybrid sounds, which combine features from two languages or dialects.” Sine the 18th century, scholars have known that birds, like people, have regional accents or dialects. Some birds on the boundary between two dialects, Baptista maintains, are bilingual because they can sing “pristine renditions of both dialects.” Just as people learn a second language easier the younger the age of exposure, so seems to be the case with birds as well. Baptista’s experiments proved that a bird learned the song it heard when it could not see the bird was not of its same species. This can be crossed over into language acquisition to show that students are able to learn any language as long as they are exposed from birth. This stifles the controversy that children are only able to learn their native language.

Baptista’s findings help to support bilingual education because bilingualism in nature helps to advocate its importance. More research is necessary to uncover other bilingual creatures in the animal kingdom, which would further the bilingual education platform.

“The bilingual brain.” Discover 18.10 (1997): 26.

Some students do not learn English very easily if it is their second language. This article examines Karl Kim’s struggle with English language acquisition and how his brain adapted to learn a second language. He worked as a neroscientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY. Together with Joy Hirsh, recent evidence has been uncovered suggesting that “children and adults don’t use the same parts of the brain when learning a second language.” People who learned a second language as children used the same region in the brain for both languages, while those who learned a second language later in life made use of a “distinct region near the one activated for their native tongue.” Hirsh postulates that “when language is being hard-wired during development the brain may intertwine sounds and structures from all language into the same area, but once that wiring is complete, the management of new language, with new sounds and structures, must be taken over by a different part of the brain.” A second hypothesis is that the difference occurs because children learn in a tactile manner, which is very different from sitting through formal education.

Board of Education – Massachuttes. “Floundering in English.” Boston Globe 28 Feb. 2003: A18.

The Massachuttes Board of Education dealt with the challenge of weighing regulations for the state’s new English immersion law. The state’s difficulty arose thirty years ago when a program was implemented with little scaffolding to help students.
Funding this time around is also an issue, as many claim the program will not be successful if materials and training of both immersion teachers and mainstream teachers in schools with large numbers of children with limited English is not financed. Governor Romney proposed $9 million for immersion kindergarten classes is only a start, and this article argues voter-approves Question 2, which deprives state and local officials of flexibility. Children under ten can be waived from English immersion classes and enroll in a transitional bilingual class only after spending thirty days in the immersion class.
The link to nonverbal communication comes as a qualification of employment. Many teachers will not be qualified to teach under the newly proposed system because they are unable to communicate fluently in English. The unskilled educators are also unable to teach the cultural aspects of English-speaking culture, including emblems. The author leaves the reader with this final thought: The governor and lawmakers should respect the will of the voters, but there are changes that would improve the law and reduce the chance of immersion chaos.

Boxall, Bettina. “With Gestures, but Not Chaos, Prop. 227 Begins; Education: L.A. teachers improvise on first day of English-only instruction, and students seem to catch on.” Los Angeles Times 4 Aug. 1998: D1.

This article dealt with the difficult transition from a bilingual school to a multilingual school after Proposition 227 was passed in California, outlawing instruction in languages other than English. Teachers were forced to increase gesture usage, pointing to the floor when asking students to sit down, for example. Teachers had to slow down when speaking.

Parents were given four choices of how to deal with the difficult transition: immerse the pupils in English; instruct them almost entirely in English with classroom aides and fellow students offering native-language help (known as Model A); teach them almost entirely in English with a certified bilingual education teacher in class to help (known as Model B); or apply for a waiver to place the child in a traditional bilingual program.

The author pointed out the difficulties foreseen by many educators were not evident by reporters during the first day, perhaps in part to the multitude of gestures used by teachers to help compensate for the language disparity. The most difficult part for teachers was the lack of textbooks, thus resulting in homemade lessons and plans. Even teachers admitted that without certain aspects of nonverbal communication, such as gestures, the smooth changeover would not have been possible.

Brown, Abbie H, and Anne Campbell. “Welcoming the culture of computing into the K – 12 classroom: Technological fluency and lessons learned form second language acquisition and cross cultural studies.” Multicultural Education. 10.2 (2002): 10 – 14.

From conversations surrounding the integration of innovative technologies into their curriculum to better serve culturally diverse students, Brown and Campbell decided to research the combination of instructional design and technology with bilingual education. In order to define technological fluency they used Martin Joos’ 1967 “The Five Clocks” as a standard, which labeled the five levels of language formality: intimate, casual, consultative, deliberative or formal, and oratorical; whereas the first three are learned at home, which the last two are traditionally learned at school/formal study. They also discuss reaching the goal of automatic processing in second language acquisition

The important aspect of nonverbal communication occurs when dealing with posttransfiguration, which occurs when “immigrant parents give over their authority as adults to their children because their children are more fluent in the use of the language spoken in the new community.” This act often turns the tables, forcing the children to become overprotective of their parents, while still respecting them; however, in many cases the parents become obsolete while their children manipulate the situation to their advantage. This nonverbal shift of power can become dangerous, as the parents are now unable to share sophisticated language and culturally appropriate nonverbals with their children

De Jong, Ester J. “Effective bilingual education: From theory to academic achievement in a two-way bilingual program.” Bilingual Research Journal. 26.1 (2002): 65 – 84.

De Jong studied the link between theoretical understandings about bilingualism and second language acquisition to program design and implementation. By using a two-way bilingual program, such as the Barbieri model, participants are able to reach academic and linguistic goals by fifth grade. Reflection on these achievement patterns have “prompted changes in the program to further increase its effectiveness.” The main purpose of De Jong’s article was to consider the role of program evaluation, which leads to improvement, in the two-way bilingual education program. TWBE programs a balanced group of majority language and minority language speakers are used for instruction, and the subject matter is conducted in the minority AND majority language, with the goal of developing bilingual skills for all involved.

By making a commitment to hire teachers trained and fluent in both languages of instruction, they are sending the message that it is not an inferior skill to speak the minority language. Students are able to see the language as a positive art to be learned and polished, not as something to be forced to forget. It is nice for ESL students to be surrounded by students struggling to learn their native language, and it fosters a sense of community in the classroom as ALL students are able to serve as helpers, depending on the language of instruction at the time.

Doblainshi, Stephen. “Are expats getting lost in the translation?” Workforce. 76.2 (1997): 32 – 39.

Business professionals constantly struggle with not knowing the language of their clients. The task of providing some form of language training for outbound employees headed to other countries falls on international human resource managers. The immersion approach is by far the most successful, but fluency cannot be achieved overnight. The author explains that expatriates cannot just “get by with English-only anymore.” He further asserts that they need to speak their customers’ languages if their business relationships are going to flourish. By making the commitment to train employees in languages necessary at the company a strong message is sent that “we care about your business.” Doblainshi mentions the image of the “ugly American expatriateâÂ?¦ who bulldozes his or her way through another country – speaking only English and making everyone around him or her pull out their English phrase books just to keep up.” He writes, “although English is widely spoken in the global business world, the language of business, as the adage goes, is the language of the customer.” Using interpreters translates the words, but Doblainshi warns it won’t necessarily help them with the “nuances of what their customers are trying to discuss.” By only speaking English, expatriates are missing out on possible social engagements outside of the workplace, which may help “seal the deal” for the business venture. This article focused heavily on the importance of learning another language, but also emphasized lost nonverbal cues as an important reason to do so.

Kim, Young Sook and Kevin N. Cole. “Facilitating first language development in young Korean children through parent training in picture book interactions.” Bilingual Language Acquisition 26.2 (2002): 367 – 381.

Sook and Cole examined the effectiveness of parent training in the use of language facilitation techniques around picture book interactions with Korean mothers and children. A group of twenty-one children ages two to four years and their mothers participated, and dyads were randomly assigned to a treatment or control group. The treatment group received approximately one hour of instruction in specific language facilitation techniques around picture book interactions, while the control group received approximately one hour of instruction in general emergent literacy development and the importance of first language acquisition. Previous studies discovered that some parents use picture books as springboards for conversations about the book, and mothers tend to use more instructional strategies with picture book reading than in other situations (McNeill & Fowler, 1996; Hoff-Ginsberg, 1991; Jones & Adamson, 1987). A study by Kim in 1980 stated that parents now often recognize that their heritage language is one of the greatest assests for their children, in contrast to early immigrant families who sometimes thought their children must only learn English to blend into societies.

This study can be easily tied to the interaction between nonverbal and verbal communications, as picture books were necessary, not just the spoken/written word. For young emerging communicators, seeing a picture tells the story even more than some of the written words, thus becoming a starting block for further communication.

Garcia-Vazquez, Enedina, et al. “Language proficiency and academic success: Relationships between proficiency in two languages and achievement among Mexican American Students.” Bilingual Research Journal 21.4 (1997): 395 – 408.

Many articles in this bibliography focus on second language development and academic success, but the “debate continues on how the development of the first language benefits the acquisition of the second.” This study examines the strength of the “relation among proficiency in English and Spanish and academic success.” Oral language, literacy and academic achievement were examined, and a significant connection was found between proficiency in English and standardized achievement scores and GPAs. A correlation was also found between reading and writing in Spanish and standardized testing and grade-point averages. Mastering written language had the strongest relation to academic success. This is a tremendous step to silence the critics who still believe that being bilingual contributes to “mental confusion.”

This study used 100 randomly selected Hispanic students in grades six through twelve at a midwestern school. A second group of 101 were sampled to produce another group, whereas all students ranged from twelve to eighteen years. Individual assessments were used to measure English and Spanish proficiency, as well as data on academic achievement from students’ cumulative folders. Correlational analysis was used to determine the relations between oral language, written language, reading as well as other standardized test scores. The results revealed “varying strengths in relations between the variables of interest,” with the strongest relations were noted between all components of English proficiency. This suggests that “as English proficiency increases, so does achievement as measured by standardized tests.” This information could be used to help support those who believe standardized tests are culturally biased and would like to see a revamp of the system.

Lock, Robin H., and Carol A. Layton. “Isolating intrinsic processing disorders from second language acquisition.” Bilingual Research Journal. 26.2 (2002): 383 – 394.

Lock and Layton examine the difficulty in differentiating intrinsic processing disorders from extrinsic factors, and acknowledge it as a “complex issue.” They compared test results of non-disabled students with both Spanish and English as a first language to “determine the frequency of intrinsic processing likelihood.”

The authors of the study explain that students with limited English proficiency (LEP) may be “mistakenly identified as learning disabled due to inherent similarities between intrinsic processing deficits and the process of second language acquisition.” Lock and Layton used a newly published observational tool called the Learning Disabilities Diagnostic Inventory (LDDI), which helps educators detect possible intrinsic processing disorders. They used results of non-disabled students with limited English proficiency and those who spoke English as a first language as a comparison to see if LEP students were labeled more frequently than English-speaking peers.

This study is important for the nonverbal community as it helped to break down stereotypes put upon LEP students by educators. By making teachers aware of the unjust correlation and inaccurate labeling of LEP students as having intrinsic processing disorders they are more likely to treat ESL (English as a Second Language) students as they do any other student in their classroom.

MacSwan, Jeff. “Do some school-age children have no language? Some problems of
construct validity in the pre-LAS EspaÃ?±ol.” Bilingual Research Journal 26.2 (2002):
395 – 420.

MacSwan studies the existence of a surprisingly large group of students identified as “non-nons,” which refers to Spanish-background school-age children living in the US who are reported to be nonverbal in both Spanish and English. The study seeks to examine the testing procedures and the validity of the label “non-non” itself. 6,800 children in the Los Angeles Unified School District are classified as “non-nons.” Children must first be labeled as a “non-Spanish speaker,” as opposed to “limited Spanish speaker,” or “fluent Spanish speaker.” The test administered to students is called the Pre-LAS EspaÃ?±ol test for children below the age of four and the LAS EspaÃ?±ol test for children ages four to six.

Personally I feel labeling a child as a “non-non” is both a degradation and a self-fulfilling prophecy. I agree with the author’s hypothesis that children who are not able to speak in their native language are more effective users of gestures and nonverbal communication than limited or fluent speakers.

The author concludes with these statements: Ability labels such as “non-non” and “semilingual,” especially when they cannot be justified, stand to do considerable harm to children by subjecting them to needless “remediation” or placing them in language environments that are disadvantageous. Abandoning the practice of routinely assessing children’s native language is a step toward affirming the linguistic and cultural resources of all children.

Merrow, John. “Speaking in Tongues.” New York Times 12 Jan. 2003: A 4,7.

Disappointing test scores in New York State last spring prompted the state education commissioner, Richard R. Mills, to call for a ”more rigorous curriculum.” The old National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education has a new name – it’s now the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition and Language Instruction Educational Programs. The emphasis on learning English should not surprise anyone. President [Bush], after all, openly mocked an American reporter last May for asking a question of France’s president in French. As a teacher of multiculturalism, dealing with occurrences like that are difficult, and seem to move this country to the opposite direction I’d like to see it. Nonetheless, every state is painfully aware of the gap that exists between majority and minority students, and almost every state “talks with missionary zeal about ‘closing the achievement gap.'” Delaware created an Achievement Gap Work Group, which concluded that fourth and eighth grade minority students in the state were three years behind non-minority students. It then developed a policy goal of bringing up the target group up to the reference level group, and the author sarcastically adds, “that is, get the black and brown students up to the performance levels of the white students.” By adding a racial dimension to performance makes failure to perform racial also. This is a horribly harmful connection to make in people’s minds, thus adding to stereotypes already in existence. These stereotypes are then used to judge people without them saying a word – it conveys a message nonverbally that certain skin colors lead to characteristics of intelligence.

Minami, Masahiko. “Bilingualism in Development: Language, Literacy, and Cognition.” Bilingual Research Journal 26.3 (2002): 729 – 735.

Linguists, psychologists, and sociologists have investigated bilingual populations from different perspectives in order to understand how bilingualism affects cognitive abilities. This review looks at the development of bilingualism adds to the growing number of professionals seeking to understand the affects of knowing more than one language on memory and perception.

The most important issue addressed by Minami is that one of the implications of the research findings reported is that the “common sense of urgency about introducing English immediately in schools to language-minority children, and about mainstreaming them as early as possible in school settings, has no basis in fact.” This raises the question of why did immersion become so important? The basis in fear of the unknown/unfamiliar has long prompted policies to be written and carried out. By immersing students in a new culture with little or no verbal communication understanding, one must rely on nonverbal communication to pass on messages one would like to convey.

Montague, Nicole S., and Elsa Meza-Zaragosa. “Elicited response in the pre-kindergarten setting with a dual language program: Good or bad idea?” Bilingual Research Journal 23.2/3 (1999): 289 – 296.

Montague and Meza-Zaragosa examine the use of the Language Experience Approach and the role of elicited response with English and Spanish speaking participants in the pre-kindergarten setting. They then look at the social influences that affect second language learning. Elicited response, mentioned in the title, occurs when a teacher attempts to force the student to answer in his/her weakest (non-native) language. The authors admit it is “impossible to derive an absolute and definitive solution from the results,” a precedent is set requiring further research concerning elicited response.

This study took place in a classroom of preliterate four and five year olds who were instructed half the day in Spanish and half in English. Elicited responses were recorded and coded. One thing that occurred after the study was completed the teachers notices verbal changes in their students: “once elicitation had clearly ceases, the students appeared to thing that the teacher had forgotten to ask them if they could respond in Spanish.” The results of the study include the importance of Spanish speakers to see English speaking students struggle with learning a language, just as they were, while they gain confidence in their native language of Spanish. Educators must be aware of the self-esteem issues that surround minority language speakers, and this approach gives them the chance to shine and feel a sense of improved status.

Oshiro, Madelline, et al. “Between Worlds: Access to Second Language Acquisition.” Language Arts 73.3 (1996): 212.

Oshiro reviewed the book, Between Worlds: Access to Second Language Acquisition, bu David Freeman and Yvonne Freeman (1994). The two authors of the book were educators and students of Spanish, creating the book to help enable teachers, administrators and college students to instruct their ESL students successfully. The authors review principle theories of language acquisition: environmentalist, nativist, and interactionist. Nativists believe children acquire their first language with ease. Interactionists feel it is only through conversations between people that language is developed, not through traditional/formal education. Environmentalists assert that children learn a second language best when in an environment that is similar to students learning the language for the first time.

The book is highly recommended for dealing with “complex and sometimes controversial issues thoroughly and clearly,” while “providing ammunition for administrators and how-tos for teachers.” Books and manuals that promote ESL education, as well as giving background and concrete examples are not easy to find. I look forward to reading this book to get a better idea of the history and struggle of bilingual education and the maintenance of native language.

Parillo, Vincent N. “A challenge for educators: Dealing with demographic changes in the school system.” Vital Speeches of the Day 68.1 (2001): 19 – 25.

Parillo writes an essay that discusses the challenges ESL and bilingual teachers face in meeting the needs, instilling the knowledge, and developing the skills of their students. Critics believe ESL and bilingual teachers are “slowing down the language acquisition process, when they are actually enhancing it.” Critics also think immigrants do not want to learn English, and this is why they use their native language in public and everyday situations; however, English cannot be learned overnight! Full assimilation to the American culture (including speaking English) is “typically a multi-generational” occurrence.

Parillo explains that as the demographics of the U.S. change, with the Census Bureau estimating that by midcentury 21% of the population will be approximately 82 million immigrants who arrived after 1991 or the children of those immigrants. In the 1990s, the nation’s resident Hispanic population increased by 13 million, now accounting for one in two of all foreign-born residents. Parillo compares today’s fear of other non-mainstream cultures to the immigrations of early America. As stereotypes were a part of life then, sadly they are still a part of life for millions of “new immigrants.”

His main concern throughout the essay is that “no single approach is necessarily the answer for every child,” and that “schools should evaluate and choose programs that are the most appropriate for their specific students.” Boldly speaking against California’s Proposition 227, Parillo believes enhancing the learning environment for all students, regardless of their native language should be a commitment for all schools.

Perera, Natsuko Shibata. “The role of prefabricated language in young children’s second language acquisition.” Bilingual Research Journal. 25.3 (2001): 327 – 356.

This is a study that investigates how young learners of English as a second language become capable of socializing in English as well as becoming linguistically creative in English through the use of prefabricated language. Perera studied four preschool Japanese children in two-way immersion programs from the stages of single-word to multi-word utterances. Both the observer and the subjects’ parents kept journals, and conversations were recorded once a week.

A primary concern of educators and researchers in immersion programs, as well as in bilingual education itself, is the acquisition of the second language. Do children learn better/more quickly without formal language training? Many previous studies do not show a link between language socialization and language acquisition. This multi-case study sought to determine whether the use of second language for social purposes can or cannot lead to the acquisition of the second language also.

Socialization also includes nonverbal behavior in the culture of the second language, whereas formal teaching usually does not include such details. Speaking from personal experience, learning Spanish (my second language) socially was much more effective than formally. I believe all students should have a basis in which to begin social interaction, but that the interaction itself is much more helpful than anything taught in a classroom.

The author concludes with the cultural aspect of Japanese students, insisting that they perform better with more formal training, coupled with limited socialization. The US philosophy; however, is quite the opposite, with immersion being at the forefront and social learning having the upper hand.

Perez, Anita Mendez. “Mexican American mothers’ perceptions and beliefs about language acquisition in infants and toddlers with disabilities.” Bilingual Research Journal 24.3 (2000): 277 – 294.

This study examined the perceptions and beliefs of seven Spanish-speaking Mexican American mothers who had children ages 24 – 37 months labeled with language disabilities. These children were served in an Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program in central Texas, and the decision as to whether services were provided in Spanish or English was examined. The parental understanding of how to support their children’s language development was also examined, and data was gathered using a home language questionnaire, an interview and observations.

In one observation the mothers were asked to select two of their children’s toys or games and to interact with their children as they would normally. The selection of the toy was a strong nonverbal, showing a great deal about the parents’ expectations, as well as the children’s likes. All mothers that participated were fluent Spanish speakers and spoke little or no English, with Spanish being the primary language spoken in the homes. English exposure came only through the media or as a result of interaction with siblings.

The mothers did not believe that their children had communication disabilities, yet they did realize the children had limited verbal skills and used nonverbal gestures more than their peers. Excessive use of gesturing is one of the factors in labeling a child with developmental delays in language. The mothers believed their children would “catch up as they grew older.” Mothers also thought that bilingual education programs would help their children, not being aware of the correlation between native language proficiency and the acquisition of English as a second language.

Pierce, Michelle, and Maria Estela Brisk. “Sharing the bilingual journey: Situational autobiography in a family literacy context.” 26.3 (2002): 575 – 597.

A key in this article is the use of situational autobiographies. Situational autobiography is a methodology that “encourages the exploration of the situational factors affecting bilingual learners,” while they write narratives that scrutinize the factors affecting their struggles of adjustment and language acquisition. Findings of this study support earlier findings that knowing the background of the learner/student and having an understanding of the social context in which languages are developed are “essential to providing quality education.” Pierce claims that by using the technique of situational autobiographies also helps the learner go through a healing process to deal with the adjustment to a new culture. By sharing situational autobiographies with parents, they are more able to support the development of their children’s second language and culture.

This study shows the importance of a link between parent and child during second language acquisition is crucial for both to develop cultural and linguistic awareness. Taking the journey together seems to make it easier for both to overcome the difficulties and discuss what they are experiencing. By making the commitment to teach both student and parent, those involved in the strategy of situational biographies, a strong nonverbal message is sent. Family ties are very strong in Hispanic cultures, and a school that is willing to work with the family unit will achieve better results than one that does not work with cultural norms.

Takahashi-Breines, Hinako. “The role of teacher-talk in a Dual Language Immersion third grade classroom.” Bilingual Research Journal. 26.2 (2002): 461 – 483.

Takahashi-Breines investigated the “complex and multifaceted role” of teacher-talk in a Dual Language Immersion classroom using “ethnographic methodology and discourse analysis.” DLI programs combine native English speakers with ESL students together in a way that both English and other languages are used (at separate times) for academic instruction. This usually begins in kindergarten, and its goal is to “promote bilingual proficiency, high academic achievement and cross-cultural awareness in all students.” All students are forced to learn a second language, while some learn English, native English speakers are learning the language of the other students in class. This is important because it does not seek to assimilate ESL students into American culture, but promotes the importance of maintaining native language and culture.
The goal of the classroom becomes difficult to achieve without a trained teacher, as instruction is given to a group of students who are learning in a second language. During this study naturalistic observations were made once a week, with the sessions being audiotaped and later transcribed. This study focused on the teacher-talk part of the discourse. The teacher was a New Mexican Hispanic teaching in a classroom with a mix of Spanish-dominant student and English-dominant students in a community of predominantly Hispanic population.

Relating this study to nonverbal communication is easy because the study focuses on the social distance created between the teacher and student. The DLI process would not be successful without using nonverbals to create status for the teacher and foster a sense of respect between students.

Tong, Virginia M. “Home language literacy and the acculturation of recent Chinese immigrant students.” Bilingual Research Journal 20.3/4 (1996): 523 – 543.

Tong examines the “implications of an emerging cross-group identity and the acquisition of second language and culture by bilingual and bicultural students.” The results of this research detail the importance of “home language and culture as it affects the social adaptation of new Chinese American immigrants.” Tong shows that people are unaware of the differences between the native culture and new culture until they are in the thick of things. Both similarities and differences are not only noticed, but also the “understanding of the cultural and linguistic similarities and differences between their first and second backgrounds is essential.” Tong uses Schumann’s acculturation model (1978, 1986) to help sort data, which points out that “social adaptation is an integration strategy which involves second language learners’ adjustment to the lifestyles and values of the target language group while maintaining their own lifestyle and values for intragroup use.” After interviewing and administering standardized tests to 190 bilingual Chinese Americans, several trends were noted, including respondents clearly indicating a preference for using Chinese most of the time in everyday situations. This is important for nonverbal communication, as it shows the group making a conscious choice to be identified as Chinese. The participants felt that Chinese Americans were especially loyal in both language and heritage to China, despite years (and even generations) living in the U.S.

Watkins-Goffman, Linda, and Victor Cummings. “Bridging the gap between native language and second language literacy instruction: A naturalistic study.” Bilingual Research Journal 21.4 (1997): 381 – 394.

This study was conducted to determine the context in which Dominican students attain native language literacy, which will help improve on ESL instruction. An ethnographic study was conducted at the Universidad Autonoma in the Dominican Republic using interviews, taped transcripts and videotapes. The results show that “students practice analysis and categorization of test, summary and text-related writing in a teacher-directed class setting.”

This study’s implications are profound, explaining that ESL students who are “recent immigrants to the United States have much more than English grammar and lexicon to learn.” They demonstrate that students have to learn to take part in “an academic discourse community which may be very different from that of their native culture” in addition to subject matter. One concrete example in the study dealt with having to “learn the culture’s way of knowing and learning.” ESL students may have to learn – “in many cases for the first time – to write an essay arguing a position on a topic from their own point of view.” The implications for mainstream classroom teachers is important – directions cannot just be translated into a student’s native language, as they still may be unsure of what is required of them.

Weber-Fox, Christine, and Neville, Helen J. “Sensitive periods differentiate processing of open-and-closed-class words: An ERP study of bilinguals.” Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearning Research. 44.6 (2001): 1338 – 1353.

This study hypothesized that “neural processes for language are heterogeneous in their adaptations to maturation and experience.” Weber-Fox and Neville also examined whether the “neural processes for open-and-closed class words are differentially affected by delays in second-language immersion. Fifty-three Chinese-English speakers and ten monolingual English speakers between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six years were recruited at the University of California in San Diego. They were each given a set of 120 sentences previously used in an open-and-closed class word processing study, with half of the sentences containing final words that violated semantic expectations and the remaining with semantically appropriate and expected endings. Scalp electrical activity was recorded using electrodes and ERP recording. Those with excessive eye movement were excluded, which was approximately 10%. At the conclusion of the test participants rated themselves and were also given a standardized test score based on the ERP results. Results were similar to previous studies, which showed that the earlier a second language was acquired the easier the brain was able to perform the task of sentence completion. It also showed that immersion in a second language before the age of eleven led to difficulty in speaking the native language.
The nonverbal implications of this study show are larger than anticipated. For example, a person gains employment because s/he is able to speak another language and was born in China, putting the Chinese clients at ease. Since s/he moved to the U.S. at the age of four s/he has lost much of the subtleties of the language since his/her schooling was in English. This will also have a strong impact on the nonverbals encoded, as eye contact/gaze and gestures will be reflective of the environment the person was raised in, not of the native country.

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