use of minority languages

Stan & Sandy Anonby stan-sandy_anonby at
Fri Jan 9 20:15:31 UTC 2004

I wish I could be more convinced about the benefits of first language
literacy.  We put our daughter in French immersion in Canada.  She first
gained literacy in a second language.  We're under the impression that the
kids graduating from French immersion schools in English Canada are better
prepared academically.  I met a cadre of Hawaiian kids who were studying in
a Hawaiian immersion school.  Although their first language was English, we
were told they were better prepared academically than Hawaiian kids who were
educated in English.

It seems to me that one thing in common with French immersion and Hawaiian
immersion is great parents!  Seriously though, in both cases, the children
had parents who believed in a system of education.  This might be contrasted
with the rest of the parents, who didn't think too much about their
children's education, and were content to drift along with the flow.

Stan Anonby

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ronald Kephart" <rkephart at>
To: <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Friday, January 09, 2004 2:29 PM
Subject: Re: use of minority languages

> At 9:42 AM -0500 1/9/04, Harold F. Schiffman wrote:
> >It seems to me in the discussion of the use of Ladin and other
> >languages, we need to keep in mind what the attitudes of the
> >speakers are toward literacy in their language, and what it might
> >mean when literacy in another language might give them more 'power'.
> Yes. The issue surfaced when I was doing work on literacy in Creole
> English in Grenada back in the 80s. Interestingly, though, in my case
> the most vociferous critics were "educators" from Canada and Great
> Britain, who were convinced that time learning to read Creole was
> wasted and would produce "confusion" in the kids I was working with
> (age about 12) when it came time for them to read standard English. I
> think I showed that this was not the case, and I think that heaps of
> research in other more or less analogous situations supports this.
> So, my two cents worth: We need to respect people's attitudes and
> opinions, but as people whose profession is the study of these
> issues, we also need to tell them the truth, whenever we can. The
> notion that first-language literacy impedes or hinders literacy in
> the "standard" or "official" language is, basically, an instrument of
> oppression promulgated by people and institutions who benefit from
> the illiteracy they claim to be so concerned about eliminating.
> --
> Ronald Kephart
> Associate Professor
> Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice
> University of North Florida

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