use of minority languages

Felicia Briscoe FBriscoe at
Fri Jan 9 21:47:35 UTC 2004

Stan and Christina,

Just out of curiousity have either of you read either Skutnabb-Kangas's or
Angela Valenzuela's discussion of the benefits of maintaining a first
language?  Do you not find their arguments compelling?


-----Original Message-----
From: Christina Paulston [mailto:paulston+ at]
Sent: Friday, January 09, 2004 3:18 PM
To: lgpolicy-list at
Subject: Re: use of minority languages

Stan, a voice of sanity C

>From: Stan & Sandy Anonby <stan-sandy_anonby at>
>To: lgpolicy-list at
>Subject: Re: use of minority languages
>Date: Fri, Jan 9, 2004, 3:15 PM

> 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
> a Hawaiian immersion school.  Although their first language was English,
> were told they were better prepared academically than Hawaiian kids who
> 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
> 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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