A different language is a different version of life.

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sun Jul 13 00:58:24 UTC 2008

A different language is a different version of

Posted by sllis on July 11, 2008

In January, 2007, I moved from Chicago, Illinois to the St. Louis area. I
had just finished my Ph.D. in human development and social policy, I was
pregnant with my second child, my husband had started a new job, and we had
bought our first home. We had left behind a neighborhood we had grown to
love, my immediate family, many mutual friends, and my then 2 ½-year-old
son's favorite *Spanish-immersion
To say the least, our family was in the midst of some very exciting

As we settled in the area, for both personal and professional reasons, I
wondered: could we find the vibrant, diverse cultural and educational
opportunities here that we had in Chicago? How? Where? For one, I wanted to
find a way to maintain my son's Spanish, as well as my own. My husband and I
both grew up in monolingual, English-speaking homes. I learned Spanish in
high school and college (and Chip studied Latin and Greek!), but we wanted
to give our kids more. After all, learning languages is the key to
understanding others and other cultures: "A different language is a
different vision of life" (Federico Fellini). I also wanted to understand
the history, settlement, and integration of immigrants in the St. Louis area
and the various educational opportunities they had (or did not have) to
maintain multiple languages and cultural practices.

As I was wondering how to explore my new home, I met Rhonda and discovered
the St. Louis Language Immersion Schools. Here was an incredible group of
people—educators, parents, policymakers, and St. Louis leaders—who wanted to
create something directly related to my interests, and so necessary! I
immediately became involved in their "French School Project Group" in order
to learn more and support, however I could, the development of St. Louis's
first language-immersion elementary schools.

I found the dedication and enthusiasm of the founding members contagious.
>>From my studies of educational policy, I know that this is essential, for
their ideas and enthusiasm should create the very important sense of
community and mission that effective schools have. Studies have shown that
the communal school organization and inspirational ideology of Catholic high
schools, for instance, have helped to reduce the gap between disadvantaged
students and their peers (see *Catholic Schools and the Common
– only one of the many goals of SLLIS.

While it has taken my family and I the past year and a half to settle into
our new home, I couldn't be happier that we have found a place and a people
who are dedicated to leading the development of truly multi-lingual and
multi-cultural citizens—and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

Lisa Dorner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
College of Education
University of Missouri, St. Louis


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