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From the proponent’s point of view, TWI education at its best emphasizes growing proficiency in a wide range of language uses and domains, both those belonging to all the academic disciplines of school and those belonging to the social and cultural realms of the students in the program. However, further research is needed to examine the actual status of minority language students and their language in particular TWI classrooms at particular times, and what attitudes toward the minority language and its multiple cultures are transmitted and learned, another reason to approach TWI by examining the language domains obtained in TWI classrooms, and learning what each language is used for.
Language policy in TWI programs.
In her 1997 Harvard Education Review “cautionary note,” Valdés expresses deep concern regarding the project of TWI education because she understands its participants to be involved in forming and enacting de facto language policy. She is concerned that the teachers, administrators, parents and students involved in TWI programs are unaware of the long-term effects of the program they advocate, specifically on the Mexican-origin students in them. She draws attention to the potential TWI education has to take away ownership of language from minority language students and families, putting power over that language into the hands of the majority English-speaking educational communities and parents. She warns that, though TWI education may be promising for Mexicanorigin students, their prospects for academic achievement are not just tied to factors of language, but are much more complex, and that such programs could have detrimental academic and social effects unanticipated by their proponents. Further, she points to the fact that the stakeholders in TWI programs, teachers, parents, administrators, while engaging in de facto language policy in the implementation of the programs, often do not understand the implications of the policies they are enacting.
Implicit in Valdés’s warning, as well as McCollum’s (1994) and Freeman’s (2000) middle school studies, is the idea that TWI program stakeholders are handling and transmitting language ideologies and practices to their children and communities, and that these ideologies and practices often are not seen clearly or discussed openly. Parents, teachers, administrators and students all hold beliefs about the importance of one language over another, how language may or may not be used, what it means to be bilingual, and what the goals are for language learning and use in TWI programs. (Mora et al., 2001) point to the problem of conflict over ideologies, terminology, and concepts of implementation in TWI programs, arguing that alignment of ideology with implementation is essential in a successful TWI program. They further assert that the model of instruction of a TWI program must not only be pedagogically sound, but take into account the specific resources and realities of the whole school community, as well as provide consistency of implementation of the instructional model, and a means of identifying and remedying a lack of consistency in implementation. Their study considers these issues within the bounds of a TWI program, but not as TWI students exit programs for other language learning and use environments, such as World Language classes in secondary school.
In light of Valdés’s warning and these studies, I will propose ways of understanding language policy formation and the language ideologies and beliefs that inform it across a TWI program, and beyond into high school World Language classes into which former TWI students enter.
Research Methods for Studying Language Policy Formation
Recently, language policy researchers and theorists have been focusing on mapping out the full extent of factors involved in the creation and enactment of language policy in a wide range of social spaces. Recognizing the fact that language policy is formed and enacted in not only traditional spaces and ways that result in de jure or overt language policy, Spolsky (2004) expanded our understanding of language policy formation to include a consideration of individuals’ and groups’ language practices, language beliefs (or ideologies) and language management, which usually takes the form of corpus and/or status management. While Spolsky’s model could help in examining aspects of language policy in a TWI program, because of the complexity of TWI programs and the variation in their implementation, we need further delineation of factors in each of Spolsky’s categories. For instance, we might observe language practices among several overlapping social groups as they meet in classrooms, on the playground or cafeteria, in teacher/administrator meetings, in parent association meetings and in the front office, or from classroom to classroom or school to school. All of these groups and social spaces are important to any TWI program. And language practices might look very different across the language learning settings involved in a multi-school TWI program.
Further, to understand the impact of language ideologies and beliefs on the enactment of policy in a TWI program, we must not only talk with teachers, but students, parents and administrators as well, and in each educational setting involved. Howard et al (2003) have previously reported on a variety of attitudinal surveys of some of these groups, but we would also need to consider how their commonalities and differences in ideology create consensus or conflict in a TWI program. In order to understand language management in TWI programs, we would need to consider ways in which all these stakeholders work together or against each other to control both what “good” language is in their context (corpus), as well as “what language is good for” (Garrett, 2005), that is what status and uses each target language have in the lives of students and in the classroom and school. The language and pedagogical ideologies of teachers are of utmost importance in TWI programs. (Jackson, 2001) in her study of the relationship between teacher beliefs and TWI program implementation, found that teachers relied on their own experiences and beliefs rather than research or program design, and while they held to beliefs characteristic of TWI programs, their beliefs often did not square with their practices. (Wright, 2001), in her study of Eritrean second language teachers, found that even teachers whose pedagogical choices might seem ineffective or counterproductive made their choices “based on their own concerns about what is best for the students, what is possible given the constraints of their material circumstances, their beliefs about the students and their families, and in some cases awareness of their own capabilities and limitations as teachers” (p. 62). However, parent language ideologies and policies are also important. King & Fogle (2006) explored how parents made decisions about pursuing additive bilingual education for their children, based on their own experience of language learning or loss and their concepts of what it means to be a “good” parent. These studies indicate that language management decisions are made based on language beliefs and ideologies and must be considered within the context of the entire school if the TWI program only forms one part of the school’s academic and social life. Not only do stakeholders in a TWI program affect various aspects of language policy, but, as Howard et al (2003) point out, TWI programs function in an environment of “tension that arises between the ideal of two-way immersion and the reality of implementation in the U.S., a monolingual English society” (p. 48). They point to literature on TWI education which “documents the way TWI programs struggle to work within the reality and approach the ideal, and the ways in which the [monolingual English] reality impacts student outcomes, classroom discourse, instructional strategies, and attitudes of students and parents” (p.
48). Both McCollum (1994) and Freeman (2000) point to these realities and the way English monolingual ideologies can affect students in TWI programs. A full understanding of the language management pressures on a TWI program should, therefore, also consider whatever evidence might be gathered about the language ideologies of the greater community in which the program resides.
Language policy mechanisms and CHAT.
Continuing to build on previous efforts to delineate sources of language policy, (Spolsky & Shohamy, 1999) further define language policy by distinguishing it from language beliefs and language practices, and describing it as entities (groups or individuals) planning specifics of language practice for other entities (groups or individuals). While we most often think of language policy as belonging to the realm of linguists, politicians and educators, many others, not so immediately identifiable, are involved in language policy as well, including families and communities and their leaders. Spolsky & Shohamy (1999) consider policy to be different from practices with “’policy’ [restricted] to cases where one person with authority attempts to control the practice of others” (p. 36), whether that person is an adult who decides when and how languages will be used in the home or in public by her children, or lawmakers who enact legislation regarding languages to be used in public documents or educational settings.
The expansion of the concept of policy from the commonly held one that applies to public policymakers opens up the need to think about how varieties of policy come into contact with each other and conflict, resist, or coalesce. Not all language policy comes in the form of written statements but as Shohamy (2004) argues “the real [language policy] of a political and social entity should be observed not merely through declared policy statements but rather through a variety of devices that are used to perpetuate language practices, often in covert and implicit ways.” She goes on to say that these devices are what exert a strong influence on de facto language policy, and that “it is only through the observations of the effects of these very devices that the real language policy of an entity can be understood and interpreted” (p. 46). These devices, or “mechanisms,” stand as tools of control between language ideologies and practices. Their existence provides an argument for examining both what individuals say about their language ideologies, the alignment between language ideologies and practices, and the reception or effects of practices on individuals and groups of people at whom language policies are aimed.
Both Shohamy (2006) and (Schiffman, 1996, 2003) point to the difference between overt (de jure) and covert (de facto) language policy, and to ways in which the two may come into conflict or contradict each other, the former “motivated by the highest ideals” while the latter “may show ulterior motivations” (Canagarajah 2006: 160). Overt language policies are those which are “explicit, formalized, de jure, codified and manifest,” while covert policies are “implicit, informal, unstated, de facto, grass-roots and latent” (Shohamy, 2006: 50). This difference is significant since, unlike explicit/overt language policy, “implicit language policy is an integral part of the culture of the specific entity and is supported and transmitted by the culture, irrespective of the overt policy” (Schiffman 1996: 13). This concept of overt/implicit language policy allows us to consider the ways that individuals and groups whose language is being controlled by overt policy mechanisms may respond with their own “bottom-up” policy of resistance meant to open up ways of enacting their own policy agendas (Shohamy 2006: 51). We can observe the real, de facto language policy by isolating “a variety of mechanisms that indirectly perpetuate [language policies] and that serve as a tool to turn ideologies […] into […] policies” (Shohamy, 2006:53). Even though policy and practice are different, Spolsky (2004) argues that, when it comes to language management, “the real language policy of a community is more likely to be found in its practices than in management. Unless the management is consistent with the language practices and beliefs, and with the other contextual forces that are in play, the explicit policy […] is likely to have no more effect on how people speak than the activities of generations of
school teachers vainly urging the choice of correct language” (qtd. in Shohamy, 2006:
Though Shohamy (2006) has identified language education as one of the language policy mechanisms that leads to de facto language policy on a societal scale, the question remains, still, of how to isolate specific mechanisms in educational settings, in order to understand the interaction of top-down and bottom-up policy. Canagarajah (2006) argues that ethnographic methods must be used to “unrave[l] the largely unconscious ‘lived culture’ of a community” so that we can distinguish between the “how things ‘ought to be’” of explicit policy and the reality of “what ‘is’” of language policy on the ground (p.
153). He suggests that ethnographic method, the most central of which is participant observation, can be used at various points in a language policy cycle to understand not only how policy is formed and implemented, but “the ways in which what is on paper shapes everyday life and interpersonal relationships” (p. 158). In particular during implementation of language policy, “ethnography may explore how different agencies and institutions function in promoting the policy […]; specifically it can bring out the tensions in the role of institutions at different levels of society, and the ensuing compromises in realizing the policy” (Canagarajah, 2006: 158).
I would add to Canagarajah’s affirmation of ethnographic methods that a specific theoretical framework of research methodology is particularly well-suited to identifying and studying language policy mechanisms in the complex systems in which they are found: that is, Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT).