Classroom Culture Clash
Robert Jiménez, professor of language, literacy and culture, is sitting with a graduate student, Brad Teague, before a computer in Jiménez’s Wyatt Center office. He’s working with the student on the conclusion of a research paper. “This might be a good place to add a sentence about the current debate,” says Jiménez.
It is. With comprehensive immigration reform on the national legislative agenda, this is an interesting time for Jiménez and his peers. Jiménez’s research focuses on the learning needs of Mexican-heritage students. Politically, the rhetorical heat is on.
Among school-age children, English language learners have a tough time. In the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 7 percent of fourth grade limited English learners were proficient in reading. Math scores for the same grade level, and for 8th grade, as well, were similar.
Then there’s No Child Left Behind. On the positive side, the 2001 act requires states to pay attention to these learners. They must be tested, their scores must be reported separately, and they must meet requirements for adequate yearly progress (AYP). But this leaves a big question: how can schools ensure that students are learning the content they require given their language needs? As Jiménez points out, the narrow curriculum increasingly being adopted by schools reduces the opportunity for English language learners to build vocabulary and practice skills.
Jiménez’s research focuses on elucidating cultural differences between Mexican students and their native-English speaking peers. Over the last four years, with funding from the Fulbright Scholar Program and more recently from Vanderbilt’s Center for the Americas, Jiménez has undertaken a study of students, classrooms, and families in Puebla, Mexico, about 60 miles southeast of Mexico City. Jiménez is part of a working group of Transnational Literacy Researchers, comprised of faculty and graduate students from Vanderbilt and the University of the Americas, in Puebla.
Reprinted with the permission of Peabody College. © 2006, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Social Cognitive Theory
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- First Grade Sight Words List