ESL, Language, Policy

Who’s being “Sheltered?”

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In education, we have a popular method called “Sheltered English Immersion,” which is supposedly designed to “shelter” students who are still learning English in schools.

In my last few years of research, I’ve wondered who or what else is being “sheltered” through this approach. In my latest article, I propose four answers to this question.

1. We’re sheltering the monolingual pedagogies as the only way to teach a language.

2. We’re sheltering monolingual teachers from having to learn another language, placing the burden of change on the students instead.

3. We’re sheltering monolingual English-speaking students from having to grapple with the multilingual realities that will face them outside the walls of the school.

4. We’re sheltering monolingual policies and theories that promote all of the above as just the “norm.”

When I bring these issues up in academic circles, some wonder if the field had already “moved past” the monolingual/bilingual dichotomy. A good critique if you’re up on the latest theoretical scholarship, but less so if you spend time in U.S. classrooms where monolingual approaches still dominate. So, I dive deeper to ask “If the monolingual paradigm has largely been destabilized… what accounts for the recalcitrance of monolingual orientations in educational policy and practice?” (p. 2).

I believe the answer is that the four “shelters” above produce major advantages for the (largely white) population of monolingual, English-speakers in U.S. K-12 schools and beyond. Dive in to the article below if you’re interested (let me know if you can’t access the article). Glad to hear your thoughts!

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Chang-Bacon, C. K. (2020). Who’s being ‘sheltered?’: How monolingual language ideologies are produced within education policy discourse and Sheltered English Immersion. Critical Studies in Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2020.1720259

 

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