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CLA Speaker Series: Ofelia García

When Feb 15, 2018
from 05:00 PM to 06:30 PM
Where 62 Willard Building
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The Center for Language Acquisition is pleased to announce an invited lecture by

Ofelia García (The City University of New York)

"A Critical Review of the History of Bilingual Education in the US"

Abstract: This critical review will look at the promises of the beginning of institutionalized bilingual education in the 20th century, as well as the pitfalls into which it has fallen. We begin with the struggles of the mostly Chicano, Puerto Rican and Native American communities to educate their own children bilingually, and we focus on the support they received from government and scholars outside of the community. We provide evidence from bilingual education programs in NYC run by Latinx educators and parents during the 1970s and early 1980s, where Latinx children were often relegated to basements, but were seen as normal capable children. We compare this early ideology on bilingual education with the one that has been produced as it has been professionalized, and especially as education success started to be measured through standardized tests in English only. From normal children, minoritized children in bilingual education programs today are pathologized. Labels and categories have proliferated: newcomers, long term English language learners, Students with Interrupted Education (SIFE), English language learners with disabilities, Former ELLs. Even though these labels are not helpful to students or teachers, it normalizes the quantification of academic success through standardized assessment instruments that have little validity for this population, taking away their humanity, their childhood, their ability to exist and learn bilingually. The professionalization of bilingual education seems to have worked for white middle class parents who clamor for the so called dual language programs. But it has diminished minoritized Latinx children even beyond the basements in which we found them originally.


Dr. Ofelia García is Professor in the Ph.D. programs in Urban Education and Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She has published widely in the areas of sociology of language, language policy, bilingualism, and bilingual education. She is the General Editor of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language and the co-editor of Language Policy (with H. Kelly-Holmes). Among her best-known books are Bilingual Education in the 21st Century: A Global Perspective; and Translanguaging; Language, Bilingualism and Education (with Li Wei), which received the 2015 British Association of Applied Linguistics Award. Her extensive publication record on bilingualism and the education of bilinguals is grounded in her life experience living in New York City after leaving Cuba at the age of 11, teaching language minority students bilingually, educating bilingual and ESL teachers, and working with doctoral students researching these topics. In 2017, she received the Charles Ferguson Award in Applied Linguistics from the Center of Applied Linguistics, and the Lifetime Career Award from the Bilingual Education SIG of the American Education Research Association. Her website is www.ofeliagarcia.org