Bilingual Education Quote of the Week: The Bilingual Double Standard

by multilingualmania on November 17, 2009

in Bilingual Education

This quote by the sociolinguist Rolf Kjolseth pretty much sums up the bilingual double standard that we we’ve got going on in our country, where it is often acceptable for the elite to become bilingual while at the same time many English-only policies have been instituted that eradicate the primary language of immigrant students:

There are bilinguals whom we admire and praise as individuals. They are scholars, diplomats, celebrities, businesspersons, and members of the jet set. There are other bilinguals whom we disparage, pity, or despise. They are members of ethnic groups: Mexicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, French Canadians, Vietnamese, Laotians, ad infinitum…Athough we hold the one in awe and the other in disdain, the persons referred to may be equally skillful bilinguals. Still, we feel no sense of contradiction…individual bilingualism is “good” and group bilingualism is “bad”.

We’ve got to change this mentality with the general public and reframe the public discourse that surrounds bilingualism!

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