To the Sioux Center News:
With interest I read the May 26 Sioux Center News article about the Little Warriors Preschool.
As a health advocate who works with Latino children and families in Sioux County, I was curious to learn how this program approached students who are English language learners.
I loved reading about the preschool’s emphasis on both language immersion and play, both evidence-based methods of teaching a nonnative language in early childhood. However, the language used in the writing of the article raised concerns.
The children coming to preschool are not learning “a language”; they are learning a second or even a third language. To say that they “find their voices” at preschool suggests that they didn’t have one before. (They did — it just wasn’t in English!). To print that students don’t have the same foundation in “the basics of language and interaction” because they didn’t come from English-speaking homes articulates a deficit mindset rather than a strengths mentality. Many of our young English language learners actually come from bilingual homes (Spanish and Mam) and have quite an extensive exposure to language.
I am sure that the writer did not intend to portray English language learners in a negative light. I raise these points to bring awareness to the way things are worded and framed as well as to highlight the strengths that our English language learners have. Language holds so much power.
Let’s all be careful about the words we use, especially when referencing those whose culture is different from our own.