December 2008


There are many children who qualify in the school districts as language disordered or speech impediment and are served by speech language pathologists.

 

Many people assume that because a child’s home language is Spanish, they should be placed in a bilingual classroom.  What people don’t realize is that bilingual classrooms are difficult places to be for some children.  Not all children can be successful in these types of classrooms… Especially language disordered children.

 

Language disordered children are kiddos who have had trouble developing their language.  If a child has trouble developing one language, then they will have trouble developing another. 

If they are in a monolingual English speaking home then their primary language is English. 

If they are in a monolingual Spanish speaking home then their primary language is Spanish – MOST OF THE TIME but NOT ALWAYS… Which is where things get a little complicated…

If they are in a bilingual English/Spanish speaking home then their primary language is to be determined through language testing.

 

So here’s the deal… by the time a child reaches 3 years of age; 80% of their primary language should be developed…  This means that from the ages of 3+, children are really only fine-tuning their language skills and adding higher language vocabulary and higher level thinking skills.  

 

A typically developing 3 year old has the capacity to understand and respond to language almost in the same manner of an adult… almost because they are still developing 20% of their language skills.

 

So… Children who have language impairments and who are considered LEP (Limited English Proficient) should not be thrown into bilingual classrooms like their typically developing peers. 

 

They’re expected to learn and generalize academic concepts at the same rate as their peers in two different languages when they can barely communicate in casual home conversations in their dominant language. 

 

Meaning they can’t tell you about what they did yesterday in their dominant language (i.e. Spanish) but teachers and schools expect them to succeed in classrooms where two languages are used continuously throughout the days, week, year, etc to teach academic concepts.

 

See… Before one can successfully develop a second language (English), they must have developed a solid foundation in one language (Spanish)… Generally speaking, it doesn’t matter what language is used as a foundation for the second language… the case is that you need one language before you can successfully develop another.

 

Kiddos who are language impaired in their first language (i.e. Spanish) usually indicate that a foundation has not been built in that language at this time.   This would then mean that a second language should not be introduced until a foundation has been determined in one language. 

 

It’s like learning to drive a car.  First you learn to drive a car whether it be automatic or standard.   So let’s just say that you learn to drive in an automatic car.  It turns out that your next car is standard.  Now you need to learn how to drive standard.  You are not learning to drive a car at this point.  You already know how to drive a car.  What you are now learning is the mechanics of driving standard rather than the mechanics of driving a car.   

 

So what do you do with these kiddos?

 

Here are your options…  If a child is 5 and is language impaired… let’s assume the child attended headstart and preK programs (most likely in Spanish or mostly Spanish)

 

A)  Place the child in a bilingual Kindergarten program.

B) Place the child in a monoligual English Kindergarten program with ESL support

 

Bilingual programs should be reserved for children who are gifted and/or have typically developing language skills.  It is very difficult to switch from one language to another and/or translate on the spot.  Have you ever tried it? 

 

You are always are your toes in bilingual classrooms because you can’t anticipate what language will be used to give instructions, discipline, teach at any given moment.  Bilingual programs who have language days are difficult to follow as well.  Patterns and sequences are difficult for children with language impairments. 

 

Let’s think about this now.  On day 1 in language 1 the child is trying to process language 1.  On day 2, language 2 the child is trying to process language 2.  Where in this did you read that the child was learning concepts taught in either language?  The child must continually switch processing gears… they focus more on what language they are processing than the concept they are supposed to be learning.

 

If a child exhibits difficulty processing one language which is anticipated and heard 95% of the time in their homes and among their friends and family…  What makes you think they will be successful in a bilingual classroom? 

 

A child with language impairments has difficulty picking up sequences and patterns by default… Are they going to be able to determine what language uses which sequences and patterns?  

 

Most children with language impairments who are placed in bilingual classrooms typically show preference for one language over another… generally you see a preference for Spanish just because they’ve had more practice in Spanish than in English.  You do see some children whose preference is English, however.  

A child’s preference should be taken into account when placing the children in bilingual or monolingual classrooms.

 

The point is that bilingual classrooms in the US are transitional.  Their goal is to maintain language and culture while facilitating the learning of the English language… Eventually, bilingual classrooms become monolingual English classrooms and are no longer needed…

 

Again this works for some of our typically developing and gifted children… this does not work for our language impaired children…

 

This is why most if not all of the students with learning disabilities and language impairments (if they have a learning disability then they at one point had difficulty learning language) who are placed in bilingual classrooms have difficulty with district wide testing. 

 

These children haven’t developed either language enough to be successful on those tests.  They were not given the chance to develop a solid foundation in one language before adding another.   Therefore, neither language has developed sufficiently. 

Some children whose preference is Spanish, never really develop enough English in order to be successful in school.  By the time bilingual education is terminated (5th grade or so), teachers are expecting their students to read in English in order to learn…

But if you never learned to read in English because you could barely read in Spanish how are you going to be successful in school?   It might just be easier to drop out… at least you won’t feel bad everyday for 8 hours while your at school, right? 

 

Most of these tests at some point are only given in English.  Well, if the child who has language impairment is still learning Spanish while English is used in the classroom they are focusing on Spanish and not picking up the English.  So they have limited English even after 4-6 years of schooling depending on when they started school.

 

Bilingual education is not the ideal place for children who have language impairments. 

Ideally, the children would be allowed to develop their first language enough to build a solid foundation before another language is added.

 

Option B… Placing the child in a monolingual classroom with ESL support.

 

This makes more sense for a language impaired child.   Granted, we are still adding another language before the first has had enough time to become a solid foundation… keep in mind there is ESL support.    Also remember… it doesn’t matter which language becomes a solid foundation for the other language to be developed upon.

 

In essence, what I am saying is that children who are language impaired and speak Spanish may have better success in monolingual classrooms with ESL support.   The reason being is that the majority of their day will be spent hearing English thereby increasing opportunities for English language development and practice with the English language.

 

They will not have to focus as hard on which language is being used because they can anticipate which language is being used and focus on the concepts.

 

English will become dominant quicker because they are focusing on only one language.  The child can anticipate what language will be spoken in the home (i.e. Spanish) and what language will be spoken at school (i.e. English). 

 

This gives the child time to transition between the languages.  Also, communication in the home is different than communication in school.  Communication in the home involves daily routines, casual conversation, and basic language skills.   Communiation in school involves academics and higher language skills.

 

If the children are living in the US, then the ulitmate goal is to make them successful in their environment.  Speaking two languages is a plus, but speaking the language of the country they will be expected to be functional in is a must. 

 

The language of the USA is English.  All children should be expected to learn English in the best possible scenario.  This is what is going to make them be successful. 

 

Home languages and cultures should be expected to be preserved in the homes.  The school does not have the responsibility to preserve each and every home language and culture of their students. 

 

Did you know that even though all Latin American countries speak Spanish they all have different dialects and cultures?  You cannot lump them all into one classroom and preserve each and every student’s culture just because they speak Spanish.  However, schools can provide multicultural weeks and days to educate the other students in the school. 

 

It is the parents’ and the families’ responsibility to preserve their home language and culture.  It is the schools responsibility to provide opportunities for their students which will enhance their students’ learning and open doors for further educational and, ultimately, working experiences. 

 

The school must prepare their students to be functional to society, to be able to hold a job, and/or to be able to jump at the chance for more educational opportunities for the greater good of society.  This will decrease high school dropouts, drug/alcohol addiction, crimes, teenage moms, and above all… the desperation of those children and teenagers who were set up to be failures.

 

 

By placing language impaired children in bilingual classrooms, the school is setting these children up to fail academically, socially, and decreasing the chances for further educational opportunities. 

 

Many people tell me to teach them Spanish or to teach their children how to speak Spanish.  My response is… I can’t teach to you speak Spanish… because you know I speak English and when you get tired or frustrated you are going to want the easy way out and you’re going to tell me to start speaking English.

 

I recommend anyone who wants to learn Spanish to go to a Spanish-speaking country and live there for 3-4 months and you’ll come back speaking Spanish (you’ll need more time if you want to be fluent).  Make sure you spend time with the locals… that’s where you’ll learn the language and most importantly the culture.

 

Please keep in mind… speaking the language is not enough… you must learn and understand the culture to be fluent.

 

The best time to learn language is between the ages of 0-7 years… It is the easiest time in our lives to become bilingual, trilingual, multilingual or whatever…

 

So why not take advantage of immersion classrooms rather than bilingual classrooms… By placing a language impaired child or typically developing child in a monolingual English classroom, you are depending on immersion to develop the English language.

 

Most people would agree that immersion is the best way to learn a language.

 

I do believe language impaired children can be bilingual or multilingual.  I believe it’s a difficult task.   But is must be done correctly in order to set them up for success.

 

Remember one language is a must – two languages is a plus.

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HA!  I started my book… jajaja!!!  I am excited.  I have overcome procrastination. 

 

Now I’ve started writing it… but I haven’t read through it… I just kind of wrote down what came into my mind… I think that’s what you’re supposed to do… I hope it makes sense… *worried*

 

Anyways… it was exciting to write… I wrote a little of a page… 2 chapters… well it might end being 1 chapter but I wrote as 2 chapters… because that’s what came to mind…

 

How do I know if it’s good?  If I should keep going? Is 1 page too short for a chapter?  I mean it seems like it is… well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

I am writing this to all of you who are touched by special needs children.   You are the parents who we should all admire and look up to…

 

In times of conflict and doubt, it is hard to remember that you are only human…  Here are a few things you should keep in mind when you are going through tough times.

 

As a parent, you do the best you can in the moment in time and in the situation you have found yourself to be in…

 

Don’t look back and don’t use the word “should” or “could”…  take the experience for what it’s worth and learn from it or use it to find a better way but never use the words “should” or “could” to describe that situation in time in that moment where you as a parent responded in the best way possible at that time.

 

Do what you feel is best for you and your family. 

 This includes setting up yourself, your children, and your family to be successful…

Ignore all the family members, grandmothers, aunts, and whomever else feels they know what’s best for you and your family…  They know not what you are going through and they have no idea what it’s like to have a child who is different.

 

You  have permission to go against family norms and expectations and do what needs to be done to keep everyone under control…

You do not have to give in to family pressures when you know they will not help you set your family up for success…

 

 

You have permission to say no when you feel no is the best possible response.

 

Discipline…

Do Discipline… All children regardless of their special needs or lack of special needs desire boundaries….

 

Boundaries make them feel protected… secure… and loved…

 

Attend to the special needs of your children and at the same time treat them as they are typically developing…

Teach them to believe that they can do whatever they feel they want to do… Their specials needs do not and cannot hold them back from anything…

 The only way to get this across is to teach them to be independent rather than helpless…

 

Don’t feel guilty or sad for your child…  Understand that every child is a blessing… Special needs children have a place in this world and they are here to teach us about life…

 

Don’t explain yourself or give explanations for your children…  Just do what you have to do and give the least amount of information needed for people to see and understand differences… but don’t explain or give excuses…

They are who they are and we love each other for who we are…

 

Teach people about your situation… Education is key…  Education overcomes fear, discrimination, confusion, irrational thinking, and more…

 

Education creates harmony, peace, and understanding…

 

As parents, stand united…. a united front is stronger and creates balance in your family and for those looking into your family it gives them a sense that things are under control…

 

Ask for help…. don’t be afraid to ask for help… don’t be afraid to have a sit down meeting and say this is what you can do for us or this is what we need from you…

You will be surprised at the number of people or family members who will be willing to help without hesistation…

 

Don’t let fear keep you from accessing all the resources and people who are there to support you in your times of struggles… there will be struggles at different times in your life… don’t try to stop the struggles or go against the tide… just let go and move with the tide… this will make things feel less like a challenge…

 

Take advantage of counselors, professionals, and other families who have been there, done that, or are there right now…

Only other families of children with special needs can relate to you and the difficulties you face…

Join support groups, meet other families of special needs children…

So… I have been wondering about the future of holiday traditions in our family…

On the one hand it’s always nice to spend the holidays with your family and see everybody you haven’t seen in a while….

It’s important for Go Diego Go to spend time with his grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles… Clearly he enjoys himself everytime we go visit… It’s also important for him to make bonds with family… You never know when he’s going to need  them… Also… he needs to know that there are other family members who care about him and love him just as much as me and hubbie…

 

There’s also some nostalgia to not spending the holidays with your family since that’s what you’ve done since you can remember… It’s also what’s expected of you and there would be some really pist off people if you decided that you didn’t want to spend the holidays with them as is common every year…

 

On the other hand… wouldn’t it be so much fun to start your own traditions… I mean hubbie, Go Diego Go, and I are a family and we have the right to do things differently than what is expected of us… (It’s nice that the family asks if we’re are going to come into town… You never want to break their hearts though) 

 

It’s tough… so I received an email with pictures of Christmas trees from around the world… It’s fascinating to think about how Christmas is celebrated around the world… different or the same from how your accustomed… Christmas abroad… it’s sounds appealing…

 

What is customary in other cultures?  Learn to appreciate and understand how others relate to the holidays… I think it would give you a new taste for culture, family, relationships, love, and above else see how lucky we are to have what we have and be who we are…

 

Christmas abroad next year…. maybe… It would be fun to explore with my hubbie and Go Diego Go…

 

The family may not be so happy… they may not even understand the concept… Above else… Go Diego Go needs to develop relationships with the rest of the family… but then again we can always go visit at different times during the year…

 

Here’s a thought we could plan for Christmas abroad every third year… then everyone’s happy right?  well sort of…

See.. Go Diego GO would still get to see the rest of the family during the other Chrismas’s and then we still get to go abroad… Compromising….

 

Then there’s the argument we don’t need to think of anyone else except our family (hubbie, Go Diego Go, and me)… But many would say that was unfair…

Before I start writing my “story”… I just wanted to blog about the Christmas Spirit…

 

This year it hasn’t really seemed like Christmas for me anyway…  I mean yes I decorated, put up lights outside and took my time with my tree this year… But it just seemed like Christmas crept up on me and decided to surprise me out of the blue… Usually there is more time between Christmas and Thanksgiving…

 

Anyway… the point is that today I felt the Christmas Spirit… but not the sweet, joyful, uplifting, caring spirit… I bumped into the other side of Christmas… the side of Christmas no one talks about… the one that no one ever remembers when we think of Christmas…

 

Christmas memories include family get togethers, carols, Santa Claus, shopping, gifts, holidays, cheerful people, giving people… and well for many Church and ceremonies of some sort…

 

We never think about the stress that comes from the hustle and bustle and people who are just plain, rude and certainly inconsiderate….   that’s the other side of the Christmas Spirit…  

 

I mean here we are at the store buying Santa gifts for Go Diego Go and we are looking at some items on the shelf when here comes this women out of the blue and decides to park her shopping cart right in front of me…. in front of the items we are deciding to buy for Go Diego Go….

 

So that’s not so terrible, right?     Well get this…  Everyone knows I have a hard time not saying what I am thinking….

 

So I go… Excuse me… She goes well I have to go down this aisle and there’s no where to put my cart… I go “we are looking at the stuff where you decided to park your cart”… She moves the shopping cart out of the way…

 

Mind you it’s not what you say it’s how you say it…  I did my best to be as nice as possible… She oh She had her little I am queen of the world attitude… and I was like honey you ain’t nobody so why don’t you come down from that cloud and join reality… we are all in the same boat here…

 

See… that’s the other side of the Christmas Spirit… People who are so stressed out that they forget what this season and mostly this holiday is all about… It’s about giving… It’s about gratitude… It’s about making others feel special, important, and giving them a little something to remind them that they are great for who they are…

 

Being considerate of others is so important and this is the time of year to be joyful, understanding, giving, and patient…  It is the never-ending hope and faith that we celebrate… so that we don’t forget about all the goods things we have in our lives and will continue to have through our wealth, abundance, gratitude, self-love, warmth, and of course in each other and for each other…

 

That’s all for now…

 

Merry Christmas!!!  Happy New Year!!!  And for those who celebrate other customs and traditions…  Happy Holidays!

Here I am blogging… so I’ve been thinking about writing a book… I think it might be a fun thing to do…

 

I just don’t know where to start… It’s not like I have any idea of what to write about… I mean I could just start writing and see where I end up in a few days…  How do you decide if it’s a good story….

 

People have told me I am pretty good at writing… so why not explore the possibilities of being a novelist, writer, author…

 

So it might be fun to write songs… but that seems way too hard… I mean how would I decide what my chorus would be…

 

Geez… I can’t seem to make up my mind about anything…. INTP… Sure sounds like it… jajajaja…

 

Alright… Enough for now I am going to start writing a story…

So… I went to the store today and I bought a super coffee maker… yep… that’s exactly what I did after I called the customer service department and complained because my giftcard showed up as expired on the computer when in fact they told me 4 years ago that my giftcard would not expire due to the fact that it was wedding money… Yep that’s right guys… we will have been married 5 years in April and 4 years in September…. For those of you who are confused… me and hubbie had 2 weddings… the legal ceremony and then of course the big shebang…

 

Well… anyways that’s not the point… the point it that my giftcard was not supposed to expire… so originally I thought I had less money on the card until I spoke with the CS Rep… well then I became more impatient…. but the rep was super nice and unexpired the whole balance…

 

it was then that I decided I needed to try to spend the whole balance… which was quite a balance… so just imagine me shopping and trying to decide what I want to spend the money on… jajaja….

 

Of course, I didn’t find anything else than a super coffee maker than the original coffee maker (cheaper) I had picked out… 

 

I thought I could buy my hubbie clothes… then I just didn’t feel like shopping around to find stuff… I mean I walked through the aisles but just the thought of having to look through all those clothes made me want to run…

 

So of course then I remembered that we ( or more as in I) had decided the money should be used for household items and not on clothing…

 

So I continued desperately to find something else to buy besides a super coffee maker…. mind you I have wanted a super coffee maker for the longest time but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend money on a coffee maker we (I) wanted because our $15 coffee maker from walmart did the job perfectly…

 

the fact is that Maria keeps breaking the glass carafe… and I am getting annoyed having to get another and spending the money on the carafe… but I feel bad making her pay… she needs the money and has two kids and all… how nice am I????  Even though I really want her to pay, so that then maybe she’ll be more concerned with being careful and getting the job done right…. then hurrying from one thing to the next because she has to get 400 houses cleaned in one day!

 

So as the story goes… I decided hey maybe I can find a coffee table or something to decor the house with… I was of course wanting something that was nice, chic, and under a buck… Sure I found stuff… they weren’t under a buck so I decided that wasn’t going to work…

 

Then I went to the christmas department…. I just didn’t feel like it…. so I ran away…

 

I went back to the coffee maker department and found a super coffee maker and used the money to pay for the super coffee maker…

 

Here’s the fun part… I am so proud of my accomplishment… I decide to call hubbie and tell him what I did… Hubbie’s response… why didn’t you buy me some clothes or buy the rest of the Christmas gifts or get something that we needed?  I am like I thought about it but had no desire to shop…  He’s like well the coffee maker we have works we didn’t need another…. I’m like I know except that well we need to spend the rest of money because I am not going to let DEPARTMENT STORE steal our money for nothing….

 

I forgot to mention to my hubbie that well the fact is that I behaved like an INTP and played before I worked… see I did just what I wanted to do and didn’t let my enneagram defense mechanism take over and run the show….

 

So as the secret goes… I wanted a super coffee maker for a long time now and tried several times to acquire it and each time I let my defense mechanism talk me out of it… Since I had the opportunity to buy one (for free … it was a giftcard I used remember) I went ahead and did what I wanted instead what would have been sensible (hubbie)….

 

ja!!!!!

 

I am on the path to winning this game!!!!

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