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Cultural and Linguistic Differences in African and Puerto Rican Studies Essay

Academic failure in the United States is common among African-American and Latino. Cultural diversity and linguistic differences are among the causes. In order to solve this, teachers must be knowledgeable about the effect of culture on the behavior, learning styles, and preferred teaching styles of the students in a multicultural classroom and use the differences for growth and development of the students. In multicultural classrooms, teachers must be aware of the needs of their students inside or outside of class.

A teacher should not make inappropriate assumptions or judgment as the students may get estranged from one another and to the teacher. Students who grew up in different learning system respond and treat teachers differently and to avoid cultural clash and miscommunication, the teacher should be open to the students. Language difference is also an important issue that should be addressed. Teachers must not assume all the time that a “Latino-looking” student knows Latino culture.

Bringing up a Latino culture in class can also be embarrassing. It should not also be assumed that there are culture hierarchies as written in many textbooks such that Caucasian culture is somehow superior to other cultures (Fish 2008). African-American students, like the Latinos, have a high record of academic failure due to teachers’ differential attitudes towards African-Americans and diverse cultural ineptness.

Every seven seconds of a school day, one African-American gets suspended; while in every forty-nine seconds, one African-American student drops out of school. In order to develop the education of African-Americans, education programs should improve the knowledge of teachers and administrators about the African-American culture, its impact on behavior and learning styles of the students. It is important to avoid biases because it may affect the interaction of the teacher towards the students.

A teacher must be able to recognize cultural differences among students and treat it with respect; intervene when a Black student’s culture or language is being ridiculed; recognize their biases and experiences; do not allow students to segregate by culture, develop student’s appreciation to other culture; demand a single level of excellence to all students; do not judge students based on previous mistakes and accept that there are also language differences among Blacks (Keller 2005). The educational conditions of Latinos, like African-Americans, should be addressed.

The number of Latinos who finished secondary education is way behind the White population. In 2003, only 48. 7% of Mexicans, 51. 7% of Dominican-origin, 63. 3% Puerto Ricans, and 68. 7% of Cubans have finished high school among 25 years and older. Among White students, the rate of high school completion is 84%. The statistics results are attributed to the historical educational condition of the Latinos in the United States where there is a continuous struggle in preserving the Latino culture and the Spanish language in the face of ‘Americanization’.

Their education has been attached to the word ‘immigrant’ even though the majority of Latinos are born in the United States (Velez 2008). The number of Latino students has increased in from 6% in 1973 to 12% in 1993. Their performance in elementary and secondary education is significantly lower than the Anglo students. In reading at age 13 years, Latinos are two years below the Anglos; while in science, a 13-year-old Latino is equivalent to a 9-year-old Anglo. In 1991, the dropout rate of Latino students age 16-24 was very high with approximately 35.

3% compared to 13. 6% of African-American and 8. 9% of Anglo students. The dropout rate of Latino students was 2 ? times higher than the African-American students even though they have similar academic performance and socioeconomic status. This trend was observed since the 1980s especially among Latinos born outside the country. The dropout rate however of U. S. -born Latinos (24%) was more than twice higher than African-Americans. The major causes of low academic performance are low socioeconomic status and language.

Many Latino children came from poor families whose parents are likely to have limited education and have difficulty in comprehending with English language. Students with limited English proficiency perform lower than those with full English proficiency. Among the 2. 3 million students with limited English proficiency, 75% are Spanish-speaking (Slavin and Calderon 2000). The problem of choosing the right language for instruction cannot be solved through bilingual programs and English immersion programs which abruptly shift to English-only instruction.

However, Spanish-speaking students with limited English proficiency taught to transition to English from reading Spanish become better readers than students who are taught to read in English only. The focus of bilingual programs should be the quality of instruction in Spanish. If students fail in Spanish, they won’t succeed in English; but, according from research, students who are successful in Spanish will be successful in English as well (Slavin and Calderon 2000).

The academic slowdown of the Latinos due to inappropriate teaching methods is not acknowledged by many educators. They believed that the educational methods they are employing are enough and the problem relies on the students, students who do not go to school regularly and students who have ‘special’ needs. The advanced academic strategies are not efficient if the educators will continue to perceive that students from different race with different language are ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘culturally inferior’.

The model ‘social pathology’ or cultural deprivation is used to identify the academic failure of the Latinos, but it is inefficient and deficient-based. The same model has branded Latino students as ‘mentally retarded’, ‘linguistically handicapped’, ‘culturally and linguistically deprived’, ‘semi-lingual’, and ‘at risk’. Unfortunately, this model has influenced the educators and bilingual teachers to prefer Anglo students and lighter-skinned Latino students, and perceived working-class parents negatively than middle-class parents (Trueba and Bartolome 1997).

There are researches which offer alternative models to explain the academic failure of the Latinos and other minority students still classify these students as in need of ‘specialized’ modes of instruction. However, these alternative models are still inefficient for the Latinos. The teachers’ mastery of promising instructional programs for culturally and linguistically different students is not a solution. Educators must consider a critical assessment of learning environments in political contexts and not rely on invalid assumptions (Trueba and Bartolome 1997).

Puerto Ricans, just like the other Latinos, have experienced many problems in U. S. schools; but these problems are identified based from their backgrounds, culture family, language, and social class. In 1935, Puerto Rican students were classified as ‘slow learners’ according from the report from the New York City Chamber of Commerce. The results were based from the intelligences tests administered to 240 Puerto Rican children. Latino communities including Vito Marcantonio, an Italian-American politician, were dismayed by the discriminating result.

Marcantonio argued that the tests did not recognized other considerable factors such as social, economic, linguistic, and environmental factors faced by the Puerto Rican children. The movement towards promoting the Puerto Ricans was continuous and slow-paced. Several researches were made addressing the educational issues of Puerto Ricans such as The Puerto Rican Study, The First Citywide Conference of the Puerto Rican, and The Losers. The status of Puerto Rican students was given more emphasis. It was found that there was a high rate of dropout. Low attendance rates, and poor academic achievement.

The teachers and administrators were discovered to be uniformed unsympathetic to the situation of Puerto Rican students (Nieto 2000). Although there is continuous struggle in changing the curriculum for the Puerto Ricans, the educational system and teaching methods have not adjusted. In an ethnographic research by Eugene Bucchioni, there were still ‘assimilationist pressures’ in the teaching methods and curriculum content. There was a continuous discrimination to Spanish-speaking students and to a definition of nutritious diet where there were no Puerto Rican foods included (Nieto 2000).

In the research The Puerto Rican Study, significant recommendations were listed in order to meet the needs of Puerto Rican children such as formulation of policy for the assessment of non-English speaking students; recognize English as a second language only; invest on improving instructional programs for non-English speaking pupils; and others. One of the best solutions for academic failure of Latino students (Cordasco 1978). On of the best programs for Latino students and other minority students is perhaps to reform the entire school, including the curriculum, instruction, and evaluation.

A curriculum by Slavin and Calderon (2000), Success for All, integrates innovative curricula and instructional methods in reading, writing, and language arts for elementary education. There is one-to-one tutoring for students with reading difficulties, family support services, assessment program for students’ progress, instructional strategies appropriate for Spanish language and Latino culture, use of Spanish novels, cooperative learning activities to help transition from English to Spanish reading, and others (Slavin and Calderon 2000).

Nowadays, maintaining a multicultural classroom is an increasing priority for educators which involves restructuring the classroom evaluation and punishment techniques and opening up for cultural differences (Fish 2008). The population of Latinos in the United States is increasing and their needs should be addresses. The educational success of Latinos together with African-Americans is significant on the country’s economy and technological future because of the large population. The strengths of these populations can be the strength of the country as well (Trueba and Bartolome 1997). Works Cited Cordasco, F.

(1978). Bilingual Education in New York City: A Compendium of Reports, Ayer Publishing. Retrieved 13 may, 2008, from http://books. google. com/books? id=cyJxZ76vxM4C&hl=tl Fish, L. (2008). “Building Blocks: The First Steps of Creating a Multicultural Classroom. ” Retrieved 13 may, 2008, from http://www. edchange. org/multicultural/papers/buildingblocks. html. Keller, E. (2005). “Strategies for Teaching Science to African American Students. ” Retrieved 13 May, 2008, from http://www. as. wvu. edu/~equity/african. html#sect1. Nieto, S. (2000). Puerto Rican Students in U. S. Schools, Lawrence Erlabaum Associates.

Retrieved 13 may, 2008, from http://books. google. com. ph/books? id=ZoSpQQ-sevAC Slavin, R. E. and M. Calderon (2000). Effective Programs for Latino Students, Lawrence Erlabum Associates. Retrieved 13 may, 2008, http://books. google. com/books? id=tEnSx4o_NXsC&hl=tl Trueba, E. T. and L. I. Bartolome. (1997). “The Education of Latino Students: Is School Reform Enough? ” Retrieved 13 May, 2008, from http://www. ericdigests. org/1998 1/latino. htm. Velez, W. (2008). “The Educational Experiences of Latinos in the United States. ” Retrieved 13 May, 2008, from http://www. springerlink. com/content/h8632636146060t3/.

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