Bilingual-Education Column

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How and why students shift from speaking only their native language, to becoming bilingual, to ending up monolingual English speakers is the focus of an ongoing study of Mexican-American families.

A report entitled "Moving In and Out of Bilingualism: Investigating Native Language Maintenance and Shift in Mexican-Descent Children'' offers early findings from what will be a five-year study of 64 8- and 9-year-old Mexican-descent children and their families in a predominantly Latino community in the San Francisco Bay area.

Similar studies have focused on language choice, the author, Lucinda Pease-Alvarez, said, but this one analyzes language proficiency, the speaker's attitude toward language, and the speaker's culture.

This allows researchers to study the different points at which the language shift occurs and to better identify what factors influence it.

The families surveyed disagreed about whether schools or families should be responsible for retaining bilingualism. Some recent surveys show that the Spanish language is rarely retained beyond the second or third generation in a family.

Copies of the report are available for $4 each from the Center for Applied Linguistics, 1118 22nd St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20037; (202) 429-9292. Ask for number RR6.

The Southport Institute for Policy Analysis recently released two studies on English as a Second Language. "E.S.L. and the American Dream'' is a comprehensive national study of adult E.S.L. services, and "A Spark of Excellence'' discusses model programs.

High-quality adult E.S.L. programs are critical to improving children's educational opportunities, Forrest P. Chisman, the president of the institute, said.

"The consequence for children from neglect of adult E.S.L. is more frightening than it is for the adults,'' he said.

Copies are available for $20 per study, or $35 for both, from the Southport Institute for Policy Analysis, 820 First St., N.E., Suite 460, Washington, D.C. 20002; (202) 682-4100.

The "Children's Writing and Publishing Center,'' a word-processing program for I.B.M. and compatible computers that is used in 30,000 U.S. schools, is now available in Spanish.

The program is designed for students in grades 2 through 9.

For information, write or call The Learning Company, 6493 Kaiser Dr., Fremont, Calif. 94555; (800) 852-2255.--LYNN SCHNAIBERG

Vol. 13, Issue 19

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