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Bilingualism

January 06, 1994

* In response to "When Languages Collide" (Dec. 19): When my parents and I moved to California from Oklahoma in 1949, I started third grade at La Cienega Elementary School. Besides the 3Rs, we were also taught California history--with emphasis on the Spanish/Mexican heritage of the area. Along with the Hispanic history, we were also introduced to the Spanish language (and the student body was 95% white). At the end of the fourth grade, the school play was staged entirely in Spanish, with English translation for the parents.

The point is that in the late 1940s and early '50s, Los Angeles city schools taught white kids Spanish, and Mexican and Chicano kids English as a regular part of our education about California's multinational and multicultural past and present, and I think it worked great. It wasn't called "bilingual education" or any other special name. Kids (we didn't call each other that then; we were just "Mike" and "Jose") weren't separated or taught any differently from each other; we learned together about our respective histories, cultures and languages.

Why wouldn't the same curricula work now?

MIKE FAILING

Mission Viejo

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