MIRROR OF LANGUAGE: The Debate on Bilingualism by Kenji Hakuta

MIRROR OF LANGUAGE: The Debate on Bilingualism

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A strong antidote to ignorance and prejudice in the area of bilingualism. The scholarly, scientific and political aspects of the problem are covered from the Galtonians to the Marxists and from the empiricists to the Chomskyites. Hakuta's clarity and grasp of a subject often obscured by heated debate are impressive, even more so is the evenhanded manner in which he deals with various positions. The how and why of second-language learning is full of theories, abstractions and misconceptions and so enmeshed in political considerations that the average citizen is at a loss to know what is happening. Years ago, it was thought a second language actually retarded a child's development and while this is no longer the case, the politicization of the field has made calm, intelligent discussion difficult. Some consider bilingual programs to be an attempt by the Hispanic community to maintain a power base or even to promote a secret agenda for an America in which Spanish has equal status with English. Hakuta feels that properly designed bilingual programs can be successful; unfortunately, that is not always the case. These programs should not be considered the province of any ethnic group, he says. On the contrary, they should be envisioned as extending to everyone. The focus should be the design of programs, based on solid research (lacking up to now) to teach second languages to all Americans in the most effective way. The world we are living in would seem to recommend such a prudent course. There is nothing better now available for those who wish to understand the issues and are willing to free themselves from uninformed parochial concerns. A must for legislators, educators, parents and concerned citizens from all parts of the country regardless of their ethnic heritage.

Pub Date: Jan. 31st, 1985
ISBN: 0465046371
Publisher: Basic Books