Model of a multilingual university brings benefits (Opinion)

“Those who imagine the future world to speak only one language, be it English, German, Russian or whatever, hold a perverted ideology and will do the greatest damage to the evolution of the human mind.” – Benjamin Lee Horf

“There are some awkward limitations to using just one language. I understand we have to do it sometimes. It limits how and what I feel and how I express myself. It’s just like swimming with your feet. I’d rather not do it – but I can. “- Maria Biagi, UPR student

Spanish is the most common language in this hemisphere. The United States has more Spanish speakers than any other country in the world except Mexico — Spain, Colombia, Venezuela, and “all of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama), plus Uruguay and Paraguay have measured better. Nevertheless, almost all institutions of higher learning retain English as the sole language for awarding degrees, recognition, instruction, grants, admissions, scholarly awards, institutional communication, and much more.

These policies point literacy toward English and away from Spanish in a way that shapes not only student learning and graduation rates but also access to public services, democratic participation and the nature of citizenship.

Monolithicism is due to be reconsidered as a “best practice”. Reconsidering the English-centric policies of U.S. higher education could address both the cultural injustice and the challenge of institutional enrollment, as Latino enrollment has exploded at all levels of U.S. education and is expected to continue to grow.

Indeed, a shift to a multilingual model in the place where I study at the University of Puerto Rico will almost certainly increase Latinox enrollment, retention and graduation rates এবং and will be of significant benefit to monolingual students of all backgrounds, as research has shown that multilingualism has profound cognitive and social benefits. .

A multilingual university is needed for a colonized society

Although Spanish is the dominant language at the University of Puerto Rico, English has a co-official status. Each language is used for a specific purpose.

Kevin Carroll, an English professor at UPR’s Rio Pedras Campus, wrote, “Most [Puerto Rican] Institutions have a de facto free-language policy, which allows trainers to use textbooks mostly published in English and to present their lectures and assessments in Spanish or a mixture of Spanish and English. “

Outside of the classroom, there is a mix of language across institutional communication, assessment and recognition papers, and across media such as websites, emails, zoom interactions, as well as faculty meetings and social gatherings.

To emphasize clearly, a multilingual university is needed in a colonial society. “In order for our educational programs to move beyond colonialism,” noted education scholars Lord Diaz Soto and Aaron Kharem, “our students need to be able to read words and the world bilingually, bi-culturally and multiculturally.”

English-only “best practice” has significant symbolic weight in the case of cascades of degree conferences, curriculum design, cultural events, scholarly recruitment, grants, institutional-level communication, and other university activities, especially in Spanish-dominated communities: they are not only representative. The ability to define a linguistic and cultural reality, but also for others to accept it.

“So, if you really want to hurt me, talk badly about my language. Ethnic identity is a pair of skin with linguistic identity – I am my language. As long as I can be proud of my language, I can’t be proud of myself. No, I can’t accept the legitimacy of Texas Spanish, Tex Max, and all the languages ​​I speak, unless I can write bilingually and always change the code without translation, when I still have to speak English or Spanish When I would rather speak Spanish, and unless I have to adjust English speakers instead of adjusting them, my tongue will be invalid. ” —Gloria Anjaldua, Borderlands / La Frontera

Multilingualism for education and citizenship

Language policies at most U.S. universities ignore students’ linguistic vocabulary and make it difficult to develop translation as a tool for learning. Multilingual organizations occupy this inherent and common part of the human condition and employ it to cultivate and spread the developed knowledge.

The hypothesis of linguistic relativity states that “the language we speak influences our thinking about reality.”

In literary and cultural studies in particular, interlingual conversations allow students to become more directly involved in the descriptive structure and word choice, expression of feelings and desires, and how they emerge and change in a language / cultural tradition with others. Adds both textures. When a learning environment is thus created from a student’s vocabulary, it involves people in new ways recognizing themselves and their community, creating and co-building cultures and memories across a wide set of experiences.

The way we communicate is not related to what we know (can), but in monolingual utopia, this fact is often misunderstood.

Furthermore, although higher education is vital for professional formation, skills training and specialized experience, it is central to the cultivation of critical social responsibility. How people gain power and status, the languages ​​they can (legally) use, the relationships they develop and the formation of a community (who is a member, who is not and why?) Are closely linked to a university mission. Although citizenship is a dignity, it is a process অংশ part of which is linguistic.

UPR model

Here at UPR for the first time in an institutional environment where I could use my main languages ​​- English and Spanish – interchangeably without feeling uncomfortable. (Except for the personal, I didn’t feel it in any of the mainland US settings.)

My connection to the language changed in those early days on campus in Mayaguez. Spanish and English, like a friend, can be missed, misunderstood, absent, curious or empty and can bring sadness or joy. Languages ​​are like cities: they have their own climate, history, sense of humor and emotion. There are moments when one is more appropriate, more eloquent and expressive than the other. And on occasion, Something is needed — and space between them.

Many correctly perceive the presence of English in Puerto Rico as a colonial atmosphere, an exotic linguistic instruction envisioned more than a century ago in a granite office building not far from Puerto Rico in Washington, but is still implemented to this day in places like Mayaguez and Mayaguez. Vieux. But the colonial mission failed: English was strengthened and expanded in a linguistic ecosystem in Puerto Rico so that its boundaries could be rewritten, localized. English Depending on how effective it is in Aguadilla or San German in the way it plays with external control.

In our university, outside of an ancient colonial program, multilingualism allows institutional dynamics to be applied by a closed-in uniformity and hegemony by subtle monolingual principles (be they English or Spanish only).

Part of what makes UPR significant is that the environment identifies the use of multiple languages ​​as general rather than stimulating. If engaging, thinking, experiencing, and performing a number of languages ​​and traditions on a daily basis allows for a larger set of scholarly contexts, recognition of these as qualities or intellectual qualities may not (or at least not be) partly due to the nature of the competition. In funding, publications, grants, appointments, awards, scholarly appointments, and more, UPR students and teachers rarely cover most metrics because competitions restrict subtle but specifically Spanish-language and multiple language recognition. -Language (and any other-English-language) communication as valid. In this competition (and in the United States in general) the multilingual organization is not a metric of excellence but a bizarre one.

The emphasis on English as the sole mediator of linguistic existence in U.S. universities has had a serious impact on the study of Spanish and Indigenous languages, especially in the southwestern United States. Spanish has unique and special affiliations with the Yaki, Keresan, Taos, Teva, Juni and Hopi languages, but once the American colony and its linguistic plow arrived, those depths were largely absent from the history of languages ​​developed in colleges and universities serving those communities. Although Puerto Rico’s colonial affiliation is largely Spanish-English based, its educational templates can be applied across existing linguistic maps within each community.

One of the many things I admire about Puerto Rico and its government institutions is the participatory culture that makes language policies possible. If a linguistic democratization were to take place in U.S. universities, it would expose students to the experience, organization, and intellectual advantage that is lacking in colonial universities. There will be new frontiers in many areas of what institutions do – scholarships, education, services and the cultivation of citizenship.

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