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Developing Educator Expertise to Work with Adolescent English Learners

Module 4 – Multilingualism in the United States and Around the World: Current Issues and Tensions: A Focus on the Conversation with
Ofelia García

By Haiwen Chu

OVERVIEW    |    INTRODUCTION    |    PART 1    |     PART 2    |    PART 3    |    REFERENCES

Part 1: Multilingualism in the United States

Activity 1.1: Bilingualism in Everyday Life

Participants will: engage in individual personal reflection and small group discussions.

Duration: Approximately 15 minutes (5 minutes of reflection and 10 minutes of discussion).


  • Reflect in writing on an episode or instance in real life in which you encountered bilingualism in action. Describe in writing how the two languages involved were used together, or separately, and the social purposes with which interactions in those languages took place. In your description, pay attention to whether you thought there were power dynamics or privilege at play.

  • In small groups of four, share your responses in a Round Robin format. Note any similarities or differences. (A Round Robin means that each individual in the group shares their ideas without interruption, followed by the next individual, until all members have shared their thoughts. Then, a more general discussion regarding similarities and differences ensues.)

Activity 1.2: Reading with a Focus

Participants will: read and annotate an article about dominant approaches that affect Spanish speakers.

Duration: Approximately 30 minutes outside of class (before an in-person discussion).

Reading: The education of Latinx bilingual children in times of isolation: Unlearning and relearning (García, 2020).

Come to Activities 1.2 and 1.3 having already read and taken notes on Ofelia García’s article “The education of Latinx bilingual children in times of isolation: Unlearning and relearning” from the MinneTESOL Journal.


  • Use the notetaker below to jot down notes about the article (the outline of the article is reflected in the first two columns of the notetaker).

  • As you take notes, record your reactions and also potential alternatives for shifting away from dominant forms of current practice.



Mainstream Focus

Your Reactions

Potential Alternatives

On language and minoritized Latinx bilinguals

  1. They have language deficiencies, especially in English.

  2. Their language deficiencies also extend to Spanish, because what they lack is academic language.

On language proficiency and student categories

  1. Language proficiency can be measured and evaluated.

  2. Learners can be categorized according to that proficiency.

On language teaching

  1. Teaching language is linear and follows a natural progression.

  2. To teach another language, the students’ own language must be banned from the classroom.

Activity 1.3: Group Reflection on Practice

Participants will: engage in sharing how the ideas from the article are relevant to their practice while working in groups of four.

Duration: Approximately 10 minutes.


  • With a focus on the ideas expressed in the article, reflect on the current state of practice, either in your school or student teaching site. To what extent are these ideas prevalent in practice in those settings? What are the prospects for shifting practice?

  • Take approximately three minutes for everyone in the group to individually jot down a sketch of current practice in their school or student teaching site, as well as the prospects for transformation.

  • Then, using a Round Robin format (as in Activity 1.1), have each group member share their responses.

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