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  • • Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.—Francois Grosjean, a leading authority in bilingualism, demystifies bilingualism in this highly readable book.
  • • Valdes, G. (2001). Learning and not learning English: Latino students in American schools. New York: Teachers College Press.—Focusing on the lives of four Mexican children in an American middle school, Guadalupe Valdes examines both the policy and the instructional dilemmas surrounding language minority education in this compelling book.


  • 1. Do you consider yourself a bilingual? If so, what criteria did you use to determine that? How would you rate the level of your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills in each language? When do you use each language and with whom? Has your bilingual ability changed over time? If you do not consider yourself a bilingual, have you studied another language? How would you rate your proficiency in that language? What would it take for you to consider yourself bilingual in that language?
  • 2. Why is it rare for bilinguals to be equally or completely fluent in two languages? Where does the notion of the “ideal” or “full” bilingual come from and how does it affect our perception of bilingual individuals? Is it fair to compare a bilingual’s proficiency in either language to that of monolin- guals? Why or why not?
  • 3. What is a deficit-based view of bilingualism? Why should educators be wary of labeling someone as “semilingual”?
  • 4. Why is it harmful to advise language minority parents to speak the societal language with their children at home? What costs are incurred when parents and children cannot talk to each other due to a language barrier?
  • 5. Some people claim that bilingual education results in academic failure for immigrant students. Do you agree? What non-linguistic factors might contribute to the poor academic performance of language minority children?
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