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Home arrow Economics arrow Bilingualism in Schools and Society: Language, Identity, and Policy


  • • Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power and pedagogy: Bilingual children in the crossfire. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.—Jim Cummins, a leading authority in bilingual education, shows the ways in which power relations in the wider society affect teacher-student interaction in the classroom.
  • • Lesser, W. ed. (2004). The genius of language: Fifteen writers reflect on their mother tongues. New York: Pantheon Books.—This is a wonderful collection of essays by first-rate writers who examine their transition from their native languages to English.
  • • Nieto, S. (2002). Language, culture, and teaching: Critical perspectives for a new century. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.—In this highly readable book, Sonia Nieto encourages critical reflection on classroom practices related to linguistic and cultural diversity.


  • 1. How do you identify yourself ethnically/racially/culturally? What is the relationship between the way you identify yourself and your proficiency in the language associated with that group? What cultural practices, customs, and beliefs factor into your identity? Are there circumstances when your preferred identity conflicts with the way others see you? What do you do when this happens?
  • 2. In what ways are language learning and identity related? Why is it important for language teachers to understand societal attitudes to speakers of various languages?
  • 3. What does it mean for linguistically and culturally diverse students to feel “disempowered” in school? What are some ways in which educators can empower students? What obstacles stand in the way of educators’ efforts to affirm diversity?
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