The German immigrants’ experiences of learning English can be compared to today’s English language learners by looking at its necessity and its desires. German-speaking immigrants came to Wisconsin in 1839 and stayed monolingual for a long time as it was not a barrier to having a job or being a part of society (Wilkerson & Salmons, 2008). German immigrants were not experiencing much need to learn English.
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On the other hand, today’s English learners’ experiences are represented by second-generation children. Unlike the first German-speaking immigrants, contemporary youth prefer to use the language of the land they live in now and abandon their native tongues (Wilkerson & Salmons, 2008). Although some people may think that the first immigrants were quick to learn English, they were more opposed to doing so than their descendants.
The immigration of German people to Wisconsin impacted this area and the Midwest in general through the immense spread of the German language. For example, the immigrant monolinguals worked in various positions such as farmers, preachers, blacksmiths, teachers, butchers, and cheesemakers (Wilkerson & Salmons, 2008). The fact that they did not speak English was not an obstacle to everyday life but supported the spread of the German language.
The struggles of the linguistically and culturally diverse students in US schools are based on multiple factors. According to Gracia and Cuéllar (2006), those factors revolve around poverty, ethnic or racial discrimination, biased testing, and the programs that are supposed to assist transition into bilingualism. The struggles of the diverse students are related to the need to become fluent in English and social stereotypes regarding their backgrounds.
The main struggles of culturally and linguistically diverse students are based on misconceptions regarding their race or ethnicity. For example, racially linked inappropriate differences were recently found in students’ learning ability rates and their participation in education programs (Gracia and Cuéllar, 2006). Students from ethnic minorities may be mistreated or discriminated against when it comes to assessing their learning capabilities because of social biases.
US schools had an important role in the process of immigration because they were directly impacted by it. Research shows that school students have significantly increased because immigrants typically have more children than non-immigrants (Gracia and Cuéllar, 2006). The US schools’ role was to give the opportunity for immigrant children to get an education and spread diversity among the younger generation.
Garcia, E., & Cuéllar, D. (2006). Who are these linguistically and culturally diverse students? Teachers College Record, 108(11), 2220-2246.
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Wilkerson, M. E., & Salmons, J. (2008). “Good old immigrants of Yesteryear” who didn’t learn English: Germans in Wisconsin. American Speech, 83(3), 259-283. Web.