Sheldon Eakins:

Welcome, advocates, to another episode of the Leading Equity podcast. A podcast that focuses on supporting educators with the tools and resources necessary to ensure equity at their school. I got a special guest with me today. Dr. Barbara Kennedy is here. We're going to be talking about bilingual education. And so, without further ado, and you said I could call you BK. So BK, thank you so much for joining us today.

Barbara Kennedy:

Thank you, Sheldon. It's great to be here today. It's such an honor to be here to talk with you about bilingual education in your incredible podcasts that I listened to regularly.

Sheldon Eakins:

Thank you. Don't make me blush over here. The pleasure is always mine and I look forward to learning from you. So, I look forward to this conversation. So, before we get into it, I would love for you to share with our advocates out there a little bit about yourself and what you currently do.

Barbara Kennedy:

Absolutely, Sheldon. So, I live and work out of Austin, Texas. And I've been in Austin, Texas for most of my professional adult career since 1987. And I come to multilingual education from a few different experiences of my own growing up as adult citizen, US, Canada, along the border, having cousins who were bilingual in French and English. As a young child, actually being quite envious of my bilingual cousins and telling my parents I want that.

Barbara Kennedy:

And having my parents tell me, "We don't know French, that's not going to happen for you." Self-teaching when I went and spent summers up in Canada by reading cereal boxes and milk cartons, and just somehow I had this bizarre idea in my mind that I would become multilingual. I'm the youngest of eight children. And so, my older siblings were in "foreign language" classes in middle school and high school, some of them. And so, I would borrow their bilingual dictionaries.

Barbara Kennedy:

And translate books from the library from French into English and English into French at the ripe age of seven. So, I'm was a little bit ridiculed by my siblings for this behavior. But for some reason, I was driven in that way. And I continued then to study French and German. Spent a number of years in Germany in graduate school. And then, also came to Texas, found out that in Texas you're not bilingual unless you speak Spanish and English. That's how it's defined here in Texas.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, I did teach myself Spanish as well. And so, those are on the personal end how I come to multilingual and multicultural education as something that has been a gift for me my entire life, eye-opening. Every single day, I thrive in learning new things and filling myself in experiences that are new and different for me so that I can constantly just bounce up against my own preconceived notions. So, that's how I operate in the world.

Barbara Kennedy:

Professionally, I was a German teacher and also guest lecturer here in Texas at UT-Austin. And then, also in at A&M for a few years as I pursued a graduate degree there, a master's. And then also, eventually I almost got a PhD but I switched over. At some point, I determined I really wanted to work with multilingual children coming into the United States rather than working in foreign language or world languages as we've talk about it today.

Barbara Kennedy:

And so, I got an alternative certification. This is important for our topic when we talk about the bilingual teacher shortage. I became alternatively certified in the state of Texas. And I like to joke I went from college to kinder because I did. I taught in a 90:10 transitional bilingual program. Spanish and English. I was a teacher, multiple different roles at the school districts here in the Central Texas area. Fast forward to four years in Washington DC at the Center for Applied Linguistics as director of dual language.

Barbara Kennedy:

And then, most recently returned to Texas was at the state level at the Texas Education Agency or TA, which is under State Department of Ed where I lead the English Learning Support Division, which is the division that supports English Learner Education across the state. And then, most recently, I resigned from that. And I have my own company, GlobaLingo Ed where I support school districts specifically in effective implementation of dual language education. I know that's a lot but just lot of years, so.

Sheldon Eakins:

You've kept yourself busy. And I appreciate the usage of world language over foreign language. I think that is more appropriate. I'll give you a quick story. I tell people that I work on a reservation. And people ask me questions like, "Do they offer foreign language at your school?" And I'm like, "Foreign language? First of all, this is indigenous. How dare you ask if there's foreign? No, we're foreign language, English is foreign language" And I had to have a teachable moment.

Sheldon Eakins:

I know that's off topic, but it just made me think about that because to me, it's so important that we, and I think one of the one of the challenges, especially if you live in the United States, and just the uniqueness of how there's so many different languages represented in this country. Anybody that's outside of English, if you're saying your foreign language, to me, that's just not as welcoming and inclusive as it could be.

Barbara Kennedy:

Absolutely, Sheldon. And words matter, right? Words matter. And that's why I think also earlier when I talk about leading, for example, the English learner Support Division at the State Department of Ed, those are the words of the State Department of Education, those are not the words I would use or that I've heard used in your podcast either. We use emergent bilingual. So, these types of words matter for sure.

Sheldon Eakins:

Let me ask you though, because I've talked to many people about emerging bilingual and emerging multilingual. Some people say, "Well, if we say bilingual, then it just limits to two languages versus multilingual will open up multiple languages." And so, I've been using emerging multilingual, but you're utilizing emerging bilingual. So, tell me a little bit more your thoughts on that, I guess, terminology.

Barbara Kennedy:

Yeah, I love that question. I don't think I mentioned I'm a word nerd. And I think it matters. And I actually use both. But it is a great question. And it's relevant to something else I'll bring up in a moment. So, the reason I specifically said emergent bilingual was because I work so much in dual language education, that we tend to work in bilingual schools. But at the same time, it's very important.

Barbara Kennedy:

And this is I think the most important piece is that we never want to limit, first of all, what it means to have access to multiple languages or to somehow use bilingualism to negate the multilingualism that's actually at the school, right? So, if I'm in a dual language school, there are many students, let's give the most common example, Spanish speakers and English speakers in the school. Or students who come from homes where these languages are spoken.

Barbara Kennedy:

And so, we may have a Spanish-English Dual Language Program. But there are many other students at that school that bring with them other languages from the home. And even the students in our dual language program might be bringing additional languages from the home to school with them. So, just calling it bilingual education, in a way, actually privileges those who speak the right languages for the bilingual program, in this example English and Spanish.

Barbara Kennedy:

Privileges them over all the students at the school who have all these other language experiences and linguistic repertoires from the home. So, I actually do embrace multilingual, emergent multilingual. I'm glad you caught me on that because I'm constantly working, we all work, right, on the language we use. But sometimes, we also use language that is familiar to the circles we run in. Whether we like it or not, it's like utilitarian.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, the other thing I guess I wanted to connect with that because what your question helped me remember, not remember, but I want to bring up, if any of you are familiar with the Guiding Principles for Dual Language Education, which is a free, I love free resources, and I'm always trying to let everyone know they're available. This is a resource from the Center for Applied Linguistics, along with dual language education in Mexico, two fantastic nonprofits, who together we've worked.

Barbara Kennedy:

And I'm on the author team for the third edition that came out in 2018. That outlines the goals of dual language education, with the three pillars of bilingualism biliteracy. And it is bilingualism biliteracy because those are the program languages of the school. So, that's a little bit bringing back the same question. The second pillar, high academic achievement in two languages. So, we're still narrow.

Barbara Kennedy:

But what I really love about the third edition is the third pillar is sociocultural competence, which is much broader. And that's really important because in the previous edition, the second edition, which was an awesome resource, but in that previous edition, the third pillar was actually biculturalism. And when we, the author team, came together to make the revisions, we said, "You know what, we're exclusive here with our definitions of within the program."

Barbara Kennedy:

"The dual language program model of demarking like you don't really count here unless it's these two languages, English plus the other language." So first, it privileges English anyway. And then, it also starts to elevate the status of an additional language, but not other languages. And so, by expanding the third pillar to sociocultural competence, our intent there, well, there's many, many intents and we could go on this topic forever.

Barbara Kennedy:

But one of them was to really ensure that when we're working on in that space with our students and educators to develop those skills, that we don't stay within a very narrow bilingual view, which in the end perpetuates certain behaviors, certain biases against other additional languages. So, I don't know if that was clear. But your question got me going in all sorts of interesting-

Sheldon Eakins:

No, no. That's what we do. That's why you're here. So, and I appreciate your book. And I love that it's free. And I want to give a shout out to your colleague, José Medina. He's also one of the authors on that book as well. He was on episode 70 on the Leading Equity podcast, How to Lead an Effective Dual Language Program. So yeah, I'm glad that you're here. Thank you for sharing with us your take on emerging multilingual versus emerging bilingual.

Sheldon Eakins:

I think that's important. I just say please don't use foreign language and world language to me is a way to go the English learner. I was one of those people that used to say, English language learners and English learners. But again, I love that you pointed out the fact that it privileges those who are English speakers first. Obviously, that's a deficit mindset that we're perpetuating. And so, we want to be more on acid base on me.

Sheldon Eakins:

As a matter of fact, Dr. Medina said something like only in the United States do we place people that speak a different language in English as a deficit. In other places, that's considered awesome, that's great. But here, we treat folks differently. And we don't necessarily challenge our students in the classroom as well, as we should.

Barbara Kennedy:

If you don't mind, I would love to share a very short anecdote. So, when I worked at CAL, Center for Applied Linguistics, and I traveled extensively to do work. And it was incredible the amount what I got to do in that role. I would take taxi cabs. I really wasn't taking Lyft yet. I was taking taxi cabs, which I think is important for what I'm going to tell next. So, in big cities, particularly, I take taxi cabs. And as we all probably know, taxi cab drivers are often international individuals.

Barbara Kennedy:

They're not always, but many times, especially in the cities I was in. So, I was always interested in the story of the taxi cab drivers. I literally would just be like, "Tell me. Tell me whatever you can tell me about your life, where you're from." And the question that I came to start asking my other taxi drivers was, "Oh, what languages do you speak?" In a way that was very excited. I'm excited about languages.

Barbara Kennedy:

And so, what was interesting, particularly with taxi drivers who I met that came from Africa, is they would name English and then the colonial language. They would say, "Oh, I speak English and French," or whatever the languages of the colonizer. And I would say, "Uh-huh. Well, what other languages?" And then, this happened a number of times where first, they were so surprised that this question was being asked by someone, I guess, an American or someone that looks like me. I don't know.

Barbara Kennedy:

But they were very shocked to have that question asked. And they had to think. And then, they started listing how many other languages they use, they have in their linguistic repertoire. And their list, it was amazing. And they would tentatively start listing as if that might not really be the question I was asking. And I was like, "Oh, wow." And then, I would ask them, "Where did these languages get used basically? How did this all happen?

Barbara Kennedy:

And so, it was really, really interesting to me to learn. And also, just to see again and again how surprising to me a simple question is, like they had maybe never been asked such a question and they weren't even sure if that's what I was getting at. And what I take away from that is there really is this idea of linguistic equity of somehow one language has more value than another language. So, we know here in the United States, English has a lot of value.

Barbara Kennedy:

I mean, it's perceived, let me make sure I make that clear, there's a perception that English has value, that's more elevated. But then, we also have different gradations of languages in addition to English here in United States that have different levels and values. And then, there's even languages that many of us don't even acknowledge as a language when we're asking someone what languages you speak.

Barbara Kennedy:

To such a degree that that's these taxi drivers that I spoke with, and it did happen a number of times, that they weren't even sure if those things counted in my world as languages. So, that was just something I've always, I don't know, I found that to be an extremely interesting and very telling type of experience I had with multiple taxi cab drivers.

Sheldon Eakins:

And we could translate that into how our students feel in our classroom. Our students that are from various, maybe born in a different country and that are studying here in the United States, going through their K-12 experience. You took the time. Those individuals that you spoke with in the taxi cabs, where you said, they seem surprised that I would even ask. I think about our students and how many of our students feel the same way.

Sheldon Eakins:

They're totally surprised when someone, their teacher, or their principal, their school counselor asked him those questions. "Tell me more about what languages do you speak and what purposes would I use this language?" And there's so much that you can learn from there. So yeah, I'm glad that we're talking about this because that's going to segue into the landscape right now when it comes to our teaching force.

Sheldon Eakins:

We've established that there are students here, lots of students in the United States that English is not their first language and we want to support our kids. What is maybe some of your general thoughts when it comes to bilingual education and inclusivity with our emerging multilingual students?

Barbara Kennedy:

Great questions. When we think about bilingual education in the United States, there's different orientations as to the purpose, right? Is the goal in bilingual education that we use a student's "native language" to get them to English faster and better? That would be what we call the transitional mindset. Or are we going to totally disregard the languages that the students bring with them from their homes, and instead just focus on English only that's more of that ESL?

Barbara Kennedy:

Or are we going to fully embrace, celebrate and develop to its highest potential whatever languages the students bring to school in addition to and alongside of English. So, in terms of bilingual education, the term itself encompasses a lot of different orientations. And in the end, they're all, I think, related to what the goal is, right? Is the goal to honor to the degree where we're promoting full bilinguals and biliteracy? Or is it a stepping stone to learning English?

Barbara Kennedy:

How that plays out in terms of students, you've already mentioned the honoring or not honoring or complete ignoring of their languages and all that their languages bring with them. Because this is not just language of course. We all know language and culture and identity are all tied together. So, when we deny language or deny name, or all these other things, we know it also denies the identity.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, that being said, with the teaching force, because I want to pull us over into this idea of the teaching force, our schools are first of all, as we have the bilingual program, the number of bilingual programs increasing if there's interest, right? Somehow, there's got to be some reason in the United States to have bilingual education. Is it a rights issue for our immigrant students or even our native students here, indigenous students who have the right to continue to develop their heritage languages while also becoming proficient in English?

Barbara Kennedy:

So, that's more of a civil rights and access and equity piece? Or is it more coming from privilege? Well off educated, so to speak, individuals who already enjoy a lot of privilege and now want to add to that by having their children become bilingual so that they can become perhaps, competitive global citizens who can go conduct business around the world and show off their bilingual skills, right? That's what we call the gentrification of bilingual education.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, all of these things are playing out. And so, depending on where and what the goals are and who's the one that made the push for this to happen. Those are all things that determine just the landscape, I guess. In terms of teachers, because our country has always privileged for probably well, I'm going to say at least decades, and there's many reasons why this occurred. English is the language of power.

Barbara Kennedy:

English is the language of success in business. So, if we looked at the data, we see what's called language loss generationally. So, when immigrants come in, all of their language and cultural heritage that they bring with them can get quickly within one to two generations, dare I say, obliterated, right? Erased and replaced by English. That generational language loss is something that is a fact, right? So, that plays itself out in schools.

Barbara Kennedy:

Because if we're having language loss, and it's being further hastened by monolingual English-focused education systems that test in English, that provide curriculum resources in English, that see English acquisition as the goal, then we also are hastening that process of language loss for our students. So that when they grow up, if they ever did want to become a bilingual teacher, in many cases, they have not had the opportunity to develop their language.

Barbara Kennedy:

Be it Spanish or something else, to be an effective bilingual teacher. And so now, and this happens that our teachers then they're expected, "Well, you have a Latino name and you look Latino, aren't you fluent in Spanish? Why can't you," right? So now, they've had it removed from them systemically through our education system. They've had that language loss enhanced through the school system itself.

Barbara Kennedy:

But then as adults, if they're to look for a job as a bilingual teacher, because there is a demand, they now don't necessarily have the Spanish skills, the academics, let's move right into the types of language that are used in our education system, they don't have the appropriate academic Spanish to even serve in that capacity. And furthermore, they're expected to because they're brown and they have a surname, right?

Barbara Kennedy:

So it's like, now we've taken it away, and now we're doubly punishing by saying, "Oh, too bad you don't have the skills you need to actually do this work." And I'll add one more little piece that shows up. You can actually see this in certification, in teacher certification tests. Because we have our certification systems which are important, so I'm not going to say they're not, but they can be quite punishing.

Barbara Kennedy:

Because they are testing people like this, potential bilingual educators to ensure they have Spanish proficiency, reading, writing, listening, speaking. So that native or near native, which is I get, it is important for delivery of grade level content instruction. So that is. But at the same time, this is almost like a gateway to bar many of our, what we call heritage speakers, to access and be successful on those assessments and certification test so they can actually serve in the classroom.

Barbara Kennedy:

And there's plenty of different research that shows how this occurs. And then, measures the number of potential teachers who simply cannot pass the assessments in Spanish. And they may also struggle to pass the certification tests in English because they may have cultural testing bias and all sorts that's a whole another complex.

Sheldon Eakins:

Tell me more about that. Who's creating the certification test? And I've never seen a test, so I don't know what's on it. Tell me some more about how folks who, like you said, heritage speakers might not be at a pass? What are some of those barriers that are there? Can you tell me a little more about that?

Barbara Kennedy:

Absolutely. So, one thing I would say, first of all, so many states, when we think about education K-12, we have English only states. Okay. We have states that actually actively promote bilingual education. And then, we have states that don't strongly come down in either direction. Okay? And so, each of those states then, of course, has different certification requirements, because it's all aligned. So, if a state requires bilingual education, as does the State of Texas and a few other states, then there is an actual certification test for bilingual educators.

Barbara Kennedy:

If it's ESL, there is no test. There's only English test. In the others, they often will allow a teacher to teach in a bilingual setting, but there actually are no certifications, right? Those gray area states. So, I say that to say that the bilingual teacher certification test looks very different in these different contexts. It may not exist. The other piece is, is it a language proficiency test? If so, is it oral skills? Or does it also include reading and writing? So, there's a piece. Is it language proficiency in general? Or is it specific to bilingual education?

Barbara Kennedy:

Because those are very different domains of language, right? I might be very proficient in Spanish, but I might not be able to talk intelligently about the theory of bilingual education in Spanish. So, we can see how this can play out. And for our heritage speakers, who did not have the opportunity to develop their Spanish at school, I'm saying Spanish because it's the most common in the country, but they did have the opportunity in their homes, they probably have oral language that is home and community based.

Barbara Kennedy:

They may not have, unless their families specifically encouraged and found ways to encourage literacy development, reading and writing in Spanish in the home. Had books, this is access, right? Had literature to read in Spanish in the home because we're not getting it at school, right? All of those things impact to what degree the heritage speakers can understand and speak and learn Spanish and in English versus what they can read and write. Right?

Barbara Kennedy:

And then, finally, also in what types of contexts they're comfortable speaking, right? So, it's very different to speak in our home environment in whatever language versus presenting for a bunch of administrators in a school district or teaching sixth grade science grade level content in Spanish or whatever the requirements are.

Sheldon Eakins:

Another thing that you mentioned, what this all in general where students that speak multiple languages when they come to class, and they're basically told that English only mentality from a lot of our educators. And how you said how that can impact them down the road with job opportunities, and then ultimately, with opportunities to come back as a teacher who can be certified and support our teacher shortages when it comes to our bilingual education, which again, perpetuates a cycle.

Sheldon Eakins:

And so, now that we're saying oh, we need more teachers, but then our students who are our future teachers aren't getting those opportunities. I never thought about that. And it makes somewhat sense. It's not something that has impacted my family or something close to me that I knew anything about? So, I'm glad that you brought that out. So, let me ask you this, BK. What are your thoughts on what are some things that we could do, I guess? Because we know that there's a teacher shortage when it comes to our bilingual educators, what are your thoughts? What are some suggestions that we could help change this?

Barbara Kennedy:

Some common strategies that are used that address from different angles. One is to have teachers come, of course, to recruit them internationally. Okay? That's a solution that has some benefits because we're bringing in authentic speakers of languages and a lot of cultural models, all of this great stuff that that can infuse into our schools. On the flip side, international recruitment, which is one key strategy, international recruitment, of course requires immigration. It requires legal visa work. It costs money and it's limited in time.

Barbara Kennedy:

It also involves bringing teachers in who they have the language and they may be teachers also, really great teachers, but they are not familiar with US schools, US students, our culture, the way we do education, all of that. So, that is a challenge. And then, by the time they have had the opportunity to start to culturate with what's going on in the United States and in our schools, and they've had professional development, all those great things, well then, maybe three to five years have passed, and they are required to leave.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, that's what we call a revolving door, right? It's a revolving door. So, it's a short term solution with some long term challenges. Even short term challenges just in the amount of work, I guess. We all know from education that turnover is a real drain, right? It's just a huge drain on our capacity to serve. So, international recruitment is a strategy that may or may not work and has its benefits and its definite drawbacks.

Barbara Kennedy:

Strategies that have worked, that are really great are Grow Your Own Programs, that's a global term for using the resources within your local community or your region, that those individuals who are bilingual, have the language skills needed to even do this work. And to bring them into education through whatever pathways we can forge for them. So, it could be paraprofessionals. In many schools, we have bilingual paraprofessionals, who are paid, at best, minimum wage, to do a lot of this work.

Barbara Kennedy:

And so, there's really great initiatives out there to leverage, to really build up those paraprofessionals who may have language skills as well as teaching skills to bring them in as actual certified teachers, which is great for living wage as well. And there's plenty of great benefits there with the paraprofessional work. There are challenges with that as well. But it has been proven to be successful if implemented with certain supports in place.

Barbara Kennedy:

We also have Grow Your Own that's actually building the future teacher pipeline of bilingual individuals from the schools up. So, we can go as early as elementary school. I know here in Texas, there are attempts to look at students as young as an elementary school that might have aspirations to be teachers. Because a lot of us who are teachers, we actually thought we might want to be a teacher when we were that young, right? It's astounding but true.

Barbara Kennedy:

But also, continuing through middle and high school to have pipelines built where the students can first mentor younger children. You're really using their bilingual skills in a way that's valued as something that's important. Then moving them in middle and high school into more structured teacher vocational programs that give them the opportunity to play more of a teacher role within the district, perhaps moving down to the elementary from the middle and high school.

Barbara Kennedy:

And really working toward a teacher pathway. And not only a teacher pathway in general, but specifically a bilingual teacher pathway that gives them relevance to their two languages, and to this idea that there's a place for them to use, to really put to use their bilingualism and their bicultural identity or their multi, cross cultural, all of that. There's a space for them in their future as professionals. So, that's a really great avenue as well for this work.

Barbara Kennedy:

Then, of course, professional development to retain because we've got recruiting and pipelines and all that. We've also got to retain the teachers. And this is important because being a teacher in general is tough. Being a bilingual teacher within a heavily monolingual system or being a teacher, we know how misaligned, let's just say, our educational institutions are for this type of work, whether it's multilingual or multicultural, all of this. So, that job is tough. It's an advocacy job. We're advocating up to administration.

Barbara Kennedy:

We're advocating across the community and the families. And we're advocating with our students as well. So, that's along with teaching. So, providing systems of support at the district level that actually support teachers in this work that make it easier for them, not harder. Professional development resources that are equitable in the languages of instruction. Celebrations rather than relegation of these kids is somehow in a remedial program. To me, those are all retention strategies, which are very important to help stop this teacher turnover problem.

Sheldon Eakins:

So, I want to talk about teacher pay or bilingual teacher pay. Just as I was listening to what you're saying, and let's keep a running education and we don't get paid a lot. We don't. But I would argue that a lot of our bilingual teachers are, especially you mentioned earlier if you're in a heavily monolingual environment, where you're constantly being pulled. And even if you don't have the label of being the bilingual but you just happen to speak the language of a lot of your family members in your school.

Sheldon Eakins:

And so you're constantly being called into IEP meetings or parent teacher conferences, late nights. You're having to translate newsletters and all of those things because you're the only one in the building that can do those things. Even from if you're an administrator that's in that role or if you're a teacher or a paraprofessional. What is your take? I would argue that there should be some compensation.

Sheldon Eakins:

A lot of folks that are in those positions, they're not necessarily asking for more money. They want to do it because a lot of times, that supports their community. But what is your take on maybe as another means to retain our educators who are in those positions?

Barbara Kennedy:

I'm so glad you brought that up, Sheldon. There are plenty of states, Texas being one, where certified bilingual teachers are recruited actively through the offering of stipends. So, the stipend is typically it's a flat extra fee, or not fee, an extra bonus pay that's added on to the regular salary of a teacher like them who is serving in monolingual settings. So, stipends are commonly used. And in fact, it's very competitive. So, stipends.

Barbara Kennedy:

And then, in some districts, there's also, in addition to the stipend, a sign on bonus. Right? So, it is a very competitive field. There's high demand, low supply. So, we might say, "Well, wow, that's really awesome." And it is awesome. However, a couple of things about it. First of all, it does lead to competition. And at times, greater mobility, right? Because I might get lured to this district by this stipend and the sign on, but when I get there, in actuality, there's no supports for me other than that.

Barbara Kennedy:

And I'm now told, and I've seen this happen, "You got the stipend, that's why I can dump on you. Translate this in the middle of your kindergarten math lesson, translate our school newsletter because it needs to go out by 3:00." That's happened to me when I was a kindergarten teacher. "Come to the office, we'll get coverage for your class." Coverage, you know how that feels. "Coverage for your class while you come to the office and," whatever all the things that you would do.

Barbara Kennedy:

So, sometimes, these stipends can serve as a proxy for, "Now, you're going to do everything and anything that we're asking you and don't complain, because by God, you get the stipend." So, that's not to say we don't want them, but I just want to always point out sometimes it plays out that way.

Sheldon Eakins:

Those are good caveats to bring out. Because, yeah, just like, "Well, I'm paying you an extra $500 a year. So yeah, I need you at my beck and call. I have irate parent right now, you need to stop what you're doing. I'll send a sub in there. I'll send a random person that come watch your classroom while you go help me deal with this irate parent." So, I didn't think about that. Yeah.

Barbara Kennedy:

And Sheldon, I'll tell you another little story that illustrates that it goes beyond just what we call language bartering. So, when we ask someone to take care of all of this because they think speak the language, that's called bartering. And children, as we know, our multilingual children are constantly being asked to barter as well. Right? Some of it's a survival, right, for their families. One of the kids, it might be a seven-year-old who's literally translating at the doctor's office or who knows where, right? So, that's a thing, right?

Barbara Kennedy:

It starts with young children and it can extend into teachers, the bartering piece. But what I found interesting is that even in schools with great linguistic diversity, where you've got students coming in with, let's just say, 40 or 50 languages, which is not unusual in some of our schools, where they're learning in ESL, because we know we can't provide instruction in 40 or 50 languages. In those schools, the ESL teacher at that point, the English as a Second Language teacher, does not speak the 40 or 50 languages.

Barbara Kennedy:

I've known several that speak only English but what they do is they can use everything they've got and they managed to communicate, right? And so, what can happen that's very interesting to me is that, again at the school level, who's the person who deals with all of the people, all of the family and community members who speak any language other than English, it's that ESL teacher. Even though that ESL teacher doesn't, he or she is no different from the front office staff if they would begin to learn how to communicate, right?

Barbara Kennedy:

But instead, it's relegated to this, again, it's a barterer, but it's not even a barterer who speaks the language. So, I just find that a very interesting practice. It's like, well, we really need to shift and say, "No, no, we can work on our communication. We don't need to relegate the hundreds of families who speak languages other than English to our one ESL teacher who's trying to serve their children. And we're going to pull that person to the office constantly to do this work." So, just thought I'd throw that out.

Sheldon Eakins:

We're going to have to have you back on for a part two to talk more about that part. I definitely consider you, BK, as providing a voice in Leading Equity. What is one final word of advice that you can provide to our listeners?

Barbara Kennedy:

I think that for me in this world that we're living in today and specifically, with regard to multilingualism multiculturalism, I think that we as educators need to be able to simply embrace uncertainty, embrace the fact that we are going to be running into and interacting with people who bring vastly different experiences into our schools, into our worlds. And that we embrace that as opportunities. And that we're willing to be vulnerable to do whatever we can to communicate.

Barbara Kennedy:

And to not think it's someone else's job. Or somebody else will take care of it. Or once they learn English, we'll be able to communicate. But to actually just embrace the diverse world we live in and come to it ourselves with an open heart and mind, whether it's language, culture, race, ethnicity, religion, right? We need to be there and in it and not try to relegate it to these programs or people who are supposed to be experts, but that we all own it together.

Sheldon Eakins:

Love it. BK, if we got some folks that want to reach out to you, want to connect with you online, what's the best way?

Barbara Kennedy:

Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, just shoot me an email if you would like at [email protected] I'm going to spell it because it only has one L. Well, one L in the center. So, it's globa, G-L-O-B-A. And then, it's lingo, L-I-N-G-O, E-D @gmail.com.

Sheldon Eakins:

All right, there it is. Well, it has been a pleasure, Dr. Barbara Kennedy, also known, aka BK, is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoyed our conversation. Thank you so much.

Barbara Kennedy:

Thank you, Sheldon. I appreciate it.

 

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