The Monolinguistic Norm: How State Standards Affect Spanish Instruction for Texas Public School Students

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2022

Authors

Garcia, Hannah C.

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Abstract

Though the state of Texas mandates credits in foreign languages under their Languages Other Than English (LOTE) curriculum standards, Texas residents remain predominantly monolingual English speakers. Former research on language learning in Texas focuses on English learners rather than native English speakers who may learn a second language. This focus enables the state to provide specialized support to increase English literacy but also maintains monolingualism by overlooking the cognitive and social benefits of learning a nonEnglish language. In the interest of promoting foreign language education research, I investigate the Spanish instructional experiences of Texas public school students to explore the connection between state-mandated curriculum standards, language learning, and language ideologies. I use the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to dissect what skills and proficiency levels students are poised to demonstrate upon completing their K-12 education. I then conduct quantitative surveys that ask former Texas students to self-report their proficiency in Spanish. Finally, seven survey respondents participated in interviews where they were asked to describe their experiences and relationship with the Spanish language. I found that students self-report a proficiency level that is succinct with those listed in the LOTE proficiency TEKS, and that engagement and valuation of Spanish affects reported proficiency ratings for this survey sample. I argue that the LOTE curriculum can be revised to provide cultural engagement, transferable skills, and innovative instructional modes to encourage multilingualism among Texas residents.

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