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What is Native Fluency?

The Ambiguous Nature of Bilingualism and Its Ramifications for Writing Instruction



Co Authors:

Susan Behrens
Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders
Marymount Manhattan College
sbehrens@mmm.edu

Cindy Mercer
Academic Achievement
Marymount Manhattan College
cmercer@mmm.edu

Abstract:

The focus of this case study is the way differing views on native fluency and bilingualism have an impact on writing instruction in colleges. In the case, students read about the high school and college experiences of a young woman who moved to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age nine with a good deal of fluent, informal spoken English, but little skill in reading and writing formal, standard English. Students follow Maria as she wrestles with her identity as an English user and, along the way, encounter high school teachers and college professors wrestling with a lack of information about how students gain mastery of a language and literacy.

Objectives:
  • List the complicating factors that make trying to define “bilingualism” and “native fluency” difficult.
  • List and discuss the academic and emotional consequences for students whose teachers have vague and conflicting definitions of bilingualism.
  • Develop a list of five recommendations to help students whose weak academic language skills appear to be barriers to academic success.
  • Discuss the implications of this case for students’ future employment opportunities and social and emotional well being.
Keywords: Bilingualism; English as a Second Language; ESL; native fluency; literacy; writing pedagogy
Topical Area: Social issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Discussion, Interrupted, Role-Play
Language: English
Subject Headings: Linguistics   Communication Science   Teacher Education  
Date Posted: 11/04/08
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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