Teacher Education


Spanish-English or English-Spanish in California: The Dialectics of Language in Sociocultural Historical Context

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Forum on Public Policy


This is an analysis of California history of the shifting of language policies from Spanish to English, as an Official Language The focus is English as an imposed language that from the beginning of schooling policies stifle a process of language acquisition for the majority of Spanish speakers. In 1849 the California Constitution stipulated that all laws, regulations, and provisions be published in English and Spanish. Soon after in 1855 the use of Spanish for institutional purposes was prohibited by law. By 1879 provisions for native language use were abolished. California became the first English Only State in the union. In spite of historical policies that impose English as an Official Language, which limits the use of other languages in institutional settings, the acquisition of native origin languages, in a dialectical fashion, meld into the fabric of culture and expression. Acquisition as a natural process of cognition is posited as the basis for English-Spanish bilingualism that continues to thrive in California