Teacher Education


Bilingualism, Cultural Transmutation, and Fields of Coexistence: California's Spanish Language Legacy

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Forum on Public Policy


This is an historical analysis of English Only programs in California and theirimpact on bilingualism as a natural acquisition process. Factors thatpropagate bilingualism such as a continual flow of Spanish speakingimmigrants, and social, economic and ethnic isolation, are delineated fortheorizing about key aspects of multilingualism, the persistence ofSpanish/English bilingualism and cultural nuances of language behaviors as afoundation for cross-cultural understanding. Since the turn of the 20thcentury there has been a strong shift from Spanish as the official language oflaw and policy to English in the State of California. The most widely usedlanguage other than English has been Spanish. At the beginning of the 21stcentury it has been projected that Spanish speaking Latinos in the State ofCalifornia will constitute 43% of the States' population by 2020 (1). Thisanalysis will posit a reconceptualzing of bilingualism for the States' Spanishlanguage speakers and a redefinition of a multinational and global culturalidentity that transcends boundaries of nationalistic constructs imposedhistorically.