Multilingual Education: Comparative Rhetoric Versus Linguistic Elitism and Assimilation

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For more than 500 years, a debate has raged in America over whether immigrants’ cultures and languages should be allowed to exist alongside the “native” culture and language of the “host” country, subordinated or replaced by the “host” culture and language, or dominate and replace the “native” culture and language. This essay addresses the cultural/linguistic/social alienation that occurs when one is set aside, ostracized, or made an outsider because of one’s culture, language, or skin color, particularly in multilingual education and the surrounding social issues in terms of cultural identity versus assimilation. I suggest a balance between the common language and comparative rhetoric in education, between monolingual education and a multilingual society.

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David Trotter

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