May 14 2012

Response #5

Published by

Michelle Heckel

English 255

Prof. Alvarez

13 May 2012

Labeling Latino Children With Stereotypes:

The Effects Of Code-Switching Through the Process Of Assimilation

In this article will focus on the idea of Latinos assimilating to the US mainstream and the common stereotypes that they face in terms of language and culture. I will discuss the idea of English as a Second Language (ESL) and how the children of Latino families face stereotypes in schools because due to unfamiliarity with the English language bringing on hardships for these Latino children. I will apply the idea of structuralism and code switching, the mixing of the two different languages, English and Spanish. I will focus on the aesthetic texts that show the hardships that Latinos face through assimilation, along with focusing on texts that show stereotypes towards the Latino population as well, especially in the direction of ESL students. I will focus on the poem “Refugee Ship” by Lorna Dee Cervantes, “The Wrong Lunch Line” by Nicholas Mohr, “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez, and “What’s In A Spanish Name?” by Jose Antonio Burciaga. These texts show the idea of stereotypes and the importance of language and how language has changed due to the idea of assimilation taking over, it also shows the idea of code-switching and how the cultures mix together creating a “new” type of language in some ways.

A stereotype gives assumptions about different races and genders, which can later affect the lives of children somewhere down the line. Stereotypes associate with prejudice and discrimination; stereotypes impact the lives of those that are surrounded by these ideas. Throughout the semester we have read many different pieces of literature that relates to the idea of stereotypes. We have read different readings that deal with stereotypes of Spanish women, the mixing of Spanish and white friendships and even stereotypes directed towards students placed in ESL classes.

Latino immigrants often face stereotypes due to the unfamiliarity with the English language. This makes it quite difficult for children of Latino families to assimilate into the US mainstream school process. The Latino children come from their home country knowing only how to speak, read and write their native language of Spanish, which challenges them to reach the same level as the children in the classroom with them that understand the English language. English as a Second Language (ESL) became a result of these children’s difficulties in the classroom setting and these classes allow the students to learn at a slower pace, eventually becoming familiar with the English language making it easier for them to assimilate into the American culture.

The establishment of ESL classes in schools came about in order to help these immigrant children assimilate to the US mainstream. Assimilation refers to the process of becoming familiar with and blending in with another culture different from their own. Latinos face stereotypes when assimilating to the US mainstream, adding pressure on the students of immigrant families when assimilating to the US.

I will analyze the idea of stereotypes towards Latinos linguistic abilities through the teachers and students perspectives in the US society. I will analyze the aesthetic texts, “The Wrong Lunch Line”, “What’s In A Spanish Name?” “Aria”, and “Refugee Ship” to show how Latinos face stereotypes when assimilating to the US culture and language. I will argue that Latinos face stereotypes and labeling towards their cultures and face language barriers that hold them back in schools ranking them as lower in society based on their linguistic abilities.

Code-Switching and Stereotypes Towards ESL Students

Code-switching refers to the mixing of different languages and using those different languages at different times throughout a persons’ life. This process of mixing two different languages usually results in a person becoming bilingual in which a person understands two different languages able to switch back and forth from one language to the other fluently. Immigrant children that assimilate into the US mainstream attending school where English is the primary language spoken will often experience the idea of code switching in the class room setting. This idea later becomes beneficial to these immigrant students because they experience the different languages and education these children will succeed in the future. The article by Alejandro Portes and Alejedro Rivas states:

Recent studies consistently report that students coming from bilingual and bicultural background have higher test scores, higher probability of high school graduation, and a higher probability of attending college. ( Portes/Rivas 232)

This relates to the film “Immersion” due to the idea of how it mentions bilingual education and the progress of the students assimilating to the US. The young boy Moises comes from a Spanish speaking family and attends school where the primary language spoken at home, English seems foreign to him. Even though Moises does not understand the English language and attends ESL classes he has higher performance skills than some of the other students in the class. This quote supports the idea that Moises, an immigrant learning to assimilate to the English language is viewed as achieving higher than other students in the school system that already have more familiarity with the English language. Moises set aside a lot of dedication to his school work and put a lot of time and effort into the classes he attended in school achieving higher than other students which shows how he will most likely succeed in the future since he takes his work so seriously even at such a young age.


Works Cited:

Burciaga, Jose Antonio. “What’s in a Spanish Name?” 1995. The Norton Anthology

of Latino Literature. Eds. Ilan Stavans, et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company,

2011. 1237-1240. Print.

Cervantes, Lorna Dee. “Refugee Ship.” 1981. The Norton Anthology of Latino

Literature. Eds.  Ilan Stavans, et al, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 2011-

2012. Print.

Mohr, Nicholas. “The Wrong Lunch Line: Early Spring 1946.” 1975. The Norton

Anthology of   Latino Literature. Eds. Ilan Stavans, et al. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 1056-1059. Print.

Penfield, Joyce. “ESL: The Regular Teacher’s Perspective.”TESOL Quarterly, Vol.21

Mar. 1987: 21-39. JSTOR. March 2012.

Portes, Alejandro, and Alejandro Rivas. “The Adaptation of Migrant Children.”

The Future Of Children, Vol. 21. Princeton University. 2011: 219-246. JSTOR. May. 2012.


Rodriguez, Richard. “Aria.” 1982. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

Eds. Ilan Stavans,  et al, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2011. 1575-1579. Print.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One response so far

One Response to “Response #5”

  1.   salvarezon 18 May 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Michelle, great writing, and cool topic. You might consider how code-switching is the meshing of categories, or languages as categories, into a new one. You can also think of stereotypes as categories, and maybe how languages might break these as well.

    Also, I like how refer to this essay as an article, as in “In this article, I will argue that . . . ” imagine that you are writing for journal publication, or the same audience of the journals you’ve been researching. How do you make your prose sound like a journal article? Use some of their key terms, or vocab words. Notice words that different articles use. These will be some of the words you will apply to the aesthetic texts in your analysis here.

    Your writing really improved over the course of the semester, I hope you noticed.

    5 out of 5 points.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar