Teaching Second Languages in the Good Ol’ USA

By Ela Molina-Sevilla de Morelock and Theresa Golightly Dickman.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

On April 2010 in the Appalachian* region of the state of Kentucky, we had the opportunity to listen to Ben Stein, one of the representative images of the conservatives in the USA. Among other issues, we were deeply moved by Stein’s statement that he finally was in what he called “The Real America.” Stein’s statement could be read as a candid and flattering message to one of the poorest and forgotten areas of the US**, but it is also a reaffirmation of exclusionary thinking. In one of the less racially diverse*** areas of the US, with very little multicultural and multiracial contact, this kind of statement automatically and unconsciously excludes the other faces of the so-called “America” such as the black, brown, and yellow America. This sentiment is not exclusive of Kentucky, as we can observe in the latest Arizona House Bill 2281 against Ethnic Studies (3-4). In other words, these kinds of speeches and laws only serve the purpose of keeping the racial separation with the predominance on the mythic “White America.” From the personal experiences we have had living in Appalachia as one of the most representative faces of “The Good Ol’ USA,” we are proposing a critical analysis about the importance of second language teaching and learning, as well as of the so-called “Ethnic Studies,” as tools for building the necessary sensibility to live and succeed as individuals and as a society in a globalized world. (*For the definition of “Appalachia” see Black and Sanders, “Inequality and Human Capital in Appalachia: 1960-2000” in Appalachia and the Legacy of the War on Poverty: A Research Agenda, University of Kentucky, Center for Poverty Research (UKCPR), Conference October 2, 2009. p. 8. **US Census Bureau Poverty Center. ***It is interesting to observe that while the Appalachian area is not considered racially diverse, some people from the area, and in some TV programs, there are some considerations related to a great diversity in the region. This diversity refers to different European origins, or to different protestant congregations.)

Keywords: Second Language Learning, Critical Thinking, Teaching Spanish in the USA, Teaching Spanish as a Second Language, Second Languages and Globalization, Second Language and Multiracial Sensibilization, Multiracial and Multicultural Sensibilization

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.205-218. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 653.411KB).

Dr. Ela Molina-Sevilla de Morelock

Associate Professor, Department of English and Modern Foreign Languages, University of the Cumberlands, Williamsburg, Kentucky, USA

Dr. Molina Morelock earned her BA in Sociology of Latin America at UNAM-Mexico, her MA in Spanish at Miami University, Ohio, and her Ph.D. in Hispanic Studies at The University of Kentucky. Her interests, and publications are related to a variety of subjects. She is working on narratives of women about the Mexican Revolution; Colonial Spanish America, Visual Studies, Sociolinguistics, and Critical Thinking in the Curricula.

Theresa Golightly Dickman

University of the Cumberlands, Kentucky, USA

Theresa Golightly Dickman is an Associate professor of English at University of the Cumberlands, She received her BA in English with a philosophy minor from Wichita State University, Kansas, and received her MA in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her interests include Renaissance literature, writing and science fiction. In addition, she is currently working on developing critical thinking skills with in-coming freshman students.

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