Over the last week, since the presidential election, much has been made about the increasing role that the Latino and Latina populations play in deciding elections. Both democratic and republican pundits have acknowledged the effects that the new demographics of the country have on politics. There are currently 40 million individuals in the U.S. who use the Spanish language primarily. This demographic shift affects the educational system and will therefore affect each of us as sexuality educators. Language barriers may become more common within classrooms as more students who speak Spanish are in classrooms with teachers who speak English. The Bilingual Education Bill of 1968 requires that students be presented equal educational opportunities regardless of language. Sexuality educators within public institutions have to follow this bill, which means many of us will encounter a language barrier at some point. Language barriers can lead to misunderstandings between teacher and students. Language issues when teaching sexuality are unique because much of sexual language is slang. Therefore, the teacher must be aware of regular vocabulary and the slang within a foreign language. Learning and using slang terms within sexuality may help overcome language barriers and make the teacher relatable to students,but many slang terms are inappropriate and may be used by students to be offensive. Using slang in the classroom has led to legal issues for some teachers. Difficulties also arise when a teacher is surrounded by a classroom in which the students speak a language that the teacher is unable to understand but the students do understand. This makes the classroom difficult to control because students are able to speak without any fear of the teacher knowing. This can be frustrating for the teacher and disrupt class. Language barriers also affect interaction with parents, which can be a detriment to parental involvement. There are solutions and resources that can be used to overcome language barriers. Each and every teacher learning Spanish is not an option moving forward and there will always be language barriers between some students and teachers.
-What as an educator can you do to overcome the language barriers you may face?
- What are your opinions regarding the use of slang terms in the classroom?