The united States has become the home to a multicultural society where, according to Lopez and Gonzalez-Barred (2013), more than 37 million people of ages 5 and older speak Spanish, making it the second most spoken language in the united States. Attitudes towards bilingualism vary among different individuals, while some believe bilingualism to be a positive quality to inhibit, others believe otherwise.
This study primarily focused on the attitudes towards bilingualism of Southern Oregon University students who have taken Spanish courses at SOLO, their reasoning behind taking such courses in consideration to their background with an emphasis on students who consider Spanish language to be part of their heritage, and students who consider another language(s) to be part of their heritage (not including Spanish). Schmidt (2001) makes an important point when arguing that minorities, at least in the first few generations, will be less likely to give up their ethnic identity and language.
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Students who self identify themselves as eyeing of Spanish heritage may have similar attitudes, therefore, it was important to look at their results separate from the students who consider not to be of Spanish language heritage. We created a 14-question survey and distributed it to 30 students who have taken a Spanish course at SO. 16 of the students were of a non-Spanish heritage and 14 students identified as of Spanish heritage.
The survey inquired about the background of each student and their heritage language, the Spanish courses taken at SOCIO, their reasoning for taking such a course(s), and how the course(s) influenced their sews and/or feelings on bilingualism. Correlations between the background of each student and their feelings towards bilingualism were made based on quantitative and qualitative data analyzed using the survey. The survey was created with the purpose of collecting both background information, and general attitudes towards bilingualism of SO students.
A sample sunless is shown in the Appendix. Background information of the surveyed subjects was essential in order to group the data obtained according to their similarities, to reflect a correlation between students’ backgrounds and their attitudes awards bilingualism. The students surveyed were found throughout campus and only those who fit the criteria for taking it were asked to do so. The surveys were given at random places around campus. These places included the library, Stevenson Union, Shasta and Greening’s Hall, and the dining hall.
Asking students throughout the campus if they had taken Spanish at SOCIO, gave a more random sample of the population that has taken Spanish at SO and this provided a wider variation in viewpoints and data as it involves students who have taken courses with different professors at various levels. Through this investigation we concluded that students who considered Spanish language to be part of their heritage and those who did not had significant differences in their views on bilingualism. In response to the question, describe your feelings towards bilingualism, there were three major common themes that were shown throughout the surveys.
These main themes consisted of bilingualism being a positive quality due to greater job opportunities, being able to communicate and connect with a wider variety of people and connecting cultures, and only a select few felt negatively towards linguistic and felt it was not useful. The ability to communicate with others who speak Spanish while having the ability to speak English and be able to communicate with the dominant English speaking portion of society was a skill set they heavily valued as noted on several surveys.
Many of the students who considered themselves to be of Spanish language heritage have parents whose native language is Spanish. This could contribute to their positive outlook on bilingualism. In 78% of the Spanish heritage student responses, their feelings towards bilingualism were positive due to this reason. Our society has become very multicultural and thus being able to communicate and connect with other cultures through various languages is a necessity for many who deal with a diverse crowd.
Another theme presented in response to this question was that there was a positive outlook towards bilingualism due to the greater amount of job opportunities in the work field. Alba, Logan, Lutz, and Stunts (2002) agree that bilingualism brings greater benefits than monolinguals can obtain, in both the working world, and as a way of acculturation. Close to 44% of both populations surveyed had the common hem of bilingualism being positive due to greater job opportunities.
The data shows that those who do not already speak Spanish or have it present in their family heritage feel that bilingualism is more positive for their future, than for the simple reason of communication. Figure 1 . Common themes on bilingualism among students on the open- ended question regarding feelings towards bilingualism. In the data for the ranking of importance of bilingualism, there was a definite correlation between those who considered themselves to have Spanish in their heritage and those who did not. The data collected is shown in Figure 2 and compares the rankings of the two different heritages.
Figure 2. Rankings of the importance of bilingualism among students of Spanish language heritage, and students Of Nan-Spanish language heritage. Figure 2 shows that students who consider having Spanish heritage ranked the importance of bilingualism higher than those who do not consider having Spanish in their heritage. The highest ranking that could be given was a 7, which meant that the student felt bilingualism was “very important. ” The lowest is 1, which meant it is “not important” for the student to be bilingual. There was no lower ranking than a 4 for those students who claim to have Spanish heritage.
However, the students who said to have a different heritage language had scattered rankings with the majority choosing a 5 or 7. Trans (2010) makes note that more non-Spanish heritage students are likely to take Spanish courses than those of Spanish heritage because they are more likely to find it useful not in communicating with other Spanish speakers but in obtaining greater opportunities as bilinguals. In this study, Trans finding is contradicted as more non-Spanish heritage students ranked the importance f bilingualism lower in comparison to Spanish heritage students.
The surveyed students were then asked to choose the reason(s) behind taking a Spanish course(s) out of the following options; to retain Spanish, for greater job opportunities, to fulfill general education requirements, and other. Students were allowed to choose all that applied to their situation and if they circled other, they were asked to write out what the reason was. The analyzed data for this question is shown in Figure 3. Figure 3. Reasons for taking Spanish course(s) among students of Spanish language heritage, and students of non-Spanish language heritage.
Figure 3 shows the reason(s) why students who consider Spanish language to be part of their heritage and students who consider a different language as part of their heritage took or are taking Spanish course(s) at SO. The most popular reasons were greater job opportunities, and to fulfill general education requirements for both groups. When looking at the group of students who consider Spanish language to be part of their heritage 42% percent said they took the course(s) for greater job opportunities, while 36% did it to fulfill general education requirements, and only 16% did it to retain Spanish.
On the other hand, 41% of students who considered a different language to be part of their heritage took the Spanish course(s) to fulfill general education requirements, 35% did it because of greater job opportunities, and the remaining to retain Spanish. Both groups had similar results as to why they took the Spanish course(s) which shows that a large amount of students may consider bilingualism to be important while looking for jobs, or if they are required to take it as part of their curriculum as a result find bilingualism to be a positive quality to have. Further research is needed o figure out if the previous statement is true.
The next question on the survey asked students to write out how the course they took or are taking affected their views on bilingualism. The survey was set up this way in order to see the correlation between why SOL] students initially took the Spanish course(s) and to what extent that coo rise(s) changed their view on bilingualism. The majority of surveyed students took the Spanish course(s) because of greater job opportunities or to fulfill general education requirements and had positive views on bilingualism, as they considered knowing two languages to be useful.
The majority of both populations, Spanish language heritage and non-Spanish language heritage, felt that the Spanish course did not change their views on bilingualism. There were a few outliers that felt the course taught them the difficulty of bilingualism and the value of being a bilingual in job opportunities. The main issue of the survey is that the students recorded the language(s) that they consider to be part of their heritage, however; it’s just a consideration and may not provide exact data.
The results were based off what the students said their heritage is even though it is not a definite fact. The only possible solution to this fault in the study is to trace the ancestry of each student. To get an even more accurate study, it would be important to survey all or a larger amount of students who have taken or are taking Spanish courses at SO in order to obtain a bigger picture from a wider range of data. Our investigation only focuses on a smaller scale of students who have taken Spanish at SO.
This study presented an analysis of students who have taken Spanish courses at SO and their attitudes towards bilingualism. In order to find trends and common themes, a 14-question survey was created with the intent to gather aground information of the subjects surveyed and their attitudes towards bilingualism, in order to create a correlation between the two. The sample of surveyed students was then divided into two groups: students who considered having Spanish heritage, and students who considered having a language other than Spanish as their heritage.
This was done with the purpose of obtaining two sets of data that can be compared and contrasted. When observing the data obtained from the surveys, it was concluded that more Spanish heritage students have a positive attitude towards bilingualism ND an inclination towards taking Spanish course(s) due to greater job opportunities as bilinguals, as well as getting general education requirements out of the way. On the other hand, students with a different language as their heritage had a wider range of attitudes towards bilingualism.
The majority of students from this specific group took Spanish course(s) to fulfill general education requirements, with the choice having greater job opportunities In the future coming in second. A major finding of this study was that only a small amount of those students who consider having Spanish language irritate, many who were more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, took the Spanish course(s) in order to retain the language.
This was found to be an interesting finding as it may portray that in the long run less people who grow up speaking a language other than English in the United States will have high language proficiency or will seek to improve their native language. Dowling, Ellison, and Lea (2012) encountered similar results in their study of Mexicans assimilation of the English language. They came to the conclusion that Spanish speakers who live in the United States are more likely to find English more important than their own language resulting in the loss of their home tongue.
This then may be a reason as to why languages that are brought from other countries are lost through generations. Our conducted field study is a small-scale representation of the outlook on bilingualism and how individuals’ viewpoints have an effect on bilingualism in the United States. References Alba, R. , Logan J. , Lutz A. , & Stunts, B. (2002). Only English by the third generation? Loss and preservation of the mother tongue among the grandchildren of contemporary immigrants. Demography, 39(3), 467-484. Dowling, J. A. , Ellison, C. G. , & Lea, D. L. (2012).
Who Doesn’t Value English? Debunking Myths About Mexican Immigrants’ Attitudes Toward the English Language. Social science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 93(2), 356-378. DOI:10. 11 1 1/j. 1 540-6237. 201 2. 00850. X Lopez, M. H. , & Gonzalez-Barred, A. (201 3, September 5). What is the future of Spanish in the Ignited States? Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www. Preachers. Org/fact- tan k/ 201 3/09/05/what-is-the-future-of-Spanish-in-the-u united-states/ Schmidt, C. L. (2001 Educational achievement, language-minority students, and the ewe second generation.
Sociology of Education, 71-87. Trans, V. C. (2010). English gain vs.. Spanish loss? Language assimilation among second- generation Latino in young adulthood. Social Forces, 89(1 ), 257-284. Appendix Sample Survey Given to Spanish Students Attitudes Towards Bilingualism The information you provide will be used anonymously for a field research assignment in Honors Foundations 102. Answer the following questions to the best of your ability. Feel free to leave any questions blank if you are uncomfortable answering them.