Education Across the Border

For my Border Story I was interested in learning about the ways that children and education play a role across the border. This seemed relevant to my own life in many ways and I found it very interesting to research and learn more about since we touched about it briefly. First off I am an Early Education major, so I am very passionate about children and students within their learning. I find it interesting to learn about the different school systems and ways that students all around the world get an education. It truly is different in every different place in at least some way or another. Secondly, I myself am Hispanic, with both parents and siblings being born and raised in Ecuador. After my family legally moved to the United States, Massachusetts to be specific, I was born but shortly after and then moved back to Ecuador, which led me to grow up in Ecuador in my early stages of life, which then led to attending Kindergarten in Ecuador. After I finished Kindergarten we permanently moved back to Massachusetts which led me to continue my schooling in 1st grade here in America. I was raised speaking and listening to Spanish and did not know one bit of English. After I learned the English language, I would, and still listen to my parents and family speak in Spanish, which is something most students go through when living in Mexico but go to school across the border. I am bilingual and fluent in both English and Spanish which is something that many, if not all students share in common when attending school across the border.

I first mentioned a significant number of Mexican children from Mexicali crossing the United States-Mexico border on a daily basis in order to attend school at the Calexico Mission School, a private Seventh-day Adventist Church School. An estimated 80 percent of Calexico’s children enter the city’s school system speaking Spanish, and approximately 95 percent of its residents are Latino. Students grow up with a fence, and occasional instances of illegal border crossing- that is just part of the scenery at the Calexico Mission School. Students are in a unique situation, not only do they take those matters into consideration but many of these students come from an area where family and friends around them are speaking Spanish at all times. These students that are crossing the border have another obstacle to come by and that is to learn the English language.  Border-crossing students create a new outlook by illustrating the truly dynamic nature of border crossing in a positive way.

The addition of these students increases the percentage of English language learners in school as well as in Spanish. Not only is it a way for cultures and differences to come together, but it also brings together two different languages, creating students, faculty, and staff to speak both English and Spanish to be bilingual speakers. There are one-way dual language education programs that are looked at as demographic contexts. This is when only one language group is being schooled through their two languages. Many of the schools along the U.S-Mexican border include students of mainly Hispanic-American heritage. Some of these students are skillful in English, due to the fact that they haven’t used Spanish and have lost their heritage language. On the other hand there are students that are the complete opposite, where they are very proficient in Spanish but are just beginning to learn and speak the English language. Some principles of the one-way program include a minimum of six years of bilingual instruction, separation of the two languages of instruction, focus on the core academic curriculum, high cognitive demand of grade-level lessons, and collaborative learning in engaging and challenging academic content across the curriculum.

There are also two way programs that invite native English speaking students to join their peers who are bilingual and English language learners (ELL), in a bilingual classroom. These two-way classes include all students who wish to enroll, and that includes those who have lost their heritage language and only speak English. Two-way bilingual classes can lead to a context where students from each language group learn to respect their classmates as valued partners in the learning process with knowledge that they can teach and learn from one another.

.  It is crucial as a teacher to be aware of students’ needs, and in this case many students crossing the border are Spanish speakers, English speakers, or bilingual. It is up to us educators to come up with a system to help students who are struggling to give them the foundation to learn, and from that to continue and pass on. These one way and two way programs are set up in the schools so students don’t lag behind. It is important to be prepared and have the right educators and materials ready for when these students step into the classroom.

5 thoughts on “Education Across the Border

  1. William Gaudreau

    Education and language tie in together greatly. This is seen amongst many borders like ones you talked about, Ecuador to the U.S, Mexico to the U.S, any could be seen in any country from region to region. There are different dialects from region to region as well as different ‘tribes’ or nationalities worldwide in each country. Through my research on the Yao minzu i noticed they suffered a loss of language from the displacement of the communities and the widespread setting along the southern mountains in China. Education was key for the recreation of their language and was mainly handled with the elders of the community along with Yao of knowledge. Unfortunately still even after all the discrimination and recreation efforts of their minzu the language did not last. Its something thats only shared within the family and even at that not always used. The kids of today in these communities of Yao are there with other minorities and the majority Han so they have to learn other languages to be able to get jobs and interact daily within these communities. Its seen in your scenario and in mine that the crossing of borders whether it be from country to country or province to province with other minorities there will be language conflict.

  2. Raul Quiroga

    This is great. There are many studies coming out now which focus on the advantages of learning/knowing more than one language and the drastic effects it has on learning. I myself am bilingual as well (English & Spanish) and have a big interest in language. I have some friends who went abroad in HS to Cairo, Egypt and they similarly promoted learning English by speaking it in some schools primarily while in public the students would speak the native tongue. Either way very great topic as like stated above language and education go amazingly well together.

  3. Lyndsey Hobart

    When thinking about your own experience in school and the experience of others, do you think that you were as supported as you could have been by the schooling that you had in the United States? For my assignment, I looked at rural education in Peru. A large problem that they have in Peru is lack of budgeting for educational needs and resources for indigenous students. Many children live in areas so rural that in order to go to school, they need to be far away from home for a week or so at a time. They stay with other children’s families from the school that they attend. Can you see any struggles with your topic as a parallel? I think that not only does there need to be a reform in Peru of current education practices to be more inclusive, but there also needs to be high quality teachers. The role of the teacher in Latin America is unclear and should be determined on the basis of knowledge of rural areas that goes beyond stereotypes that lead to stigma and discrimination. Another issue that needs to be focused on is gender inequality in the school system. Girls are scoring lower than boys in math and reading in Peru. Something needs to be done to make these numbers more even!

  4. Mia Benson

    I think the idea of crossing the border daily to get to school is very fascinating. I assume the students who cross the border into the US daily to go to the mission school in Calexico are students who are well-off? I think the bilingual classes are a really unique idea, but would help students from both sides of the border become fluent in another language. Its a very cool idea. I wonder if this is the only school that has so many students cross the border to attend, or if this is something that is common along the border.


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