I was eight years old when I moved to New York from Antigua. I remember my first day in the third grade at C.E.S. 42 as if it was yesterday. In remember how alone and isolated I felt, not only was I the new girl, but I was also the new girl with the strange accent. I have never felt so alone in my life. I cannot imagine what it must be like to a non- English speaking child, attending school in America.
When a non-English speaking child enters the American school system, that child is considered to have special needs. These needs are bought about by the language gap between students and teachers. These students are often placed into English speaking classrooms. Being unable to read or speak standard English may classify a student as having a disability in an Anglo-dominated micro-culture. However, in a micro-culture where English speaking skills are un-important these students would not de considered disable.
Children in classrooms who are unable to communicate with their teachers and peers face a very real problem. Many of these students often sit at their desks and day- dream all day long. These students do not learn anything and they are often ignored by teachers who makes little or no effort to bridge the communication gap between them and their pupils.
A major goal of multi-cultural education is to insure that all students regardless to their cultural heritage receive a good education that does not penalized them for their cultural differences but capitalizes on those differences. One way to combat this problem is through instruction. Minow (1985) suggests that non-English speaking students be instructed in his or her own language. A student should not be force to give up his or her own language in school and use only English. Students should be taught English as a second language and at the appropriate time make the transition into an English speaking classroom.