In the primary grades, decisions regarding the language/s of instruction for emergent bilinguals labeled as disabled (EBLADs) are often made entirely by school representatives with little to no input from the child or the family. These decisions, which often result in a monolingual placement, not only impact the linguistic practices of EBLADs in school but also at home—often leading to a decline in home language use for the child. While monolingual placements for EBLADs are often the result of teachers’, administrators’ and monolingual service providers’ erroneous perceptions and misunderstandings regarding language function for students with disabilities, these decisions can also be reflective of bias grounded in the student’s racial, ethnic, linguistic and dis/abled identity. Using a raciolinguistic stance and qualitative data from an ethnographic study of Spanish-speaking Latinx mothers and their EBLAD children, this paper presents the ways in which mothers of EBLADs understand/view school-based language decisions as racially motivated as well as the ways in which those decisions impact language practices in the home. This paper will also present the understanding that EBLADs themselves have regarding the impact that their monolingual English educations have on their linguistic development and on their mother’s ability to support their academic development. Lastly, possibilities for how these understandings can be explored at the classroom and policy level, as a way to destigmatize bilingualism for students labeled as disabled as well as to empower EBLADs and their families, will be shared.
- Bilingual special education