Tongue-Tied Multiculturalism

  • Donaldo Macedo
  • Lilia I. Bartolomé


In the preceding chapter we began to highlight the importance of language in the construction of human subjectivities. Although the literature in multicultural education correctly stresses the need to valorize and appreciate cultural differences as a process for students to come to voice, the underlying assumption is that the celebration of other cultures will take place in English only, a language that may provide students from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds with the experience of subordination. In this chapter we discuss the issue of language and its role in multicultural education, particularly in the multicultural debate in the United States, where the issue of language is often relegated to a secondary status. In fact, some multiculturalists, without saying so, assume that multicultural education can be effectively implemented through English only. Such an assumption neglects to appreciate how English, as a dominant language, even in a multicultural classroom, may continue to devalue students and speakers of other languages. In other words, one cannot celebrate different cultural values through the very dominant language that devalues, in many ways, the cultural experiences of different cultural groups. Multiculturalists need to understand that language is the only means through which one comes to consciousness.


Language Policy Minority Student Bilingual Education Multicultural Education Academic Discourse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Donaldo Macedo and Lilia I. Bartolomé 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donaldo Macedo
  • Lilia I. Bartolomé

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