Sunday, April 7, 2013

Author Profiles for Orellana & Hernández

Marjorie Faulstich Orellana and Arcelia Hernández published their article "Talking the walk: Children reading urban environmental print" in 1999. At the time, Orellana was a professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University and Hernández was a doctoral student in the School of Education at Claremont Graduate University.  They conducted this study as part of a grant funded by the MacArthur Foundation to study "Successful Pathways through Middle Childhood." Orellana and Hernández had both previously worked as bilingual classroom teachers at Hoover Street Elementary School in Los Angeles that was the school featured in this article.

14 years later, Orellana is a professor in the Urban Schooling division at UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She has continued to study young children and their interactions with language, literacy, writing and culture. The research that began in the "Talking the walk" article culminated with the publication of her book Translating Childhoods that was published by Rutgers University Press in 2009.

Her research has particularly focused on the ways in which bilingual children in immigrant families frequently function as "culture brokers" to help negotiate the divide between their parents' culture and the dominant American culture. In this recent interview, she explains that "these child translators are ubiquitous in immigrant communities, although they are largely invisible to the research world." Orellana elaborates that frequently:

"children read and interpret written texts for their families, such as information that comes in the mail, or that is sent home from school. They may help families fill out forms, including complex ones like credit applications. They speak for their families to teachers, doctors, lawyers, service personnel and more. They answer the phone, make appointments, and help out in everyday encounters in stores, restaurants, and other places."

She has been an outspoken opponent of Arizona's strict new immigrations laws, arguing that such policies unnecessarily "stigmatize children," and she has frequently written opinion pieces on subjects related to immigrants and the immigrant experience in the United States. She also maintains a blog called "Language Brokering" about her research and other interests.

Arcelia Hernández is the daughter of Mexican migrant farm workers from California. She learned from an early age to value education, saying in a 1994 interview that "so long as I got good grades and went to college, I didn't have to pick grapes, I didn't have to pick tomatoes, I didn't have to get up at 4 a.m. and be cold and nauseous. I could go to school and have a different job and never ever have to pick another piece of produce for as long as lived. And that's what I wanted."

After collaborating on the literacy walks article, Hernández transfered from Claremont to the University of Southern California Rottier School of Education where she completed her dissertation "Latina Bilingual Novice Teachers' First Year: Negotiating Relationships, Roles and Responsibilities Within and Beyond the Classroom." She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education in the School of Education at St. Edward's University in Texas.

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