SOCIO-HISTORICAL BACKGROUND AND
THEORETICAL RATIONALE: A
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
Language is more than a mode of communication or a system composed of rules, vocabulary, and meanings; it is an active medium of social practice through which people construct, define, and struggle over meaning in dialogue with and in relation to others. And because language exists within a larger structural context, this practice is, in part, positioned and shaped by the ongoing relations of power that exist between and among individuals. As such, language affects as well as reflects the individual realities of its speakers, and the socio-historical and ideological environments in which these speakers reside. (Walsh, 1991, p. 32)There are four distinct strands of scholarly inquiry that are presented in this section and that provide perspectives for the conduct of the proposed study. The first of these is the history of Puerto Rico, with a special focus on the island's relations with the mainland United States government. As Puerto Ricans, we are members of a society that is rich in cultural heritage and expression. The tensions produced by the juxtaposition of United States and native Puerto Rican cultures have affected the ways, English-language instruction has been perceived from 1898 to the present. The second strand concerns the specifics of the United States's insistence on English as the language of instruction until quite recently and the social and cultural tensions created by this policy. The third topic to be addressed is linguistic theories, particularly those theories that guided educational policies regarding language instruction in Puerto Rico. The final section is devoted to some contemporary studies of the effects of English-language instruction on Puerto Rican students.
In doing graduate work at New York University, some of us benefitted from working with our peers in support groups in which we shared and learned collaboratively. These groups are usually composed of students from different disciplines. In one such group, however, by one of those amazing coincidences life sometimes offers us, two Puerto Rican doctoral students in the Teaching and Learning Department came together to engage in ethnographic studies of teaching English as a second language in Puerto Rico. We both wished to learn more about the school populations with which we have worked for many years. Consequently, Myrta Rosa and I undertook the task of exploring our history and culture in order to provide a socio-historical contextual framework for each of our particular studies. What we present here is a joint effort to portray briefly the history and evolution of English in Puerto Rico, together with relevant linguistic theory and research. Both of our dissertations, then, include this chapter.
Puerto Rico as an Amalgam of Cultures:
The Historical Context of the Study
Puerto Rico is the smallest island of the Greater Antilles, often referred to as "the shining star of the Caribbean," just 1,000 miles southeast of Florida. The original inhabitants were Indians who had settled on the island--possibly migrating from Florida--about 2,000 years ago. Although archeologists have uncovered evidence of other pre-Columbian peoples, the predominant culture was the Taino. Just recently, a pre-Columbian ceremonial park was discovered in Old San Juan that contains samples of the rich civilization of the Tainos. They not only hunted and fished but were skilled in sports and crafts. They built an extensive settlement on the island, which they had named Boriquen, or "land of the brave lord" (Morales Carrion, 1983).
In 1493, Christopher Columbus came upon the Island during his second voyage. In the 16th century, the Spanish rulers Ferdinand and Isabella heard of the Island's rich gold deposits and set out to conquer it. A permanent Spanish settlement was established by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1508. The struggle of the Tainos against the Spaniards was brief and fruitless. The Indians who survived were used as laborers to comb the river banks searching for gold and to work in the fields. An Indian uprising in 1511 was quickly defeated. By the mid-1500s, the Tainos as a people no longer existed (Morales Carrion, 1983, p. 8).
During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, the Caribbean outposts were pawns in the drive for colonial expansion of England, Holland, France, and Spain. During these centuries, Puerto Rico became the center for Spanish colonial expansion. Because its military significance overshadowed its economic importance, the governors imported from Spain were always military men.
The earliest Spanish settlers imported slaves from Africa to work on the farms that produced sugar cane and livestock, ginger, and, in the 18th century, coffee and tobacco. The Island, in its colonial status, was permitted to trade with Spain only. Smugglers looked to illicit trade with foreigners to compensate for the often undependable Spanish market.
The population grew slowly, often decimated by disease. Many of the inhabitants were engaged in illegal trade, many were soldiers with little inclination for farming, and others were runaway soldiers and their families who sought refuge in the interior mountains. In the 1760s, the Spanish crown sent a representative, Marshal Alejandro O'Reilly, to assess the situation in Puerto Rico. As a result of O'Reilly's painstaking report, Memoria, administrative reforms and financial aid during the latter part of the 18th century spurred social and educational as well as economic progress.
In the words of Maldonado Denis (1972), the 19th century marked the decisive period in our formation as a people. Literature, music, painting--in short, all the cultural expressions??offer evidence that in this century a culture we can call Puerto Rican came together (p. 22). Several factors contributed to this. Continued population growth resulted in an increasingly complex society (Santana, p. 53). The distinction between the peninsular Spaniard and the native-born Creole became more evident (Maldonado Denis, 1972, p. 22). In 1797, the British made what was to be the last attempt by Spain to take over Puerto Rico. They were speedily driven off. Practically the whole island contributed toward its successful defense, and this resulted in a new sense of social cohesion (Santana, 1983, p. 56).
During the last quarter of the 18th century, winds of independence and democracy were blowing in many parts of the world. A nationalist spirit was also stirring in South America, but the movement toward separation--the independentista sector--was not as strong in Puerto Rico and Cuba as it was in South America. As Maldonado Denis puts it, throughout the 19th century, Puerto Rican-Creole opinion was divided basically between liberal-reformist and radical-independent movements, and "these same tendencies are evident even today, although the colonial power has changed" (p. 24). The century was to see a succession of promises from Spain toward home rule in Puerto Rico, all of them unrealized.
By the middle of the 19th century, an abolitionist and leader of the independence movement, Ramon Emeterio Betances, had established himself as a leader. Exiled from Puerto Rico, Betances and his collaborators traveled throughout North and South America gathering support for their cause. Betances issued a famous document, "Ten Commandments of Free Men," from St. Thomas in 1868. His planned insurrection, centered in the town of Lares, was quickly put down when the anticipated support, both within and without, did not materialize. Betances exiled himself to France, where he continued to crusade for Puerto Rico's independence. The uprising, called El Grito de Lares, became symbolic, however, of the revolutionary movement (Vales, 1983, pp. 108-112).
One liberal cause, however, that did come to fruition was the abolition of slavery, on March 22, 1873. The slave population was small in proportion to the total population, and abolition was achieved relatively smoothly (Vales, 1983, p. 114).
The decade of the 1870s saw the emergence of the first political parties in Puerto Rico. The first of these was the Partido Liberal Reformista, which favored reforms and political assimilation with Spain. The second, the Partido Liberal Conservador, favored the status quo. In 1886, Roman Baldorioty de Castro rallied liberal elements around himself under the banner of autonomy from Spain. The autonomists were further strengthened by the increase in support for autonomy throughout the Antilles, especially in Cuba. In spite of factionalism and suppression, the autonomist ideal again came to the fore in the 1890s. In 1896, a group of five autonomists was commissioned by its party to travel to Spain and negotiate with factions there who were sympathetic to autonomy for Spain's colonies. These negotiations were ultimately successful, and a pact was made that granted autonomous government to Puerto Rico.
In the meanwhile, however, Cuban autonomists, weary of waiting for the promised reforms, started a new revolution in 1895 that led to the Spanish-American War and, eventually, to Cuban independence. The Puerto Rican commission arrived at an agreement in Spain in 1897, returned to Puerto Rico to work out the details, and before autonomy was completely realized saw their work undone by the landing of the United States Navy at the Bay of Guanica on July 25, 1898. Popular sentiment in the United States saw the SpanishAmerican War as a move to free Spanish possessions from Spain's autocratic rule. United States Government policies, however, were more concerned with securing increased trade opportunities and military bases in the Caribbean (Morales Carrion, pp. 133-134; Maldonado Denis, 1972, pp. 56-57). According to the Treaty of Paris signed on December 1, 1898, Cuba was granted her independence, but Puerto Rico became a United States possession, regardless of the fact that the island had been granted autonomy , by Spain in 1897. Morales Carrion (1983) points out that North American readers, to understand the Puerto Rican character, need to realize that the period prior to 1898 was "no mere prologue" to the period of United States control.
It is rather the key to understanding the roots of the folk culture; the attachment to the Spanish language; the origins of an ethnically mixed society; the literary and artistic expressions and the modalities of thought and feeling that, in spite of many dramatic social changes, are at the bottom of the Puerto Rican personality . . . . Puerto Rico in 1898 had not only a population density but a historical density as well. (p. x)When the first United States officials landed on the island, they were greeted with hopeful enthusiasm by many. The commander in chief of the invading forces, General Nelson A. Miles, "issued a proclamation (designed] to kindle instant allegiance with the hope of full and immediate assimilation into the American political system and way of life" (Morales Carrion, 1983, p. 132). Almost immediately, however, it became apparent that Puerto Ricans would not enjoy the benefits of either independence or United States citizenship. The transfer of power and the governing of Puerto Rico were relatively easy. But a policy of bilingual education was enforced, American citizenship was not extended to Puerto Ricans until 1917, and in spite of some notable exceptions, most of the United States officials considered Puerto Rican culture inferior (Morales Carrion, 1983, p. 175). According to Babin (1983), "the language policy has been at the core of the cultural struggle throughout the 20th century" (p. 321).
The Puerto Ricans themselves, under the leadership of Luis Munoz Marin, proposed a new solution--a commonwealth form of government. A constitutional convention was called in Puerto Rico; a constitution was drafted that was later approved by the United States Congress. On July 25, 1952, Puerto Rico was declared a Commonwealth. In a profoundly symbolic gesture, the Puerto Rican flag was raised at E1 Morro 54 years to the day after the United States flag had been raised there. Munoz Marin was elected the first governor.
In the 1950s and early 1960s, there was a strong popular consensus for the Commonwealth status under the leadership of Munoz, whose position and ideals were supported by President John F. Kennedy. In 1963, however, Munoz's position was shaken from within, and the influence of Puerto Rico in hemisphere affairs weakened from without when Kennedy was assassinated (Morales Carrion, 1983, pp. 299-303).
By the time Munoz Marin retired from the governorship in 1964, the period of political consensus was at an end. Political parties favoring, respectively, a continuation of commonwealth status, statehood, or autonomy debate heatedly on many occasions as each tries to maintain, protect, and defend its ideals.
The rapid economic development of the island in the mid-1950s brought about a constant flow of migration to and from the United States among unemployed Puerto Ricans (Garcia Passalaqua, 1984). In search of jobs, many men and women left the island to work in garment and other factories, the result of massive advertisements with the slogan "Job and Home in New York." These people moved to three major areas where needle trade jobs were abundant: to Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan's garment center in New York City (Lopez, 1987). Puerto Rican communities developed in these areas near the work places, and this is where Spanish communities are still mostly concentrated. Another wave of migrants left the island to work in agricultural areas. According to Lopez (1968), over 60,000 Puerto Ricans had migrated to the United States by 1967.
Meanwhile, by the end of the 1970s, Puerto Rico's economy had grown significantly in manufacturing, commerce, government, finance, insurance, and real estate investments. In the industrialization phase, the arrival of petrochemical companies as well as 20 of the most powerful pharmaceutical corporations, for instance Warner Lambert, Johnson and Johnson, and Upjohn, were an additional boost to the economy (Lopez, 1987; Maldonado Denis, 1972). However, the population growth made the unemployment rate rise to more than 20$. The standard of living for many Puerto Rican families has been undermined by overpopulation and other related social ills (Catala, 1986), even though a segment of the population has always been extremely financially comfortable.
Migration still occurred in the decades of the 8Os and 90s. At present, the migration rate to the United States is close to 20,000 Puerto Ricans a year. But in contrast to the previous tendency, the 1980 census figures show a slight increase in the number of young Puerto Rican professionals among those now leaving the island (Lopez, 1987). Some college students are recruited by U.S. institutions and private companies through career placement programs in some of the island's universities.
The Puerto Rican press focused on this phenomenon seemingly bewildered about the fact that engineers, teachers, and specialists in other fields are leaving the island in search of higher paying positions. These professionals have also mentioned that they emigrate because of the increasing crime rate, drug abuse, and other social problems faced in modern Puerto Rico.
The cycles of emigration and immigration have been marked by people's attempts to maintain contact with family members and to enhance cultural continuity between the two generations. The opportunity to speak Spanish arises when those in the United States travel back home for Christmas or summer vacations and through telephone conversations (Lopez, 1987), as well as in their communities on the U.S. mainland.
On the other hand, Puerto Ricans can still remain close to the American culture because cable television is widespread in Puerto Rico, as well as rock music over the local radio stations, a few of which transmit English language programming. Moreover, The San Juan Star is a very respectable newspaper in English that circulates all over the island.
In the section that follows, we will narrow our political
focus to those United States policies and actions that concerned the implementation
promulgation of English as the official language. Readers should
keep in mind, however, that the language policies were promulgated in a
social context that nurtured two strong political movements, one toward
relations with the United States and the other toward complete independence.
Language Policies: Internal and External Decisions
The educational system since 1898 has been guided by two objectives: to eradicate illiteracy and to establish a bilingual curriculum in order to teach English while preserving the vernacular Spanish and the language policy has been the core of the cultural struggle throughout the twentieth century. (Carrion, p. 321)The struggle for identity among Puerto Ricans has been reflected in the controversies surrounding the teaching of English as a Second Language. In this section, we will attempt to present an overview of the significant changes in the language policy of Puerto Rico so that we can understand its significance from the past to the present (Morales Carrion, 1983).
Language should not be isolated from the historical context of Puerto Rico and the United States dating back to 1898 (Garcia Martinez, 1976). Since then, English has played a significant role in the school curricula of Puerto Rico. However, this emergence took place after the Spanish?American War.
Prior to the Spanish?American War, the school system of Puerto Rico was based on European educational models. Schooling was mainly religiously oriented and offered to members of the middle class, who could afford private?school tuitions. In 1865, Lieutenant General Felix Maria de Messina made education obligatory for all children. He also divided schools into two levels, elementary and superior. In this curriculum were taught subjects other than catechism, such as history, reading, grammar, writing, arithmetic, and elements of agriculture, industry, and commerce (Lopez Justus, 1984).
In 1880, under the governance of General Eulogio Despujol, Puerto Rican educators prepared a reform known as "Decreto de Despujol." It was a sound pedagogical school of law which was attuned with advanced concepts of public instruction in accord with European educational philosophy. Auxiliary, rural, kindergarten, and adult schools were created, and, most importantly, education was extended to the poor. Each school district was responsible for costs of attendance. According to Lopez Yustos (1984), the last 20 years Spain remained in Puerto Rico contributed to educational and cultural advancement.
When the United States took over the island in October of 1898, two major changes in the school system were immediately made: the elimination of religious teaching and the accessibility of free education (Morales Carrión, 1983). The school policy of 1899 established, among other subjects, the teaching of Spanish and English simultaneously. Spanish was taught during the first two years of schooling, with an emphasis on reading and writing, while English reading began in the second year. During the last three years of elementary school, two periods were devoted to the history of the United States, and English was included in the curriculum from then on (López Yustos, 1984).
The United States Congress passed the Foraker Act in 1900 to provide a legal structure for its governance of Puerto Rico as a territory. Although Puerto Ricans were not granted U.S. citizenship, the official policy was that they should be educated to conform with U.S. attitudes and ideals. The teaching of English would be a means to carry out those ends (Walsh, 1991, p. 8).
After the approval of the Foraker Act, President McKinley appointed Dr. Martin Brumbaugh as the first Commissioner of Education of Puerto Rico in 1900. He designed a transitional bilingual policy to pave the way for the eventual phasing out of Spanish instruction. The language policy provided for the use of the Spanish language for all classes and the teaching of English as a subject in all grades (Viñas de Vazquez, 1973; López Yustos, 1984). This policy continued under Commissioner Samuel Lindsay's office term. In addition, he promoted trips to the U.S. for Puerto Rican school teachers to broaden their knowledge of the English language and its culture (Walsh, 1991).
A second major change in the language policy occurred in 1905. Commissioner Roland Faulkner ruled Spanish completely out of the curriculum, substituting English as the primary language for the teaching of all subjects. The Faulkner policy regarding the teaching of English lasted nearly 10 years. There was widespread opposition from all segments of Puerto Rican society, however, including students, parents, and teachers. Bills in opposition to the English-language policy were introduced to the Puerto Rican legislature, only to be vetoed by the Governor. In addition, teachers unionized in 1911 to protest against the "English only" policy. They claimed the English language impeded educating the children (Walsh, 1991, p. 13).
Paul G. Miller took office as Commissioner of Education in 1915. The teaching of English was a major concern for Miller because, according to reports, the children of Puerto Rico spoke neither English nor Spanish (Lopez Yustos, 1984). The majority of the school population was deficient in speaking, reading, and writing skills. Miller appointed a committee, in which he included Jose Padin, to conduct research on the learning problems brought about by the Faulkner linguistic policy. Based on the findings, Miller changed the existing policy to reincorporate Spanish as the language of instruction from the first to the fourth grades, while English was taught as a special subject. In_ the fifth grade, both languages were used providing a transition to English. From then on, English was the language of instruction, with the exception of the Spanish course (Lopez Yustos, 1984).
The Jones Act of 1917 made Puerto Ricans involuntary United States citizens, imposing such responsibilities of citizenship as military service, but denying the right to vote in national elections. Granting what was regarded by many as an alien citizenship brought active resistance from numbers of educators, poets, and public figures (Walsh, 1991, p. 17).
The English issue remained a concern in Puerto Rico throughout the 1920s. Jose Padin was appointed Commissioner in 1930 by President Theodore Roosevelt as a conciliatory gesture. He was deeply concerned with the teaching of both English and Spanish. He thought that both cultures could coexist in Puerto Rico (Lopez Yustos, 1984). After reevaluating the existing language policies, he reinstated Spanish as the means of instruction from the first to the eighth grades. The English class was changed to a double period from the eighth to the twelfth grades (Viñas de Vazquez, 1973; Walsh, 1991).
Efforts to continue the use of both the English and Spanish languages as a means of teaching were introduced by Dr. Jose Gallardo in 1937. He tried to make Puerto Ricans bilingual by acquiring more English materials and offering elective courses in English in the public schools (Lopez Yustos, 1984).
Meanwhile, the political status of the island had come to a new resolution by 1948, that of Commonwealth. The people of Puerto Rico continued to press for the use of the Spanish language as a medium of cultural expression. Commissioner Mariano Villaronga settled the changing language policies in 1948 by proclaiming the teaching of English as a second language as a subject and the use of Spanish as the language of instruction for first to twelfth grades in the public school system of Puerto Rico (Viñas de Vasquez, 1973; Lopez Yustos, 1984). This policy is still current in the educational system of the island.
The latest revision to the English curriculum came into effect in 1989 with the "Reforms Educativa," undertaken to revise and update the entire curriculum in the Department of Instruction. The teaching of English is a vital component of the curriculum, so this component was revised according to the latest studies and theories in second?language teaching and learning and the integrated curriculum model of the Department of Instruction. In this model, teaching is directed toward intellectual development and critical-thinking skills. Priority is also given to moral education and the development of values. The teaching-learning process was thereby redefined as "exploration, conceptualization, and application" (ECA). In this framework, the teaching of English serves three major purposes: comprehension, communication, and knowledge.
The English program's goals respond to these purposes. The program aims to develop critical and creative thinking in students and to develop affective skills so students can communicate in English in order to participate in the island's social and economic growth. Another goal is to develop communication skills in English to enable the student to live in an all-English environment, speaking, writing, and reading effectively (Carts Circular, Department of Instruction, 1989).
The most recent internal government language policy was proclaimed by Governor Hernandez Colon on April 5, 1991. He signed into law a bill making Spanish the official language of the Government of Puerto Rico. This repealed the 1902 law that made Spanish and English official government languages. Spanish became the official language of the Commonwealth departments, agencies, offices, branches, municipalities, and other political subdivisions. This event was preceded and succeeded by prolonged and heated debate. It also brought the island to public light all around the world by exposing the particular political status of the Puerto Rican people.
Those in favor of the decision saw it as an affirmation of the Puerto Rican language and cultural identity. Public endorsements were made by the government's Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, the Language Academy of Puerto Rico, the Intellectual's Committee, the National Action Committee for the Defense of the Vernacular, Free School Institute, and the Bolivarian Society (The San Juan Star, April 5, 1991). One of the most prestigious cultural organizations of the island also favored the law:
The "Ateneo Puertorriqueño," a cultural organization founded in the nineteenth century, lauded the measure for promoting democracy: This bill is entirely sensible, because it guarantees that we won't be governed . . . in languages not all Puerto Ricans understand. (The San Juan Star, April 5, 1991, p. 2)Moreover, the Puerto Rican people were recipients of the Principe de Asturias de las Letras prize in recognition of their defense of the Spanish language.
On the other hand, some people reacted unfavorably to the signing of this law. They viewed it as "an obvious attempt by the Popular Democratic Party to hang on to power and to defeat statehood as expressed by Rep. Lagomarsino, from California (The San Juan Star, April 5, 1991, p. 2). Medina, a San Juan Star news reporter, found that when he asked Puerto Ricans what they thought about this issue, they responded with concerns about the role of English. These people were skeptical about the administration's statement that the law would not impact the teaching of English. One interviewee mentioned that 90% of the jobs nowadays require English and that politicians would keep sending their children to private schools, but that the poor would suffer the consequences of this action. Others feared that the law would affect those in professions such as engineering and architecture because the technical universal language is English.
The most recent internal government language policy was proclaimed by Governor Pedro Rosello on January 28, 1993, three weeks after he came to office. During his campaign for governor, he had promised that if he won the elections, he would submit a bill to the legislature repealing the 1991 law and having both languages hold official status. The law states that both languages can be used interchangeably. Again, this change in language policy met strong opposition. Senator Ruben Berrios, leader of the "independentista" movement, "argued that giving English official status empowers government officials to impose it as the language to be spoken in their agencies" (The San Juan Star, January 21, 1993, p. 3). Other people stated that making both languages official would open the doors to legal challengesin the courts to force the government to have classes taught in English in public schools and to hold court proceedings in English. Those in favor of the law argued that "the proposed bill only brings things back to the way they were" because even though the 1902 law did not declare any language official, it said that English and Spanish could be used interchangeably in government transactions (The San Juan Star, January 21, 1993, P. 3).
The events detailed in this section indicate the central role that the English language has played in the educational, political, and social spheres of the Puerto Rican life. They provide a necessary backdrop against which the actual teaching and learning of English may be better understood.
In this section are outlined the theories and approaches underlying the English program in the public-school system of education in Puerto Rico for the past 50 years. The evolution in these theories reflects the changes and innovations in second- or foreign-language teaching throughout the world in response to changing theories of language and of language learning (Richards& Rodgers, 1989).
Prior to 1948, the public-school system followed a grammar and reading approach to the teaching and learning of English. This approach was based on the model for studying Latin. The grammar translation method was organized around grammar points, and the students memorized grammar rules and vocabulary to prepare themselves to translate literary prose. Language learning became a tedious and frustrating experience after which students were unable to speak the target language. This method was started to meet increasing opposition by the 1940s as educators recognized the need for speaking proficiency and began to study how children learn languages (Richards & Rodgers, 1989).
The entry of the United States into World War II made it necessary for the government to request American universities to develop foreign-language programs for military personnel. The aim of these programs was for students to attain conversational proficiency in a variety of languages because the United States had now emerged as a major international power.
These factors led to the emergence of the American approach to ESL [English as a Second Language), which by the mid-50s had become audiolingualism. (Richards & Rodgers, 1989, p. 45).This audiolingual, or oral approach, was recommended for the teaching of English as a seclanguage in the public schools of Puerto Rico. It led to the widely used Fries and Lado English Series. Students learning through this method, however, were unable to transfer skills acquired to real communication outside the classroom and found the method boring and unsatisfying (Richards & Rodgers, 1989).
In the late 1960s, Noam Chomsky and other linguists turned away from an emphasis on habit formation as the basis for communication in second-language learning. They saw learners as capable of creating language from a finite set of rules to an infinite number of sentences. Chomsky proposed an alternative theory of language learning to that of the behaviorists, which has been described as a "revolution" in linguistics (Sampson, 1980). As described by Richards and Rodgers (1989):
Chomsky's theory of transformational grammar proposed that the fundamental properties of language derive from innate aspects of the mind and from how humans process experience through language" (p. 59).In this view, language learning was geared to more meaningful communication. During the 1960s and 1970s, British functional linguists saw the need to focus language teaching on communicative competence rather than on mastery of structures. Accordingly, the basic premises for the communicative approach are contextualization and communication.
Other theorists developed theories that share the principles of communicative language teaching. The most influential theorist has been Stephen Krashen (1985), who made a distinction between acquisition and learning. For him, acquisition refers to the unconscious development of the target language system as a result of using the language for real communication. It is the "natural" way and parallels firstlanguage development in children. Learning, on the other hand, is the conscious representation of grammatical knowledge that has resulted from instruction, and it cannot lead to acquisition. In Krashen's view, the learning system can only serve as a monitor of the output of the acquired system, what he terms the monitor hypothesis.
Another proposition made by Krashen is the input hypothesis, which states that humans acquire language by understanding messages or by receiving "comprehensible input." We acquire the rules of language in a predictable order (the natural order hypothesis), and we progress along this natural order by understanding input that contains structures at our next "stage," which are beyond our current level of competence (p. 2). This process occurs with the help of context, such as visual aids and discussion of familiar topics.
Still another theory of Krashen, based on research in second-language acquisition and its findings on motivation, self-confidence, and anxiety as affective or attitudinal variables, is the affective filter hypothesis. In this hypothesis, he proposes that the learner's emotional state or attitude is an adjustable filter that freely passes, impedes, or blocks input necessary for acquisition. Effective teaching requires a low affective filter so little input is blocked or impeded. In light of this hypothesis, "the filter is down when the acquirer is not concerned with the possibility of failure in language acquisition and when he considers himself to be a potential member of the group speaking the target language" (pp. 3-4).
The English Program of the Department of Education relies heavily on Krashen's theories of language learning. Its latest Carta Circular (1988) states that the level of competence students reach in learning the language depends on factors such as the student's attitudes, personality, linguistic abilities, and instrumental motivation, as well as teacher and family interest and support.
Other studies in second-language learning also stress the role of affect and attitudes. Gardner and Lambent (1972) found that integrative motivation occurs when members of the dominant group in a society attempted to integrate into the target culture. However, this orientation seems to have negative consequences for language minority students learning the dominant language (Valdes, 1988).
In a later study, Gardner
and Maclntyre's (1991) findings suggest a major distinction between integrative
and instrumental motivation. Again, integrative motivation has an attitudinal
foundation in favorable attitudes toward the other ethnic community and
has a continuing influence on language learning and use. Since instrumental
motivation is tied to a specific goal, its influence is maintained until
the goal is achieved. This research illuminates Gardner's socio-educational
model of second language learning, which proposes that attitudes play a
role in language learning through their influence on motivation.
Studies of English-Language Learning in Puerto Rico
Several studies have been conducted in Puerto Rico to address the question of how Puerto Rican students perceive the speakers of the English language. Muñoz (1973) conducted a study with a group of Puerto Rican high school students and found that students rated the voices in English higher than those in Spanish, an indicator of positive values toward the target culture. Llado (1978) used a pseudo-matched guise technique, but found that the students displayed negative attitudes toward the target language. Van Trieste (1985) conducted an experimental study on the correlation between attitudes of Puerto Rican students and achievement using the "matched-guised" technique. He found that the English guises were rated significantly higher than the Spanish guises, but that students' positive attitudes toward speakers of American English were a poor predictor of ESL achievement.
Other studies in ESL have focused on cross?cultural issues. Valdes (1988) describes culture as "an integral part of the interaction between language and thought" (p. 45) since cultural patterns, customs, and ways of life, in short, world views, are expressed in language. Nemetz (1988) defines cultural understanding as "an ongoing, dynamic process in which learners continually synthesize cultural inputs with their own past and present experience to create meaning" (p. 12).
Researchers in ESL in Puerto Rico have also been interested in these issues. Nine Curt (1977) showed us in Nonverbal Communication, and through her conferences around the island and in the United States, that the Anglo and Puerto Rican cultures are "almost in total reversal one with the other" (p. 77) in terms of extraverbal cues. According to Morain (1978), movement is inextricably linked to meaning, and we cannot disregard the nonverbal component if we intend to interact with members of the target community in ways other than through paper and print.
Along the same issue, Velez (1987) engaged in an ethnographic study in Texas and Puerto Rico and contrasted the "emic" perspectives of the two cultures. He documented that the attitudes and expectations which govern American behavior are not necessarily shared by Puerto Ricans.
Some second-language researchers view second-language learning, in some respects, as the acquisition of a second identity (Guiora, 1979; Valdes, 1988). Nemetz (1988) shares a similar view: "Losing one's own accent and acquiring another may involve modifying one's identity" (p. 47). She believes that adolescence is "a critical period for consolidation of cultural identity" (p. 47). Viñas (1973) observes that public school students in Puerto Rico show enthusiasm for English in the elementary level, but that it "gradually but steadily melts away" (p. 6) starting in the seventh grade. Moreover, she says that students at the senior?high?school level begin to show interest in politics and are influenced by political groups that constantly warn them: "Learning English will gradually adulterate the mother tongue, Spanish, and will undermine the Spanish culture" (Viñas, 1976, p. 7).
Torruella's (1990) study, conducted in three private schools in Puerto Rico, suggested that English is linked to professional advancement and that there exists a "symbolic conflict" between English and Spanish in the larger society that finds expression among the school cultures she studied.
Various other ESL researchers in Puerto Rico have studied aspects of communication apprehension, grammar, reading comprehension, and writing in Puerto Rican learners of English (Acuña, 1985; Aneiro, 1989; Caratino, 1984), among other topics. Although these studies have contributed to the corpus of knowledge about ESL in Puerto Rico, they do not seem particularly relevant to the present study.
With this linguistic framework in mind, I have documented, through ethnographic interviews, how a small group of current returning adult college ESL students perceives the teaching and learning of English as it touches them on a personal and intimate basis.