Stanford University Professor Kenji Hakuta and his son Luis are the creators of Freedom to Talk, a short video about the civil rights movement and English Language Learners (ELLs). Hakuta narrates the history of how the principles of civil rights are extended to today’s new state academic content, college and career ready standards, and English language proficiency standards.
Freedom to Talk, a short video, is an informative and engaging view of how policies stemming from the Civil Rights Movement have shaped today’s standards for ELL students. Hakuta states that today’s academic standards for ELLs are a legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and a “gift from the great civil rights leader to the nation’s newcomers and children of immigrants.” The new standards have put a spotlight on how students must use language to communicate, learn, and demonstrate their learning (e.g., “language demands”). This paradigm shift focuses on language demands of a content area (that is, engaging students in the discourse practices of a content area) instead of separating language from content. This shift gives students the freedom to talk. This video is a great reminder to all educators of how ELL students can benefit greatly from the new standards. It also stresses that teachers need to collaborate to make academic content learning available to ELLs through integrated English language development standards.