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The subject of this case study is an eight year old boy named Christian Fernandez. He was born in Puerto Rico on March 12, 1997, and relocated to Tampa, Florida approximately three years ago with his mother and younger sister. Christian was five years old when his family moved from Puerto Rico to live with his mother’s parents, due to his elderly grandmother’s unstable health. At the time they arrived in Tampa, Christian was getting ready to enter kindergarten. He now has just finished the second grade, and will begin third grade in the fall of the 2005 – 2006 school year. Christian and his family are Hispanic and all speak Spanish as their first language, which is the dominant language in Puerto Rico. Many Puerto Rican residents also speak some English as well. Overall, Spanish is used in homes, schools, and in professional and social situations in his home country.
Christian is the oldest child in his family, and has a six year old younger sister who is in kindergarten at the same school he attends. He and his sister are in the intermediate fluency stage of language acquisition. They both communicate in English at school, and use English and Spanish at home. They both live with their mother and maternal grandparents. His father and mother were never married, and Christian and his little sister have only spent small amounts of time with their father, and rarely speak to him. Their mother is a 30 year old part time secretary at an office near their home, and is also fairly fluent English, although she has a distinct Spanish accent. His grandparents have resided here for about 15 years, and owned a moderately successful restaurant, which they recently sold and now live off of their earnings. Their grandparents also speak English with heavy Spanish accents. When at home, the family uses both Spanish and English, but the use of English at home is done for the purpose of benefiting Christian and his sister with their English. Christian's family is very supportive of his and his sisters learning the English language. They have an appreciation for their home culture as well, making sure to educate the children about Puerto Rico. They support the English that Christian and his sister have learned in their ESOL classes at school, and they do their best to reinforce what they learn in school at home. While the family wants the children to learn fluent English, they tend to speak mostly Spanish out of habit. His family wants him and his sister to do well in school, and work hard to foster learning.
His family is not overly involved in Puerto Rican language community organizations, but his grandparents mostly socialize with Puerto Ricans, and their mother has a few Puerto Rican friends, as well. Christian and his family live in a small home in a nice community. The community in which they live is mostly made up of white, native English speaking middle to upper class people. The community is mainly large, expensive homes and a few smaller homes, one of which Christian's family lives in. Most of the community members are native English speakers, although there are quite a few native Spanish speakers in the surrounding neighborhoods as well (between 7-10% of the population).
Christian is somewhat tall for his age, with dark hair, brown eyes,
and a fairly dark complexion. He is a smart child who does well in
school, enjoys reading, watching movies and amusement park rides.
He is fairly quiet and avoids speaking to large groups, but will answer
when spoken to, and will get talkative if he feels comfortable in
a situation, usually one on one. He likes to speak and write in language
he sees in books, which is very creative and descriptive. He does
not have many friends at school, and those he does talk to are usually
ESOL students, although they typically converse in English. He has
one good friend at school, a boy named Jack who is a native English
speaker. These two boys usually will stray from the class, and like
to do their own thing if given recess or free time. Christian and
Jack rarely get to play together outside of school, so Christian usually
plays with his sister or does things by himself, occasionally playing
with other kids who live on his street. He is not part of any organized
extra curricular activities.
Diaz-Rico, L.T. & Weed, K. Z. (2002). The
crosscultural, language, and academic handbook: A complete K-12 reference
guide. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.