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Oral Interview

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Juan Martinez, now a young boy, was born on December 20, 1998. He is currently 6 years old and was born in Monterrey, Mexico. Juan is Mexican, which is the majority ethnic group in Mexico. His primary language is Spanish. The primary language in Mexico is Spanish, however there are small towns in the southern part of Mexico that speak a different language. Juan’s family only spoke Spanish at their home in Mexico.

Juan lives with both of his parents and five siblings. Both his mother and father are 35 years of age. Both of his parents are migrant farm workers. They travel from state to state - season to season, following whatever produce is in season at the time. Many websites give very interesting information on the life of migrant workers, including http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2002/escuela/migrant_feature01.html.

He has three brothers - ages 8, 3 and 1; and two sisters - ages 11 and 9. His two younger brothers stay with their grandma while the parents are at work. When in Mexico, Juan and his siblings had to travel with their parents whenever they went to another produce region. They were never able to stay at one school for the entire year because of their constant moves to follow work. Another website that gives valuable information pertaining to children of migrant workers is: http://users.owt.com/rpeto/migrant/migrant.html. It features articles about migrant life as viewed by the children.
Juan’s family came to the United States for economical reasons.

They could not make enough money in Mexico to provide what they desired for their family. They came seeking more reliable work and better wages. Mexico did not provide the opportunities and income that is available in the United States. Juan’s parents have stated how glad they are to be in the United States. They still like Mexico and visit often, but feel that the United States offers more opportunities for a bright future. They want all their children to learn English and to keep their use of Spanish. They have no personal issues with the children speaking in English at home. They desire for their kids to speak both languages fluently.
Now, that they are living in the United States, all of his older siblings are currently in school and get to stay there for the entire school year. Their grandmother is still the main provider of child care in the home. His younger siblings still only speak Spanish, but can understand some English words – most of which they have learned from Juan and his other siblings. The primary language in the home is still Spanish. However, Juan occasionally speaks to his older siblings and friends in the community in English.
Juan’s parents work from sunrise to almost sunset. They are a low-income family. Even though they do not have an excess of income, Juan’s parents try to provide their children with the best possible things. Juan and his siblings are very happy with their home life. Juan, his parents, siblings and grandmother live in a modest 3-bedroom trailer. They spend most of their afternoon playing outside with the neighborhood kids.

The community in which Juan and his family live is predominately Mexicans. Most of their neighbors are from the same socio-economic status and are employed at the same type of work. Most children in the neighborhood are also watched by their grandparents, older siblings, or other relatives. The language spoken in this community is Spanish, with mostly the children speaking English with one other.

Juan came to the United States with his family when he was 4 years old. He attended a Head Start program and is currently in kindergarten. Juan is the average height for a kindergartner, has black hair, dark brown eyes and tanned skin. He is very social with friends, but gets very quiet when he does not understand something. His kindergarten teacher provides little positive reinforcement and can be found making references such as, “you should listen and get those potatoes out of your ears.” When this is said to him, Juan looks confused and starts trying to pull things out of his ears. These negative comments are said to him and others in the class on a regular basis. Consequently, it makes him shy away from his school environment. He is friendly, very eager to learn and tries hard to speak English all of the time. His English is very slurred, but he tries to stay upbeat about his school activities he participates in.




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