Can the whole language approach adequately prepare minority students, especially those with different backgrounds, for the literate world? With "My Trouble Is My English," Danling Fu joins the current debate over this issue, examining the learning experiences of four Laotian students at a mainstream secondary school. Her study not only describes and interprets the students' learning situations, it also helps us understand their perspectives, along with those of their teachers.
Fu introduces us to the Savang family, refugees who left Laos, spent time in a settlement camp in Thailand, and finally escaped to the United States. Her book is about their dreams of integration, and the ways their school often tracked them into classes where the focus was on isolated vocabulary and language skills.
Fu shows, in graphic detail, how difficult this "simplified" approach is for those new to a culture. And she shows how open journal writing assignments began to tap the rich stories this family had to tell.
Fu, a native Chinese teacher with her own unique learning history, brings her firsthand experience of second language acquisition to this book. Her treatment of the issues of inclusion, multiculturalism, and students "at risk" is especially personal and insightful.