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Stephens asu. Areas of study Film Dance Theatre. Digital Culture BA in the Arts. Apply now Tuition and paying for college Visit campus Request information Contact an advisor We come to you! Contact an admission representative. Admission for Freshman students Transfer students International students Community classes Graduate students. Faculty directory. People Leadership Faculty Staff Directory. Performance in the Borderlands We undertake special initiatives to advance the mission of serving as a beacon for the cultural, artistic and educational resources in the region.


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They expressed reluctance and even hostility toward learning the language due to their feelings about the country with which they associated English. Francis and Ryan claim that attitudes about language embody cultural conflict: Spanish against English is Mexico versus the United States, Nahuatl against Spanish represents the indigenous versus the dominant power Francis and Ryan, Their study raises pertinent questions for the border. Will new immigrants, particularly children, exhibit resistance to English as a way of fighting for their identity?

Francis and Ryan suggest that there may be regional differences in attitudes toward English and Spanish. Other authors add class into the picture Urciuoli, Bonnie Urciuoli writes:. How different Latin groups view and retain Spanish-English use varies with ethnic and class location [ The connection between language and identity is abundantly documented in the literature.

Evidence from Nogales supports this connection, but in ways specific to the context of the border. Below I illustrate this connection by reviewing conclusions from three types of data from my research in Nogales: 1 ethnographic interviews; 2 a parent questionnaire; and 3 newspaper articles.

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My first inkling that I should look into the connection between language and identity came from a conversation with Maria, who works with special education students. Maria began her life in southern Mexico, moving north to Mexico City. From there, her family continued to Nogales, Sonora. Later, she attended college in Tucson, and found the Spanish there very different from what she knew in the interior.

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Indeed, the whole way of life was different. Maria also found Tucson completely different from Nogales. She emphasized several times that "the border is its own place, not Mexico or America. On either side, you are a border person".

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The process of learning English was frustrating for Maria at times. She said she thought, "Why should I have to work so hard to read a book when it is so easy for me in spanish?

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She thinks that language acquisition is "a cultural issue". She herself thought and describes her students as thinking:. I don't wanna be a gringo, so I don't want to learn English! They are afraid of losing their identity. I see now that this is wrong, but I used to feel that way. It is possible to be Mexican and speak English. Maria went on to tell me about the two or three kids who only speak English.

They have a very hard time, socially; they are not well accepted. Interestingly, Maria's belief that students who have the most confidence are the ones with strong skills in both languages calls attention to the role of language on the border, where being bilingual is part of the border identity. Observations of classrooms and student conversations reveal the social importance of bilingualism as well. Although Spanish is clearly dominant in casual conversation, English is dominant during class time. In a review of my field notes, I noticed other situations in which teachers had volunteered information about their experiences with language even without my asking.

Clearly, language and its role in identity play a significant part in border life. One teacher recalled growing up in a small town on the New Mexico-Arizona border. Ten to twenty percent of the town was Mexican-American, yet he and other students were punished for speaking Spanish in school. Today, he uses both Spanish and English to teach his eighth grade math students. Another teacher, Trini, who grew up in Nogales, told me without prompting that she did not remember being scolded for speaking in Spanish in school; however, Trini thought she had an easier time in school because she knew English.

Her mother, who was raised in Nogales, taught her children both languages, and taught her Mexican husband English as well. These comments reinforce the validity of the assumption that bilingualism is associated with a border identity. The parent questionnaires also reflect these attitudes. In , the school sent parents questionnaires in both English and Spanish table 1. The questionnaires contained 13 queries about education generally and at Buena Vista specifically.

The use of language on the questionnaires raises several questions. Does the relatively high number of English responses reflect a large number of fully bilingual parents? Does it reflect a proportionally greater involvement of English-speaking parents in their children's schooling?

Does it reflect the perceived prestige value of English in academic settings, or simply a situational choice? For the purposes of this paper, I examined the responses to question ten: "How important is it for you that your child be fluent in two or more languages? For example, questions one and two ask, "What is acceptable academic performance? Indeed, one paper was entirely blank except for this question, to which the parent replied, "Very important! This discrepancy was compounded when similar statements mentioned elsewhere on the questionnaire are taken into account.

Nineteen percent 13 of the parents writing in Spanish commented elsewhere that learning English, or English and Spanish, should be an essential part of their children's education. Many parents elaborated on their response to question ten. I attempted to break their comments into meaningful categories, using their word choice as a guide. Si se hablan 2 idiomas se pueden obtener mejores trabajos". I marked them as making a reference to the border and work, as well as falling in the "very important" category.

In another case, a parent responded: "Very important. That is about the only advantage they might have over other high skilled countries". In this instance, I marked "competition" since the writer referred to competing with others for jobs. While these categories would benefit from further refinement, I was able to see differences between the two dominant groups. Tables 2a and 2b show the frequency of several categories.


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  • The percentiles are in relation to the total number of elaborations for the respective language. Some elaborations were not tallied due to ambiguity or legibility , and were therefore excluded from the total. No statistical analysis has been applied to this data to determine the relative significance of the responses, but some patterns do emerge. Both sets of parents commonly saw bilingual fluency as a way for their children to access economic opportunity in the future, however, the parents using English made comments about competitiveness more frequently.

    The same group felt that learning English should be a priority over being bilingual, while the parents who responded in Spanish did not express this sentiment. Both sets of parents often discussed the importance of the future, often without qualifying statements. The responses having to do with the border and ethnicity especially illuminate a border identity, unique from a continuum model running from "Mexican" to "American". This result reinforces ideas about identity and bilingualism in Nogales. Furthermore, two parents, both writing in English, specifically addressed issues of identity.

    One wrote, "It is very important to learn how to read and write in Spanish because after all we are hispanics [sic].

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    The same with English". The other wrote, simply, "As a hispanic [sic] family and living in a border town". Although these answers do not represent a majority, they do directly link bilingualism, the border, and ethnic identity in the minds of parents.