Make Us Your Puerto Rico Homepage!

Welcome to

Bookmark and Share

Professor Manuel Hernández
Essays Collection

Address: : 2012 Ernest St. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

Manuel Hernandez was born in Sleepy Hollow, New York in 1963. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus and finished a Master�s in Education from Herbert H. Lehman College (CUNY) in the Bronx in 1994. He has coordinated symposiums, produced and coordinated television interviews on the literature written by Puerto Rican and Latino/a writers from the Diaspora. He has done numerous presentations, workshops and seminars on how to integrate latino/a literature in the English classroom. In 2014, he participated in a TedxTalk (Connections) at Southern New Hampshire University. He is the author of three books, , Latino/a Literature in the English Classroom (Editorial Plaza Mayor, 2003), The Birth of a Rican (Imprenta Sifre. 2008) and Living the Kingdom with purpose (Imprenta Sifre, 2013). He is a Language Arts teacher at Osceola School District in Florida.

Focusing on the needs of Latino students
By Manuel Hernandez-Carmona copyright

Focusing on the needs of Latino students means more than just words and speeches. Literacy is in dire need of a transition in literary lanes. As minority populations in the United States and around the world continue to rise, there is still very little, if any, recognition of the academic outcome that culturally relevant literature can provide to improve literacy in the English classroom. Culturally relevant literature is the body of written works which represent a specific system of experiences, beliefs, values and attitudes as portrayed in the lives of a group of people. With so many Diaspora people settling in different countries around the world, there is an academic need to identify, select and choose writings that can be used as bridges towards effective literacy development.
As an English as a Second Language teacher in New York City from 1988-1991, I had recently arrived high school students from El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Puerto Rico, many of them with one, maybe two years of residence in the United States. When I received the course syllabus for the so-called ESL tenth grade class, I saw Hemingway, Poe and Shakespeare among the group of writers to be read during the semester; I was enthusiastic and elated about beginning the semester by introducing such great authors and literary works. But after an intensive first week of Romeo and Juliet, I understood that I had a major dilemma. Students strived to connect to the star-crossed lovers, but their social, cultural, personal and academic backgrounds were far away from the lives of the Montagues and Capulets of fair Verona.
But when I dared to cross literary lanes and integrate culturally relevant literature, the attitudes and receptiveness of students toward reading changed immediately. What does research say about how "culturally based literature" can be used as a vehicle to improve students’ reading and writing skills? First, researchers found that ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) students performed best in settings that built on their culture and promoted their racial identities (Cultural Responsiveness, Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature. Hanley, M. S. and Noblit, G. W.; June 2009; A Paper Prepared for the Heinz Endowments; 91 pages.). Second, Using culturally based literature and patterns of discourse in a project of researching, collecting and committing to memory a set of community narratives was effective in supporting literacy learning for low-achieving Dominican students in an inner city based school where Dominicans were the predominant minority community (Cultural Responsiveness, Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature. On page 47, “Herrero (2006). As soon as students construct meaning from a personal perspective, engagement with reading develops effortlessly, and educational success is a drive away.
The study of literature needs a new chapter written in its magnificent pages. Literature must make a shift from its conservative apprach toward to a much more receptive and integrated reading experience. When will the United States Department of Education commit itself to coach culturally competent teachers? It really does not matter how the statistics are displayed, Latinos continue to have the highest high school dropout rate in America. No Child Left Behind primarily leaves the responsibility of testing, technical assistance and professional development to each state, but it will take a serious commitment from US-DE to foster curriculum changes. Even city, state and national standardized exams should include a more diverse list of Latino/a authors which should include: Esmeralda Santiago, Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, Abraham Rodriguez, Judith Ortiz-Cofer, Nicholosa Mohr, Junot Diaz, Martin Espada, Piri Thomas, Cristina Garcia, Tato Laviera and other nationally and even internationally celebrated Latino/a authors. While the Latino/a population continues to grow in unprecedented numbers, a news chapter in the story of literature is past due and essential to improve literacy in the United States.

Link on