Bilingual education

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Bilingual education

  1. 1. Bilingual EducationDefine Bilingual EducationWhat does the word “bilingual” mean?It consist of two word such as, Bi = twice, two Lingual = pertaining to languages Bilingual = able to speak one’s native language and another with approximately equal facility.What does the word “education” mean? Educate = to develop the faculties and powers of (a person) by teaching, instruction, or schooling.Education = the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers ofreasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.What does the phrase “bilingual education” mean?1: Approaches in the classroom that use the native languages of English language learners(ELLs) for instruction”2: Bilingualism is the ability to communicate in two different languages. Bilingual education isthe use of two different languages in classroom instruction.History of bilingual educationAlthough bilingual education has been used in the United States for more than 200 years, the1968 Title VII amendment to the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)instituted federal grants for bilingual education programs. This legislation led to the developmentof appropriate teaching and learning materials and training for teachers of bilingual students.In 1974 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the San Francisco school system had violated theCivil Rights Act of 1964 by not providing English-language instruction for Chinese-speakingstudents. All school districts were directed to serve ELLs adequately, and bilingual educationquickly spread throughout the United States. In the 1980s a group called Asian AmericansUnited filed a class-action lawsuit charging that Asian Americans were not being provided withan equitable education because they were not offered bilingual classes. The result of this suit wasthe creation of sheltered ESL, in which ESL students take all of their classes together.The No Child Left behind (NCLB) Act of 2001—President George W. Bushs major educationinitiative—reauthorized the ESEA. It also imposed penalties on schools that did not raise theachievement levels of ELLs for at least two consecutive years. Although most research indicatesthat it often takes seven years for ELLs to attain full English fluency, the new federal law allowsthese children only three years before they must take standardized tests in English. Schools withlarge numbers of children speaking many different languages are particularly disadvantagedunder the law. A 2003 survey by the National Education Association found that 22,000 schoolsin 44 states failed to make the required yearly progress on standardized tests, primarily becauseof low test scores by ELLs and disabled students. The National Association for Bilingual
  2. 2. Education claims that NCLB sets arbitrary goals for achievement and uses "invalid andunreliable assessments." Furthermore, although the NCLB requires teachers to be qualified, as of2004 there is a severe shortage of qualified teachers for ELLs. Some communities havedeveloped early-intervention programs for Spanish-speaking parents and preschoolers to helpchildren develop their Spanish language skills in preparation for entering English-only schools.In May of 2004, the U.S. Department of Education and faith-based community leaders launchedan initiative to inform Hispanic, Asian, and other parents of ELLs about the NCLB. It featuredthe "Declaration of Rights for Parents of English Language Learners under No Child LeftBehind."As of 2004 American public schools include about 11 million children of immigrants.Approximately 5.5 million students—10 percent of the public school enrollment—speak little orno English. Spanish speakers account for 80 percent of these children. About one-third ofchildren enrolled in urban schools speak a primary language other than English in their homes.Between 2001 and 2004, 19 states reported increases of 50 to 200 percent in Spanish-speakingstudents. ELLs are the fastest-growing public school population in kindergarten through twelfthgrade. Between 2000 and 2002, nationwide ELL enrollment increased 27 percent. About 25percent of California public school children are ELLs. However, there is a profound shortage ofbilingual and ESL teachers throughout the United States. Although 41 percent of U.S. teachershave ELLs in their classrooms, only about 2.5 percent of them have degrees in ESL or bilingualeducation. The majority of these teachers report that they are not well-prepared for teachingELLs. About 75 percent of ELLs are in poverty schools, where student turnover is high andmany teachers have only emergency credentials.Bilingual language developmentLanguage acquisition is very similar for monolingual and bilingual children, although someexperts view bilingualism as a specialized case of language development . Children growing upin homes where two different languages are spoken usually acquire both languagessimultaneously. Although their acquisition of each language may be somewhat slower than thatof children who are acquiring a single language, their development in the two languagescombined is equivalent to that of monolingual children. Bilingual language learners proceedthrough the same patterns of language and speech development as children acquiring a singlelanguage. Their first words usually are spoken at about one year of age, and they begin stringingtwo words together at about age two. Even if the two languages do not share similarities inpronunciation, children eventually master them both.There are two major patterns of bilingual language development, both occurring before the ageof three. Simultaneous bilingualism occurs when a child learns both languages at the same time.In the early stages of simultaneous bilingual language development, a child may mix words,parts of words, and inflections from both languages in a single sentence. Sometimes this occursbecause a child knows a word in one language but not in the other. Some bilingual childreninitially resist learning words for the same thing in two languages. Children also may experimentwith their two languages for effect. During the second stage of bilingual language development,at age four or older, children gradually begin to distinguish between the two languages and use
  3. 3. them separately, sometimes depending on where they are. One language may be used lessformally to talk about home and family , whereas the other language may be used more formally,perhaps for relating events that took place outside the home. Often children find it easier toexpress a specific idea in one language rather than the other. Bilingual children also go throughperiods when one language is used more than the other. Some children may begin to prefer onelanguage over the other, particularly if that language is spoken more frequently in their home orschool. Bilingual children usually are not equally skilled in both languages. Often theyunderstand more in one language but speak more in the other.Sequential bilingualism occurs when children use their knowledge of and experience with a firstlanguage to rapidly acquire a second language. The first language may influence the way inwhich they learn and use their second language. Learning the second language is easier forchildren if the sounds, words, and vocabulary of the languages are similar.Bilingual language development usually proceeds more smoothly when both languages areintroduced early and simultaneously. When the parents each use a different language with theirchild, the child is less likely to experience language confusion.Research indicates that there are numerous advantages to bilingualism. Bilingualism has beenreported to improve the following skills: • verbal and linguistic abilities • general reasoning • concept formation • divergent thinking • metalinguistic skills, the ability to analyze and talk about language and control language processingThese abilities are important for reading development in young children and may be aprerequisite for later learning to read and write in a new language.Bilingual Education Goals include: teaching English, fostering academic achievement, assisting immigrants acculturation to a new society, preserving a minority group’s linguistic and cultural heritage, enabling English speakers to learn a second language, developing national language resources, or any combination of the above.Types of bilingual educationBilingual education is common throughout the world and involves hundreds of languages. In theUnited States bilingualism is assumed to mean English and another language, often Spanish.More than 300 languages are spoken in the United States. In New York City schools, classroom
  4. 4. instruction is given in 115 different languages. Bilingual education includes all teaching methodsthat are designed to meet the needs of English-language learners (ELLs), also referred to as"limited English proficient" (LEP) students.There are numerous approaches to bilingual education, although all include English as a secondlanguage (ESL). ESL is English language instruction that includes little or no use of a childsnative language. ESL classes often include students with many different primary languages.Some school districts use a variety of approaches to bilingual education, designing individualprograms based on the needs of each child.A common approach is transitional bilingual education (TBE). TBE programs include ESL;however, some or all academic classes are conducted in childrens primary languages until theyare well-prepared for English-only classes. Even children who converse well in English may notbe ready to learn academic subjects in English. Often these children spend part of the school dayin an intensive ESL program and the remainder of the day receiving instruction in their primarylanguage. Bilingual teachers may help students improve their primary language skills. Bilingual/bicultural programs include instruction in the history and culture of a students ethnic heritage.Studies have shown that children who receive several years of instruction in their nativelanguage learn English faster and have higher overall academic achievement levels that thosewho do not.Two-way bilingual or dual-language programs use both English and a second language inclassrooms made up of both ELLs and native English speakers. The goal is for both groups tobecome bilingual. Children in two way bilingual education programs have been found tooutperform their peers academically.Many educators—and a segment of the public—believe in the English immersion approach, evenif ELLs do not understand very much in the classroom. In this approach nearly all instruction isin English, and there is little or no use of other languages. If the teacher is bilingual, studentsmay be allowed to ask questions in their native language, but the teacher answers them inEnglish. Some schools employ structured English immersion or sheltered English, in whichteachers use pictures, simple reading words, and other techniques to teach ELLs both Englishand academic subjects.WHY IS BILINGUAL EDUCATION IMPORTANT?Over the past 10 years, the number of LEP students in the nations schools hasincreased by 50%, to 3 million students - a figure that is expected to double in the nextdecade. Along with rising numbers of students, have been rising costs. The federalgovernment spends an estimated $250 million a year on bilingual education, and largeurban districts such as New York City, spend even more. But it is not just the largeurban districts that face an increasingly diverse student population. Many suburbanand rural schools now wrestle with the issue. In years to come, experts say that fewdistricts will be left untouched by the nations changing demographics.
  5. 5. While growing diversity would be enough to put bilingual education on the front-burner, other issues are prompting educators to examine the capability of theirbilingual programs. A disproportionate number of LEP students experience schoolfailure; among Hispanics, for example, there is a 40% dropout rate, a 35% graderetention rate, and a two-four grade level achievement gap. Standards-based reformalso raises questions about program capacity. Today, it is neither socially noreconomically acceptable to be content with minimal standards for any group. How toprovide equal educational opportunity to all children, regardless of their Englishproficiency, will be an ongoing challenge for schools.The most common approaches are the following: • Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE), where children are provided with English language instruction, and academic instruction in their native language for some portion of the day. The goal is to prepare students for mainstream classes without letting them fall behind in subject areas. In theory, children transition out of these programs within a few years. • Developmental Bilingual Education, which aims to preserve and build on students native language skills as they master English. The goal is fluency in both languages. • Immersion Programs, which offer instruction entirely in English and use the native language only for clarification. The goal is to mainstream students within one or two years. Immersion programs are typically combined with an English-as-a-second-language (ESL) pull-out component.About one-quarter of LEP students, nationwide, are enrolled in TBE or developmentalbilingual programs. Another half receives ESL instruction with minimal nativelanguage support. The remaining students - over 25% - receive no special services toteach them English or accommodate their linguistic needs. Advantages of Bilingual Education By Sarah HoltThe advantages of bilingual education are many.An Addition, Not a DetractionKnowing another language, and being encouraged to incorporate it, does not mean that the mainlanguage needs to suffer. If done in a way that allows for both languages to coexist then theadvantages of bilingual education can be acknowledged without the threat that it will take awayfrom learning the dominant language.
  6. 6. Understanding Ideas and ConceptsAmong the advantages of bilingual education are the benefits inherent in learning about ideasand concepts in the language one is use to, and then transferring that knowledge over to thecultures dominant language. Many believe that it is more useful to transfer ideas and conceptsinto another language once they are understood, rather than to learn them in a new languagewhere the understanding of it is incomplete.Access to More OpportunitiesOne advantage of bilingual education is that it enables the advancement of two languages. Thiscan be very useful preparation for later careers where bilingual workers are needed. It also allowsfor opportunities that may be available in other countries where that language is spoken.Cultural AwarenessBeing aware of another culture is another of the advantages of bilingual education. Everylanguage is rich in cultural information, from the way it is spoken to the objects that arerepresented. One example of this is that the Eskimos have many words for snow, whereas theEnglish language only has the one word. In describing the different snow conditions that impacttheir lives, their language is necessary, since the English word for it is too vague and ambiguous.Communications at HomeBilingual education is a better way to support communications at home. If a student is learningboth languages then the bonds within their family can be maintained with the language spoken athome. This can be very valuable since any education is enhanced by family support andcommunication.Other Students Can Learn From ThemMany parents today recognize the value of having their children learn another language.Bilingual students can be a useful resource in achieving this, if while they are learning thedominant language, other students are learning their language.The controversy over bilingual education will certainly continue, but despite the varyingarguments there are many advantages of bilingual education that cannot be ignored.DISADVANTAGE OF BILINGUAL EDUCATIONUnsuccessful Attempt at Integration into Society: Bilingual education was deemednecessary since it was supposed to help integrate the children of immigrants and minorities into society.The system of bilingual education demanded separate teachers and classrooms and believed in gradualintegration into society by allowing children to receive education in their native language for a period of 3or more years. Proponents of a single medium of instruction opposed bilingual education since theybelieved that separate teachers and classrooms would widen the already existing gap between citizensand immigrants. They further proposed that encouraging children to interact within their own community
  7. 7. for a period of 3 years would delay the process of adjusting to the ways of life in a new country.School Drop Out Rates: Over the years, the dropout rate in various schools across NorthAmerica has reduced significantly. The medium of instruction in above mentioned schools is English.However, there has been no reduction in the drop out rates for schools offering bilingual education. Mostpeople feel that a drop out rate of 35% doesnt justify the costs involved in providing bilingual education.Unavailability of Teachers: Bilingual education requires a number of trained teachers who areproficient in both English and their native language, assuming that English is one of the mediums ofinstruction. There is a wide gap between the demand and the supply for teachers who are both confidentand capable of handing the intense pressure associated with managing a class of students requiringspecial attention.Lack of Classrooms: There is a dearth of classrooms that can accommodate students who requireinstructions in both English and their native language. Students are expected to sit together in one classregardless of their age and the variations in the required level of education. This poses a great problemfor teachers who, in addition to being well versed in two languages, have to exhibit a certain level ofcomfort in handling different levels of education simultaneously.Lack of Funds: The above issues bring us to the crux of the problem; lack of funds to promotebilingual education. The debate on bilingual education would be redundant had there been sufficientfunds to promote its cause. Had the means to satisfy the wants of various sections of society beenunlimited, we would be debating a moot point.Bilingual education can be advantageous to some but disadvantageous to the society as a whole.Immigration and cultural integration are not easy issues to deal with. Immigrants and citizens have differentviews on what would be best fo Issue: Bilinguil EducationParental involvement in education provides a unique opportunity for parents to growin their roles as teachers and decision makers. Parents have an opportunity to helptheir children learn by helping with instruction at home and at school. They also caninfluence learning by providing input into decisions about programs designed toaddress their childrens special needs, however the parents need to understand howschools.This lack of understanding is particularly problematic for parents of language minoritystudents who are not proficient in English, either because they do not speak Englishwell themselves or because they feel alienated from the school system. It is criticalthat they comprehend that schools have the responsibility to help their children andthat they know exactly how this charge should be dispensed and their programsoperateTen key questions that parents must ask are discussed below.1.Does the school district have policies that support and value thecontributions of bilingual education in the community?Policies passed by the school board at the campus level are statements that supportand lend credence to certain actions that must occur at the campus or classroomlevel. Policies are statements that support a philosophy about student learning andsuccess. These policies become the voice of the school district and tell teacher andall school personnel how the school board thinks and expects the schools to act.
  8. 8. Policies that cast a doubt about the value of bilingual education are usuallyinterpreted at the school level as permission to do otherwise or to give little attentionto the issue. Parents must examine these policies and push for the revision of policiesto ensure quality educational opportunities for all children. Parents have a keyresponsibility as advocates for the rights of children to demand policies that supportand value bilingual education.2. Does the school value and support bilingual education as a mostpromising instructional program for children who are of limited Englishproficiency.A school that communicates to its faculty and community that a certain program issuspect creates a hostile environment that dooms that program to failure before it isgiven a chance to succeed such as: • What does the school do in order to make sure that all teachers know about bilingual education, not only the bilingual teachers? • What are administrators doing about supporting and promoting bilingual education? What is the school doing to ensure that my children get the best education?3. Is the bilingual education program given high status or at least seen asimportant as any other successful program in the school?Primary language instruction in Spanish helps in at least two ways First, throughSpanish the child can learn concepts and develop skills in the core "content areas,"such as math, science and social studies while he or she is mastering the skills ofEnglish. Second, instruction in Spanish develops or improves the childs skills in thislanguage. In many cases, childrens competence in Spanish is only in the oral skills.Other childrens Spanish skills may be latent, or hiding, in the subconscious because oflack of practice. Yet, these students identify with the language because, through it,they can stay connected to family and friends in the community. Staying connected isan important element in positive motivation and self-concept development, and theseattitudes and feelings influence student learning in general. • • .4 Is the bilingual education program given the necessary resources to function effectively? • School districts are allocated additional funds for the resources needed to implement a quality bilingual education program. Many times these funds are not used as effectively as they could be to upgrade the quality of the bilingual education program. Many programs do not have the qualified teachers to implement the program, and the school district does not take the necessary steps to acquire these qualified teachers. There is no attempt to grow its own bilingual teachers in the community.Parents should ask questions about the qualifications of the teachers, theircommitment to preserve the integrity of the bilingual program and the opportunities
  9. 9. in the school district to upgrade or refine the teachers skills to address the needs ofLEP students. Is this commitment with the bilingual education teachers across theboard? .5. Are bilingual teachers implementing bilingual education as it shouldbe implemented?Many schools will have well designed plans for the implementation of bilingualeducation programs. Administrators and teachers can articulate the principles ofbilingual education and can talk about their commitment to all children. However,when we observe many bilingual education classrooms, we know right away thatbilingual instruction is not happening and that teachers feel the pressure to exitstudents to English as soon as possible.Parents should visit the classrooms and see if the teachers are giving equal value toboth languages, see how often both languages are used for instruction, see how theteacher uses the childrens experiences to base the instruction, and see if theteachers use both languages to assess childrens knowledge. .6. Is there an urgency to exit students from the bilingual educationprogram with no regard for their readiness to transfer to an all Englishprogram?Texas requires that schools have a Language Proficiency Assessment Committee(LPAC) to determine and approve bilingual education offerings and exiting of studentsfrom the program. Many times these committees are faced with pressure, overtly orcovertly expressed, from administrators and teachers to move students out of theprogram as soon as possible. Moving a student out of a bilingual education programprematurely will have adverse effects on the students achievement. Nevertheless, itis not uncommon to see the urgency to get students out of the bilingual program withno support to provide for the adjustment to the transition experience.Parents must not allow for schools to exit students prematurely from the bilingualeducation program. They should inquire about the existing policies and the expertisethat LPAC committee members have in bilingual education to make these extremelyimportant decisions. They should require that training be provided to LPAC membersperiodically.7. What criteria are being used by the school to ensure that children areplaced in a quality instructional program, one that will cause children toachieve and excel?The state law and rules for educating LEP students indicate that parents have theright to information and to decision +making, and they specify how parents need to
  10. 10. be informed and involved. Specifically, the parent(s) of every child who qualifies forthe program must receive information about the program features and benefits. Then,most importantly, the parent(s) must provide consent in writing for the studentsparticipation in the program.Once the child is in the program, parents must receive information on the childsassessment and progress, program placement changes, and completion of the program(exiting). Parents also, must be part of the districts Language Proficiency AssessmentCommittees. So, one thing parents can do is to become more familiar withCommissioners Rules Concerning State Plan for Educating Limited English ProficientStudents and other information about bilingual education from the state-as well asother sources.The state law and rules for educating LEP students indicate that parents have theright to information and to decision +making, and they specify how parents need tobe informed and involved. Specifically, the parent(s) of every child who qualifies forthe program must receive information about the program features and benefits. Then,most importantly, the parent(s) must provide consent in writing for the studentsparticipation in the program.Once the child is in the program, parents must receive information on the childsassessment and progress, program placement changes, and completion of the program(exiting). Parents also, must be part of the districts Language Proficiency AssessmentCommittees. So, one thing parents can do is to become more familiar withCommissioners Rules Concerning State Plan for Educating Limited English ProficientStudents and other information about bilingual education from the state-as well asother sources. • These questions discussed in this article are among the key questions that parents may ask schools when they are not convinced that their bilingual programs are producing the results in achievement that will provide the LEP students the same opportunities to make those choices that make a difference for people. • • • •
  11. 11. Common problemsLanguage delayLanguage and learning difficulties occur with the same frequency in monolingual and bilingualchildren. However, as the number of bilingual children in the United States increases, it becomesincreasingly important for parents and pediatricians to understand the normal patterns ofbilingual language development in order to recognize abnormal language development in abilingual child.If a bilingual child has a speech or language problem, it should be apparent in both languages.However detecting language delays or abnormalities in bilingual children can be difficult. Signsof possible language delay in bilingual children include the following: • not making sounds between two and six months of age • fewer than one new word per week in children aged six to 15 months • fewer than 20 words in the two languages combined by 20 months of age • limited vocabulary without word combinations in children aged two to three years of age • prolonged periods without using speech • difficulty remembering words • missing normal milestones of language development in the first language of a sequentially bilingual childLanguage development in bilingual children can be assessed by a bilingual speech/languagepathologist or by a professional who has knowledge of the rules and structure of both languages,perhaps with the assistance of a translator or interpreter.English-only educationELLs in English-only programs often fall behind academically. Many ELLs who are assessedusing traditional methods are referred for special education . Such children often become schooldrop-outs.Parental concernsParents in bilingual households can help their children by taking the following steps: • speaking the language in which they are most comfortable • being consistent regarding how and with whom they use each language • using each languages grammar in a manner that is appropriate for the childs developmental stage • keeping children interested and motivated in language acquisition •
  12. 12. • Should we ban bilingual Education?Best Answer - Chosen by Voters Why? Numerous research studies and common sense tell you that people are more successful and have more opportunities in life if they learn more than one language. We should make it more widespread and available, if anything. Can you give ANY support in favor of banning it? 100% agreeOther Answers (2) by Kate As some one who teaches in a bilingual school and is generally in favor of it, here is what I see. (Also, studies on bilingual education show VERY diverse results depending on what factors are being examined, so generically sourcing studies will not help you answer this question.) Pros - bilingual education has been shown to be very challenging for students who do not have a firm foundation in one language before they begin. This means that students with communication or language processing disorders have additional difficulty learning material presented in more than one language. This is why special education programs are generally offered only in one language. - cost of bilingual education is expensive and there is no "fair" way to determine which language should be selected by a public school as the second language. Why should some ELL students receive instruction in their home language while others don’t? - students learning more than one language often experience delays in language learning in both languages that may last between 3 to 5 years. This means that a child may experience difficulties in school for three to five years! now the cons of banning (Im assuming public schools here). - students are often more engaged when they are taught in their home language -scaffolding and stepping instruction in a familiar language can encourage increased learning of academic content while the second language is being taught - ie. there are successful strategies for helping handle the three to five year difficulty period - students exposed to alternative languages are by definition exposed to alternative cultures from a very emic perspective. - it is very politically trendy right now
  13. 13. - students who speak more than one language will have that ability for life and depending on their skill set or desires this may help them in the future - bilingual schools have an easier time reaching and engaging parents who may not have english as a spoken language. Generally, I think its good to have as many options as possible. I worry about bilingual education when students are not able to be proficient in English or math. I would not suggest banning bilingual education, rather trying to ensure that instruction in English and math does not suffer because of the additional language content.7 month ago and 0%agrees.Twenty-Five Quick Tips for Classroom TeachersDo you want to create an effective learning environment for your English language learners?Pick five ideas that you have never tried from the list below and implement them in yourcontent area or mainstream classroom. You will be surprised to see how much the learningof ELLs improves.Before Teaching the Lesson1. Determine the English language learning level of your ELLs. Be realistic about what youexpect ELLs to do.2. Plan ahead. Think about how you will make the content comprehensible to your ELLs.Consider the following questions.o How will you link the content to the students’ previous knowledge?o How will you build background information? Show a video or read a book aloud about your topic first.o Decide what language and concepts need to be pre-taught.o How can you develop content area vocabulary? What visuals will you need?3. Reflect on how you can teach to oral, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learningmodalities.4. Prepare teaching aids such as maps, charts, pictures, and flashcards before the lesson istaught.5. Add vocabulary word banks to student activities.
  14. 14. 6. Adapt text so that the concepts are paraphrased in easier English. Eliminate non-essential details.7. Find non-fiction books in the library written at a lower level about the topic you areteaching.During the Lesson8. Build on what ELLs already know.9. Simplify vocabulary and sentence structure. Pre-teach vocabulary in context.10. Use embedded or yes/no questions; give ELLs questions you will ask in advance so thatthey can prepare.11. Introduce concrete concepts and vocabulary first.12. Teach students to categorize their information using graphic organizers. Createsemantic and story maps.13. Demonstrate highlighting techniques so that students can highlight importantinformation.14. Review and repeat important concepts and vocabulary.15. Provide concrete “real” examples and experiences.16. Teach ELLs to find definitions for key vocabulary in the text.17. Help ELLs become acquainted with their textbooks (table of contents, glossary, index,etc.)18. Model your thinking processes for students using “think-alouds”.19. Tape record part of your lesson to reinforce learning.After the lesson20. Have classmates make copies of their notes for ELLs to use.21. Have ELLs watch videos or listen to tapes about current lesson using close captionfeature.22. Provide follow-up activities that reinforce vocabulary and concepts.
  15. 15. 23. Have students work in small groups or pairs so that language and concepts arereinforced.24. Adjust homework assignment to your Ells’ English language proficiency.25. Modify assessment so that your ELLs have an opportunity to show what they havelearned.BILINGUAL EDUCATION AND PUBLIC OPINIONOpponents of bilingual education tell us that the public is against bilingual education. Thisimpression is a result of the way the question is asked. One can easily get a near-100-percentrejection of bilingual education when the question is biased. Porter (1990), for example, statesthat "Many parents are not committed to having the schools maintain the mother tongue if it is atthe expense of gaining a sound education and the English-language skills needed for obtainingjobs or pursuing higher education" (p. 8). Who would support mother tongue education at such aprice?However, when respondents are simply asked whether or not they support bilingual education,the degree of support is quite strong: From 60-99 percent of samples of parents and teachers saythey support bilingual education (Krashen, 1996). In a series of studies, Shin (Shin, 1994; Shin &Gribbons, 1996) examined attitudes toward the principles underlying bilingual education. Shinfound that many respondents agree with the idea that the first language can be helpful inproviding background knowledge, most agree that literacy transfers across languages, and mostsupport the principles underlying continuing bilingual education (economic and cognitiveadvantages).The number of people opposed to bilingual education is probably even less than these resultssuggest; many people who say they are opposed to bilingual education are actually opposed tocertain practices (e.g., inappropriate placement of children) or are opposed to regulationsconnected to bilingual education (e.g., forcing teachers to acquire another language to keep theirjobs).Despite what is presented to the public in the national media, research has revealed much supportfor bilingual education. McQuillan and Tse (in press) reviewed publications appearing between1984 and 1994, and reported that 87 percent of academic publications supported bilingualeducation, but newspaper and magazine opinion articles tended to be antibilingual education,with only 45 percent supporting bilingual education. One wonders what public support wouldlook like if bilingual education were more clearly defined in such articles and editorials.THE RESEARCH DEBATEIt is sometimes claimed that research does not support the efficacy of bilingual education. Itsharshest critics, however (e.g., Rossell & Baker, 1996), do not claim that bilingual educationdoes not work; instead, they claim there is little evidence that it is superior to all-English
  16. 16. programs. Nevertheless, the evidence used against bilingual education is not convincing. Onemajor problem is in labeling. Several critics, for example, have claimed that English immersionprograms in El Paso and McAllen, Texas, were shown to be superior to bilingual education. Ineach case, however, programs labeled immersion were really bilingual education, with asubstantial part of the day taught in the primary language. In another study, Gersten (1985)claimed that all-English immersion was better than bilingual education. However, the samplesize was small and the duration of the study was short; also, no description of "bilingualeducation" was provided. For a detailed discussion, see Krashen (1996).On the other hand, a vast number of other studies have shown that bilingual education iseffective, with children in well-designed programs acquiring academic English at least as welland often better than children in all-English programs (Cummins, 1989; Krashen, 1996; Willig,1985). Willig concluded that the better the experimental design of the study, the more positivewere the effects of bilingual education.Opposition to bilingual educationIn 1980 voters in Dade County, Florida, made English their official language. In 1981 CaliforniaSenator S. I. Hayakawa introduced a constitutional amendment to make English the countrysofficial language. In 1983 Hayakawa founded U.S. English, Inc., which grew to include 1.8million members by 2004. U.S. English argues the following premises: • The unifying effect of the English language must be preserved in the United States. • Bilingual education fails to adequately teach English. • Learning English quickly in English-only classrooms is best for ELLs, both academically and socially. • Any special language instruction should be short-term and transitional.In 1986 California voters passed Proposition 63 that made English the states official language.Other states did the same. In 1998 Californians passed Proposition 227, a referendum thatattempted to eliminate bilingual education by allowing only one year of structured Englishimmersion, followed by mainstreaming. Similar initiatives have appeared on other state ballots.However, only 9 percent of the California children attained English proficiency in one year, andmost remained in the immersion programs for a second year. Prior to the new law only 29percent of California ELLs were in bilingual programs, in part because of a shortage of qualifiedteachers. Since the law allowed parents to apply for waivers, 12 percent of the ELLs wereallowed to remain in bilingual classes.In January of 2004, as part of a lawsuit settlement, the California State Board of Education wasforced to radically revise the implementation of their "Reading First" program. PreviouslyCalifornia had withheld all of the $133 million provided by NCLB from ELLs enrolled inalternative bilingual programs.

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