A case study of bilingual school Escamilla (1994) found the extent to which students in bilingual programs can attain bilingualism and biliteracy is dependent upon how the two languages are supported and encouraged in the classroom as well as the wider school community
Another case study McCollum (1999) examined how Mexican background middle school students in two-way bilingual program came to devalue Spanish
Escamilla and McCollum both show that despite the school’s intent to foster and develop bilingualism the wider school environment conveyed English as the language of higher status or power demonstrating how social factors influence a bilingual individual’s choice in language use.
Four themes emerged from the students perceived functions of bilingualism
Communicative Purposes: Being understood and understanding Spanish and English
Academic Purposes: Participating in academic tasks (reading and writing) emerged as one of the main functions of bilingualism Writing in English is difficult. As English got easier Spanish got harder thus a language shift.
Brokering: Translating for family in English
Cultural Advantage: Many students discussed the added benefits of being in possession of two languages.
Students use Spanish and English in different contexts and with different friends.
The majority of students at Conifer High School feel that bilingualism is not necessary for effective communication and academic success
Although my students live in a monolingual community where speaking a second language is not necessary for communication purposes, they do see its advantages when getting accepted into college and for employment purposes