Bilingual Education Essay
Multiculturalism as well as bilingual education approaches among schools is most likely affecting major educational institutions in the United States today. This is primarily because of the fact that the growing effect of globalization around the world influences major sectors of the world especially that of the educational field. As for a fact, surveys pertain to the fact that there are major numbers of students among American schools that come from minor races who are trying to attain education from the said country.
As a result, most schools, both elementary and high school cater to at least 55% of the minor race population compared to the number of students who are among the natives of the country. This statistical fact certainly races a challenging situation to the educators of the said scholastic institutions. This challenge actually raises a changing effect within the existing system of education that is currently used in the United States.
In a survey that has been performed among young students who are directly affected by the situation mentioned above, the results were radically affecting and changing with regards the learning and teaching systems within the American regions. In this particular survey, it could be noted that there are certain considerations to take notice of to be able to meet the needs of the new students who are under the multicultural educational system.
The results of the said survey as well as how they particularly affect the educational approach in teaching and learning within the American territories shall be discussed within the paragraphs that follow. The Survey Results Children who were studying in the first grade in Beverly Martin Elementary School in Ithaca, New York, responded to the survey based from what they actually wanted to receive from their educators as young learners belonging to a culturally diverse environment of educational divisions.
Based from their response, it could be noted that there are tat least three major requirements among educators that are primarily expected from them by their students. The said expectations include: (a) Being personally involved with the students’ procedures of learning- Educators are expected to have constant assessment of how their students are so far developing in their studies. This especially concerns those who are having a hard time in coping up with the different pressures brought about by bilingual education.
These students are most likely from different countries that are using other mother languages aside from English. This means that the students are then supposed to gain ample time form their educators to be able to have a clear understanding of the major procedures that they need to deal with in understanding modern approaches in learning lessons through bilingual education. (b) Being constantly recognized for excellent response to the teaching procedures used towards them by the teachers- acknowledgement of good works usually motivates young learners to do more in school.
Most often than not, to at least assist the students realize that they are doing something that is worthwhile for their own personal development. This is especially because of the fact that there are students who are loosing confidence in their studies because of the fact that they are having a hard time adjusting to the language being used in class. Thus, if this is given consideration by the educators, it is possible that the students who are acknowledged for their fine works would gain much confidence as to how they are going to deal with the challenges that they are to meet in their studies.
(c) Giving lessons through modern procedures that are much better that the usual- traditional teaching that is used in the regular educational presentations within the schools may not be as effective in this process of learning. Assisting students of this particular set up of learning may not be as easy as it seems. The educators are then required to adapt to the advancements that are noted as major meeting point of the different students from different countries around the world.
These three major expectations draw the line of the fact that the students actually need their teachers to treat them fairly in schools even though they are obviously belonging from different races around the world. It could be observed that the ideal teaching that these young learners expect is based on personal concern of their teachers focused upon the learning progress that they are particularly dealing with in school. Of course, dealing with children from other races may not be that easy for the said early learners of the actual scene that is eminent in the human society today.
However, through the assistance of their teachers in school, even children as young as first graders would be able to understand the ideal way of dealing with people from other races through the pattern of teaching and treatment that they first observe from their educators. It should always be considered that young children are very observant. It could not be denied that through the acts that the older people portray which they particularly observe everyday, they begin to gain the most important parts of learning that they need to face in life.
For this particular reason, teachers who are challenged in dealing with multicultural education patterns should realize that young children have the need of being personally cared for. The psychological impact of the idea that people around them are concerned on how they are growing actually motivates children to do good in school and later on do better with their lives. From this particular survey, it has been noted by the educators that bilingual education has so far began to become the trend of the current educational systems in America.
As it has been taken from the results of the performed survey among children in a particular school as noted herein, there are three particular major procedures that need consideration upon implying the different effective approaches in assisting students understand the concept of bilingual education. The said procedures include: (a) Peer facilitated Peer facilitated activities are most likely designed to assist students understand the fact that they have people or young learners who are dealing with the same situation as they are.
This then shall allow them the space of enduring with the language problems that they are dealing with in school giving them the chance to become adjusted to the difficulties of their learning procedures. (b) Group System Linking Between Students Learning in groups has been proven effective especially for those young learners. Being able to facilitate camaraderie among themselves makes it easier for them to grasp the lessons that they are learning even though they all belong from different countries and are presently faced with the struggles of learning their lessons in a bilingual set up.
(c) Hands-on training procedures for the use of language Practical application of the major procedures of using the language in casual talks shall help the students have a practical knowledge about the language[s] that they are expected to use in school. Today’s society is faced with the many technological innovations that particularly bring ease to learning. Both oral and verbal language could now be used in practical terms through online learning approaches.
Learning within classroom settings are also being advanced through the implementation of several technologically advanced gadgets for learning processes that serves as the basic ground lining the students together. Conclusion Children from different countries may appear differently in terms of their physical attributes. However, young as they are, they are actually following the same pattern of growth and personality development that should be considered by their school educators.
In dealing with children from different cultures, it should then be noted that the need for emphasizing concern for their personal growth and acknowledging their good deeds and excellent educational progress is an essential key to gaining the best results from the learning procedures of the said children. Hence, this particular suggestion leads to a certain conclusion that children, regardless of the color of the skin or the origin of their culture all need the same level of attention and concern when it comes to learning and education.
Learning in a bilingual approach is not that easy as it seems for both the educators and the learners. However, with ample effort and determination to succeed in the said particular way of learning, victory could be won over. The benefits of succeeding in this way of learning is not that easy to gain, however, once the benefits are gained, it could not be denied that the efforts placed in by the educators and the learners are all worth while. Reference: Nieto, S. (2004). Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural and Bilingual Education. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. 4th Ed.
Bilingual Education Essay
A deeper sense of xenophobia has descended on America recently. The sleepy rural town of Pahrump, NV, reflected this animosity when it passed an ordinance that made English the official language and made it illegal to display foreign flags without an accompanying American flag (Curtis, 2006). In an act of civil disobedience, two Pahrump residents placed a Polish flag and an Italian flag (in reference to their own ancestry) on their front porch (Curtis, 2006). Vandals drenched the Italian flag with eggs overnight (the Italian flag looks similar to the Mexican flag).
A majority of the voting citizens of Pahrump would eventually overturn the polarizing ordinance. This incident reflects a salient truth: many monolingual Americans feel uncomfortable with the influx of Spanish-speaking peoples because of the perceived lack of assimilation by Hispanics. This xenophobic atmosphere has trickled onto the realm of education: a movement for the elimination of bilingual education in public schools has gained more attention recently. Proponents argue that using native languages in the classroom impedes national unity (Brisk, 1998).
Others feel that bilingual education impedes learning. This research paper examines a possible cause of the anti-bilingual movement. It also examines some arguments and counter arguments of bilingual education. Although by definition bilingual education may include English and any foreign language, this paper focuses on the Spanish-speaking population because of the perception many have about the Hispanic community: that it resists conforming to American culture. Such sentiments have contributed to the anti-bilingual education movement that has descended in many parts of America.
This is unfortunate because bilingual education programs actually promote assimilation into mainstream American society. Bilingual Education 3 The bilingual education debate, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph, has garnished more dialogue lately because of another hot button issue; immigration. Newscasts often flash images of “illegal aliens” crossing our borders. Many talk shows often feature lively debates concerning effects of the undocumented workforce. The immigration debate finally sparked a massive protest in 20006 with the “Day Without an Immigrant” boycott that would affect American schools and businesses (Lendon, 2006).
The topic of bilingual education has inevitably entered the debate. Editorial writers often slip in their stances on bilingual education when discussing immigration issues. Pugnacious talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh often host acidic debates on bilingualism in the United States. This issue will certainly not evaporate any time soon. What many opponents of bilingual education fail to mention is that there is an elephant in the room: xenophobia. Many monolingual citizens fear that American culture as they know it is morphing into something foreign.
Considering America’s rich, colorful immigrant history, this fear baffles the mind. Why would the descendants of Poles, Germans, Czechs, Italians, and other European immigrants express such concerns? Critics of America’s evolving culture should focus on the similarities between the immigrants of their ancestors and the plight of today’s average immigrant. Many of America’s ancestors landed on our shores at the turn of the 20th century (Calderon, Slavin, 2001). Their European ancestors, like today’s immigrants, had the same dreams that many of today’s immigrants have: to escape the abyss of poverty or war.
Although many immigrants faced linguistic and cultural obstacles, many witnessed their children succeed in school and acquire economic security. According to Calderon and Slaven Bilingual Education 4 (2001), “School is the ladder by which children of immigrants climb out of poverty and into mainstream society” (p. 8). The goal of the immigrants of yesteryear was clearly to assimilate by means of a quality education. If education is a major ingredient for assimilation of immigrants into mainstream society, then society should embrace bilingual education. A starting point is literacy, since reading cuts across all academic subjects.
An effective strategy involves using a child’s native language in literacy instruction. We generally acquire reading skills by reading (Smith, 1994). By providing a child with reading material in his/her primary language, we provide the student with a healthier, stronger academic base from which to build on. Once a child acquires these basic skills such as identifying phonic blends in his/her mother tongue, the student digests the given topic easier. Equipped with reading and content knowledge skills, the transition into literacy in a second language then becomes smoother for the English language learner.
Truly, a child’s native language is the best initial medium of instruction (Brisk,1998). I did not realize how important using a child’s native language was until I experienced an obstacle with a native Spanish speaker several years ago. Using only English, I was trying to teach a student fresh from Mexico the concept of active and linking verbs. I soon realized that she had never learned these basics about her own native language, let alone grammar of the English language. I soon resorted to teaching her grammar in Spanish.
After she mastered the subject, I transitioned what she learned into the initial English lesson that I had tried teaching her earlier. This experience lends credence to the point that scholars make: children still have a lot to learn about their Bilingual Education 5 native tongue upon entering American schools (Brisk, 1998). Despite the fact that research supports using native languages as a tool for literacy, many continue their resistance to bilingual education; they argue for an all-English atmosphere in schools. An indirect but serious consequence of this approach is the
psychological effect it may have on many Latinos. Many agree that language is a key component of every culture (Blanc, 2000). By discouraging Spanish from the classroom, the limited English proficient (LEP) student may feel that his or her native language or culture has less value than the mainstream culture. This may produce a sense of inferiority in the mind of many Hispanics and may cause strife among different ethnicities. Ironically, this moves many Latinos away from the assimilation ideal, which opponents of bilingual education do not want.
In addition to affecting the morale of the LEP community, eliminating bilingual education programs may increase the already sky-high Hispanic high school drop-out rate. Lack of academic success is one reason Hispanic youths quit school (Lockwood, 1996). By removing their limited access to research-based programs such as bilingual education, they may suffer even less academic success. Eventually, this may produce a Hispanic community full of low-skilled, poorly educated people. In other words, it may produce a subclass.
Again, this moves Hispanics away from the assimilation goal cherished by many Americans. Regardless of the benefits of bilingual education, anti-bilingual sentiments continue percolating. Some resort to using other Latinos as a means for obtaining their anti-bilingual agenda. Some cite Richard Rodriguez’s In Hunger of Memory: the Bilingual Education 6 Education of Richard Rodriguez as a case against bilingual education (Krashen, 2007). Rodriguez, a Mexican immigrant, enjoyed great academic success and assimilated into American society despite the lack of bilingual education.
Some average Hispanics parallel Rodriquez’s anti-bilingual education stances. Forty-three-year-old waitress Ana Julia Duncan, daughter of Mexican nationals, received minimal bilingual services in the third grade (personal communication). Despite this fact, academically she performed moderately well (personal communication). Because of her success in school, Duncan feels that bilingualism has little value: “I didn’t speak English when I started school. I did OK. Why can’t anybody else do OK? ” Unfortunately, her way of thinking strikes a familiar chord with other Latinos in her same situation.
The Rodriquez and Duncan stories seem to act as support for the elimination of bilingual education. However, neither person represent the average, modern English language learner. In Rodriquez’s case, he grew up in a predominately white neighborhood (Kreshen, 2007). As a result, he was exposed to the English language a lot more than the average Spanish speaker. Since a child’s socio-cultural environment plays a major role in his or her intellectual development (Gregory, 2004), Rodriguez’s success should not surprise many. His peers, in essence, acted as quasi-tutors.
Duncan’s situation parallels Rodriguez’s upbringing: she too grew up in a mainly white neighborhood (personal communication). Therefore she too received informal training or input from her peers. A majority of Hispanic LEP students, by contrast, live in predominately Spanish-speaking neighborhoods and lack the advantages Rodriguez and Duncan had as children (Kreshen, 2007). Bilingual Education 7 Despite the flaws in using Rodriguez and Duncan as microcosms in the bilingual education debate, some nevertheless insist in a total immersion approach in our schools.
Although total immersion has no credible supporting evidence (Crawford, 2007), from a personal point of view, it does have a tinge of value. I had virtually no English-speaking skills as a very young child. My parents were Mexican nationals; my father worked at the post office while my mother stayed at home with the children. Thus, I had virtually no exposure to English. Upon entering my predominantly white kindergarten class in 1970, I realized that I was basically on my own since there were no other Latino children in that particular class.
However, this sink or swim situation had a benefit. Within a year, I spoke conversational English. By the first grade, I became fairly fluent in English and would earn average grades. In my opinion, total immersion did play a role in my acquiring salient English skills. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the second grade, I felt as if I lost a part of my identity: I lost a good deal of my native language. I forgot some major Spanish vocabulary words, I started having trouble pronouncing many polysyllabic words, and I had developed a slight gringo accent.
Mexican children noticed this and would often make fun of my awkward Spanish. To make things worse, my English skills still needed improvement. The presence of bilingual education may have prevented some of my linguistic obstacles by helping me maintain a healthy language base in both English and Spanish. Luckily, some of my teachers noticed my problem and placed me in a bilingual program along with three other students. One was in the same situation as myself; the Bilingual Education 8
other two were predominately proficient in Spanish who lacked major English skills. The bilingual teacher helped us maintain our strengths and helped correct our weaknesses by using our native language as a medium for instruction. By the end of the school year, I felt more confident. This research paper starts out with an anecdote that depicts a rural Nevada town struggling with xenophobia; it had voted in an English-only ordinance. Then, a connection between xenophobia in America and the anti-bilingual education movement is unveiled.
Despite the fact that some school districts have pupils from as many as 130 different countries (Crawford, 2004), this paper focuses on the Spanish speaking English language learner because of a major criticism the Hispanic community endures; that it resists assimilation into the mainstream American culture. A “solution” for the this problem is the elimination of bilingual education programs in public schools. Proponents claim this would strengthen national unity. However, as this research paper demonstrates, purging such programs would actually gear the Hispanic English language learner away from assimilation, not towards it.
If many opponents of bilingualism have their way, American schools will eventually have a monolithic, cookie-cutter approach to teaching its student population. In the United States, a country made from a rich tapestry of immigrants, this scenario would be very un-American. Bilingual Education 9 References Blanc, M. H. A. , & Hamers, J. (2000). Bilinguality and Bilingualism. England : Cambridge University Press. Summary: This book is a very elevated, academic piece of work. It provides the reader with a guideline to language behavior, tools to measure levels of bilingualism, and addresses bilingual development.
Other areas the book concentrates on include the cognitive development of the bilingual mind, and the cognitive consequences of the bilingual behavior. Brisk, M. E. (1998) Bilingual Education: From Compensatory to Quality Education. Mahway, New Jersey: Cambridge University Press. Summary: This book examines the traditional debates about bilingual education. It also examines influences, both internal and external, on the bilingual student’s education. The author presents strategies for implementing quality bilingual services. Calderon, M. , & Slavin, R. (2001).
Effective Programs for Latino Students. Mahway, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Summary: This book highlights programs that have worked well for the Hispanic population. It also addresses the unacceptable high drop-out rate of Latino high school students. The book goes a step further by unveiling the needs of higher-education for Hispanics, an area that has received relatively little attention. The authors also explain why many Latinos are at risk in America. Curtis, Lynette. (2006, Nov. 15). Pahrump Targets Illegal Immigrants. The Las Vegas Review Journal.
Curtis, Lynette. (2006, Nov. 23). Backlash: Pahrump flag ban won’t fly. The Las Vegas Review Journal. Lockwood, A. T. Caring, Community, and Personalization: Strategies to Combat the Hispanic Dropout Problem. (1996). “Advances in Hispanic Education, 1. ” Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Education. Summary: This book focuses on the dangerously real issue of the Latino dropout issue. T Gregory, E. , Long, S. , & Volk. (2004). Many Pathways to Literacy: Young Children Learning with Siblings, Grandparents, Peers, and Communities. New York: Routledge Falmer.
Summary: This book looks at literacy, including bilingual literacy, using a sociocultural approach. It taps into the family structure in various ethnic groups. The book addresses bilingual education in the home and highlights the benefits of this strategy. The authors unveil the importance of using cultural norms as a means to teach literacy (such as story-telling). Another aspect of this piece is its assessment of children’s everyday life experience and how that impacts learning. On a personal note, this book didn’t really catch my eye at first because it didn’t focus on Hispanics specifically.
I am happy that I finally opened it up because I was able to see some parallels between the Hispanic experiences and other ethnic groups. Krashen, Stephen. ( 1997). Why Bilingual Education? Eric Digest. Retrieved April 4, 2006 from http://www. ericdigests. org/1997-3/bilingual. html. Lendon, Brad. (2006, May 1). US prepares for ‘A Day Without an Immigrant. ‘ Retrieved on April 4, 2007, from http://www. cnn. com/2006/US/04/28/boycott/ Smith, F. (1994). Understanding reading: A psycholinguistic analysis of reading and learning to read (5th ed. ). Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum. .
Bilingual Education Essay
The presence of bilingual students in U. S. schools is significant and the result of internal and external historical factors. Educators and policymakers must consider their needs and potential contribution to our education system. The multiplicity of languages and the complex nature of bilinguals renders a complicated but exciting educational field for research, practice, and educational innovation. Unfortunately, languages become entangled in political battles, dragging the education and the future of innocent children into such conflicts.
Indigenous inhabitants, colonizers, and immigrants to the United States have and continue to represent a variety of language backgrounds. Like it or not, the United States is highly multilingual. Fashions in using language in education and attitudes toward bilingualism have undergone many changes since the United States became independent. During the initial colonization of the United States, European settlers used the languages of their countries of origin. The Continental Congress considered French and German important for political purposes.
It recognized the need to disseminate information among disparate populations to broaden the cause of independence (Heath, 1976). The settlers established schools that educated their children in their own languages, especially French, German, Spanish, and Swedish, while teaching English as a second language. Schools that used English as the medium of instruction taught one of the other European languages as a second language ( Keller & Van Hooft, 1982). The presence of many languages in U. S.
schools was an accepted reality until the 1870s. “Newspapers, schools, and societies provided instructional support for diverse languages” (Heath, 1981, p. 7). There was, however, concern for seeking a common language, especially to conduct government affairs (Heath, 1981). The original colonies and territories incorporated later into the Union comprised local governments that used different languages, such as German in Pennsylvania, French in Louisiana, and Spanish in New Mexico and California.
English, nevertheless, always played an important role in the public life of the colonies because from the beginning England colonized the United States. The form of government embraced after the American Revolution reflected English values (Conklin & Lourie, 1983). Economic and historic factors helped solidify the position of English as the language of government. During the first half of the 20th century, English was imposed as the language of instruction in most states. As many as 34 states enacted laws mandating English as the language of instruction.
Other languages were forbidden and teachers could be fined or jailed if found using them: “No polyglot empire of the old world has dared be as ruthless in imposing a single language upon its whole population as was the liberal republic ‘dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal'” ( Johnson, 1949, pp. 118-119). Political, social, and economic rationales for denigrating all languages other than English advanced linguistic and cognitive theories that attacked bilingualism. Public schools quickly adopted a “sink or swim” attitude during the first half of the 20th century.
Special programs such as English as a Second Language (ESL) served only adults. The assumption was that children learn languages easily and nothing special needed to be done. Nevertheless, despite the lack of public support for bilingual education, there were bilingual programs–mostly dual language programs–in private and parochial schools. These schools extended the required curriculum to include instruction in the cultural, linguistic, and religious heritages of the particular ethnic group. A great number of them were bilingual (Fishman & Markman, 1979).
National interest in bilingual education spread when Title VII, the Bilingual Education Act (an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) was enacted in 1968. This federal legislation provided funds to create bilingual programs in poor school districts (Lyons, 1990). The impact of the federal law, both good and bad, was widely felt. A number of states reversed the laws that permitted English as the only language of instruction by passing bilingual education legislation. Massachusetts was the first state to enact such a law with its Transitional Bilingual Education Act (1971).
More than 20 other states followed Massachusetts’ example by creating transitional bilingual education programs (August & Garcia, 1988). Evidently, during the past two centuries, use of languages in education has been increasingly politicized. History has repeated itself but in modified ways. The acceptance of languages in education observed in the early part of the 19th century was apparent again in the 1970s but languages other than English appeared in schools with a much lower status with respect to English than they had a century earlier.
The imposition of English only at the turn of the century reappeared in the 1980s, although this time some minority students were served by special English language programs rather than leaving all to sink or swim. Efforts to make English speakers fluent in other languages have also seen ups and downs. Suspicion toward foreigners in the early part of the century discouraged second language learning. Interest in foreign language learning following World War II wavered in the 1970s.
The pendulum is swinging again in favor of bilingualism for English speakers. Foreign language programs are starting earlier in elementary schools and bilingual education programs that promote bilingualism are becoming increasingly popular (Met & Galloway, 1992). However, most successful bilingual programs have been created not by legislative mandates but by concerned educators and communities working together. Good education for bilingual students should not be the outcome of compliance with legislation.
Schools must be willing to create good programs suitable for all students, including bilinguals. To overcome resistance to implementing bilingual education, many communities resort to politics or lawsuits to force school districts to provide bilingual education. However, political solutions create their own problems, paradoxically compromise and rigidity. For example, laws and regulations that impose a 3-year maximum for students attending bilingual education programs arose as a compromise between the forces for and against bilingual education.
Research shows time and again that students profit from long-term bilingual instruction, even though some students who stay shorter periods eventually succeed in mainstream education (Kleinfeld, 1979). Consequently, it is clear that historically Americans have not showed great tolerance to linguistic diversity. There have been repeated efforts to make English an official language in the country by restricting bilingualism, as well as attempts to enhance more ESL programs on the other side. There is an ongoing disagreement regarding whether or not ESL program meets its initial objective, the ways it affects American society, and its necessity.
The opponents of bilingual teaching argue it is expensive for the country, keeps immigrants socially isolated, slows down the assimilation process, creates a retreat of an official language and dissolves the unity of America. Generally, a lot of people form negative assumptions about bilingual programs based on their ideological beliefs, political views, personal observations, negative experience or simply generalizations and stereotyping based on limited knowledge about ESL classes (Rojas, 2003). These judgments usually lack evidence and logical reasoning, and thus cannot objectively analyze the program’s weaknesses or disadvantages.
As Maria Brisk observes, “Much of the debate on bilingual education is politically motivated, more suitable for talk shows than for improving schools” (Rojas, 2003). And indeed, ESL programs are viewed more as a tool to solve multiple social problems (which, certainly, are also important)–minority groups’ rights, language diversity, melting pot, the unity of the country, a threat to the existence of dominant culture, and so on–instead of focusing on the quality of education our school-age population is receiving and the environment they are placed in.
Policymakers should definitely pay more attention to the program’s educational effectiveness and dramatic improvement in students’ academic progress when deciding whether public schools need ESL classes. Because public schools have quite a significant influence on children’s learning and personal development, we are responsible of making it a positive schooling experience for all students despite their ethnic background or native language.
Bilingual education helps students to learn English faster, provides a friendly learning environment, improves academic progress, encourages kids to become proficient in two languages, teaches cultural awareness, and preserves minorities’ linguistic human rights. It has been proven that students who are enrolled in bilingual classes have better scores on standardized tests, such as the ACT’s and SAT’s, than those who are not enrolled in bilingual classes. Bilingual education is beneficial for our country and enables students to learn English as well as keeping their native tongue for future success in our global economy.
Bilingual education works in our society and should stay intact within the schools and should be funded to enable students who wish to take these classes should be able to. However, it is not the question of whether bilingual programs work (obviously they do), but more the question of how our society addresses cultural and linguistic diversity. Recent studies have proven that bilingual teaching dramatically increases students’ educational progress both in English communicational skills and other content in curriculum.
Students who attend a regular English class right away usually fall behind in subjects taught in English and experience negative consequences in psychological development. ESL system doesn’t disregard the need for acquisition of English; indeed, it one of the most important outcomes of effective bilingual education programs (Zehr, 2004). Looking at the money spent on bilingual education program (when funds are being cut off from other public services across the country) may lead to consideration of abolishing bilingual system and focusing on the projects that affect all students in education system instead.
The United States spends approximately $12 billion on bilingual education each year (Wood, 1997) and over $100 million was spent to study the effectiveness of ESL programs (Mujica, 2003). Because American taxpayers don’t benefit from bilingual instruction directly, many communities and states are unwilling to pay that expense and are quick to cut back regardless its potential positive results. Nevertheless, even though we give up other things that could be otherwise purchased, bilingual programs in public schools is a critical factor in foreign students’ learning process.
Besides the fact that bilingual teaching dramatically increases academic performance, it also encourages more parents to send their children to school and that, in turn, motivates more students to become educated. In other words, the money spent on ESL programs should not be associated with an opportunity cost of ignoring other important problems. Instead, it is a valuable investment in students’ success at school as well as assimilation into American society. The issue of bilingual education in relationship to our global economy enables students enrolled in these classes to have a better future than those students who only speak English.
Jeff MacSwan, supporter of bilingual education and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Arizona State University, is quoted about bilingual education in our global economy when he says, “Multilingualism is an asset, and Arizona must embrace it” (MacSwan, 1998). Arizona Senator John McCain also believes that bilingual education is an asset to children. He states that, “Arizona should strengthen them (bilingual classes) and make similar resources available to all children” (MacSwan).
In fact, McCain has introduced a program that enables students to be in programs like these. McCain’s program is called “English-Plus” (MaSwan) which acknowledges the great importance of bilingualism in our modern global economy. McCain is quoted concerning bilingual education when he says, “People should not have to abandon the language of their birth to learn the language of their future…The ability to speak languages in addition to English is a tremendous resource to our community” (MacSwan).
In addition, the benefits of bilingual education in our global economy can be seen when US Secretary Richard Riley said, “When they enter the work force in several years we will regret the inability of our children to speak two languages. Our global economy demands it; our children deserve it” (Pratt, 2000). Undoubtedly, in addition to educational advantage, adult bilinguals with a complete grasp of two or more languages, can be more successful economically and benefit more to their communities than their single-language peers.
Our public services employ staff as translators in order to keep abreast of the constantly growing immigrant population. Increased marketable skills are an advantage of bilingual fluency. Because of the aforementioned educational advantages, bilinguals can offer a flexibility and level of problem-solving ability that surpasses the average monolingual. According to Graciela Kenig, author of The Best Careers for Bilingual Latinos: Market Your Fluency in Spanish to get Ahead on the Job, employers are looking for people “with a broader scope of experience and strong problem-solving ability.
” (1998, p. 5). The marketplace is also focusing on the global economy. Bilinguals are uniquely qualified to give the U. S. a competitive edge. The utilization of well-educated American bilinguals can give our country a significant advantage in the global marketplace. In aspect of Rudolph Giuliani’s view that bilingual education doesn’t work and that it is too expensive should be better thought out and he should look at the benefits that come from it. Giuliani was quoted regarding bilingual education by saying, “It’s cruel to them and gives them less of a chance to succeed” (Willen, 1998).
Giuliani has some reason to argue that it is too expensive considering that “New York City alone spends $300 million annually on its program serving 126,000 students” (Chavez, 1995). In addition, Giuliani has a reason to argue that bilingual education it too time consuming considering the outrageous number of students who are eligible for bilingual classes. Although these are good reasons Giuliani should realize that, “half the Hispanic children in bilingual classes (New York City) are American-born. And many- if not most- speak English better than they do Spanish” (Chavez, 1995).
The number one reason why these students are enrolled in these particular classes is because that New York automatically places these students in these classes by whether or not they score above the 40th percentile on a standard eyes test. These tests should not be done because it is evident that the students are learning English just maybe not as fast at other students. Giuliani’s claims are somewhat relevant but he should consider all of the benefits that come from bilingual education. Although Giuliani believes it is too expensive this should not be an issue considering that our country can benefit as a whole with multilingualism.
During the Restrictive Period (1880s-1960s) the need of being able to effectively communicate in English was motivating immigrants to learn the language and assimilate into society (Ovando, 2003). Single language was meant to unify the members of a society (Schaefer, 2003, p. 66). However, today conformity to a single language would probably be regarded as “racist” (Mujica, 2003). Currently, most people would rather agree with Eliana D. Rojas, an assistant professor of bilingual education, that the right to maintain one’s native language and culture is a part of a person’s human rights (Mujica).
The main reason so many people protest attempts to implement bilingual programs in public schools is a belief that such step will lead to dissolving the unity of the country. The government provides funds for translators in most government organizations which allow immigrants to function in their own language, doesn’t encourage foreigners to learn English and thus isolates them from the rest of the community. In response, they are more likely to form a small group or even a subculture within the dominant society with different norms, values and language. “We cannot assimilate and we won’t!
” one day proclaimed the executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, an organization originally supporting pro assimilation (Mujica, 2003, p. 2). According to the Census statistics in 2000, 18 percent of American population over the age of 5 speaks a language other than English as their primary language (Schaefer, 2003, p. 65), while 8 percent of them are classified as “limited English proficient” (Mujica, 2003, p. 2). Hispanic population is the fastest growing minority in the U. S. and large parts of the country are becoming increasingly “Latinized”.
Americans “feel strangers in their own neighborhoods and aliens in their own country” (Schaefer, 2003, p. 66). It may look like sooner or later we will have to say “Hasta la Vista to the ‘United’ States and Adelante to Canadian-style discord over the issues of language and ethnicity” (Mujica, 2003, p. 4). Therefore, blaming such programs as bilingual instructing in schools is based primarily on nationalistic concerns. The recent studies have proven, though, that only a small percent of children attending bilingual classrooms will still be able to communicate in their native language in a few years (Worthy, 2003).
In some ESL classes students are actually encouraged to maintain their first language and are introduced to elements from both American and their native cultures. It seems apparent that a child will more likely associate himself or herself with other immigrants rather than Americans and it may seem hard for that student to assimilate into American society. It may be difficult for him or her to learn English later because any language cannot be taught successfully in isolation – proficient communicational skills can only develop through everyday practice and a practical need to apply new knowledge.
In reality it takes about the same time for a person to learn English in the all-English class than gradually switching from the native language to the regular English instructing. Despite the fact they differ in the length of the transition to English and how long they allow students to remain in bilingual classrooms, all ESL students receive enough practice and even become monolingual English speakers pretty soon, as a yearlong study of fifth-grade children attending bilingual class has proven (Worthy, 2003).
As the teacher encouraged students to read, write and speak Spanish, most of them were losing their ability to communicate in Spanish and had English as their dominant language both in school and informal situations. The study concludes that at a certain time social and peer pressure are more important for children than family influence, the reason why many of them started feeling uncomfortable speaking their native language with their friends (Worthy, 2003). Evidently, bilingual education is an asset to our country and the benefits can be seen throughout our global economy.
People such as Giuliani should embrace the idea of this type of education and should help fund programs as it will undoubtedly further enrich our economy. In addition, why should students loose their native language simply for the reason that the majority of people speak English? The ability to speak multiple languages enables them for future aspirations, success, and priority over those who can only speak only English fluently. Our society extremely benefits from bilingual education and there no significant reason for eliminating it.
All in all, bilingual education in public schools is definitely not a threat to an official language or unity of the country. Nor it is a waste of funds since it is so essential in children’s first years of education. ESL classes do not slow down assimilation, and even if in some cases American culture is so diverse that even abolishing all programs helping immigrants to maintain their language will not have a great impact on American melting pot. Instead, English-only initiatives have only negative consequences for limited-English proficient groups and their interaction with the dominant society (Barker, 2001).
Abolishing bilingual education in schools will not create an intense for immigrants to learn English, but most likely will result in protests, racial conflicts, even prejudice against minority groups, and that is a certain way to dissolve a country. References August, D. , & Garcia E. E. (1988). Language minority education in the United States. Springfield, IL: Thomas. Barker, Valerie, Howard Giles, Kimberly Noels, Julie Duck, Michael Hecht, and Richarde Clement. (Mar 2001). The English-only movement: A Communication analysis of changing perceptions of language vitality.
Journal of Communication,51 (1), 3. Proquest. DeVry University, Federal Way, WA. Retrieved February 3, 2006 from http:\www. il. proquest. compdauto>. Chavez, Linda. (1995, April 2). Bilingual education was to teach English, not trap students. Minneapolis Star Tribune, 23. Conklin, N. F. , & Lourie, M. A. (1983). A host of tongues: Language communities in the United States. New York: The Free Press. Fishman, J. A. , & Markman, B. R. (1979). The ethnic mother-tongue school in America: Assumptions, findings, directory. New York: Ferkauf Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Heath, S. B. (1976).
A national language academy: Debate in the new nation. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 47(11), 9-43. Heath, S. B. (1981). English in our language heritage. In C. A. Ferguson & S. B. Heath (Eds. ), Language in the U. S. A. (pp. 6-20). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Johnson, G. W. (1949). Our English heritage. Philadelphia: Lippincott. Keller, G. D. , & Van K. S. Hooft. (1982). A chronology of bilingualism and bilingual education in the United States. In J. A. Fishman & G. D. Keller (Eds. ), Bilingual education for Hispanic students in the United States (pp. 3-19).
New York: Teachers College, Columbia University. Kenig, Graciela. (1998). The best careers for bilingual latinos: Market your fluency in Spanish to get ahead on the job. McGraw-Hill. Kleinfeld, J. S. (1979). Eskimo school on the Andreafsky: A study of effective bicultural education. New York: Praeger. Lyons, J. J. (1990). The past and future directions of federal bilingual education policy. In C. B. Cazden & C. E. Snow (Eds. ), English plus: Issues in bilingual education (pp. 66-80). Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Macswan, Jeff. (1998, August 6). Bilingual education an asset that can offer global rewards.
Arizona Republic. Retrieved February 4, 2006 from www. onenation. org/0898/080698. html Met, M. , & Galloway, V. (1992). Research in foreign language curriculum. In P. Jackson (Ed. ) Handbook of research on curriculum (pp. 852-890). New York: Macmillan. Mujica, Maero E. (2003, Dec). Why the US needs an official language. The World and I, 18(12), 36. Proquest. Devry University, Federal Way, WA. Retrieved February 4, 2006 from http://www. il. proquest. com/pdauto Ovando, Carlos J. (Spring 2003). Bilingual education in the United States: Historical development and current issues.
Bilingual Research Journal 27(1), 1, 25. Proquest. DeVry University, Federal Way, WA. Retrieved February 4, 2006 from http:\www. il. proquest. compdauto>. Pratt, Chasity. (2000, April 4). One class, two languages: Both English, foreign benefit bilingual schools. Newsday, 6. Rojas, E. D. & Reagan, T. (Winter 2003). Linguistic human rights: A new perspective on bilingual education. Educational Foundations 17(1), 5. Proquest. DeVry University, Federal Way, WA. Retrieved February 4, 2006 from http:\www. il. proquest. compdauto Schaefer, Richard T. (2003).
Sociology: A Brief introduction. McGraw Hill: New York Willen, Liz. (1998, January, 16). Bilingual debate: Rudy’s push to limit education programs draws flak. Newsday, 8. Wood, Daniel B. (1997, July 30). Next big push from California: No bilingual education. The Christian Science Monitor United States. Retrieved February 4, 2006 from http://csmweb2. emcweb. com/durable/1997/07/03/us/us. 1. html Worthy, J. , Alejandra Rodriguez-Galindo, Lori Czop Assaf, Leticia Martinez and Kimberly Cuero. (Summer 2003). Fifth-grade bilingual students and precursors to ‘subtractive