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Bilingual Education

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Autor:  anton  27 December 2010
Tags:  Bilingual,  Education
Words: 2176   |   Pages: 9
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Bilingual Education

Bilingual Education: A Necessity in Today’s World? Education is a privilege offered in the United States that the children of America take advantage of everyday, but unfortunately not all the children can enjoy this opportunity because they do not speak the common language. Bilingual education is another avenue that needs to be explored by more school districts across the nation because children should learn that there are other forms of communication. High schools require their students to take a foreign language before graduating, so why is this form of bilingual education accepted; yet an elementary bilingual program is under constant criticism? Bilingual people are rewarded in today’s society by the higher wages and better positions. The ridicule of the bilingual education programs that provide students with this wonderful advantage is unfounded ad usually due to misunderstandings. In today’s society, being monolingual is not longer a desirable trait; and schools must continue to support children with this special gift of bilingual education. Why take away a language that child will benefit from in the future? This a country of immigrants with different ethnic backgrounds and languages; and if the retention of ethnicity is supported, it will excel above the rest of the world. Bilingual education has an impressive history, and the arguments against it are usually unfounded. History has served as a guideline foe the actions of today’s government, businessmen, and all-important issues. The history of the bilingual education is not a well-known topic, and yet it is significant in the argument for bilingual education. For many Americans, the idea of teaching children in other languages is affront to traditions (Crawford), but why not consider the traditions of the settlers, for it had been proven that in the Thirteen Colonies settlers developed bilingual schools to help the assimilation of the immigrant settlers and Native Americans. “The early period of bilingual education is the United States (1840-1920) produced no widely accepted curricular model. Successful programs resulted when the program director was a strong perceptive leader with authority to select good teachers and to supervise them closely”(Andersson 46). In 1664, at least eighteen languages were spoken on Manhattan Island (Crawford), and the immigrants who came to America wanted to keep their heritage and be able to enjoy their own religion, culture, and language. They were looking for a place where their ethnic identity would not be endangered. The “mother tongue” was very important to the settlers of the new land, and they were willing to learn rather than replace. With this in mind, John Adams proposed to establish and American Language Academy in 1780 simply for refining, correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English tongue but was ignored by the Continental Congress. The framers of the US Constitution believed, that in a democracy, language choices should be left up to people. Schools were established with vernacular education as the rule, and the language used was not an issue (Crawford). Bilingualism was common among all classes of society in the middle colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Newspaper advertisements made form frequent references to the bilingual and trilingual proficiencies of the black and white runaway servants (Crawford). Important government documents were printed in other languages in the 1700’s, yet today it is said that print in other languages is too time consuming and cost ineffective. Does that mean that even with today’s technology, people are afraid of a little extra work and that money is more important than effective communication? The bilingual education program benefits families who have a limited English vocabulary. “ The knowledge children get through their first language helps make the English they hear and read more comprehensible. Literacy developed in the primary language transfers to the second language, and the reason literacy transfers is simple. It transfers because they learn to read by making sense of what is on the page, and it is easier to learn to read in a language they will understand. If a person can read in one language, they can read in general”(Krashen vii). In turn, the children will be able to teach their parents to read, and the entire bilingual family benefits as a whole when these programs are made available to them, yet parents are still often wrongfully reprimanded and criticized for their child’s bilinugalism. “ A minority group exists and identifies with Americanism, but also retains a large portion of its ethnic heritage for use within the in-group. The group is bilingual and bicultural and has accepted the realities of living in both the majority and minority “(Kitano 33). The dominant language is introduced into the immigrant home ad even the parents must learn to adapt by speaking any kind of broken English to effectively communicate with their neighbors. In a country where most of the population is of diffe4rent ethnic background and education system that provides a variety of languages is needed to give the children the beat education. A person who is affluent in two languages is most likely to discover more employment opportunities. Children should have the best options available to them, and there should not be an exception because a child does not speak English. “Non-English-speaking children are not the only ones who stand to profit from such a reform in our educational system. English-speaking children who are fortunate to live in a community in which another language is spoken have and unusual opportunity to learn that language” (Andersson 7). Education has always been a priority to immigrants who want to be successful because “immigrant groups have always believed education to be the major route to success…”(Kitano 201). Bilingual education can benefit both monolingual and bilingual education does not only serve the bilingual children, it can also serve the monolingual children so that they may become proficient in two languages. The government’s legislation and recognition of the importance of bilingual education provides a clear definition of what the purpose of the bilingual program is suppose to accomplish. Public Law 90-247, Jan. 2, 1968 TITLE VII - BILINGUAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS SHORT TITLE “Sec. 701. This title may be cited as the Bilingual Education Act.” Declaration of Policy Sec. 702 In recognition if the special educational needs of the large numbers of children of limited English-speaking ability in the United States, Congress hereby declares it to be the policy of the United States to provide financial assistance to local educational agencies to develop and carry out new and imaginative elementary and secondary school programs designed to meet these special educational needs. For the purposes of this title, “children of limited English-speaking ability” means children who come from environments where the dominant language is other than English. (Andersson 223) Federal funding help to legitimize the bilingual program when the Bilingual Education Act was passed in 1967, and it suggests that a language should not be lost in the education process. One language should be learned and the other retained. During testing, children have tested having the same problems in their own languages. The sociological approach has to be considered because the bilingualism is a social issue. The ethnic identity of a person is something that is very important; and in order to maintain a full identity, a person must maintain their heritage. “Issacs (1975) presented one of the most comprehensive models of identity. He included (1) body (physical characteristics, genetic structure, skin color, hair texture, facial features); (2) name; (3) language (there are over 4000 languages, each playing a particular role in the lives of people who speak it); (4) history and origins; (5) religion and nationality” (Kitano 106). The Propostion 227 discussion in California was not well researched and has fallen under a lot of scrutiny. “During the recent Proposition 227 discussion in California, critics of bilingual education frequently used the case of Isreal, the argument went, does not do bilingual education but has a Hebrew-only intensive language training policy that is very successgful. Interestingly, Isreal is now experimenting with bilingual education”(Krashen 44). The arguments against bilingual educatrion are usually unfounded and not researched. Many schools have given false reports for the lack of success of their bilingual education programs. Contrary to most reports, the public’s opinion of bilingual education is very positive. The truth is in the facts and not always in what is said. A question can be asked in a certain way in order to receive a desired response. Opponents of bilingual education tells us that the public is against bilingual education. This impression is a result of the way the question is asked. One can easily get a near 100% rejection of bilingual education when the question is biased. Quite often the question asked presupposes that education delays English (Krashen x). Educators have used bilingualism as a scapegoat, implying that the Spanish language is a major handicap, and therefore should be abolished, when it is education that has not provided Mexican Americans with a ladder of success (Kitano 161 because bilingual children usually do not not receive the attention from the teachers because of the extra effort it would require. In today’s society, a bilingual person is considered a valuable resource, and they often receive many benefits. It was World War II that accentuated the inability of the American armed forces to commuinicate in any language other than English. Suddenly aware of the dangers represented by such deficincies, our government quickly organized an Army Specialized Training Program to teach selected servicemen by the most intensive methods how to understand and speak other languages(Andersson 28). A bilingual person usually recevies higher wages because a person who is affluent in two languages can communicate with more people than a monolingual person. Language is an important asset to have, and there should be no boundries restricting someon from learning or perfecting another language. Mono by definition means one, and this can be perceived

as a monolingual person is usually restricted to one view, and it may not be the correct one. A bilingual person can always feel at home in more gthan one setting and can usually adapt to one in a comfortable setting. The need for bilingual education is becoming noticerd in other countries and not just our own. “I has heen asserted that bilingual education is done only in the US, that other coutries use only immersion with immigrant children. Not only is this asxsertion false, bit it is clearlty the case that bilingual education has been successful in toher countries and that students in bilingual edcuation programs acquire the national language as well as or better than students without education in their first language”(Krashen 22). Across the world, children are speaking in more than one language and commended for it, yet in the United States, they are condemned and left to either sink or swim in the educational system. Education is the foundation for a better understanding of life. If a person is unfamiliar with something, they go some where to retrieve the information in which they can educate themselves about that subject. Bilingualism is a necessity in the educational system as well as in the operations of everyday life. Immigration will never stop, and along with immigration, people who are unfamiliar with the language and ways on the United States. They will need to be edcuated in order to survive. In the beginning, their education will have to administerd in their own language. English is not the only language that is important in this day and age of technology and business. As more bilingual children are produced by school districts, the communication gap dwindles and eventually will be nonexistant. Fishman and Lovas state,”We may soon arrive at the disturbin conclusion that iti is not necessarily treasonous for pupils, teachers, parents, and pricipals to speak to each other in a language other than English…”(Andersson 37). Works Cited – Bilingual Education: A Necessity in Today’s World? Andersson, Theodore, and Midred Boyer. Bilingual Schooling in the United States. 2nd ed. Austin, TX: Educational Laboratory Publishers, Inc.1978. Crawford, James “Bilingual Educaiton: Chapter One Bilinguals in America: A Forgotten Legacy.” Ourworld. 10 January 2000 http://www.ourworld.com/homepages/JWCRAWFORD/BECh1 Kitano, Harry H.L. Race Relations. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997. Krashen, Stephen D. Condemned Without a Trial : Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Heinemann Publishers, Inc. 1999. Bibliography Andersson, Theodore, and Midred Boyer. Bilingual Schooling in the United States. 2nd ed. Austin, TX: Educational Laboratory Publishers, Inc.1978. Crawford, James “Bilingual Educaiton: Chapter One Bilinguals in America: A Forgotten Legacy.” Ourworld. 27 October 2002 http://www.ourworld.com/homepages/JWCRAWFORD/BECh1 Crawford, James. “ED424792 98 Ten Common Fallacies about Bilingual Education.” ERIC Dugest. 1988. 27 October 2002 Dicker, Susan “Ten Official Arguments and Counter Arguments.” Official English? No!. (1996) 27 October 2002 http://www.ncbe.gwe.edu/mispubs/tesol/official/arguments.htm Hornblower, Margot. “Putting Tongues in Check” TIME Magazine. 146 (October 9, 1995): 15 Kitano, Harry H.L. Race Relations. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1997. Krashen, Stephen D. Condemned Without a Trial : Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Heinemann Publishers, Inc. 1999. Lambert, Wallace, and G. Richard Tucker. Bilingual Education of Children: The St. Lambert Experiment. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers. 1972.



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