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Bilingual Education Essay and Research Paper



The term “bilingual education” commonly refers to programs where English is taught for part of the day and academic subjects are taught in the native language. English-as-a-second-language programs emphasize immersion, employing the native language only to aid the general teaching in English. Bilingual education programs have been implemented for decades. Nevertheless, Non-English speaking students in bilingual education programs have depicted no scholastic or social development compared to comparable students in English-only schools. The drawbacks of bilingual education programs outnumber the benefits. In addition, modern statistics recommend the necessity for reorganization of the current bilingual education programs.
Bilingualism is an actuality today and it will turn a greater actuality as time goes. The amount to which it is common is evidenced by the attendance of bilinguals in every country at the moment, as well as in each and every social class and every age group.


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Schools initiated tutoring academics in languages other than English as early as the 1700’s, but not until the 1960’s did society identify the hundreds of thousands of non-English speaking students agonizing in the current system.
Prior to that time, immigrants were admitted in non-English schools. The fight for a bilingual education program initiated during the Civil Rights Movement. Immigrants, chiefly Latin and Mexican Americans espied the headway that African Americans were making and decided to contest for alike education.

The numerous objectives of the bilingual education program are to educate student’s fundamental academic subjects in their native language consequently augmenting their academic progress. The program was also intended to teach the students both reading and writing skills in their native language and inevitably to immerge them into classes taught in English. Students in bilingual education programs learn English from the time they set foot in school. All their academic classes, nevertheless, are taught in their native language. After three years of English instruction, students are put into English-only classes. The aim of these objectives is to sustain the students’ culture at school.

The issue of Bilingual education raised various disturbing conflicts, in the field of Hispanic-black communion. Blacks and Hispanics for a time had work together in common operations over against racial discrimination. The huge spending of public funds, nonetheless, without a doubt led to skirmish over the allocations among distinct ethnic communities. Equally contestable was the issue of desegregation. Assuming that Hispanic children should be taught in the parental home language, they would have to be disassociated from other students, this would lead to the detachment they were criticizing at a time when public schools were in fact becoming more isolated with the growth of Hispanic children nationwide.


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Bilingual education might have gained extensive acceptance if its advocates had been content to explicate bilingual education as no more than a passing bridge to assimilation. Numerous intellectuals, though, went further. They affiliated bilingual education with bicultural education and bicultural education with cultural separatism, or concurring ethnicity with a far-reaching investigation of conventional American values. By doing so, they alienated the huge mass of traditional voters who continued to constitute the overwhelming majority of the American electorate. Much to its drawback, bilingual education came to be associated, for several of its academic defenders, with the postulation that the classroom should furnish remedial treatment as well as teaching. “A much larger issue emerges as we engage in increasingly bitter debates on the future of educational policy in this country. An important omission in the reporting is the lack of detail on how the questions were framed, who supported or opposed the program, and where the support for or opposition to the program originated. I would venture to suggest that the majority of those favoring the use of bilingual approaches were individuals, friends, or relatives and co-workers of families whose children were directly affected, while the majority of the opposition came from those who held opinions on the issue but had no perceived direct personal stake involved in the outcomes.”

Bilingual education has done well, but it can do much better. The paramount uncertainty is the inadequacy and dearth of books in both the first and second languages in the lives of students in these programs. Free voluntary reading can help all constituents of bilingual education. It can be a root of understandable input in English or a means for germinating knowledge and education through the first language, and for persisting first language development. The reason why I think that bi-lingual education is not appropriate for school is that a number of problems plague the foreign-language programs in our schools. Few American schools demand students to study foreign languages. Some offer only two years of language, even for students in the college-preparatory track.

Several of our language teachers have only elementary command of the languages they teach. Most harmful of all, few American schools truly anticipate their students to master the languages they study. In too many schools, it is sufficient for students of languages to conjugate a few verbs, memorize a few common nouns, and draw a few pictures.

References Bilingual Education
IDRA Newsletter - September 1998. In This Issue: High Standards


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