The United States is a diverse country of many different races and languages. Even though many languages are spoken in the United States, English is the preferred language in the United States. Speaking English in America is the key to success. Without English, acquiring employment is almost impossible. More and more immigrants are attracted to the U.S every year, and the populations of immigrants, which do not know the American culture, continue to rise. This population must be assimilated into the United States in order for the population to find employment and function in the United States. Assimilation is the process by which an outsider becomes part of a new community by adopting its language and customs. Public schools are a vital place where the country’s customs, language, and culture, in general, can be taught. According to Ginsburg, ever since the 1960’s young immigrants and U.S born children, of immigrant parents, were sent to public schools with little to no understanding of the English language. These students were forced to “sink or swim.”
The public school offered no help to LEP students. LEP (limited English proficiency) is term used to describe students whose level English language is low. As a result, many of these students began to drop out, but finally in 1968, the federal government passed the Bilingual Act which paid special attention to students whose native language was not English. This provided special funding to create and maintain bilingual education programs. The goal bilingual education is to teach English more efficiently to students, with low English proficiency, protect students’ self-esteem, increase their academic performance, and lowering dropout rates. In bilingual education, LEP students are taught subjects such as math, history, and science in their native tongue, while the LEP students take classes to learn English, and once a student shows increasing proficiency in English they are put into main-stream “English-only” (“Bilingual Education”).
There have been many controversies whether or not the bilingual education programs are achieving their goal. Bilingual education programs should not be allowed as a way to teach English to students with low English proficiency because the programs segregate students based on their native language, are too costly, and are poorly maintained. Bilingual Education programs segregate students based on their native language. These students are isolated away from other cultures and different perspectives for many years. This assimilates students slowly into mainstream English classes. While bilingual classes segregate students by their primary language, English immersion brings them all together to learn a common language, with the common goal of quickly entering mainstream classes.
Speaking English is vital for communication and success in the U.S. The sooner a student understands and communicates in English the sooner they will transition into mainstream English, and the more successful the student will become, which will increase their self-esteem According to Ginsburg many students stay up to six years in these programs and still are low in English proficiency once they complete the program (Ginsburg). Bilingual education programs are too costly to maintain. Students are taking too long to learn English in bilingual education programs. According to “Bilingual Education,” A scientist named Christine Roswell found that there is little evidence that bilingual education is working, and he determined, from 78% of his studies, that student in bilingual education programs only do as well, or even worse, than LEP students in English immersion type programs or no programs at all. Also Roswell determined that English Immersion programs are a more affordable way to teach English. Some teachers are delaying the student’s education in order to receive more money.
Most bilingual education programs persist because teachers and school districts receive more federal and state money if they maintain those programs and keep high numbers of students enrolled. Spanish speaking teaches can receive up to $5,000 in bonuses a year (“Bilingual Education”). In bilingual education, students are taking longer to transition to mainstream “English-only” classes. Bilingual education programs are poorly maintained. English immersion is a better solution to teaching English than bilingual education. Many LEP students often feel stressed out and frustrated in mainstream classes, which causes them to dropout. According to Clouthier, dropout rates among Hispanics, who speak Spanish, have not improved in the past 25 years that bilingual education programs started. Clearly bilingual education has not help students with frustration and stress or decreased dropout rates. Students learn English with less proficiency and more slowly in bilingual education programs.
Proponents claim that proficiently teaching a students’ native language first and then teaching English as a second language helps students in the long run, but according to Clouthier, The National Academy of Sciences reviewed 30 years of bilingual research and found no negative effects from teaching reading and writing in English, without first teaching proficiency in a students’ primary language. In bilingual education students take five to seven years to assimilate students; because the program believes that teaching the students, whose native language is not English, their culture values, languages, and customs, when the students’ parents should teach them their heritage (Clouthier). On the other hand, supporters of bilingual education believe that effective bilingual education helps students, for whom English is not their native language, to assimilate into main stream America. Supports say that the controversy is actually rooted in the misunderstanding and misapplication of how language is learned and taught. According to Stokely, students must first learn proficiently their first native language and then learn English as their second language.
Supporters say that bilingual education programs enable non-English speaking students to learn English without losing learning time in other academic subjects. Supporters say that the reason some bilingual education programs are ineffective is because they are poorly maintained by the federal government and finding a bilingual teacher is very rare (Stokely). To conclude, bilingual education should not be allowed as a way to teach English students, which have a low proficiency in English, because bilingual education programs segregate students, are too costly, and are poorly maintained.
Bilingual education segregates students from other peers based on their native language which cause slower assimilation. Since students are learning English at a slower pace which more funding is needed for these programs to run, and some teachers intentionally keep students longer these programs for the money, which makes these programs too costly. Most bilingual education programs are poorly maintained because these programs have not decreased the student dropout rate. English immersion is a better solution to bilingual education because it’s more affordable and joins students to learn one language.
“Bilingual Education.” Issues & Controversies On File: n. pag. Issues & Controversies. Facts On File News Services, 15 Feb. 2005. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. . Clouthier, Kris. “Point: English Immersion: Creating Equal Opportunity For Immigrant Students.” Points Of View: Bilingual Education (2013): 5. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. Ginsburg, Jill. “Bilingual Education: An Overview.” Points Of View: Bilingual Education (2013): 1. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. Stokely, Anne. “Counterpoint: The Benefits Of Bilingual Education.” Points Of View: Bilingual Education (2013): 6. Points of View Reference Center. Web. 16 Oct. 2013.