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Bilingual Education: Critique Essay

According to Brisk (1998), when bilingual or bilateral education is implemented in private schools the results are very encouraging. Students of all ages benefit from such approach producing at times amazing results. When, however, the bilingual education is implemented in public schools for lingo-minority, the results become controversial if not questionable. To understand such a disparity, a lot of studies have been conducted during the last two decades.

One of this studies that Brisk described was done by UNESCO more than 40 years ago concluded that when children were taught in their second (or minor) language they experienced difficulties in their education. From their report, one could see clearly that researchers at this organization favored the mother tongue declaring that children get better education when teachers teach them using it. Logically, the language is the medium to transit knowledge. If the native language was and is spoken at home, the major cultural elements are being transited to the children of the family.

Language encapsulates the concepts that language carries and that are transmitted on to the young child as he or she absorbs the culture within the micro-culture. Before the child goes to school, many concepts absorbed through the native language are already a part of his or her cognitive development. Even more so, the elements of personality have also been transmitted through the native language and continue being reinforced if and when the parents speak the native language at home.

When that child goes to school, he or she feels immediately confused for that personality core cannot be expressed nor reinforced by the dominant language that the child hears in school for the duration of the entire day. The transition from the native language into the concepts learnt with the dominant language is happening very slow and never in its entirety leaving some confusion and unclear definitions. That lack of clarity prohibits the child from asking questions (especially if that child is more shy by nature) and that feeling of confusion grows into frustration.

Shannon Fitts (2006) examined how bilingual instruction affects the students’ learning and how “parallel monolingualism” afford the students “to explore linguistic forms and their attendant social meanings. ” It appears that her initial perspective of the “parallel monolingualism” implies that the children artificially separate two languages to absorb the instructional input. Indeed, there are intangible ideas present in the native language that cannot be expressed in the dominant one. Thus, the lingo-minority students can be easily taken advantage of by other students or even by teachers.

Throughout the Fitts’ paper there is a dominance of an idea that teaching in bilingualism is unjust and unfair to those whose dominant language is not native. She justifies this view by trying to conceptualize her opinion of “conceptualizing native languages” and thus viewing a language as an isolated medium of knowledge transference. She referred to other researchers when saying that Hispanic students “do not feel valued” while being present in the classroom of the dominant culture and therefore find it difficult to devote to their own education.

She should not isolate Hispanic students from those of other ethnic backgrounds. I do not believe that anything has to do with being or not being valued as a person; it has everything to do with misconstruing definitions, half-understood remarks, not-natively implied body language, and other cultural elements. Looking at bilingual classroom from the wrong perspective will warp the impression about the students’ social make up and cultural inclusion.

Han Chung (2006) expressed a positive approach in the writing style describing the code-switching strategy in addressing the needs of bilingual Korean students. The researcher’s attitude was that of nonchalant opinion with non-sided estimation. This researcher started the paper with the acknowledgement that multilingualism is the way that many people live with (i. e. Europe) and the transference between languages becomes more than cursory. She mentioned several secondary sources that conform the fact that many children grow up hearing two or even more languages at home and in the immediate environment.

With the people becoming more mobile, more and more children are forced into multilingualism; however, it is not necessarily contributing to their best rate of development. Her logical discussion brings the readers into the common for the topic questions, like “How the children acquire the second language? ” or “Being able to communicate in two languages, do they loose some important characteristics of the personality development transferred in to them by the first and native language? ” or “What does happen to the cultural identity?

” Her further discourse discusses the multiculturalism as the medium of “the complex communicative demands of a pluralistic society…” (the secondary source). Her acknowledgment that the society is pluralistic (not monolistic with domineering language) brings a totally new concept into bilingualism of its citizenship: that every resident living in that society has equal rights and equal access to the major language used in that society. The sentiment within the Fitts’ work (2006) was different.

I perceived that she was referring to Hispanic students as those who must adjust to the major culture and language. Multilinguistic approach versus that of monolistic should become prevalent before we accept the fact that the right to major or minor languages within the same society should be provided to any citizen. Even that is not enough. Language minority students should feel that their native language and ethnic belonging are accepted and respected within the dominant culture.

They should not feel excluded just because they have an accent or they do not understand all the nuances of the dominant language. They may feel that their language is not as important as the dominant language at their school. At some sites where there are no bilingual programs, the emphasis is not on the maintenance of the student’s primary language. Instead, the goal is to transition the students as soon as possible into all dominant language classes. The implication here is uni-sided: your culture and language are less important than ours.

Certainly, such implication will be indirect but nevertheless felt by the affected minority groups. The use of the student’s primary language therefore takes a backseat, as the main language emphasized at the site is the dominant one. The maintenance of his/her language is not the main priority of such a school. Despite the controversy (Rothstein, 1998), it is given that at schools where there are two-way bilingual immersion programs, the target language, which may be the primary language of the minority student, does not take a backseat at the site.

It is considered just as important as the dominant language and treated equally. The equal treatment can become tricky, and this is where the instructors’ skill and special training are needed. Unlike in transitional bilingual programs where the primary language is only emphasized in core subject classes until the student is transitioned into the dominant only curriculum the equal bilingual program treats each subject matter as knowledge with ought much emphasis with what language the students will acquire it.

Rothstein’s work clearly points out at this controversy and is addressed to both kind of readers: pro-bilingualism and those who do not see the value behind it. He pointed out that the minor and the dominant languages should be used equally and by the language majority students as well as by the teaching staff as a mere tool to deliver instructional input. According to some researchers in the area of bilingual education (Commins & Miramontes, 2006), equal bilingual programs may help students in the area of self-esteem, which may have an effect in the area of academic achievement.

In that, Commins and Miramontes argued that students’ self esteem could be studied separately for it can be a dependent variable to the type of education program (bilingual or monolingual) the site will employ. Such a perspective always refreshes for it is obvious that the researchers do not take sides or become shifted into any opinion. In another work, Dominguez De Ramirez, and Shapiro (2006) suggested that programs such as two-way bilingual immersion programs contain ingredients that may help the language minority students raise their levels of self-esteem, and academic achievement.

These researchers, as well, focused their attention at the formation of students’ personality and the program factors affect on it. These particular researchers’ attitudes appeared to be shifted in favor of Hispanic population for they specifically discuss such without any reference to any other ethnic groups. With such researchers, I would like to see more comprehensive approach discussing other ethnic groups and ethnic situations so abundantly present in the USA and especially in European Union. The situation is not and should not appear to be unique to one ethnic group in one country.

Many in multiple geographical locations around the Globe experience it. Further, it would not be presumptions of me to notice that such situations happen very often with the ethnic writers writing about the population that belong to their ethnicity group. Especially these writers should be more concerned of the wider-comprehensive appearance of their work. Such critique is no way to limit their effectiveness as far as their writing skills are concerned but rather their point ness within the topic(s) they choose. References Brisk, M. E. (1998).

Bilingual Education: From Compensatory to Quality Schooling. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Commins, N. L. , & Miramontes, O. B. (2006). Addressing Linguistic Diversity from t he Outset. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 240+. Retrieved June 4, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5014939910 De Ramirez, R. D. , & Shapiro, E. S. (2006). Curriculum-Based Measurement and the Evaluation of Reading Skills of Spanish-Speaking English Language Learners in Bilingual Education Classrooms. School Psychology Review, 35(3), 356+.

Retrieved June 4, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5017755652 Fitts, S. (Summer, 2006). Reconstructing the Status Quo: Linguistic Interaction in a Dual-Language School. Bilingual Research Journal, 29: 2 Han Chung, H. (Summer, 2006). Code Switching as a Communicative Strategy: A Case Study of Korean–English Bilinguals. Bilingual Research Journal, 30: 2 Rothstein, R. (1998). Bilingual Education: The Controversy. Phi Delta Kappan, 79(9), 672+. Retrieved June 4, 2007, from Questia database: http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=5001343556

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