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History of Biligual Education Essay

My project was to go and find out about bilingual education’s history, process, and the experts in the field of bilingual education. Bilingualism is the ability to speak two languages fluently. Bilingualists study Bilingualism and bilingual education, which is teaching all subjects in school through two different languages. Bilingual Education was first adopted in Ohio in 1839, due to the increase of German-Americans (Rethinking). By the end of the 19th century, many states had adopted bilingual education laws to meet the demands of new immigrants due to industrialization. When World War I came many Americans changed their views of bilingual education, due to the fear of German-Americans and the government’s new Americanization policies, including English-only instruction. It wasn’t until the Civil Rights Movement Era and the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, when bilingual education was reintroduced into the United States. “The court’s decision in the landmark Lau v. Nichols case required schools to take “affirmative steps” to overcome language barriers impeding children’s access to the curriculum. Congress immediately endorsed this principle in the Equal Educational Opportunity Act of 1974.”(Rethinking). In California, bilingual education was banned until 1967. In 1967, Governor Ronald Reagan signed legislation (SB 53) that authorized bilingual education, before the Bilingual Education Act of 1968. A blow for bilingual education came in 2002, when President George Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act got rid of the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, changing the way people look at bilingual education. In 1998 California, under Ron Unz’s Proposition 227, reverted Ronald Reagan’s SB 53. This Proposition later confirms Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and the country’s renewed interest in English only instruction, due to the Iraq War. Many critics of bilingual education believe that bilingual education is failed, but proponents of bilingual education feel bilingual education is a better option than English-only instruction.

Critics of bilingual education believe that children who receive bilingual education will not be able to help students learn English as well as English-only students. One of the critics of bilingual education, Rosalie Pedalino Porter of the Institute for Research in English Acquisition and Development (READ), believes that “the expectations for bilingual schooling
were threefold: better and more rapid learning of English; better mastery of school subjects; and higher self-esteem among students, which could lead to higher academic achievement and fewer school dropouts. Unfortunately, none of these goals was achieved…The goal [of English immersion] is threefold: early literacy development in English, subject matter instruction in English with a special curriculum, and early inclusion of LEP students in mainstream classrooms for maximum exposure to native speakers of English and for greater integration of diverse student populations”(Porter). However, “controlled studies consistently show that children in such properly organized bilingual classes acquire at least as much English as those in all-English classes and usually acquire more”(Krasen). Another proponent of bilingual education, Jay Greene provided research that “the use of the native language in instructing limited English proficient children has “moderate beneficial effects” and that “efforts to eliminate the use of the native language in instruction … harm children by denying them access to beneficial approaches”(Greene).

In addition to the belief that children who receive bilingual education will not be able to help students learn English as well as English-only students, critics of bilingual education believe that the passage of Proposition 227, caused test scores to increase. Proponents of 227 from the READ Institute argue that, the test scores from 1998-2000, show that minority English language learning students in California have done better on the SAT 9 test than those in bilingual education had done before (Mora). Kenji Hakuta, shows in his article, Points on SAT-9 Performance and Proposition 227, “test scores rose in districts in California that kept bilingual education, as well as in districts that never had bilingual education” (Hakuta). In addition, “ Scores increase about 1.5 to 2 points per year after a new test is introduced. Thus, test score inflation accounts for about half of the increase in grades two and three in the SAT9 reading test since 1998, and all of the increase in grades four through seven SAT9 reading scores in California have actually declined slightly in grades eight through eleven”(Linn et. al). Research done by these bilingualists show that Proposition 227 has not increased the minority English language-learning students in California’s English skills.

Critics of bilingual education believe that poorly trained teachers and complicated bilingual education structures cause more confusion than English-only programs. Susan Headden, writing in U.S. News & World Report, comments, “Poorly trained teachers further complicate the picture. . . . The paucity of qualified candidates has forced desperate superintendents to waive some credentialing requirements and recruit instructors from abroad. The result is teachers who themselves struggle with English” Advocates cite that just because bilingual education needs improvement doesn’t mean it should be eliminated.

Critics of bilingual education look at the success of Canada’s French immersion policy in schools. In kindergarten and first grade native-English speakers are taught entirely in French. Then gradually, English is introduced and by the end of elementary school, most students become fluent in French and English. However, more impressive is the bilingual education of European countries. Since there are eleven different official languages of the European Union, students are taught multiple languages .The study of first foreign language begins in first year of primary school, then an additional language is added in the second year of secondary school and the fourth year of secondary school. By the time students exit college with a Baccalaureate degree, they will know at least four languages. From, my research I was able to find proponents and critics of bilingual education. I noticed that there were many more proponents of bilingual education, among them are Kenji Hakuta of Stanford University, Colin Baker of the University of Wales, Stephen Krashen of the University of Southern California, Wayne P. Thomas and Virginia Collier at George Mason University, and Jim Cummins of the University of Toronto. Critics of bilingual education include politicians, George Bush, Susan Headden, and Rosalie Pedalino Porter. Perhaps we should be looking to other nations to solve our educational issues, as neither English-only nor bilingual education seems to work.

References *Based on an Analysis by National Association of Bilingual Education. (2002, Winter). History of Bilingual Education. Rethinking Schools. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/special_reports/bilingual/langhst.shtml * Greene, J. (1997). A meta-analysis of the Rossell and Baker review of bilingual education research. Bilingual Research Journal , 21(3), 103-122. *Hakuta, K. (2000). Points on SAT-9 Performance and Proposition 227. Lecture presented at Stanford University , Cubberley Hall 228, 485 Lasuen Mall Stanford, California. *Headden, S. (1995, September 25). One Nation, One Language? U.S. News & World Report, 38+. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~jmatthew/articles/onenation.html *Krasen, S. (1996). Under Attack: The Case Against Bilingual Education. Culver City, CA: Language Education Associates. *Linn, R., Graue, E., & Sanders, N. (1990). Comparing state and district test results to national norms: The validity of claims that ‘everyone is above average. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice , (9), 5-13. *Mora, J. K. (n.d.). What Do the SAT-9 Scores for Language Minority Students Really Mean? Retrieved May 10, 2007, from San Diego State University Web site: http://coe.sdsu.edu/people/jmora/SAT9analysis.htm *Porter, R. P. (1999, December). The Benefits of English Immersion. Educational Leadership, 1(57), 52-56.

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