America is truly a great nation. With all its progress, everyone outside the country desire to live and migrate in this country. In fact, it has become a popular migration destination aside from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Thus, in every city in America, there are communities of people with diverse culture and origin. Hence, this paper attempts to dissect the policies being implemented by the government concerning English as a second language in America.
History The history of Bilingual Education in the United States can be traced in the founding of America as the nation’s founder adopted neither an official language nor a government-sanctioned body to regulate speech (Ovando, 2003, p. 1). Carlos T. Ovando of the Arizona State University reveals that behind the monolingual culture image of America, thousands of other American Indian languages were spoken in the 15th century, paving for the complexities and diversities in the linguistic culture of America.
But Ovando says, most of these languages were filtered along with their cultural realities, as the founders envisioned a “country with a unified history, traditions, and a common language” (2003, p. 2). Ovando noted that this vision was based in general on the English system and schooling practices (2003, p. 2). But, language policy controversies from the beginning not prevented the founders to enforce a mono-language system or to regulate speech (2003, p. 2).
During that time European language particularly Spanish was dominant that they were treated with respect more likely than others, and their speaker being accommodated in school and government services. Ovando calls this formative period as the period of “linguistic tolerance” because of the absence of strong and solid policy on language diversity (Ovando, p. 3). As the influx of immigrants from European countries continuous, diversity of language continuous to widen as immigrants hang on to their maternal languages.
Thus, in the 19th century, laws were passed authorizing Bilingual Education. American states were allowed bilingual instructions in public and private schools (Ovando, p. 4). Research Many individual Americans were so concerned to have a national language and this reflected in the slogan “one country one language” (Ovando and Willey as cited in the work of Reid and Bourne, p. 141). The most notable was Noah Webster who attempted to create “a unique national character defined by common American English (Ovando and Willey as cited in the work of Reid and Bourne, p. 41).
Their desire must be legitimate since English language has now been spoken around the world by about 1. 5 billion people. That means, English language has now become global and a stand as a medium of communication world wide. Thus, there is a need to teach English on schools not only in America but in every country of the world. Jill Bourne and Evan Reid pointed out that because of English is widely spoken; it has a wide range of context from air-traffic control down to popular music (p. 161).
These according to Reid and Bourne create a need to learn English language to be able to communicate internationally. In the report made by Patricia Anne DiCerbo, throughout America, many foreign students are enrolling ranging from elementary to high schools, which’s common reason is migration from many parts of the world; and the dominant group among other groups is the Spanish-speaking people who are mostly coming from Latin America. She also noted that this group of students is the fastest growing group in the United States.
These students are facing a lot of challenges in terms of academic performance because of language barrier. This problem poses some problems; for instance, in her (DiCerbo’s) report, about fifty-fifty percent of Latino Youth are having the opportunity to graduate or finish high school. This simple report gave DiCerbo a perception that English Language Learning should be given to foreign students. Ovando in the book English Language Learning in America pointed out some reasons or fears why English language is now being pushed (as cited by Reid and Bourne, p. 138).
A lot of Americans are worried about the influx of immigrants from Latin America for fear they may pose threat to the cultural integrity of the nation. There are common concerns that American cities will be filled with Spanish or German-speaking aliens; and they live for years speaking only their own mother tongue and will never learn English (Reid and Bourne, p. 138). Another thing is that they fear that foreign language speakers may weakened the national body of politics as what had happened in Quebec, Canada because of the dominant French speaking aliens.
Ovando quoted Governor Dick Lamn’s statement emphasizing the need to make English the official language in schools and in government. The statement said “immigrants who fail to assimilate in the society are social time bombs. ” Finally, Ovando emphasized that in order for any one to get ahead; one has to be fluent in English (p. 138). In view of the above historical background, there is no reason to reject English Language Learning for it does in the first place, emphasize the need for everyone to learn and be fluent in English.
Carrasquillo and Rodriguez said that ELL students are encouraged to learn academic and skills in English (p. 20). English Language Learning according to them means only of advancing simultaneously in the stages of developing interpersonal skills, mastering subject area content and skills, and acquiring academic language proficiency for each subject area, all in their second language which is English (Carrasquillo and Rodriguez, p. 0). Through retention of ELL, limited English proficient students are given the opportunity to cope up deficiencies in learning using English as medium of communication. Theory For us to be able to make a conclusion regarding the issue of bilingual policy in education, it would be important to understand the theoretical argument regarding this matter.
There are various theories about bilingual policies of the United States but as space constraint, this paper cited only one theory although, there are several theories that discussed about bilingual education in the United States such as theory of Kloss (1977-1988) regarding the tolerant mood during the formative years; Baron (1990) emphasizing on slight development of English Language for the past two hundred years; REcinto (1998) which is talking about poor language minorities. It is easy to agree that these theories help in understanding language policies, especially on making conclusion about the issue.
As Ovando pointed out that history is full of evidence that support any of these theories. The theory of Heath (1983-1990) tells us that the relationship between the literacy practices from each community corresponds closely to the literacy practice and expectation of the school. Heath found out that children from other community with English as their second language excel in their own community but fell behind in school. These children are perceived as lacking in school readiness skills at the point of entry.
This means that children having native language aside from English would have poor academic performance because of language deficiencies which supposed to be not since curriculum-wise, American schools are better. Foreign students are having deficiency in terms of literacy level because of racial division or factor. Conclusion America is an English-speaking nation and English language is the internationally accepted language. It is the sovereign right of America to enforce to its citizens the use of their tongue as official medium of instruction both in public and private, as well as in government.
Language is very important and it is a unifying instrument of a nation. After centuries of tolerance, it is high time that America unites its citizens by being monolingual. This is highly important since America has become the convergence of many nations such as African, Asians, European and other languages in the world. If each of the foreign community living in the United States will use instructional materials in their native tongue, as well as use it as a medium of instruction inside the classroom, America is in danger of breaking into pieces their culture and language.
In the same way, the government offered the ELL as a means to help immigrant students to cope up with the difficulty of speaking English in the classroom. This training provides necessary practices and lesson in order to develop communication skills among the students. Also, ELL is offered in all schools in America as part of the curriculum of students whose native language is not English. Thus, the ELL is thoroughly learned and mastered through which, students learn mastery of the language as well as skills of communication in English. In the words of Carlos Ovando, children need to learn the English language for them to get ahead.