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Bilingual Education

Advantages&Disadvantages

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Introduction
 

Bilingual education has become a huge controversy in the public school systems, all over the United States, and has been a subject of national debate since the 1960’s.  The bilingual education programs have been geared to ensure students a good education in their native languages, so that they do not fall behind academically.  This program is geared to teach English as a Second Language until students can be transitioned into an all-English class setting.  However, this has become controversial because some critics feel that the bilingual program is not effective, while others feel it is an effective program.

 

 

Bilingual Education: Does it Work?  or Does it Not Work?

Some people agrees, and others do not.

 

Advantages:

The advantages of Bilingual Education programs are to provide limited English students with both the knowledge and literacy to help the students’ transition into our society and transition into an English class setting. 

It also provides students to receive the content material in their native languages in order to help them keep up academically and work on their English proficiency.  Students need to fully understand the concepts taught in their native languge, in order to stay on task and at grade level..

Bilingual Education also helps a student’s self-esteem and the ability not to hinder their feelings about his or her culture.  It also promotes biculturalism; the students need to understand the value of their culture and language.  They should not have to feel inferior, or different about whom they are.  It also provides the ability to learn another culture, other than their own.

Another advantage is the preperation it gives a child, with no English background, the ability to obtain a good job and suceed in life.  Learning English is a tool to be sucessful in the United States.

Disadvantages:

The disadvantages of Bilingual Education are the ineffectiveness of the program.  Students are developing a dependency on their native language, which keeps them from learning and having proficiency in the English language. 

In the classroom the teachers are giving lessons in the native language, therefore it is hindering them and taking them longer to learn and be proficient in the English language.  Also they are not being prepared to be mainstream into an English classroom. 

Some critics argue that bilingual education slows the learning process of English and the assimilation into our American society.

It also isolates the students from the rest of the school and segregating them, which in the Civils Rights Act of 1964, indicates that this should not be done.  Another disadvantage is the fact that these students are often isolated from the rest of the school, which can cause discrimination.

 

Personal Interview with a Bilingual Teacher

I interviewed Mrs. Gomez, a Bilingual Teacher, on March 10, 2005. She states that Bilingual Education does work, and she supports the program.

Question:

How do you feel about bilingual education?

Answer:

“I feel that it works and without it, these non-English speaking students would not survive in America.  They need to slowly be transitioned into our American society.”

Question:

How long is the program?

Answer:

“The bilingual education program is a mandatory 3 years.  However, depending on each individual student-it can be extended.”

Question:

How do you determined if a child qualifies for the bilingual education program?

Answer:

“A child who comes from another country is tested in English, and this will determine if a child does not fully speak or comprehend the English language.” “Once they are placed in the program they are tested annually with a Language Proficiency Test, this will determine if there is an increase in the English language.” 

Question:

How does a student exit out of the bilingual education program?

Answer:

“After the mandatory 3 years, a child has to take the IOWA test, and must have a score of 34 or above.” “If they score 34 or above they are mainstreamed into the English class setting.”  “However, if they score 33 or below, the bilingual program can be extended, depending on the child, 1-2 years more.”

“Another way a child can be exit out of the program, is if the parents refuse the bilingual program. They have to put the request in writing, and the program will discontinue, even if the child does not fully speak or comprehend the English language.”

Question:

If you had an opportunity to change the bilingual education program, how and what would you do?

Answer:

“First of all, I would have more funds dedicated to the program.  Because the lack of funds, the children suffer.  There is no teacher preparation or materials to help the students.  Further more, the lack of qualify bilingual teachers in the school system does not help.”

“Also, I would not allow a split bilingual classroom, it is very difficult to teach multiple grade levels, as it is, and to have non-English students only makes it worse.”  “That would be a top priority on my list.”

Closing Statement:

Mrs. Gomez states, “Over all, the bilingual program does work, and I support it fully.”  “However, because of the lack of funds, we are having a difficult time servicing the students.”  “The lack of qualify teachers and the room to place these teachers, have caused the program not to succeed to its full potential.” “Also, because of the lack of space, we have to create bilingual, split-level classrooms, which make it even more difficult.”  “If the state and the school board help change these problems, than perhaps the bilingual education program will have a better reputation, and chance to succeed.”

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