To Teach or Not to Teach?
Bilingual Education is still a fairly sensitive issue in the media today. Many states with high Latino populations are at the forefront of its promotion, but it is vital to every community in the United States that houses students who's native language is not English. The diversity of the United States is one of its greatest qualities, but the public is still uneasy about accepting different cultures into mainstream "anglo-saxon" culture.
Latinos have been highly underestimated by the United States in both educational and social status. With testing in the United States done mainly in English this discrepancy is furthered because students whose native language is other than English do not perform as well due to the fact that they may not understand what they are being asked. Many view this as a form of discrimination since there is no official language in the United States.
Our purpose is to provide resources to educate the public on the topic of Bilingual Education and to take action to promote it. Everyone in the United States is entitled to voice their opinion and without active community participation to further the efforts of bilingual education legislation, other legislation detrimental to our society like Proposition 227 will be passed.
The true definition of Bilingual Education is usually somewhat cloudy due to its use in the media and other methods of transferring information. According to "Bilingual Education: A Reappraisal of Federal Policy" edited by Keith A. Baker and Adriana A. de Kanter Bilingual Education is defined as when,
"Reading is initially taught in both the home language and English. Subject matter is taught in L1 [home language] until the students' second language (English) is good enough for them to participate successfully in a regular classroom. ESL is often used to help minimize the time needed to master English. L1 instruction is phased out as regular English instruction is gradually phased in." 16
The positive guideline most cited about Bilingual Education is that "While children are learning English, they should be taught other subjects in their home language so their academic progress will not be retarded by their limited knowledge of English." 17 It is has also been noted that learning to read in one's second language can be helped along by learning how to read in one's native language first. 18
In response to negative outcomes of Bilingual Education programs it was found that much of the early research done was unacceptable due to lack of application of of "appropriate statistical tests," "the study examined gains over the school year without a control group," "the study used grade-equivalent scores," as well as other inappropriate methodology. 19 The most cited justification for poor Bilingual Education results in major studies was the fact that the programs were most likely implemented incorrectly and it was found to be "highly successful when it is done right and that more attention should be paid in the future to issues of implementation." 20
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