There has been lots of attention put towards Bilingual Education because of the large number of non-English speaking immigrants in America. The first Bilingual Education act was passed in 1968, which allowed students to learn material in school partly in their own language and the rest in English. By 1973, the federal budget for bilingual education had grown to 45 million dollars and supported programs in twenty-six different languages (Lang 61). Language minority in the United States are often called limited English proficient (LEP) students. Estimates of LEP students range from 2.5 million to 4.6 million, which equals up to 7 to 10 percent of the student population (Lang 61).
Some of the laws that support the idea of the Bilingual Education is the Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law basically stated that there should be equal education given to everyone and it prohibited discrimination by schools on the issue of race, color, gender or ethnic background. Another act was passed in 1974 which was called The Equal and Opportunity Act of 1974. This law established minimum standards of education of LEP students in public schools (Lang 62). The main goals for a Bilingual Educational Program was to learn their basic subjects such as reading, math, social studies, etc. in their home language then in English and to perceive their culture as an integral part of their education (Porter 1). They would accomplish this goal by teaching the student in their home language.
If the student has a question about something they may ask it in their own language but gradually they may start asking it in English to improve in their English speaking skills. The teacher will make the explanation in English. They also try to get English into the students through music and art. Students may start to attend classes that are taught in English. (Lang 63). One argument against Bilingual Education is that they are too expensive.
It is important to have an understanding of English when living in the United States, after all, according to the 1990 census, 94 percent of the U.S. residents, speak it, to some degree (Gallegos 98). Critics say that the federal government spends up to $178 million a year (Porter 7). The government should not spend so much money on a program that doesn t really work. Students who don t learn English are not able to excel in school. For that reason, many LEP students drop out and sometimes resort to crime.
Recent studies have shown that 1 out 2 students enrolled in bilingual programs drop out after the second year (Porter 6). One thing is certain, someone can t learn English if they don t stay in school. The government could use the money in a more useful place like Medicare and housing for the people of the America. Critics have found that 78% of students bilingual education programs do worse than, LEP students in regular English-speaking classes (Bilingual Ed 1). Bilingual Education has been found to be isolating students in school from the rest of students who speak English. Some have stated that bilingual education form ghettos within schools of students who cannot speak English (Issues 358).
This is because there is very little contact with English- speaking students. This might contribute to social and cultural separation of ethnic and racial groups in schools. There have been studies that have shown that students have in bilingual classes for six to five years. This is for most of their high school career with any other contact from the rest of the school.
Bilingual Education programs have been known to be a linguistic prison (Issues 358) In New York City a survey was taken that showed that 80% percent of LEP students in immersion classes were able to enter into regular classes conducted in English after three years (Issues 358). Immersion is an alternative of teaching English to LEP students instead of Bilingual Education programs that many states are now using. In immersion classes, students are taught in all English but more slowly (Lang 63). A good way to maybe improve how LEP students are taught is to communicate more with the English-speaking students and maybe this could help improve their vocabulary.
Teaching English only to all students could help build a common bond among Americans instead of dividing the nation. The best approach to helping to find new ways to teach students English teaching them at a earlier age while the brain is still developing. The older you get, the more harder it is to learn something new. New studies on how the brain absorbs language could be a big help in also teaching students English. Many people believe that Bilingual Education is successful is because it preserves that language of the immigrants. Bilingual students are only an asset in an increasingly global economy, but such students could add something to the American culture by bringing the linguistic heritage (Lang 67).
Without the knowledge of English, immigrants can t find jobs or fulfill the American dream. If they re only source of learning English failing is them, who will they turn to? There has to be a reform in the Bilingual Education programs in order for this people to survive.
Gallegos, Bee. English: Our Offical Language. New York: The H. W Wilson Company, 1994.
Lang, Paul. The English Language Debate. New Jersey: Ens low Publishers, Inc., 1995.
Baron, Dennis. The English-Only Question. Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1990 Porter, Rosalie.
The Case Against Bilingual Education; Volume 281, No. 5.8 May 1998 Bilingual Education 15 Dec.
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