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Bilingual Education Essay, Research Paper
The United States is one the world s most ethnically diverse
nations, the U.S. attracts immigrants from several
countries. One of the most frequent asked questions are,
how do we accommodate immigrants and whether to try to fully
blend them into the U.S. culture ? There is a huge
controversy over the Bilingual Education issue. After many
years of bilingual education in the United States, one thing
is certain that it doesn t work and it s failing America s
immigrants but many might disagree with this statement and
may think that Bilingual Education is a successful program.
Bilingual education is a dual-language program designed
to provide equal education opportunities to students of
limited English proficiency (Gallegos 99). 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.
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
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: Enslow
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. 2000
Issues and Controversies on File: Bilingual Education Vol. 2 No. 7.
12 Sept. 1997
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