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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.

(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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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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