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Bilingual Education Essay

967 words - 4 pages

Schools throughout the United States have to deal with a growing number of students speaking different languages. The bilingual education system was first introduced in the 1960s (Donegan 3) as an alternative way to solve social problems at the time when ethnic-pride-movement supporters insisted that all ethnic subcultures should be treated equally. The program's original goal was to offer minority language students the way to improve written and communication skills in English while learning the new material in their first language and to prepare them for an effective integration into American society through gradually introducing them to a new culture. The need for educational reform has provoked a great deal of debate among educators and policymakers. The debate over bilingual education is heated all across the country, with people on both sides of the argument standing firm in their beliefs. Although there are many arguments against bilingual education, it should be introduced in all public schools because it helps non-native English students to excel in many areas of academic and social life.Bilingual programs help students become proficient in both their native language and academic material they study. It is not the question whether bilingual programs work, but more the question of how our society addresses cultural and linguistic diversity. According to Donegan, studies have proven that bilingual teaching dramatically increases students' educational progress both in English communication skills and other content in curriculum (5). Students who attend a regular English-only class right away usually fall behind in subjects taught in English and experience negative consequences in social development (Donegan 2). Bilingual system does not disregard the need for success in English; instead, it is one of the most important outcomes of effective bilingual education programs. Being exposed simultaneously to their native language as well as to subject material in English, bilingual children become successful in both. Besides, bilingual children have wider communication skills. By teaching them to be literate in two languages, they become able to communicate with their extended family on one side and the community on the other side, which increases the quality of their social life. Being bilingual also has economic advantages. People who speak two languages may have a wider variety of jobs available for them upon completing their education. The advantages are numerous. Why are critics opposed to the idea of bilingual education then?Historically, Americans have not shown a great tolerance towards linguistic diversity. There have been repeated efforts to make English an official language in the country by restricting bilingualism, as well as attempts to enhance more bilingual programs on the other side. There is a current disagreement regarding whether or not bilingual program meets its initial objective and the ways it affects American society. The...

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