Bilingual education has often been defined simply as the use of two languages as the medium of instruction within a school curriculum. One of the languages used is the students' native language, and the other is the language used to educate students in a particular country-that is, the majority language. The specific purpose of bilingual education is to teach academic content to nonmajority language students and, in some models, to majority language students. A multitude of bilingual education models have developed over time.
The development of numerous bilingual education models, and whether they have predominant components of intercultural or assimilationist orientations, has been a reflection of the historical, political, economic, and social issues under debate at the time, all of which influence an individual's attitudes toward immigrants or nonmajority language speakers.
Bilingual Education Models: Intercultural And Assimilation Orientations
Bilingual education models have usually been developed to give support to children who are not speaking the majority language or language of instruction used in a school setting. Bilingual education models can be characterized as having an intercultural orientation or an assimilationist orientation. The micro-interactions that take place among students, teachers, and parents foster one of these orientations. An intercultural orientation leads to collaborative empowerment.
The intercultural orientation tends to empower students personally and academically. Teachers with an intercultural orientation see their role as assisting in adding a second language and culture while also maintaining the primary language and culture. This orientation leads to the creation of an atmosphere of collaborative empowerment. Teachers taking an intercultural orientation are more collaborative with parents, as they tend to encourage them to actively participate in their children's academic development at home and in school activities. Transformative instructional methodologies that are used by teachers involve the teaching of oral and written language through collaborative inquiry where social issues relevant to the students are included. Students use critical thinking as they describe, interpret, analyze, and use language creatively in the learning process. These instructional methods focus on student-centered rather than teacher-centered learning.
The assimilationist orientation tends to academically disable students. Teachers with an assimilationist orientation may see their role as assisting in subtracting the primary language and culture while assimilating students to the majority culture. An assimilationist orientation diminishes the possibility of creating an atmosphere of collaborative empowerment. Teachers taking an assimilationist orientation will be less collaborative with...