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    Pros And Cons Of Bilingual Education Essay

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    While the debate on benefits of bilingual education in the United States has continued and different programs to improve bilingual education have been developed, the two-way immersion program may be the most effective, in terms of English achievement. The two-way model promotes achievement both academically and linguistically for both language majority and minority students in the same classroom. This model has been Receiving attention among educators and will be the subject of this review of bilingual education.

    Chapter II Literature Review Background With Hispanics making up more than fifty percent of the language minority population of the United States cited in Winster, Diaz, Espinosa, & Rodriguez, 1999, Spanish remains the most prevalent target language in U. S. bilingual programs {Christian, 1996. There are more than thirty million language minority individuals that reside in the United States, with an estimated projection of forty million by the end of the century Fitzgerald, 1993.

    Christian 1996 indicates that there is a growing concern for the target language maintenance and development. With English being as powerful and dominant as it is, the minority language is fighting for its very survival especially with adolescent students. The students must negotiate between their bilingual system and other complex systems such as peer interactions, self-esteem, and the education system itself as a whole to keep the minority language alive Soto, 1992.

    Societal attitudes towards two languages by native English speakers are attributed to the lack of progress in Spanish Graham & Brown, 1996. The debate about the benefits of bilingual education in the United States has continued for more than twenty years During this time the focus has been to help those students identified as being L. E. P. or limited in English proficiency by obtaining the best programs that will help them succeed in school Medina & Escamilla, 1994 .

    One of the major sources of controversy in the field of bilingual education is when to move students into English-language instruction Gersten & Woodward, 1995 , and which types of programs with which types of children are most effective in facilitating English language acquisition and/or native language maintenance August & Hakusta, 1997; Garcia et al, 1995; Hakusta & Gould. 1987; cited in Winster. Diaz. Espinosa. & Rodriguez. 1999. Two-way bilingual programs

    The earliest two-way programs began in the 1960″s and 1970″s. “Immersion programs were a radical educational experiment when they were first introduced” Genesse, 1994. It has only been over the past decade that there has been greater interest in the two-way immersion model. The increasing interest in the two-way immersion model is most likely due to the convergence of bilingual education research. It has indicated that extended native language development has positive educational outcomes for language minority students.

    Research on the most effective forms of bilingual education usually in terms of English achievement suggests that two-way programs may be the best. Two-way bilingual education has been described in a National study as “the program with the highest long-term academic success” Thomas & Collier, 1997, p. 52. “Two-way bilingual education programs show strong potential for high academic achievement by lessening social distance and unequal social status relations between majority and minority language students”Gonzalez & Maez. 1995.

    The students” success in these programs is undoubtedly due to a number of factors. These include opportunities for linguistic minority students to assume strong peer leadership roles in the classroom, an emphasis on grade- level academic instruction in both languages, sustained support for and use of multicultural curricula, and opportunities for non-English-speaking parents to form close partnerships with the school staff as well as with other parents Students are learning through two languages in programs that aim to develop dual language proficiency along with academic achievement.

    Because the two-way model promotes and language minority students in the same classroom, it has begun to receive attention of the national. state. and local levels as an effective way to educate language minority and majority students {Lindholm, 1992; Christian, 1996. A set of factors have been identified by Lindholm 1990. These factors are essential forsuccessful two-way immersion education The criteria that have been identified are: 1. Programs should provide a minimum of 4 to 6 years of bilingual instruction to participating students. . The focus of instruction should he the same core academic curriculum that students in other programs experience. 3. Optimal language input input that is comprehensible, interesting, and of sufficient quantity as well as opportunities for output should be provided to students, including quality language arts instructions in both languages.

    5. The target non-English language should be used for instruction a minimum of 50% of the time to a maximum of90% in the early grades and English should be used at least 10% of the time. . The program should provide an additive bilingual environment where all students have the opportunity to learn an L2 while continuing to develop their L 1 proficiency 7. Classrooms should include a balance of students from the target language and English backgrounds who participate in instructional activities together. 8. Positive interactions among students should be facilitated by the use of strategies such as cooperative learning.

    Characteristics of effective schools should be incorporated in to programs Such as qualified personnel and home-school collaboration cited in Christian, Two-way 1996, p. 68. 7 “Two-way bilingual programs have attempted to provide the opportunity for both language minority and majority children to develop biliteracy by including English speakers as part of their student population. The goal of most two-way programs is to bring Spanish speakers and English speakers to full bilingualism” Jones, 1994, p. 81 .

    Two-way immersion programs provide an effective approach to educating the growing number of nonnative speaking students in an additive bilingual environment that promotes L 1 and English language development, as well as academic progress Christian, 1996 The two-way immersion programs provide content area instruction and language development in both languages. In order to achieve the full benefits of two-way immersion education, students from the two-language backgrounds are in each class, and they are integrated for most or all of their content instruction.

    Two-way programs provide an environment that promotes positive attitudes toward both languages and cultures and is supportive of full bilingual proficiency for both native and nonnative speakers of English {Christian, 1996. The distribution of two-languages of instruction varies from program to program. “The languages are typically kept separate in one of three-ways or a combination of them: a by content area e. g. , social studies and math are taught in English; b by time e. g. , instruction is in each language on alternative days , c by person e. g. , one teacher uses only Cantenese and another uses only English” {Christian, 1996, p. 0. Bilingual/immersion has been constructed on four theoretical and conceptual building blocks to meet the language and academic needs of both native and nonnative speakers of English.

    These include: 1 social context of language education, 2 effective schools, 3 language development and 4 relation between language and thought”Lindholm. 1992. 0. 196. Cortes 1986 and Troike 1978 state that the social context of language education refers to the attitudes and policies that are held regarding the language education program and its participants, can positively or negatively influence a programs outcomes cited in Lindholm, 1992, Bilingual/immersion education, then, is built on providing the language learner with the most positive social context in which both linguistic minority and majority students can benefit from an additive bilingualism environment; in which students develop in a social context in which both languages and cultures are equally valued and all students are treated equally; and in which students are integrated in a natural fashion to promote positive cross-cultural attitudes and psychosocial development, and higher levels of second language development and academic development” Lindholm, 1992, p. 00 & 201.

    Edmonds 1983, Linney and Seidman 1989, have identified several characteristics of effective schools. These include: I a principal who is a good leader and shows leadership through concern for the quality of instruction 2 an instructional focus that is understood by all 3 an orderly and safe environment conducive to teaching and learning 4 teacher expectations and behaviors that demonstrate to the students that the students must obtain at least some minimal level ofmastery the use of student achievement as the basis ofprogram evaluation” cited in Lindholm, 1992, p. 201. Successful bilingual/immersion programs, then require effective and supportive administrative leadership teachers with high expectations for achievement of all students, and actual integration within the total school program. In addition, they must be viewed as long-term enrichment programs, as opposed to temporary compensatory programs, and receive an equitable share of resources.

    High quality educational materials in both languages and appropriate staff training are also essential for an enrichment program to develop high levels of student competence in two languages {Lindholm, 1992 Genesee 1987 states that individuals who begin second language learning early are more likely than those who begin later to achieve native-like levels of proficiency in their second language particularly if given exposure to the language in extracurricular settings cited in Lindholm, 1992. Bilingual/immersion education is grounded in language acquisition research in several respects.

    First, it is based on the premise that considerable language learning can occur naturally during non-language arts classes, such as mathematics or social studies which is similar to first language acquisition in which children communicate with each other about non- language related issues Genesee,1984, cited in Lindholm. 1992. Second the learner can progress according to his or her own rate and style again in much the same way that first language learners do Genesee, 1987, cited in Lindholm. 1992

    Third based on research regarding language learning and age, it has been argued that early immersion in a second language can facilitate a child”s second language learning by taking advantage of his or her special neurolinguistic, psycholinguistic, and cognitive capacities to learn language Genesee 1984; Lambert, 1984 cited in Lindholm, 1992. Fourth, language input to the students is adjusted to their conceptual and linguistic level, using many features of “motherese” to facilitate language comprehension and acquisition on the part of the students.

    Fifth, concentrated exposure to language is important to promote language development. Sixth, the two languages are kept distinct and never mixed during instruction Lindholm. 1992. Bilingual development may facilitate cognitive functioning if the duo language development is sustained over a long period of time so that the child attains a high level of proficiency in the two languages. High levels of language proficiency require the development of both communicative and academic language skills in both languages.

    Skills and knowledge learned in one language are accessible in another language proficiency to exhibit the knowledge Lindholm, 1992, Genesse 1994 stated that research results from evaluations of alternative forms of a second language immersion programs suggest at least three lessons of general relevance for second language instruction : 1Instructional approaches that integrate content and language are likely to be more effective than approaches in which language is taught in isolation. The use of instructional strategies and academic tasks that encourage active discourse among learners and between learners and teachers is likely to be especially beneficial for second language learning. 3 Language development should be systematically integrated with academic development in order to maximize language learning. Liberty and Gonzalez 1998 evaluated two elementary schools, Metz and Sanchez. This is an evaluation of the third year of a five-year comprehensive Bilingual Education grant funded by Title VII.

    The grant requires dual language two-way instruction on English and a second language, in this case Spanish. Instruction continues in both languages throughout the duration of the program. The students are expected to develop subject matter skills and to meet grade promotion requirements. A large percentage of students at both schools are limited English proficient LEP. Evaluation data were collected from many sources including the district mainframe files, which provide demographics, LEP status, academic achievement and literacy Information.

    The Texas Assessment of Academic Skills T AAS showed that “LEP students at Sanchez Elementary School passed at a higher rate than non-LEP students on 4th grade writing and 5th grade reading. LEP students at Metz Elementary School outperformed non-LEP students on 3rd and 5th grade mathematics, and passed at the same rate on 5th grade reading”p. 2. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills showed that “at Metz, non-LEP students scored considerably higher than LEP students on both the 3rd grade reading and mathematics tests and the 5th grade reading test; however, LEP students as a group did better on the 5th grade mathematics test.

    At Sanchez, non-LEP students as a group outperformed LEP students on 3rd grade reading and mathematics” p. 3. On Language Assessment Scales LAS-O, Sanchez Elementary School scores were higher for spring 1998 than fall 1997 scores. Students tested in English grades, 2, 3, and 4, on average scored at the Fluent Speaker of English levelLevels 4 and 5. Students tested in Spanish in grades 2, 3, and 5 on averaged scored at the Limited Speaker of Spanish level Level 2. At Metz Elementary School the LAS-O scores were higher in spring 1998 than fall 1997.

    Students tested in English in grades I, 2, 3 and 4 on the average scored at the Fluent Speaker of English level Leve14. Students tested in Spanish in grades 1,3,4, and 5 on average scored at the Non- Speaker of Spanish level Level 1 and students tested in grade 2 scored at the Limited Speaker of Spanish level Level 2. The original cohort 1995-96 ofPK-3 students totaled 596 in the two schools. In the 1997-98 school year, 45977% of the original cohort were still in the program.

    It is projected that 60% -65% of the original cohort will remain in the program in the final two years of the grant Liberty & Gonzalez, 1998. Cazabon, Nicoladis, and Lambert examined students” progress toward bilingualism in the Amigos two-way immersion program. Amigos is a two-way immersion program instituted in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1986. The students in this program typically start in kinder and continue the program through 6th grade. They wanted to gain insight into the attitudes of becoming bilingual and to see if the students were achieving academically in two languages.

    They examined the Amigos students” scores on a standardized achievement tests of reading and math in English and Spanish across a 5 to 6 year period. Concerning their attitudes, most students enjoyed learning Spanish and English in the program. The standardized test for English was the CAT California Achievement Test. The standardized test for Spanish was SABE Spanish Achievement in Bilingual Education. “The English-Amigos scored as well as or better than the English control group on the CAT.

    The Spanish-Amigos scored no differently from the English control group in reading on the CA T and scored significantly higher than the English control group in English-language math in Grades 4 through 6″Cazabon, Nicoladis & Lambert, These results suggest that both groups Amigos have achieved a high degree of English proficiency with regard to their academic work “Spanish achievement reveals that the Spanish -Amigos scored as well as or better than the Spanish control group in reading and math at all grades.

    The English -Amigos scored significantly lower in reading than the Spanish control group in Grades 4 to 6 and as well as or better than the Spanish control group in math at all grades”Cazabon. Nicoladis & Lambert. In sum, these results suggest that the Spanish-Amigos have maintained a high degree of Spanish proficiency with regard to their academic work. The English-Amigos have attained some degree of Spanish proficiency, as evidenced by their scores on the word problems of the SABE math test.

    Shin and Krashen 1996 investigated how bilingual education is perceived by teachers They were specifically interested in teachers” understanding and attitudes toward the theoretical foundation of bilingual education, and how these attitudes compared to support for participation in bilingual programs. The sample consisted of 794 kinder through twelve public school teachers from six school districts in central California. The results show that there is strong acceptance for the rationale underlying bilingual education.

    The teachers agreed that developing literacy in the first language facilitated the development of reading and writing in English, and that subject matter instruction in the first language helps the child learn subject matter better in English” p. 51. Teachers also accepted the rationale that advanced first language development led to practical advantages, superior cognitive development, and agreed that maintaining the first culture of the child was a good idea. Jones, 1994 addressed student”s perceptions of bi-literacy in a two-way bilingual classroom.

    He believes that “attitudes toward language are an integral part of learning a second language and therefore should be an integral part of planning and teaching for second language learning”p. 81 . Students must be understood in terms of attitude as well, as cognitive and linguistic processes in order to maximize bi-literacy in any and all bilingual classrooms. Results indicated that even in a two-way program where both languages were equally valued, Spanish and English speakers alike perceived English to be more legitimate school language. English was used by all students to describe their writing even when children were Spanish dominant and limited in their ability to use English” p. 84. Spanish speakers were anxious to use English when being interviewed by a bilingual Hispanic interviewer. Although number of students interviewed in this study was small, the findings about attitude and perception caused school personnel to examine their assumptions about their children”s readiness to develop both languages.

    McCollum 1993 found that in a middle school two-way immersion program, Spanish background students used primarily English at school. She argues that among other factors, the students” perceived English, not Spanish, as the “language of power” and reacted accordingly cited in Christian, 1996, p. 74. Gersten and Woodward 1995 described a longitudinal evaluation of two approaches to the education of language-minority students, transitional bilingual education and a new approach, bilingual immersion. This evaluation took place in El Paso, Texas.

    Academic instruction is taught in the primary language of the student. The primary language will be taught until the student demonstrates an adequate grasp of English. This will enable them to succeed in classes with English-language academic instruction, and exhibit competence in academic areas in their native language. Increased mastery of concepts in mathematics, social studies, and other content areas is one goal of bilingual education, since they are taught in Spanish, the language that students understand the best.

    Contemporary advocates of the immersion approach propose a method that integrates second-language instruction with content-area materials. This approach is sometimes called bilingual immersion. This bilingual immersion approach retains the predominant focus on English-language instruction from the immersion model. It changes it with a substantive, 4-year Spanish-language program so that students maintain their facility with their native language, The use of the English language at both conversational and conceptual levels is a cornerstone in the evolution of bilingual immersion.

    Students were included in the sample who “a were classified as exhibiting virtually no knowledge of English on beginning first grade b participated for at least four years in one of the districts two programs for language-minority students, and c took the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills ITBS in the areas of language, reading, mathematics, and vocabulary”Gersten & Woodward, 1995, p. 230.

    Ten schools were involved, five implemented bilingual immersion and five implemented transitional bilingual education. Longitudinal analyses were III for the bilingual immersion sample and 117 for the transitional bilingual education sample. Data were collected between 1985 and 1991. The Longitudinal evaluation generally produced a lack of significant differences in achievement test scores by the seventh grade in all areas but reading, where the effect was small.

    The longitudinal comparisons of seventh-grade achievement indicate that bilingual immersion and transitional bilingual education are equally viable options Gersten & Woodward, 1995 Collier 1995 conducted research on nonnative-English speaking students in five urban Districts. The results show that the greatest educational gains are achieved by students who were in two-way programs cited in Christian, 1996. “While the differences are not so great in the early years, by secondary school, the effects are clear” Christian, 1996, p. 72.

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