Bilingual Education is defined as any school program that uses two languages. In a more theoretical sense it is any educational program whose ultimate goal is for the participants to be fully versed in all facets of both languages (i. e. , able to listen, speak , read, and write in both languages). The definition of a coordinated, developmental bilingual approach has emphasized the goal of being equally fluid in both languages. Realistically, this has not been the goal for most K-12 bilingual schools in the United States.
More commonly in the United States we are using the words bilingual program to describe a program that will provide literacy and content in the primary language, while building English fluency, to the point where all instruction will occur in English. These programs are label transitional bilingual programs as their ultimate goal is to transition all students into an English only learning arena. One of the down sides of these programs is that they are not maintenance (development)bilingual programs which are designed to preserve and develop students primary language while they acquire English as a second language.
Bilingual Program Models All bilingual program models use the students’ home language, in addition to English, for instruction. These programs are most easily implemented in districts with a large number of students from the same language background. Students in bilingual programs are grouped according to their first language, and teachers must be proficient in both English and the students’ home language. Early-exit bilingual programs are designed to help children acquire the English skills required to succeed in an English-only mainstream classroom.
These programs provide some initial instruction in the students’ first language, primarily for the introduction of reading, but also for clarification. Instruction in the first language is phased out rapidly, with most students mainstreamed by the end of first or second grade. The choice of an early-exit model may reflect community or parental preference, or it may be the only bilingual program option available in districts with a limited number of bilingual teachers.
Late-exit programs differ from early-exit programs primarily in the amount and duration that English s used for instruction as well as the length of time students are to participate in each program (Ramirez, Yuen, & Ramey, 1991). Students remain in late-exit programs throughout elementary school and continue to receive 40% or more of their instruction in their first language, even when they have been reclassified as fluent-English-proficient.
Two-way bilingual programs, also called developmental bilingual programs, group language minority students from a single language background in the same classroom with language majority (English-speaking) students. Ideally, there is a nearly 50/50 balance between language minority and language majority students. Instruction is provided in both English and the minority language. In some programs, the languages are used on alternating days. Others may alternate morning and afternoon, or they may divide the use of the two languages by academic subject.
Native English speakers and speakers of another language have the opportunity to acquire proficiency in a second language while continuing to develop their native language skills. Students serve as native-speaker role models for their peers. Two-way bilingual classes may be taught by a single teacher who is proficient in both languages or by two teachers, one of whom is bilingual. ESL Program Models ESL programs (rather than bilingual programs) are likely to be used in districts where the languageminority population is very diverse and represents many different languages.
ESL programs can accommodate students from different language backgrounds in the same class, and teachers do not need to be proficient in the home language(s) of their students. ESL pull-out is generally used in elementary school settings. Students spend part of the school day in a mainstream classroom, but are pulled out for a portion of each day to receive instruction in English as a second language. Although schools with a large number of ESL students may have a full-time ESL teacher, some districts employ an ESL teacher who travels to several schools to work with small groups of students scattered throughout the district.
ESL class period is generally used in middle school settings. Students receive ESL instruction during a regular class period and usually receive course credit. They may be grouped for instruction according to their level of English proficiency. The ESL resource center is a variation of the pull-out design, bringing students together from several classrooms or schools. The resource center concentrates ESL materials and staff in one location and is usually staffed by at least one full-time ESL teacher.
Models with No instruction in the native language– such programs provide neither instruction in the native language nor direct instruction in ESL. However, instruction is adapted to meet the needs of students who are not proficient in English. Sheltered English or content-based programs group language minority students from different language backgrounds together in classes where teachers use English as the medium for providing content area instruction, adapting their language to the proficiency level of the students.
They may also use gestures and visual aids to help students understand. Although the acquisition of English is one of the goals of sheltered English and content-based programs, instruction focuses on content rather than language. Structured immersion programs use only English, but there is no explicit ESL instruction. As in sheltered English and content-based programs, English is taught through the content areas. Structured immersion teachers have strong receptive skills in their students’ first language and have a bilingual education or ESL teaching credential.
The teacher’s use of the children’s first language is limited primarily to clarification of English instruction. Most students are mainstreamed after 2 or 3 years. Case Study: California Proposition 227 What do redesignation rates show about the success of Prop 227. Redesignation occurs when a child knows enough English to participate in the mainstream. All studies, whether done by advocates or opponents of bilingual education, show that this takes about five years. When redesignation rates rose in Los Angeles Unified School District recently, proponents of Proposition 227 claimed success.
Redesignation rates in Los Angeles did in fact improve: A tenth of a percent in 1999, and about two percent since 1998. Proposition 227 has been in effect only two years, not enough time to show an effect. Redesignation rates in Los Angeles Unified have been increasing for the last ten years, from about four percent in 1990 to ten percent in 2000. In the early 1990’s, Los Angeles Unified greatly improved its bilingual education program. It appears that bilingual education deserves the credit for the improvement, not Proposition 227.
If we accept that recent gains in redesignation rates are a valid indicator of Proposition 227, data from other districts shows that 227 is a failure: Some English-only districts had redesignation rates below the state average, including Oceanside (6. %, compared to the state average of 7. 6%), while some that kept bilingual education had higher redesignation rates. Proposition 227 indicated one year was enough time to acquire a sufficient level of English to do well in the mainstream.
Ramirez (1992) reported that after one year in an all-English immersion program, only 3. % of LEP children were redesignated and only 1. 3% were mainstreamed. Even after three years, these percentages were still only 38% and 19%. Mitchell, Destino, and Karan (1997) evaluated the progress of limited English proficient children in the Santa Ana district in an immersion program that was similar to what Proposition 227 requires. When they entered school, the children had low intermediate proficiency in English (2. 18 on a 1-5 scale, where 4 = sufficient proficiency to survive in the mainstream).
After one year, they showed some growth in English but were nowhere near what was required to do academic work in the mainstream: They moved from 2. 18 to 2. 84 in English, on a five point scale. Even after a second year of immersion, their mean English rating was only 3. 24. – Krashen and McQuillan (1999) reanalyzed data from Clark (1999), and concluded that one year/180 days was not sufficient even to bring most students to the level where they could do well in special sheltered subject matter instruction, and fell very very far short of bringing students to the level where they would profit from being in the mainstream.
Goldberg (1997) described an all-English program for LEP children in Pennsylvania who received a language rich curriculum in English in kindergarten, with 75 minutes daily of ESL. For those who started at beginner level, it took three to three and a half years until they reached the level in which they are able to understand main ideas appropriate to grade level even with additional ESL support. After one year, most were still at the beginner level in oral proficiency. This study was presented as evidence against bilingual education.
Arguments Against Bilingual Education The Little Hoover Commission published a very hostile and critical review of bilingual education in 1993. They noted that some experts believe that English can be academically comprehensible for children in as little as two years, while others believe that six or more years of assistance is necessary. Their minimum estimate is two years, twice the amount that Prop 227 allows. The one-year time period is wildly optimistic. It is contrary to the results of every study done in the field in which programs very similar or identical to sheltered English immersion were used.
Additionally the primary language is seen as crutch, to be discarded when the students are proficient enough in English. Although not geared for the creation and maintainence of bilinguality, these programs still are far more acadmically sound than the current return to immersion. English immersion (EI) refers to programs in which students are taught a second language through content area instruction in that language. These programs generally emphasize contextual clues and adjust grammar and vocabulary to students proficiency level. Bilingual Education: Bilingual Education is defined as any school program that uses two languages.
In a more theoretical sense it isany educational program whose ultimate goal is for the participants to be fully verse in all facets of both languages, ie able to listen, speak , read, and write in both languages. The definition of a coordinate bilingual is someone who is equally fluid in bothlanguages. Realistically this has not been the goal for most K-12 bilingual schools in theUnited States. More commonly in the United States we are using the works bilingualprogram to describe a program that will provide literacy and content in the primarylanguage, while building English fluency, to the point where all instruction will occur in English.