Bilingual Education in the United States

In The United States. foreign students from various minority groups are often placed at a disadvantage in schooling because their Native Language is not English. As a result, a Bilingual education system was devised by the government to help the disadvantaged in 1968 under the Bilingual Education Act. In an essay Written by Diane Ravitch called Does Bilingual Education Make Sense? she argues that Bilingual Education in the United States has been a dismal failure. In addition, she also believes that a new system of structured immersion would better suit the needs of these foreign students.

I disagree With RaWtch for several reasons. To begin With I feel that Bilingual education is needed to help students keep up With others Who are not disadvantaged. Another reason is that I believe that the current bilingual education system gives sufficient opportunity for students who want to learn English.

Finally I feel that the immersion system would only be useful to stud! ents who are exposed to English on a regular bases after attending the immersion program.

The major disadvantage for foreign students can be illustrated by a simple exercise, Try picking up a gradutate course biology book and flip to chapter located toward the end of the book. Now read a few lines of text. Unless you are a person of extraordinarily rare intelligence or you are highly knowledgeable in biology than you have Just delved into a small part of academic life of a foreign student Without bilingual education. Foreign students are hindered by the problem that you had Just experienced; they dont have the knowledge of a particulariargon to fully comprehend the material.

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Therefore Without bilingual education students who are disadvantaged become secluded and unsuccessful. Many get frustrated because of this and end up losing a lot of confidence.

As a result programs like bilingual education are needed in order to help foreign students keep up with others in their studies. The base for these programs is simple: Stress the learning of English and lei ach other sublects in there native language until they are able to learn fully in English. In her essay RaVitch points to a statistic which says that the drop out rate of Hispanics ages 16 , 24 was 30 percent, which is more than double the dropout rate for blacks and white in the same age group. This statistic is an unfair representation of the effectiveness of Bilingual education. One reason that I feel this way is that the age group that was surveyed was too high. Scientific studies have shown that it is easier to learn a new language at a young age, consequently the statistic is a misrepresentation because it only shows the progressmn of age groups Which are quite high in terms or an educational life span.

As a result, only those who are most likely to unsuccessfully complete bilingual education was shown. A statistic. which accounted for a broader range of age groups would probably better resemble the effectiveness of Bilingual Education. Other advocates against the Bilingual system feel that teaching students in their own language hinders their assimilation into the english speaking society, I am a strong believer in the saying Language is not taught in the classroom. This saying means that the only Way to truly learn a language is to live in a society which speaks that language. Therefore I feel that not teaching foreign students in their own native language Will only hinder them, because those who are not familiar with english Will fall behind other areas of education. Another statistic that is used in RaWtchs argument is that 90 percent of the students in New York who started bilingual education in the sixth grade where unable to pass an English language test after three years of bilingual instruction.

There are two problems with this statistic, The first problem is that students who start schooling in the sixth grade are. like the other statistic. quite high in age. The other dilemma lies within the location that was used in the survey. Eighty-percent of New Vorks population consists of five ethnic groups black, Irish, Italian, Jewish and Puerto Rican. Puerto Rican. who are the largest Spanish speaking minority in New York, make up 12 percent of the total population. As a result, there are certain sections that exist in New York where one can sun/ive without using English at all. An example of this is East Harlem in Manhattan Where the predominant language there is arguably Spanish.

Consequently the immigrant students who! live there are not exposed to English outside of the classroom. As one can imagine this has a great effect on the ability for one to become fluent in the English language. Therefore the statistics misrepresent the ability of Bilingual education to help students assimilate into an English speaking society and reinforces the idea that language is not taught in the classroom. The primary purpose of language has always remained the same since the dawn of human Infancy: communication. Falling in line with that reasoning, if a person wants to communicate With a particular persons or groups he/she Will have to choose the right tool(0r in practical terms the right language). If ne/she does not want to communicate with a certain group than learning that language or tool would be of no practical use to him/her. Now I pose a final question: Is English important to everybody in America?

Dont get me wrong I feel that English is a necessary tool for any to have in order to advance in the American society, but the question here is not what i think. butwhat the indiwdual person thinks. Meaning that if a student doesnt want to learn English than he Will ultimately, not learn English. The Education system of America has the obligation to give students the opportunity to walk through the different doors of knowledge (ext science, language, art etc.)! ,What doors the students choose to walk through is up to them. If bilingual education was erradicated foreign students would be forced to walk through the door of the english language before given the chance to walk through any other door. Therefore I do not feel that the bilingual education system should be eliminated since the importance of the english language can only be decided by the individual student and his environment.

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Bilingual Education in the United States. (2023, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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