Darling 1 – College
Darling 1 – College

Darling 1 – College

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  • Published: January 22, 2019
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Heidi Darling

Ryan Winters

English 101

19 December, 2002

Bilingual Education

The debate over bilingual education is nothing if not emotional. The

two sides seem to be spurred on by political opinions from liberals and

conservatives who want to further their own cause. In general terms, that

cause, in relation to bilingual education for liberals is that diverse

languages and customs enrich the U.S. cultural stew and should be allowed

to flourish (Worsnap 6). Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that

the mission of U.S. schools is to nurture a common language – English – and

a common national identity (Worsnap 6). The issue over bilingual education

goes back several decades, even a century, in America’s history. When this

country was founded, people came from around the globe to create a new

place to live in freedom and peace. So, from the very beginning of our

nation’s inception, there has been a need to teach newcomers English. At

first this was accomplished by complete submersion. There were no

“programs” set up by the government, only a strong desire by those

immigrants to become a part of their new country. Until the 1960’s,

interest in bilingual education was limited. Then public and political

interest increased when thousands of Cuban refugees started pouring into

South Florida after Fidel Castro gained power in 1959 (Dunlap 8). At that

time, Dade County (Miami) wanted to help arriving children to adjust to

their new country, so in 1963 they became the first county to begin an

experimental bilingual education program in first to third grades at their

Coral Way Elementary School (Dunlap 8). Because this experiment was deemed

a success after just a few years, widespread support for bilingual

education helped advocates persuade lawmakers to fund bilingual programs


during congressional hearings in 1967; and they

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were successful when by President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the proposition

in January 1968 (Dunlap 8). The bilingual education act, adopted as Title

IIV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), made available

federal money for bilingual programs. Although the act did not require

local school districts to establish bilingual programs, it did encourage

their development by offering grants. In 1974 the act was broadened and

clarified the federal role in bilingual education, and for the first time,

federal money was made available for training teachers and developing

curricula and instructional materials (Dunlap 9).

“Bilingual education started out in 1968 as a modest $7.5 million

pilot program to help (immigrant) children learn English. Today it’s a $5

billion boondoggle including federal, state and local funds that actually

prevents kids from acquiring the language that will determine their

economic and social success as adults,” writes Rosalie Pesalino Porter,

author of the 1990 book Forked Tongue: the Politics of Bilingual Education

and chairman of the Institute for Research in English Acquisition and

Development (READ) (qtd. in Worsnap 6). This opinion is shared by many

experts in the field of bilingual education and also the side that I will

discuss in depth in this paper. But first, what exactly is bilingual

education and what different approaches are available to teach limited

English proficient (LEP) students English?

The definition of bilingual education is: instruction for those who

do not speak English, by teachers who use the students’ native language at

least part of the day. The term usually has meant teaching students to be

fluent in two languages (Worsnap 3). There are four basic alternatives for


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LEP children. The first of these is immersion or “sink or

swim”. In this model, the LEP child is placed in a regular English

classroom with English monolingual children and given no more special help

than any child with educational problems (Rossell 19). A second technique

is English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction, which consists of

regular classroom instruction for most of the day combined with a special

pull out program of

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English language instruction for one or two periods a day, or in some

districts two or three periods per week, and participation in the regular

classroom for the rest of the time (Rossell 19). A third instructional

technique is structured immersion, where instruction is in the English

language in a self-contained classroom of LEP children. The English used

in these programs is always geared to the children’s language proficiency

at each stage so that it is comprehensible, and the student thus learns the

second language (English) and subject matter content simultaneously

(Rossell 19). The fourth instructional technique, transitional bilingual

education (TBE), is when the student is taught to read and write in the

native tongue, with subject matter also taught in the native tongue.

English is initially taught for only a small portion of the day. As the

child progresses in English, the amount of instructional time in the native

tongue is reduced and English increased, until the student is proficient

enough in English to join the regular classroom. (Rossell 18) “For most

people learning a new language, progress depends on two factors –

motivation and exposure to the new language, which means having the

opportunity to understand it and use it for real purposes,” said Patricia

Whitelaw-Hill, an ESL teacher for many years and executive director of the

READ Institute in Washington, D.C. (89). To this end, it is my opinion

that bilingual education is a waste of government money because it does not

expose LEP students to enough English for them to become proficient in an

timely manner and because bilingual education fosters a sense of separation

in stead of unity among students which transfers into our country’s lack of


To begin with, I am against any more government money being spent on

bilingual education because the current methods being used are taking too

many years to teach LEP students English. In America today, Transitional

bilingual education (TBE) is the most common approach for teaching

immigrants English in our schools. “The majority of elementary school

programs have as their goal exiting a student after 3 years,” says

Christine Rossell, a professor of

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political science at Boston University and co-author of Bilingual Education

Reform in Massachusetts. “But these programs also allow students to stay

in the program longer than three years . . . Indeed, many children stay in

a bilingual program throughout their elementary school career ” (19).

According to Keith Baker, an independent social science consultant, “One

study using a nationally representative sample of over 300 programs of

LEP’s, found that depending on the type of program, the average length of

time that students were in a special program for LEP’s was 2.6 to 3.5

years. This study also showed that students remained longer in programs as

the use of Spanish increased in their program ” (30). In addition, Rosalie

Porter states that, “it will not surprise anyone to learn that at all

grade levels students in ESL classrooms exited faster

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