Bilingual Ed vs English Immersion

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Bilingual Education vs. English Immersion

Since the mid 1900’s there has been a debate as to which form of teaching is most effective for English Language Learners (ELL), Bilingual Education or English Immersion. In a Bilingual Education classroom the students are taught primarily in their native language then gradually transitioned into mainstream English classes. In an English Immersion classroom the students are taught in English only, and within a set amount of time are expected to have gained enough knowledge of the language to then be switched into mainstream English classes. Both teaching methods have their advantages and disadvantages which is why this debate has continued for so many years. History of the Conflict

The state with the biggest conflict in how to teach ELL students is California. Many Spanish speaking immigrants migrate to this state and in doing so have sparked up a debate on which way of teaching them works best. In 1967 the Bilingual Education Act was introduced and in 1968 it was passed. This act mandated schools to provide Bilingual Education programs to students, because bilingual students weren’t being offered any alternative form of teaching. After years of Bilingual Education, studies were conducted and they found that Bilingual Education was failing. A study in 1978 by the American Institutes for Research found that Spanish-speaking students in bilingual programs have less success in learning English than students receiving no special help at all. Another study Baker by deKanter from the U.S. Department of Education showed that the case for the effectiveness of Bilingual Education is so weak that reliance on this teaching method is not clearly justified. The majority of people would say Bilingual Education does not work but some schools still want to use this program to teach their students. Bilingual Education seemed to be failing in schools so a new way of teaching presented itself, which was English Immersion. Many states started implementing English Immersion in their schools and getting rid of Bilingual Education. A 1992 California State Study showed that after 20 years Bilingual Education the programs were poor and nothing proved it to be beneficial. On June 2, 1998 Proposition 227 was passed in California. This required all public school teach students ELL students in English, they would be placed in an Immersion program for one year and then placed in mainstream English classes. There have been many studies that show English Immersion students outperform student in a Bilingual Education class, but there are also many studies that show it to be failing. Advantages of Bilingual Education

“It’s a beautiful form of education as the minority speakers can learn English even while being able to strengthen their cultural bonds by being proficient in their mother tongue.” (Pandey) Kundan Pandey appreciates the art of Bilingual Education because he believes it helps students strengthen their cultural roots, while also being able to learn a new language. In a part of his article “Bilingual Education Pros and Cons” he discusses a few advantages of Bilingual Education. One advantage is that students can easily learn English, owing to his language development, in his native language as well as English language. What he means is that a student’s ability to learn English can depend on how developed they are in their native language. If they have a better understanding of their language, those same skills can easily be used when learning the English language. If a student has very little language development in their native language then it’ll be more difficult to learn English. Another advantage of Bilingual Education according to Pandey is that students are taught over a period of time in their native language, and English is treated as a second language. It is taught side by side, but only when the student has attained proficiency in their native language. This is beneficial to ELL...
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