Dual Language Programs

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Introduction

Due to high mobility, rapid change, economic growth, and other factors, increasing deculturation has become a current global issue that has begun to affect education (Cornish, 2005). Deculturation usually occurs when a person moves to a country where people speak a language and have a culture they do not understand or are familiar with. Cornish (2005) also states that today individuals do not have to move to another country to experience deculturation, they are able to experience deculturation when people of other cultures immigrate and their culture takes over part or much of their culture. Because this has become such an impact on the United States of America, our educational system has also had to make modifications in order to serve students of diverse cultural backgrounds. In March of 2007, the Census Bureau gathered data from a survey where it was evident that Hispanic immigrants are the largest group of immigrants into the United States. The table below shows that 48.3% of immigrants that enter the United States are Hispanic.

Given that the Hispanic population has continued to grow, public education has created programs such as dual language (DL) to assist not only the Hispanic students to learn English, but also American students to learn Spanish. DL is a form of education in which students are taught literacy and content in two languages. DL programs use the partner language for at least half of the instructional day in the elementary years. This type of program usually begins in kindergarten and extends for at least 5 years. These programs aim for bilingualism, biliteracy, academic achievement equal to that of students in standard programs, and cross-cultural competence. Review of Literature

Banks (2003) expresses that in order to create multi-cultural awareness and understanding we need to begin by educating our students on becoming multicultural citizens. His definition of a multicultural citizen is a person who is able to recognize and legitimize the rights and needs of other citizens and maintain commitment to both their culture and the national culture. In our current state of multicultural growth it is important that we begin to educate students on how their cultures may have national and global effects and in turn how international events affect them. According to Banks (2003, 11), “Non-reflective and unexamined cultural attachments may prevent the development of a cohesive nation with clearly defined national goals and policies”. The United States has always been a country of diverse cultures; however, with the large influx of Hispanic immigrants entering the country we have seen some cultural changes. Some may believe that by becoming more culturally aware we would betray our country; on the other hand becoming multicultural citizens would strengthen the country. Banks (2003) stated that a nation that alienates cultural groups runs the risk of creating alienation and cause these groups to focus on their own concerns rather than on the goals and policies of the nation. Education is the foundation of any great nation and students must be given the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to function within our culture that is and will continue to be diverse in race, ethnicity, culture, language, and religion.

Wiley (1997) examined four myths of language diversity and literacy and used historical and contemporary data to disprove them. The first myth was that the English language is threatened. Through U.S. Census data Wiley (1997) found that in 1990 13.8% of the population spoke a language other than English. Based on this information it is evident that English is the dominant language in the United States and that the country is better described as a multilingual nation. The second myth was English literacy is the only literacy. Many people confuse being literate in English with being illiterate. Many immigrants may not be literate in...
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