Philosophy of Bilingual Education

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“Philosophy of Bilingual Education” sounds so official, so academic, and a bit intimidating as well. How and when does a teacher form a philosophy of bilingual education? That question has caused me to dig into my past and ponder each of my teaching experiences as well as the opinions of respected loved ones. I have also taken into consideration the philosophies and opinions of other teachers I have known and spoken to on this matter. My Experience Teaching LEP Students

After graduating from NMSU with a BS in elementary education, I was ready to stamp out ignorance. I wanted to teach and teach now. Talk about enthusiastic! Fortunately, I got a job immediately after graduation teaching fifth grade. I was thrilled! I felt well-equipped for any challenges I might encounter during this freshman year of teaching…that’s what I thought anyway. During the days immediately before classes start, when all of the teachers are looking at their class lists and trying to memorize names, I was told by my principal that I would be teaching a couple of students who had only recently moved to our area from Mexico, and knew only a few words of English. I was shocked! How could I be held accountable for teaching these kids subjects that the state of NM mandated they master, even though I didn’t know the language they spoke, and they didn’t know the language I spoke? I was the only fifth grade teacher in this small school. Welcome to the world of teaching in America in 1985! As I prepared to teach kids who knew no English, all I could think about was how awful my Spanish was and how terribly disappointed I was that I never learned to speak the language fluently. I definitely knew many Spanish words and phrases, but was far from being fluent. Having been raised by an Anglo, English-only speaking mom, and a Mexican dad, fluent in Spanish, who spoke in English to my sister, mom, and me, I was frequently exposed to Spanish being spoken around me (when dad conversed with his...
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