The Limitations of Language
The 14th Amendment in the United States Constitution dictates that any citizen of the United States shall receive the equal protection of civil rights, with due process of the law and cannot be discriminated against based upon race, origin, sex, class or political affiliation. Thus, educational policy in the United States is focused on providing the equal opportunities for all students. One heated debate in American education policy making is the use of bilingual education in public schools. Because there is a growing number of students (especially those in grade school) whose home language is not English, major literacy and learning disparities are created when non-english speaking students enroll in public schools that teach in English only. Students with limited English proficiency will have to work harder to achieve the same level of other students whose home language is English. Bilingual education is a program designed to alleviate the educational inequalities and disparities caused by present educational system. The focus of bilingual education is to guarantee that these students:
1. Learn the basic subjects (math, science, reading, social studies) in their home language from the time they enter school. The advantage of teaching students with limited English proficiency the basic subjects in their home language is that they will promote their academic progress while learning the English language.
2. Learn to read and write in the home language first, then eventually in English. Initial literacy skills are developed in the home language, and once the student is orally capable in English, literacy skills will continue in both languages. The misconception is that the student will have to learn to read all over again when studying English. This is wrong because when English is presented to the students, they will transfer the literacy skills gained from home language reading to English reading.
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