Bilingual Education isn’t an issue that’s been short lived. The programs have existed as far back as the late eighteenth century; Immigrant students were then instructed in their first language. Ohio became the first state to adopt an actual bilingual education state legislation in 1839. Other states soon followed, although the variation in language was somewhat broader (Lipka n.p). Controversy has been constant over what methods are actually effective, and what methods need to be retired. Since we are a nation that doesn’t have a national language and requires every child to obtain an education, the responsibility to provide one, becomes ours. With more and more immigrants coming from Mexico, the need for a successful bilingual education method is exploding. Educating any student in a language foreign to their own seems ridiculously absurd. One that doesn’t understand the language well can’t obtain anything taught in the foreign language. Although many approaches of bilingual education are used throughout the United States, they all vary in theory and in teaching style. The students have to be thoroughly taught English before joining an English speaking classroom making Immersion the most successful method. During the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, bilingual education became an issue, making legislation necessary to help resolve the problem that had been affecting students and families so harshly (Lipka n.p). “In January 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Bilingual Education Act, which incorporated native-language instruction into the curriculum (Lipka).” Although the Bilingual Education Act was signed, the discrimination didn’t stop. A few years it was found in the court case Lau vs. San Francisco School District that the Bilingual Education Act wasn’t being carried out in their school. The law suit represented 1,800 other students; eight-year-old Kenny Lau sued the San Francisco School District over English-only instruction in a school where most students spoke only Chinese. These students couldn’t learn in the English, because none of the students understood English. “The Supreme Court ruled that schools without special provisions to education language-minority students are not providing equal education and violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Federal government publishes new materials in nearly seventy languages and allocates sixty-eight million dollars for bilingual education” (PBS n.p). After the Supreme Court hearing things still weren’t better for minority speaking students. Help was needed then, and remains the same today. There are many different methods that educators choose to use in their classrooms, although some are controversial. “The bilingual programs of today are mostly a product of the Bilingual Education Act (Title VII) passed in 1968” (ECS n.p). Some states have mandated laws that enforce a strict bilingual program that is taught in all public schools in their state, while others aren’t as strict. Some states need the programs more than others. According to ProEnglish, “15 states account for 94% of students who speak languages other than English in their home.” Therefore, we know that in these fifteen states we must teach English efficiently. These students all speak a native language in their homes, so on the contrary to some beliefs, these students are not easily going to pick up on a native language. Today we know more about educating students of a minority language then we did in the past, but we are still struggling with it today. Some people even believe we should completely throw bilingual education out. If that happens, there wouldn’t be opportunity for those native speaking students. We would have much larger number of non-English speaking Americans, and a lot more citizens that couldn’t find jobs. Lastly, it would be breaking the Civil Rights Laws. There are countless misconceptions about bilingual education....
Citations: 3. Queen, Robin. Bilingual Education. 2005. 12 April 2009
6. Hood, John. "Immersion vs. bilingual education.”Triangle Business Journal (1997):
7. Lipka, Sara. "The Battle Over Bilingual Education."
The Atlantic Online (2002): n.p.
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