The objective of bilingual education is to insure students will not fall behind academically because of a poor ability to speak English, and to gradually teach them English as a second language. If minority students were taught some subjects in their native tongue, proponents insist they could possibly learn English, without sacrificing content knowledge (Education). With bilingual education, children can have the advantages of advanced first language development. Therefore, bilingual education should be provided to students, who are not proficient with the English language.
Why should learning English be a priority for immigrants in the United States? August Gribbin writes that it has become hard to think of the U. S. as an English-speaking nation now, because there are three hundred languages spoken in the United States, and more and more immigrants are speaking diverse languages, and demanding that U. S. society deal with them in their native tongues. When schools provide children quality education in their primary language, they give them two things: knowledge and literacy.
The knowledge that children get through their fist language helps to make he English they hear and read more comprehensible, and their literacy development in their primary language transfer to their new second language. “Children who arrive with a good education in their primary language have already gained two of the three objectives of a good bilingual education program, literacy and subject matter knowledge. The combination of their first language subject matter teaching and literacy development, will characterizes good bilingual programs indirectly, but also aids students as they strive for a third factor essential to their success.
Their success is good evidence for bilingual education” (Stephen Krashen). James Fallows offers some arguments against the English only movement and claims that America as a whole stands to benefit from bilingualism. He believes that the incentives for America’s newcomers to learn English are never stronger. “We don’t need to declare English our official language, because it already is that, as no one knows better than the immigrants and their children” (263). English as a second language is better taught in natural situations, with English use in contexts rather than in repetitious drills of grammar and vocabulary. Native-language instructions also helps to make English more comprehensible, by providing contextual knowledge that aids in understanding” (James Crawford). Many circumstances could have been prevented if bilingual education was brought into the school system when immigration was at its highest point in the United States. An example of one circumstance that could had been avoided would be, in Los Angels, when a poor Guatemalan immigrant garment worker and mother of three, who spoke an unfamiliar Mayan language saw her children placed into foster care.
Due to the fact the she was accused of child abuse when she couldn’t explain how one of her children obtained a black eye. Another example would be, when an 18 year-old Mexican Man, who spoke neither English nor Spanish, but a language called Mixture was accused and tried for murdering another immigrant. An interpreter of Spanish represented him at trial (August Gribbin). Therefore, without bilingual education in the school system, more and more non-English speaking people will be denied job training and services, because they cannot speak English.
Why not aim to preserve and build on the student’s native language skills as they continue to acquire English as a second language? While many of us believe English should be the official language in schools, it is interesting to note that English is not the official language of the United States, because the U. S. does not have an official language. Therefore, the goal of our government should be to encourage the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalizing the differences that divide us.
Crawford, James. Bilingual Education. 11 June 2000 (http://ourworld.compuserve. com/homepages/JWCRAWFORD/biling.htm). Education Week: Bilingual Education. 11 June 2000 (Http://www.edweek.org/context/ topics/issuespage.cfm?id=8) Fallows, James. Viva Bilingualism.. Exploring Language. Ed. Gary Goshgarian. 8th ed. New York: Addison Wesley Educational Publishers Inc. 1998. 259-263. Gribbin, August. Learning English Not A Priority for Immigrants in U.S. 11 June 2000 (http://www.elausa.org/news/us000530.html). Krashen, Stephen. Why Bilingual Education. 11 June 2000 (http://www.englishfirst. org/krashen.html).