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Bilingual education refers to that education where students are taught another language other than the English language (Cummins15). Since time immemorial, people have been learning languages from the time they are toddlers and in the course of their preschool and elementary school years (Rodriguez 106).
Bilingual education’s main purpose is to ensure that students gain a new sense of pride in learning a different language from the official English language. Children brought up in bilingual homes or learning bilingual education easily learn both languages (Crawford 52). Those learning bilingual language pass through the same phases of language and speech development as those acquiring a single language.
Bilingual Education Concept
In his autobiographical book Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Richard takes the reader on a journey where he explores the sources of his alienation from his society, family, himself, his past and to some extent the readers themselves (Rodriguez 116). Richard tends to stand out from majority of other Mexican-Americans as he is against affirmative action and bilingual education.
Bilingual education is believed to have been part of an experiment that was started with the best of humanitarian intentions even though it has currently turned out to be terribly wrongheaded (Cummins 17). He views his life as a minority student as an important part of his development and growth and is against being discriminated as a minority (Rodriguez 101).
Personally, I am against bilingual education as it tends to hinder the child’s ability to learn efficiently. Having immigrated to the US at the age of 12 I was placed in a bilingual program in school where Math, Science and History were taught in my native language.
English was then introduced as ESL (English as a Second Language) program having very little instruction (Crawford 54). During my first year of high school I was required to take a literature class in my native language. Despite the fact that bilingual education has provided a supportive as well as positive environment for the social and academic growth of majority of language minority students, opposition to this type of education has dominated most states (Cummins 17).
One of the reasons as to why there is opposition to bilingual education is the fact that students tend to greatly rely on their native language, keeping them from learning as well as having proficiency in the English language. As it has been observed in most classrooms, educators are giving lessons in the native language thus hindering the students and taking them longer to learn as well as be proficient in the English language (Crawford 55).
I personally tend to believe that bilingual education tends to slow down the learning process of the English language and the incorporation into the American community. Another thing that I have come to observe is that bilingual education generally requires a number of professionally trained teachers who are not only proficient in English but their native language as well.
Bilingual education tends to separate students and this can lead to discrimination (Rodriguez 175). There is also lack of enough classrooms to accommodate students who need instructions in both English and their native language thereby posing a great challenge for educators who have to display a certain level of comfort in handling distinct levels of education all at once (Crawford 56).
As it has been the case in the past, majority of language minority students in the United States educational facilities speak almost all of the world’s languages. Schools have made efforts of integrating bilingual education programs that can be either additive or subtractive in as far as their linguistic goals are concerned. Despite what people may think or the notions regarding bilingual education that may exist, this particular kind of education is founded on experience, research as well as common sense.
Crawford, James. “Educating English Learners: Language Diversity in the Classroom.” Los Angeles: Bilingual Educational Services, Inc. 2004. Print.
Cummins, James. “Language, Power, and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the Crossfire.” Clevedon, Eng., and Buffalo, N.Y.: Multilingual Matters. 2000. Print.
Rodriguez, Richard. “Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez.” New York: Random House Publishing Group. 1983. Print.