In the past few decades, there has been a significant increase in the amount of immigrants that have arrived in the United States. These immigrants have brought with them a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, and languages. Many of these immigrants do not speak English and must learn the language in order to communicate with others. As a result, educational institutions have strived to accommodate linguistically diverse students by developing bilingual education.
Bilingual education refers to the academic instruction of two languages, which include the students’ native language and their second language. In the past few decades, there has been a debate over the implementation of bilingual education and many organizations have opposed bilingual instruction in educational institutions. However, bilingual education has been shown to be an effective instructional method that increases the academic achievement of language learners, increases cognitive development and metalinguistic awareness, and develops the learners’ writing proficiency.
Add more? The Debate over Bilingual Education U. S. English and English First are two political organizations that oppose bilingual education in the United States. These organizations claim that bilingual education delays the language learners’ ability to acquire the English language. The U. S. English organization supports its position by stating that the “U. S. Department of Labor found that immigrants are slower to learn English when they receive a lot of native language support” (Official English, 2015, N. . ).
However, this claim has been proven incorrect by a variety of research studies, which have shown that providing students with more native language support actually helps students to acquire the English language quickly, as well as develops the students’ English language skills. One significant research study compared the effectiveness of three different instructional programs for limited-Englishproficient students, which differ in the amount of native language support provided to the students.
The results confirm that “providing substantial instruction in the child’s primary language does not impede the learning of English language or reading skills” and that students enrolled in bilingual programs “improved their skills in mathematics, the English language, and reading faster than students in the general population” (Ramirez, 1991, p. 24). The study results also show that the language learners who were provided with more native language support displayed higher academic skills and achieved English language skills at the same rate as the students in English-only programs.
Therefore, U. S. English makes an invalid claim, and this study confirms that bilingual education is an efficient instructional method that helps students to quickly increase their English language skills. Another organization, ProEnglish opposes bilingual education for a variety of reasons including that bilingual instruction fails to teach students the English language and literacy they need for school success, does not lead to higher academic performance, and contributes to high drop-out rates (Bilingual Education, 2015 p. 1).
The study conducted by Ramirez that was discussed earlier confirms that bilingual programs are effective in helping students understand the English language and acquire language literacy. As for academic performance, one significant study found that students enrolled in bilingual programs had higher academic achievements, higher grades, as well as a higher grade point average than students who received monolingual instruction. In addition, this study found that as students spent more time in bilingual programs, student drop-out and retention rates decreased (Curiel, Rosenthal, & Richek, 1986, p. 65).
These valid research findings refute the claims that the ProEnglish organization makes regarding bilingual education, and demonstrate the positive impacts of bilingual education on the language learners’ success. The Effectiveness of Bilingual Education Bilingual education is an important instructional method that provides students with a variety of benefits. Bilingual education has been shown to increase the academic achievement, cognitive development, metalinguistic awareness, and writing proficiency of bilingual students.
The reason that explains the effectiveness of bilingual education is that it is easier for students to acquire their second language by first developing fluency in their native language. According to Estrada (2009), “when language learners learn grade-level academic content and skills in their first language throughout their instructional program, they can solidly transfer that knowledge to academic work in their second language” (p. 55). Therefore, when students develop reading, writing, and mathematical skills in their native language, it becomes easier for them to develop these skills in their second language.
This way, bilingual education is effective in helping students achieve academic proficiency as well as language and communication skills in a second language. Increasing the academic achievement and success of language learners is one of the most important goals that educators strive to reach. A variety of studies have shown that bilingual education is an effective instructional method that leads to the increased academic achievement of students.
One notable research study conducted by Curiel, Rosenthal, and Richek examined the impact of bilingual instruction on students’ academic performance and grades. In this study, it was found that “students who were exposed to longer periods of enrollment in the bilingual program achieved higher grades” and attained a higher grade point average (GPA) when compared to students in English-only submersion programs (1986, p. 365). In addition, the GPA of the students increased as the number of years they were enrolled in the bilingual program increased.
The results showed that students in the tenth grade who were enrolled in the bilingual program for one year had a GPA of 1. 87 compared to tenth grade students who were enrolled for six years, who had a GPA of 2. 61 (Curiel, Rosenthal, & Richek, 1986, p. 365). This study indicates that as students spend more time in bilingual programs, they are able to develop their native language skills, which allows them to quickly acquire the second language. As a result, bilingual students demonstrate a higher academic performance when compared to monolingual students.