Essay on Focusing on Education Beyond English

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Focusing on Education Beyond English

In recent years, much attention has been drawn to the bilingual education debate. Immigration is booming, and along with it the number of non-English-speaking children entering public schools. According to Thomas and Collier, "Language-minority students are predicted to account for about 40 percent of the school-age population by the 2030’s" (5). Bilingual programs in many areas have sparked a heated controversy, with many people claiming that non-English-speaking children, most notably Hispanics, are being disadvantaged by programs that simply don’t work.

Many people assume that a lack of English comprehension poses obstacles to normal scholastic progress. Others argue that children are
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More research needs to be done with this goal in mind, for at present, there does not seem to be enough data to conclude that any of the current education models are the best.

Today, there are many models of bilingual education. The most popular and best known are the transitional and ESL models, what Thomas and Collier refer to as "remedial" programs (2). Transitional refers to programs where educating begins in the native language, but the primary focus is to move children into classes where all educating is done in English. In transitional programs, children are taught in their native language by bilingual teachers, and given special training in English. After about 3 years, all instruction is done in English. In the ESL program children are removed from ordinary classes in order to receive special instruction in English. Children with many different backgrounds are put together in one classroom with teachers who are trained to teach English as a foreign language. The teachers are not usually bilingual. Like the transitional model, children are shifted into English-only schooling after about 3 years. (Gross Lecture)

There are several problems with these remedial models. First of all, the focus is on getting kids to learn English as quickly as possible, with the native language being used in the interim as a necessary evil, or not at all. An essentially…