Questioning the Effectiveness and Quality of Billingual Education

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Educators and politicians have long questioned the quality and effectiveness of the techniques used in bilingual education programs. William J. Tikunoff (1985), in the Significant Bilingual Instructional Features study identified five specific bilingual instructional features that are favored by educators in their effort to ensure that limited English language proficient (LEP) students acquire the basic academic and language skills necessary to succeed in school and beyond. All of these features and techniques are also incorporated in the components of the Sheltered Instruction Observational Protocol (SIOP) standards for bilingual and second language instructional excellence (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short 2012). Sheltered instruction is a…show more content…
The first feature is the expectation that teachers are already accomplished in their own right and recognized as effective instructors of LEP students. In other words, are these teachers clearly engaged in the act of teaching, are they providing adequate scaffolding and other instructional methods to ensure these students’ success in not only language proficiency, but also in reading and mathematics (Tikunoff, 1985). There is a certain commitment to quality, resolve, fortitude and training that all educators must possess. Another aspect of this feature is that teachers communicate effectively in a manner that is clear and concise when providing directions or describing tasks; in most cases this involves modeling the activities and providing substantial feedback to the students as well (Echevarria, Vogt, & Short 2012). Teachers must have control of their own knowledge level when it comes to bilingual education. For instance, do they understand the importance of allowing enough time for LEP students to process the question, think, and then provide an answer in English? Do these teachers understand that students with strong native language literacy are most successful in their second language literacy, in this case English? Lastly, do teachers know that it is okay for students to use their native language in their learning, such as for clarification, confirmation, learning a new concept, or gathering information? In many of the district’s classrooms, the answer would be a
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