Research Proposal: Bilingual Education and Cultural Differences

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Research proposal: Bilingual education and cultural differences Background One of the most controversial areas of childhood education is the question of how to deal with ESL students within the classroom. There is a great deal of contradictory research on the topic. On one hand, some evidence supports the notion that living in a bilingual environment conveys distinct advantages for a child from a neurological standpoint. Bilingual children, according to one study, "averaged higher scores in cognitive performance on tests and had greater attention focus, distraction resistance, decision-making, judgment and responsiveness to feedback. The correlated neuroimaging (fMRI scans) of these children revealed greater activity in the prefrontal cortex networks directing these and other executive functions" (Bialystok, 2009; Kaushanskaya & Marian, 2007, cited by Willis 2013). However, educational strategies in teaching ESL students have tended to emphasize 'immersion' methodologies in which children are almost immediately mainstreamed English, which can leave students struggling when their proficiency in their second language does not allow them to achieve grade-level scores and study in other subject areas. Increasingly, there has been a policy emphasis on eliminating a bilingual transition of ESL students into the school system. For example, California's Proposition 227 and Arizona's Proposition 203 eliminated bilingual education in those states, despite high levels of ESL
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