Dual Immersion Programs in California Research Paper

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Dual Immersion Programs in California

Bilingual immersion, or dual immersion, education programs have been developed in some schools across the country -- including some schools in the state of California. Lack of good, available resources, not enough qualified teachers, low support, and poor funding make the implementation of dual immersion programs almost impossible, however, which does a disservice to many students who want and need these programs. Dual immersion programs are relatively new; therefore any kind of research base is limited to what has taken place in the last few years. While these programs appear to be very good and valuable for students and teachers alike, they can be difficult and costly to implement. That is unfortunate for the students who need them and whose lives could be improved by them.

Research in the future needs to examine social class and race/ethnicity because it is necessary to see what the main factors are that affect the operation of dual immersion programs. Factors in minority language development, like societal pressure, can promote assimilation to one language and discourage a native language. The administration of schools is responsible for emphasizing the importance of the need for teachers to use the minority language for instructional purposes, especially until a student is sufficiently immersed in the second language so as to clearly understand the instructions given as well as the context in which they are presented.

First Language Skills -- One Component of Dual-Immersion Programs

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It is important to understand that the First Language skills someone has relates very strongly to acquisition of a second language -- which is part of the reason that dual immersion programs are so effective for a lot of students. Where elementary school students are concerned, language learning is vital to education and to the ability to keep up with peers. This is made all the more significant if these students are not well-versed in their first language. Many elementary school minority students struggle to achieve grade level scores in reading.

Research Paper on Dual Immersion Programs in California Assignment

It is believed that much of this is due to the fact they are not fluent in a second language, so they do not understand what they are reading. They may be able to read words, but this does not mean they are absorbing enough information to be able to compete with peers. If this is the case, they may also not be able to keep up with peers in other areas of study because they will have difficulty understanding textbooks. A dual immersion program can help stop that problem because students get instruction in their own, first language while still being immersed in the second language that they are trying to learn.

Teacher Beliefs -- Another Component of Dual Immersion Programs

One thing that is very important to these students is to find ways to improve their reading scores and general literacy. This can only be done if teachers are willing to work to help make it possible (Fitzgerald, 1995; Baker & Good, 1994). It is believed there are several causes for the problem with these students, and these causes include:

Prejudice deterring minority students' success.

Cultural biases are included in public education. Educators' attitudes toward race, poverty, and power are contributing factors, causing schools' low-performing FCAT scores and academic abilities.

Low achievers fail to make a connection between effort and success, which results in nonparticipation during reading activities.

Many minority learners fail academically due to culture shock experiences in school, and this is quite often aggravated by teachers' low expectations.

Self-confidence is linked with academic success, and students expect to experience failure before entering school due to bias experienced by siblings and parents.

Students' perceptions of their low abilities leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

As can be seen by issues mentioned, there is much that can cause problems for students who are working toward literacy. Racial stereotypes and other prejudices, either real or imagined, are strong for many people and because of this many minority students feel they will fail regardless of what they do. When they feel they will fail no matter how hard they try, they feel as though there is no point in continuing to make an effort (Engelmann & Bruner, 1988).

Because children are so important to the future of the country, those who are struggling should be helped so that they do not have to face the same discrimination their parents often have to. The world will certainly not change overnight, and there will always be people who have prejudice toward someone based on a factor the person cannot control, such as the color of his or her skin. However, teachers who are expecting very little from their minority students are not challenging those students to succeed in any way, and therefore the students are only meeting (and sometimes not meeting) the expectations the teachers have. Dual immersion programs can help raise both teacher expectations and a student's desire to perform better -- as well as that student's self-confidence level.

Lowering the school standards so everyone can pass is not the way to help students, although there are some school districts have started doing this (Engelmann, Carnine, & Johnson, 1988). Instead of lowering standards, it is important to study how teachers can help their students learn and succeed when it comes to language literacy. This will open doors for these students in other subjects and give them a chance many of them likely never thought they would have available. Once they begin to see they are capable of doing something they assumed they could not, it is hoped they will want to do more, and because of that, horizons will be expanded.

Dual Language Literacy -- What Dual Immersion Programs Offer

Why are first language literacy skills so important to second language acquisition? Spada & Lightbown (1999) explain how the first language influences the second. Instructional intervention and social interaction play major roles during both first and second language learning. The authors explain the tendency of second language learners to presume English allows the same application as the first language. Therefore, the need for explicit teaching as well as specific corrective feedback has to be emphasized. The learner must be provided with explicit instruction, including linguistic features in both of the languages. Second language learning, native language fluency, and academic proficiency have been investigated by several researchers (Byalistok, 2002; Cummins, 2001; Krashen, 2003).

The reading environment of a child's home impacts a child's ability with both of his or her languages. Research by Hammer, Scheffner, Miccio, & Wagstaff (2003) indicates transfer and motivation are both supportive factors in fostering optimal second language learning. The correlation between home literacy experiences and the early reading abilities of preschool children has also been established. Family-based factors, like the availability of adequate reading material in a home environment, have the highest measured influence on early reading progress -- higher than school-based and child-based factors. However, rather than judging parents' provision of home literacy experiences, educators need to build on children's literacy experiences with both of the languages in a dual immersion program (Hammer, Scheffner, Miccio, & Wagstaff, 2003).

The challenges faced by first graders as they begin to learn to read and write a language they do not yet speak have also been investigated. Educators are not always able to introduce literacy in the first language to enhance the second -- which is why dual immersion programs are believed to be so helpful to these students. This inability of most teachers to introduce literacy in a first language and a second language is mainly due to a lack of training and a lack of funding for bilingual programs. Empirical research conducted by Weber & Longhi-Chirlin (2001) indicated that crossing between languages sharpens the awareness of linguistic components involved in processing language.

That awareness can help to prepare a second language learner to manipulate spoken and written English through self-discovery and classroom instruction. However, how children cross from one language to another, with or without classroom instruction, still remains unclear to a large majority of educators. The challenges of written English are many for minority speakers. Weber and Longhi-Chirlin's (2001) research indicates that young English learners do acquire the concept that speech and print share concepts and sounds. Young children focus on word form without paying much attention to the meaning and, since word-meaning knowledge is weak in young English learners; they are more inclined than native speakers to do this.

The relationship between oral proficiency and print proficiency remains unclear, however. Some researchers, such as Pena, Bedore, and Zlatic-Guinta (2002) indicate that children need to have oral English proficiency before they gain print proficiency. Other studies have indicated that young children can learn to write English without first having any kind of oral proficiency in it. Dual language development, or dual immersion, is the ideal model for English language learners who are entering schools. Pena, Bedore & Zlatic-Guinta (2002) explain that children should be exposed to the words for a given concept in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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