To What Extent Should Bilingual Education Be Offered in Public Schools Thesis

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Bilingual Education in Public Schools

The subject of Bilingual education within the context of public school education has been a topic of debate for several years. Many educators believe that Bilingual education is necessary to ensure that English Language Learners (ELL), are able to learn at the same pace as English speaking students. On the other hand, some educators posit that providing bilingual education in public schools for long periods of time discourages students from learning English.

Why the Subject of bilingual education was chosen: What I knew/What I didn't know

This particular subject was chosen because it is of interest to me as a citizen and a taxpayer. As a citizen I believe this subject is important because of the long-term ramification that may be present if students do not receive what they need from the public school system. In addition to my concern as a citizen, I am also concerned as a taxpayer; the public school system is funded by taxpayers and as such we have the right to know and understand the manner in which our taxes are utilized.

I knew there were conflicting opinions concerning the extent to which bilingual education should be taught in public schools. I also knew how important it is for students who attend a public school learn English as soon as possible so that they are able to take full advantage of the education system. I also knew of the increase in the number of English Language Learners in K-12.

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A needed to know just how substantial this increase is in the context of public schools and bilingual education. I also needed to know why there is such a significant difference I the way educators and researchers view bilingual education. I needed to know that the problem forged as a result of bilingual education in public schools could be solved. In a quest to understand this subject in a more succinct manner I formulated the following research question: To what extent should bilingual education be offered in public schools?

The Story of my Search

TOPIC: Thesis on To What Extent Should Bilingual Education Be Offered in Public Schools Assignment

In an effort to find the answer to the aforementioned question, I sought out several different resources. The first aspect of this search led me to the online library, Questia. The database was full of information about bilingual education. The resources provided by the database included journals, books, and newspaper articles. One of the first aspects of this subject that I researched was the number of students that are enrolled in public schools who speak English as a second language.

The research conducted through Questa also focused on understanding the differing opinions that exist amongst educators concerning the presence of bilingual education in the public school system. The search uncovered information related to bilingual education outcomes,

Google-Book search was also conducted in an effort to review various opinions on bilingual education.

The Search Results

From a historical perspective, the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 in combination with Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, were designed to remove factors in the public school system which were believed to interfere with the education of second language learners (Montana et al.). However since the time of this legislation many school districts have decreased the amount of bilingual education available.

As it pertains to the increasing number of English Language Learners an article published School Psychology Review reports that the number of students enrolled in public schools whose native language is other than English has increased dramatically over the past few years. It is estimated that the foreign-born population of the United States reached 31.1 million in 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000), a 57% increase over the figure reported in 1990. Children in families from Latin American countries (Latino or Hispanic) in particular are one of the fastest growing foreign-born groups in our schools. It is estimated that 78% of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades K-12 speak Spanish (De Ramirez, Shapiro, pg 356)."

This research demonstrates a clear need for some type of bilingual education; particularly as it pertains to Spanish speaking students. The results of the research demonstrate that although public schools offer bilingual education for the purpose of aiding students in the development of English language skills such as reading, the outcomes do not always reflect bilingual education as a good solution to the language barriers many students face.

According to the aforementioned article a study was conducted of 62 Spanish speaking English Language Learner's and 83 general education students. The study sought to assess English reading abilities in addition Spanish reading abilities. The results found that "Spanish-speaking ELLs read less fluently on English passages than general education students across grades and across testing periods. When general education students reading in English and Spanish-speaking ELLs reading in Spanish were compared, general education students read more fluently in English than Spanish-speaking ELLs did in Spanish (Ramirez, Shapiro, pg 356)." The study also found that general education students participating in the study became more proficient readers over time than did the Spanish speaking English language learners.

Although this is just one example of an outcome of bilingual education, it is evidence concerning why bilingual education is so controversial. It really is quite simple, many educators posit that bilingual education just doesn't work and others assert that it can be effective if it is implemented correctly. As it relates to the former many educators and administrators alike have concluded that bilingual education is a waste of resources that could be diverted elsewhere. As it pertains to the latter, some educators believe that the problem with bilingual education is the approach and not the actual practice. According to a book entitled Bilingual Education: From Compensatory to Quality School. The American school system often treats bilingual students as if they are inferior because they do not speak English as a first language (Brisk & Brisk).

The book also asserts that the bilingual education programs presented in American schools reflect these sentiments and as such they are often not as effective as they could be.

In addition to the argument over the effectiveness of bilingual education, there is also a question of the extent to which bilingual education should be taught in public schools. That is, at what point should students be expected to know how to speak English. This can be a rather complicated issue as students enter the public school system at different ages ("Why Is Bilingual Education Controversial?"). However, some educators have come to some conclusions concerning this question.

Some believe that bilingual education programs should be limited to one year (Calhoon et al.). Others believe that bilingual programs should last for two or three years. While some argue that the extent of the bilingual education should depend upon the age of the child (Ryan). For instance, a student entering the public school system in first grade will have an easier time learning English than a student entering public school in the 9th grade. Whatever the case many agree that there must be a limit placed on the amount of time that students are allowed to remain in bilingual education programs.

What I learned from the research

As a result of this research I found that bilingual education in the public school system is a complicated issue. One the one hand there is a substantial number of children who are entering public schools who do not speak English as their first language. On the other hand, the infrastructure of most public school systems in America cannot meet all the needs of this growing population of students as it pertains to bilingual education. Because this is the case, the extent to which bilingual education is taught in public schools is often a question that presents itself in various school districts throughout the country. It can be concluded… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"To What Extent Should Bilingual Education Be Offered in Public Schools."  Essaytown.com.  July 9, 2008.  Accessed September 26, 2021.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/extent-bilingual-education-offered/873220.