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Bilingual or English only

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Joined: 18 Jan 2011
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Wed Feb 23, 2011 3:32 am    Post subject: Bilingual or English only Reply with quote

What is the overall goal in BE? Is it to teach children their native tongue-with some English? Is it to have children eventually, someday, with years, become fluent enough in English to leave BE? When they do leave we send them away and hope that they have learned enough English to fair off just as well as his/her peers. To me it seems like sending off a son or daughter into the unknown of a world that will expect them to be literate in English, not their native tongue. Why BE and not English Only? Why not the 1 year of primary-instruction in their native tongue and then be immersed in English? Are we to believe that these parents will not teach their own children their native tongue and traditions and customs? Are all of these taught by the classroom teacher too? I think not. I am a product of immersion in English with ESL instruction. Bilingual education was not an option for me. I was immersed in English and was able to do fairly well. My mother, a 6th grade drop-out taught me my "Culture", my "Language" and taught me what it meant to be a Latina, not a school teacher.
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Joined: 22 Jan 2011
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I was taught, as a Bilingual Teacher, is that Bilingual education is only a vehicle to assist students to ultimately function in a mainstream classroom. Children are initially given all instruction in their native tongue, in order to acquire the skills of their grade level. Once they have proven, based on ACCESS score that tests their level of writing, speaking, reading and listening in their L2, they will be further exposed to the L2.

Initially it is the ESL teacher's duty to expose them to English and lay down the foundation. Once the ESL teacher deems the student proficient enough the Bilingual teacher will incorporate more of their L2 in her lessons. Ideally the bilingual teacher and the ESL teacher work together so that the Bilingual teacher teaches the lesson in their native language while the ESL teacher reinforces that in English.

Culture should be taught at home, I agree. Sometimes in order to pull a child's background knowledge, in order to teach more about the American culture, it is good to refer to their own culture.

1 year in their primary language and then immersion has not been proven to be effective because it takes a person 3-5 yrs to acquire BICS and a longer time to acquire academic language. Imagine a baby, how long does it take them to acquire language? a baby doesn't speak until they are about 2 and can't say complete sentences until later on. For academic language, how long did it take you to learn academic language? I am English dominant and Spanish is my 2nd language and I still, at times, have a hard time with academics. Imagine what it's like for an ELL.

And lastly every child or person learns differently. You might have been a quicker learner or had a strong drive to learn the language, not all children are like that. If you could have had the option of BE you probably would have mainstreamed quicker than other students. That is the benefit of BE, not all students are lifers and with a good teacher most children should be mainstreamed in 3-5 yrs.
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