Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bilingual education, not immersion, is the best path to English proficiency

Sent to the New York Post, Oct.8, 2014

We all agree that we must help English learners acquire English as rapidly as possible ("New York's broken English," Oct. 7).  Decades of research, however, show that the Post's suggestion, total English immersion, is not the answer.

Study after study shows that children enrolled in properly designed bilingual programs do better than children in all-English programs on tests of English. Recent research has confirmed that this difference is substantial and consistent across a wide range of scientific studies.

Proper bilingual education exposes children to a great deal of comprehensible English and uses the first language in a way that accelerates English language development.

When children have comprehensible instruction in subject matter early in their school career, they learn more, and this knowledge helps make subject matter more comprehensible when presented in English. Also, developing literacy in the first language is a quick short-cut to English literacy. It is much easier to learn to read in a language you already understand, and once you can read in one language, this ability transfers rapidly to the second language.

Stephen Krashen

Original article: http://nypost.com/2014/10/06/english-failure/
Recent research on bilingual education:
McField, G. and McField, D. "The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses." In Grace McField (Ed.) The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.

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