Monday, October 17, 2016

Bilingual education accelerates English language development

Sent to the New York Times, Oct. 17, 2016

Missing from the Times' otherwise informative article about bilingual education in California ("Californians, Having Curbed Bilingual Education, May Now Expand It," Oct. 17) is a response to Ron Unz' serious accusation. Unz correctly emphasized the importance of English but made the false claim that bilingual education prevents English language development.

The opposite is true:  Study after study has shown that children in bilingual programs do better in English reading than similar students in all-English “immersion” programs.

In the most recent analysis, Researchers Grace and David McField examined all available studies comparing bilingual education and English immersion. They concluded that when both program quality and research quality are considered, the superiority of bilingual education was considerably larger than previously reported.

Bilingual programs, when set up and evaluated correctly, do not prevent the acquisition of English, they accelerate it.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

original article:


Most recent analysis: McField, G. and McField, D. (2014).  "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.

Previous meta-analyses of bilingual education research (all conclude that bilingual education is more effective than English immersion)
Greene, J. (1999). A meta-analysis of the Rossell and Baker review of bilingual education research. Bilingual Research Journal, 21 (2,3): 103-122.
Rolstad, K., Mahoney, K., & Glass, G. (2005). The big picture: A meta-analysis of program effectiveness research on English language learners. Educational Policy 19(4): 572-594.
Slavin, R. and Cheung, A. (2005). A synthesis of research of reading instruction for English language learners, Review of Educational Research 75(2): 247-284.
Willig, A. (1985). A meta-analysis of selected studies on the effectiveness of bilingual education. Review of Educational Research 55(3): 269-317.

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