Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Confusion about language acquisition and bilingual education

Confusion about language acquisition and bilingual education
Sent to Education Week, October 11.

Harmeet Dhillon of the California Republican Party claims that it is "common sense" that "the faster you're required to learn the mainstream language, the better off you are."  (“Bilingual education poised for a comeback in California schools, “ Oct 11). Not true. We do not acquire language because we are forced to. We acquire language when we understand what we hear and read in that language, that is, when we get "comprehensible input." 
When children get quality education in their first language, they learn more subject matter. This knowledge helps make the English they hear more comprehensible, which results in more acquisition of English.
Bilingual programs are not "all Spanish."  Students take English as a second language classes from the first day of school, and subject matter is taught in English as soon as it can be made comprehensible.
Research consistently shows that students in quality bilingual programs outperform students with similar backgrounds on tests of English reading.  In the most recent analysis, Professors Grace and David McField found that when both program quality and research quality are considered, the superiority of bilingual education was considerably larger than previously reported.

Stephen Krashen

original article: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/10/12/bilingual-education-poised-for-a-comeback-in.html?cmp=eml-enl-eu-news1

some sources:
Crawford, J. and Krashen, S. 2015. English Learners in American Classrooms: 101 Questions, 101 Answers. Portland: DiversityLearningK12

McField, G. and McField, D. 2014. The consistent outcome of bilingual education programs: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses. In Grace McField (Ed.) 2014. The Miseducation of English Learners. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing. pp. 267-299.

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