Thursday, August 27, 2015

The value of bilingual education

Sent to the Jakarta Post, August 27, 2015

    ACDP Indonesia is correct to encourage the use of the native language in schools ("Bilingual education key to student success," August 27).
    Mastery of the national language is of course essential for school success everywhere. Research has consistently shown that use of the first language results in better mastery of the national language than so-called "immersion" programs in which only the national language is used.
    This has been confirmed in studies done in Norway, the Netherlands, China, Sweden, Australia, Mexico and the United States, and with a wide variety of first languages.
    When we give a child a good education in the child's first language,  we give the child background knowledge, which makes instruction in the national language more comprehensible, leading to more rapid acquisition of the national language.
    Also, it is much easier to learn to read in a language the child understands, and once the child can read in the home language, reading ability transfers rapidly to the national language.
    Those dedicated to universal and rapid mastery of Indonesian should also be dedicated to the use of the native language in school.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Research reviews:
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.
Krashen, S. 1998. Do other countries do bilingual education? CABE Newsletter 21(5): 14,15-36. Available at
Krashen, S. 1999. Condemned without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Heinemann.

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