In Bilingual-Instruction Programs, Bilingualism, Dual Language, Dual-immersion, Learning a second language, Multilingualism, Welcome

Latino parents are increasingly sending their children to bilingual schools to retain the family’s Spanish-language fluency, according to an article by Kelli Korducki on NPR’s Code Switch blog. Bilingual schools offer a way for Spanish speakers and English-language learners to learn English while retaining their native tongues, she writes. Korducki also cites a 2006 National Literacy Panel report finding that Spanish-dominant students learn English more quickly in classrooms that include Spanish-language instruction.

Critics of bilingual programs, like Ron Unz, who sponsored Proposition 227 to eradicate bilingual education in California in 1998, say test scores prove that Spanish-speakers don’t learn English effectively in bilingual schools, Korducki writes.

Proponents say tests often aren’t able to portray the full effects of bilingual programs.

“The avalanche of testing, given predominantly in English, has really pushed all schools to do more in English than I think is pedagogically appropriate,” says Robert Petersen, who created a bilingual, public K-5 school in Milwaukee, Wisc. in 1988.

Still, bilingual education programs remain a source of contention. Recently, officials in Massachusetts set plans to eliminate a dual-language program at Dever Elementary School in Dorchester, Mass., according to an article in The Boston Globe by James Vaznis.

State officials say the dual-language program played a major role in Dever’s persistently low test scores that caused it to slide into receivership and they believe that an English-only approach to instruction is the best way to boost achievement, Vaznis writes.

Teachers and parents protested the decision…read more.

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