Bilingual EducationBilingual Education = Unilingual Education
Bilingual education in America is a sound idea, but it is not truly bilingual education, it is only bilingual for those who do not already speak English. America is a country with more and more cultures mixing together with different areas of America speaking different languages. In California, Spanish is the dominant language next to English, and in states such as Maine, French is spoken. Other cultures should not be assimilated into mainstream America completely, but America shouldn’t have to bend over backwards to make life easier for foreigners. In order to become more culturally tolerant, everyone should learn a second language, not just immigrants. Americans should make bilingual education truly bilingual.
The first reason is to eliminate the effect bilingual education has on poor, non-English speaking children. In Richard Bernstein’s, ?A War of Words? he says, ?Advocates of bilingual education believe that it represents the best chance for non-English speaking children — who, not so coincidentally, often come from lower-income groups ? to enjoy the richness and opportunities of American life?, but he also writes, ??Bilingual education is a failure, a tactic that in the end will harm the chances of the generally poor, non-English speaking children ever having a equal share in the promise of American life.? By simply having everyone learn a second language eliminates the lines of income, and ethnic background.
Truly bilingual education would also eliminate the psychological effects it has on non-English speaking children. When they are in a classroom filled with people who do not speak the same language they do, they are forced to feel alone because they can not perform at the same level as their peers, they feel there is something wrong with them, lower than everyone else. ?’Empowering Minority Students’ does not argue that a child’s inability to speak English is what leads him to fail if he is put into an English classroom. Children fail?because they are made to feel ?shame’ for belonging to a minority group, for not being a part of the dominant group. The only way to ?empower’ such children?is for the teachers to ?consciously challenge the power structure both in their classrooms and schools and in the society at large’ Bilingual education?is an ?empowerment pedagogy.’ It is an act of rebellion against white, Anglo Domination (Bernstein 2). Truly bilingual education would prevent any one child from feeling lower than the other since they would all be sharing the same experience of learning another language. In California for example, immigrants would be learning to speak English, while children who already speak English would be learning another language also. Most likely the ?dominant minority language? in the area. In this case Spanish, but of course Spanish would not be the only language available. The choice would be up to the parents.
Total immersion in a foreign language is a necessity. Non-English speaking children must be totally immersed in English, and the same for the native English speakers, they must be immersed completely in, for example, Italian. ?Under the dominant method of bilingual education used throughout this country, non-English speaking students are taught all academic subjects such as math, science, and history exclusively in their native language. English is a separate subject. The problem with this method is that there is no objective way to measure whether a child has learned enough English to be placed in classes where academic instruction is entirely in English. As a result, some children have been kept in native language classes for six years? (Hayakawa 3). There are many people who will agree that trying to learn a language is not something a person does in a hour everyday. That person must be totally immersed in the language, they must be speaking that language all of the time, or at least more than they speak their native language. If the people in the current bilingual education courses were totally immersed in English, they would have no choice, but to adapt and learn the language in order to function. It does not take a child six years to learn a language when they are forced to do so.
Children learn at an exceptionally fast rate, if they are immersed in one language,