Importance of Bilingual Education

Most of you will be aware of the importance of globalization. The spread of the internet is already making way for a more closely knit "global village" and this will only become more so in the future. More and more people are taking up learning a second language as it not only helps to broaden their perspective and become sensitive to other people's culture but also gives a sizable boost to their career prospects.

Of all the languages that have gained importance in recent times perhaps the most sought after language today is Chinese, more particularly Mandarin Chinese. As this is the most widely spoken language throughout China, and China becoming the most important manufacturing and business hub of the world in recent times, many people have resorted to taking up studying Chinese. This trend has gained great popularity in the United States as many colleges and schools have started offering courses in Mandarin and other Chinese dialects. However the west has a lot of catching up to do if it hopes to match the monumental effort been made by the Chinese to educate their youth in English. Consider the facts: about 50,000 of the 504 million total students population of the United States is studying Chinese; this in stark contrast to the almost 200 million students in China studying English. Of course the good people in the White House have something to worry about!

If we continue to keep business opportunities in perspective then also the heavy amount of out sourcing of manufacturing to China brings the importance of studying Chinese. In fact many companies naturally prefer to hire persons who are bilingual and fluent in conversing in (Mandarin) Chinese.

Although most will prefer to take up the study during their college, it is highly recommended that a language be learnt as early as possible. A small child picks up a language much faster than an adult. The National Research Council's study "Preventing Reading and Learning Difficulties in Young Children" states that children who are exposed to learning and reading at an early age make the symbol/language connection more accurately and are more likely to be learning the language much faster.

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Spanish Bilingual Education - More Benefits Than You May Realize

Remembering that young children can greatly benefit from exposure to a variety of cultures and languages is important when evaluating any Brookline daycare program. The developing skills of youngsters are particularly responsive to an enriched environment where more than one language is spoken. For this reason, daycare-aged children are able to reap the greatest benefits of a bilingual education. In fact, mastering a new language is easier for these children than their older counterparts.

In addition, exposure to a new language while at daycare in Brookline can strengthen the development of verbal/language skills in infants, toddlers, preschool and even pre-K aged kids.

Why choose Spanish bilingual education?

Spanish is the primary language of approximately 330 million people around the world. It is a second language for nearly 50 million people. In a world that is rapidly growing smaller, thanks to technology and a global economy, the value of being able to communicate in Spanish should not be underestimated. Further, access to a rich world of art, literature, history and music becomes available through one's knowledge of Spanish.

Children receiving an early bilingual education in their Brookline daycare program have a unique advantage. In addition to the developmental and educational benefits of learning Spanish early on, they are better prepared to thrive in and appreciate a multi-cultural environment at any age.

What if a child already speaks a second language?

One of the best features about the Brookline community is its diversity. Multiple cultures and languages co-exist within a relatively small space.

It is common within the community for some children entering daycare in Brookline to already speak more than one language within their families. This may lead parents to wonder if exposure to another language is beneficial. In fact, the wider the exposure to new languages, the greater the benefit to the child.

No matter if they are exposed to one or multiple languages at home, young children still benefit greatly from a Spanish bilingual education. At a young age, children are most responsive and sensitive to languages. As a result, Brookline daycare that includes multi-lingual education is an ideal setting for language enrichment. What's more, there is no limit to the amount of language study a child can absorb or how greatly they benefit.

Spanish bilingual education can greatly benefit children throughout their lives on so many levels. When considering any child care center, Brookline families are well-served by placing their youngster in such an enriched learning environment.

Jane Bartlett is a retired educator who spent much of her career in leading Brookline preschool programs and providing daycare in Brookline. She now writes extensively on early education issues and remains active locally in Brookline's preschool community.

Bilingual Education in Colombia, South America

This year President Uribe has declared that all schools in Colombia must start teaching English and that all schools must become bilingual...although there are already bilingual schools here in Colombia, even the public schools are now required to teach English.

The bilingual schools in this country have been able to capitalize on this for the last several years charging big prices for students to be able to attend their school. Although the catch on that depends on the teachers that you hire and how qualified they are.

Colombia is to be commended for being one of the first countries to actually bring it as a mandate that all students must learn English as they realize the importance of their students needing it for better jobs.

Obviously in the bilingual schools they are going to be the ones that can afford to hire the more qualified teacher and perhaps even native English speaking but the students will all still be exposed to the English language.

The majority of the entities represented here are very excited about this and feel that this is a step in the right direction. So many of the students here have an aspiration to go to either the US or Europe so they can study another language especially English and while I don't look for this to slow that down any, I do believe that those who are really on top of this will be those who are determined to have a career which will require the English language.

What I do wish would happen is that the US would also get smart and require our students to learn Spanish and not as an elective... if countries would offer a 2nd language from kindergarten and have them study it until they leave elementary, they would be ready to choose another language by the time they go to junior high and high school.

There are so many articles proving that students should be learning languages from the time they are a toddler and be assured that this is not going to affect their maternal language as that is going to come natural at home anyway.

I encourage all comments, debates and opinions on this matter because it is one that we must face facts and get smart on so we can correct this especially for the United States because in most all other countries especially in Europe, it is a requirement to learn two, three and many of them five languages before they can graduate.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Wynelle is a motivational speaker, mentor, trainer & empowerer of youth leadership helping them discover their purpose in life and for over 35 years has been a missionary to youth in Latin America & the Caribbean. She has appeared on networks of television shows including TBN and Enlace (Spanish Christian TV). She received an award for the "Most Outstanding Woman of the Year" in 1988 for her ministry to youth. Wynelle speaks, reads & writes fluent Spanish serving as a translator for the Juvenile Courts of Texas which enabled her to be more effective with the youth of today. Wynelle is now hosting her own television program for young people in both Spanish and English.

Pros and Cons of Bilingual Education

Bilingual education has become very popular lately, with perhaps the most compelling reason for bilingual education being the concept of equality of education in our country. How is it possible for someone to obtain a great education when he or she doesn't fully understand the language the lessons are being taught in? Isn't that student going to become a second-class citizen? Should we just allow that to happen or should we teach them in their native language and worry about assimilation at some later time? The fact is that there are a lot of pros and cons about the subject.

On the positive side, there are many benefits of students learning another language at a very early age. It has been proven that children who learn to speak another language early in life have an easier time grasping the vocabulary, grammar, and nuances of both languages. It has also been shown that these same students will be able to move on to learning third and fourth languages just as easily. The reasons for this are varied, but one of the principal reasons is that many languages have their roots in a single ancient language such as Latin or Greek. As the nationalities have developed, their languages changed but kept a lot of the same words and word structure. Also as the world shrinks and everything becomes more global in nature, it is going to become ever more important to be able to communicate in more than one language.

There is no denying that bilingual education lessons should be taught to students at the elementary level. Waiting until high school will only make it more difficult on the children. Once a student becomes familiar with a second language it is much easier for him or her to master it as they grow older. It is also a good thing when students learn about the culture of different countries, which is enhanced by learning the language. Studies have proven that the ability to speak multiple languages does not confuse the mind. In fact, it helps to develop it faster and lead to a well rounded future.

On the negative side, there are people who feel that bilingual education is a bad idea because it takes away our sense of national identity. The United States has always been known as a "melting pot" of cultures where everyone is treated equally and every culture becomes assimilated into the primary culture of the United States. Historically, newcomers to this country have been forced to learn our English language and many of our ways, all the while contributing parts of their historic culture and making the entire culture better as a result. The argument is that by retaining the language of their old country, they are no longer as easily assimilated into this country.

Bilingual education is a concern in other countries as well as in the United States. For example, there is currently a movement underway in France to ensure that French remains the dominant language and that all citizens learn to speak French. Similarly in the United States many people feel that we as a country have gone too far overboard in making all the other cultures comfortable by printing everything in their home languages. The problem that is brought up is that, by printing everything in multiple native languages, the newcomers don't have to learn English. And if they don't learn English they will never be fully assimilated into the United States. By thus creating nationalistic cliques some people say that we are potentially creating the same type of societal issues that are found in other parts of the world and that those who are immigrating to the United States are frequently running away from. My personal belief is that children from other cultures who may speak other languages at home need to become familiar with English and that English should be the required language for all governmental affairs.

In summary, bilingual education is not a way to take anything away from American students. In fact, it is just the opposite. Language is an important part of the learning process. Young students are in position to learn a second language early on, which will benefit them greatly in the future. This is why so many school districts are implementing bilingual education criteria at lower grade levels. However, let us all recognize that there are issues to be faced in bilingual education and our schools and our society will need to face these issues fully.

Grace Mckenna writes on a wide range of topics concerning teaching, the school system, and particularly how the internet (aka the World Wide Web) impacts teachers and their interaction with the school, parents and children. More of her articles can be found at

Landmark Year For Bilingual Education

The year 1974 was a landmark year for bilingual education, due in part, to the U.S. Supreme Court Lau v. Nichols decision, which found that the San Francisco schools were failing to offer a meaningful education to English language learners by providing them the same materials and curricula as native English speakers. The San Francisco Unified School District SFUSD requested that the Center for Applied Linguistics send a team to work with the schools and a community advisory committee to develop a master plan to respond to the decision.

Although the Supreme Court had avoided prescribing a specific remedy, CAL's plan, which adopted bilingual education as the most appropriate response, was accepted by the appellate court and indirectly influenced the interpretation of the Lau decision by the Office for Civil Rights as requiring bilingual education under certain circumstances. Although this requirement proved controversial, CAL played a central role in the evolution of official federal policy in this arena.

Concerned about the need for dissemination of research information to the field, CAL initiated the publication of a series of papers in bilingual education in 1975 and published the first book collection of papers on Mexican American Spanish and a research bibliography of linguistic work on the language of U.S. Spanish speakers. CAL also played a significant role in the development of long-term plans for research and information dissemination, as authorized in the 1974 Title VII legislation.

CAL worked closely with the staff of the National Institute of Education in the design of the National Center for Bilingual Research, and after the contract was awarded to the Southwest Educational Research Laboratory, CAL, with its long experience in information clearinghouse activities, formulated the design for the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education (NCBE, now known as NCELA).

When the project was designated as a minority business procurement, CAL became a partner with InterAmerica Associates, which served as prime contractor for the project. Rudolph Troike became deputy director of the Clearinghouse, and Joel Gómez became director. NCBE for a number of years served as an important central coordinating hub for cooperation and information dissemination throughout the country among various units involved in bilingual education.

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Discussions of Bilingual Education

In the United States, most politicized discussions of bilingual education policy have focused on language minority children. Frequently, their backgrounds in languages other than English are assumed to be the cause of their educational deficiencies. Title VII policies were largely predicated on this view, even though advocates of bilingual education tend to see minority languages as personal and societal resources rather than as detriments.

At best, the deficit view has tended to result in policies aimed only at accommodating children from home backgrounds in which languages other than English were spoken and lower expectations for their academic achievement were accepted. Under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, there has been much fanfare regarding the need to promote higher expectations for all children.

Nevertheless, as critics have pointed out, NCLB has provided no clear direction on how to promote equitable programs and meaningful assessment of language minority children. Thus, NCLB has left language minority children in a policy limbo. The primary debate has been over whether to assess children through English and how quickly to do so, although it has been widely recognized that most language minority children will not perform well on tests administered in English when these children have not had sufficient time to develop English and academic skills.

Proponents of NCLB have countered that all children must be held to high standards to ensure accountability. A possible danger in this scenario is that high standards, along with underfunded and poorly planned programs, fail to result in the level playing field needed for high achievement. Again, a negative note in the history of federally supported bilingual education is that even as opponents of bilingual decried the "failure" of bilingual education, the vast majority of children eligible for Title VII services were not receiving instruction in their home languages and often received no specially designed instruction to develop the English language skills needed for advanced academic instruction.

In some states restricting bilingual education, such as in California even prior to the passage of its Proposition 227, teachers in so-called bilingual programs often did not speak the home language of many children. Again, these programs were labeled "bilingual" merely because the children came from homes where languages other than English were taught.

Thus, based on the erroneous assumption that children in "bilingual" programs were receiving instruction in languages other than English, rather than in English alone, bilingual education policies were blamed when language minorities under-performed on standardized tests in English.

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